Everything you want to know
about Steffanie Holmes
(and some stuff you don't)
About Steff's Books
Everywhere! The cool thing about being a writer is that everything is fodder. I love to go on adventures, travel, and see my friends. Many stories or characters spark from listening to true crime or spooky history podcasts. I always find the best ideas come to me when I'm not writing – usually in the shower, or just as I'm nodding off to sleep.
You can see some of the spooky stories and oddities that inspire my books on the Spooky Stuff page. Also, every week in my newsletter I share an unusual story or tidbit that appears in one of my books, and the story behind it. Think Victorian poisons, witchcraft trials, and Roman brothels. You should totally join.
I'm an indie author. That means I don't have a publisher and I handle my own distribution. Because it costs a gazillion dollars to print 5000 copies of my books at a time to get them into bookstores, and I'd rather spend that money on acquiring more cats, I focus on ebooks. This means no matter where you are in the world, you can get a copy of my books on your device to enjoy immediately.
If my paperbacks aren't in your local library, tell your librarian! If they know demand is there, they'll order in the books for you. Libraries are awesome.
Many of my books are available through Amazon's Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. KU is like "Spotify for books" – you pay a monthly subscription fee to read as many books as you like. If you're a voracious reader and you love ebooks, KU will be awesome for you. As an author, having my books in KU means I can get them in front of millions of voracious readers, but they're not allowed to be on sale in other stores. So that's why sometimes my books aren't on Apple or Kobo or other places. The paperbacks will always be available widely online, as well as most of my audiobooks.
If you want to read a book and it's not available in your preferred store or library, email me and I bet I can help.
I'm very picky about who is on my ARC team, but I'm happy to consider you. Email me and I'll send you a form to fill out.
I'm definitely keen to work with more bloggers and bookstagrammers. What you do to support the book community is awesome! Email me with a link to your site/profile and I'll put you on my list.
About Steff's Wonky Eyes
I have a rare genetic condition called achromatopsia. A normal human has a few million rod cells (for night vision) and a few million cone cells (for daytime/colour vision/depth perception) in their eyes. I've got some rods, but no cones. This means I have poor depth perception, extreme light sensitivity, and I cannot see any colours. My world is literally 50 shades of grey :).
I'm also severely short-sighted to the point I'm considered legally blind, and I have a condition called nystagmus, which means my eyes blink and wobble a lot. If I'm talking to you, I might appear to have my eyes closed or look off to the side.
My condition is stable – it won't get any worse, and right now there's no cure. (Although scientists in Israel have cured a flock of sheep with achromatopsia using gene therapy, and they're currently in early human trials, so that's amazing).
Mina in Nevermore Bookshop has retinitis pigmentosa (RP). This is another genetic condition where the cells in the retina degenerate over time – usually starting with rod cells, and moving onto cone cells. People with RP first notice a loss of periphery vision and trouble seeing at night. You'll usually notice symptoms as a child, and it rarely results in complete blindness. However, there are many different types of RP and ever patient is different – Mina has a specific type that has a later onset and results in severe and rapid vision loss.
I chose RP for Mina because it's degenerative (you lose your sight over time, instead of a stable condition like mine) and also because it's a more well-known condition and easier to explain to sighted readers.
I definitely haven't ruled out writing a hero or heroine with achromatopsia in the future!
Human beings are crazy adaptable, and I'm so lucky to live in an age where technology helps people like me to live independent lives. The truth is, it's not my eyesight that makes me disabled, but the fact that prejudices and set-up of society doesn't allow me to do certain things in a certain way. But I'm here, living my best wonky-eyed life, trying to change that.
I write on a computer with a GIANT screen that's positioned so close to my face my nose practically touches it. I also use a setting that inverts the colours on my screen – so a black background with white text. This helps cut down the glare that hurts my eyes. I also work in a dark office/library we've dubbed, "the batcave."
You might notice in my books that sometimes I forget to describe what people look like, but I always have lush descriptions of scent, and the way voices sound. That's because I love smells, but I often forget what people look like :)
Many things are more difficult for me than for someone with normal vision. For example, I love to hike, but because I can't perceive depth I have to go very slowly down steep slopes. I use hiking poles to help me plot my next move.
I'm also lucky to have wonderful friends, family, and a caring husband who will read out fast-food menus or movie subtitles when I can't see them. (My husband loves to invent his own dialogue and do silly voices).
No. Not all blind people use guide dogs. Or white canes. I have enough vision that I don't need a dog to navigate the world. However, I'm a big supporter of guide dogs to help people like me have freedom and independence – a portion of the royalties from the Nevermore Bookshop Mysteries series go to support Guide Dogs New Zealand every month.
Sometimes I use a white cane as a signal to people around me that I'm blind.
Yes and no. I'm not a Braille-user. I'm able to read printed text (although I have to hold it pretty close to my face), and because my eye condition is stable, I never needed to learn Braille.
Learning to read braille by touch requires years of training – learning what the dots mean is the easy part. You have to train your fingers to be extra-sensitive and learn to use your brain in a different way.
However, one of my first jobs out of university was as a Braille transcriber. I made books, restaurant menus, conference programs, textbooks, and other documents into braille for blind and low vision New Zealanders. This job required me to learn the Braille code and be able to quickly read it by sight, although I still can't read it by feel. I still remember it today and get excited whenever I see or feel Braille when I'm out and about.
Common Steffish Questions
Hell yes! I'm so lucky that I'm able to write novels and teach writing and self-publishing full time. It's a dream come true, and it's possible because of amazing readers like you. So cheers! If I ever meet you in real life, I will give you the biggest hug.
When am I ever not writing? :)
My land and house keep me pretty busy. I also love to paint, to brew alcohol (I make mead and cider), and to bake delicious things. I lift weights on the regular, and a few times a year I go bush – I love to hike and immerse myself in nature for a few days. I always come back bursting with ideas and in desperate need of a shower.
What else? I read a lot – 2-4 books a week. And I'm obsessed with travel and heavy metal. My husband is a musician, and all my friends are crazy metalheads. We spend far too much time and money travelling, going to gigs and music festivals, and debating the age-old question – Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath?
I live in beautiful New Zealand. I was born and grew up in Hawke's Bay, moved to Auckland for university, and never left. My husband and I own a small hobby farm (we call them lifestyle blocks in NZ, but I'm told that's not a common term overseas) that's off-the-grid. We collect our own rainwater, use solar panels for power, and have a worm treatment tank for our waste. We have some vegetable gardens I keep murdering, a small flock of sheep, some chickens, and four cats who rule over us all with iron paws.
In New Zealand, we call it "university." :) And no, I didn't. I studied archaeology/ancient history, with a smattering of ye olde English papers for good measure. Being an archaeologist was my dream career since I was very young, and I'm still passionate about old ruins and ancient mummies. As part of my degree, I learned to read Egyptian hieroglyphs, Akkadian, and Ancient Greek, and I got to spend a summer at a field school in Greece exploring ancient archaeological sites.
Unfortunately, finding a job in archaeology when you're legally-blind is tough as shit. I needed a new career, and I always loved writing so I thought I'd give it a go. My love of ancient stuff fuels much of my books (as you can probably tell), and whenever I travel I always visit as many castles and ruins and cemeteries as I can.
We have four of the little buggers, and they make life so interesting. There is Socrates – the crazy Tonkinese with a towel fetish who can play fetch like a dog. Eleanor – the slinky Abyssinian who loves to sleep in our bed with her head on the pillow like a person. Lord Nelson – a half-Birman rescue who has wonky eyes just like me and is afraid of his own shadow, and Queen Boudica – Nelson's sister and stripy ghost who isn't a big fan of people...unless they're holding a can of cat food, when they suddenly become her bestest friends.
FAQ for Writers
"Don't quit before the miracle." Writing is damn hard work, and finding an audience for your work is even harder. But as long as you keep going and keep writing and keep publishing, you will beat out all the other writers who decide to give up.
Every book is important, because you learn things. I wrote 33 books before book 34 because a big hit. But if I hadn't written those 33 books, I never could have written 34.
Write things that you love and are excited about, because otherwise, what's the point? And be okay with writing a bunch of crap – it's more important to finish a book than it is to get the first chapter perfect. You fix all the crap in editing, but if you never get past chapter one, you'll be stuck forever.
For more advice and resources on writing and self-publishing, hop on over to my website for writers – Rage Against the Manuscript.
I wish I could help, glitterkitten! Unfortunately, I'm not able to read or comment on the work of individual writers. But if you want some of my tips and resources for authors, head over to Rage Against the Manuscript.
I can't answer this question for you. And honestly, I'm probably biased because I've seen great success as an indie author. There are advantages and disadvantages to both paths.
I love being indie because I like being able to publish the stories that excite me, interact directly with my readers, publish super fast, and keep all the control and all the royalties. The main disadvantage is that I have to manage every aspect of my author business myself, and I have to be a bit of a noodle and be okay with waving my hands around and saying, "hey, look at me!"
With a traditional contract, you get to work with a big publisher and an editor with lots of experience, you don't have to find your own cover designer, and you will be able to get your books in bookstores and see reviews in important publications. You still have to do your own marketing, but your publisher will be able to get you into places where indies can't go.
Some genres to better in indie, others do better in trad. It's up to you to do the research and see where you're going to fit and what works for your personality.
Hell yes! I'm always excited to hear from writers, illustrators, event organisers, designers, publishers, and other creatives with innovative ideas.
I'm pretty full up with my own projects these days, but I'd love to hear from you and we'll see if we jive. Email me and let's talk.
Many of my books have translation, film/TV, and audiobook rights available. Contact me and we'll talk.
Sure thing! I'm always happy to talk about writing, my books, self-publishing, and anything dark and gothic and spooky. Contact me and we'll jam.
Want Steff at your event?
One of the best parts of my job is meeting readers and fellow authors. I live in New Zealand but I love to travel and I'm available for signings, literary festivals, author workshops, keynotes, and panel discussions.
I've previously been a signing author, keynote speaker, and workshop presenter at Ballgowns and Books Event, The Romance Writers of New Zealand annual conference, National Writers Forum, LitCrawl, and the Canberra Women's Writers Festival. Contact me at email@example.com to discuss your event.
Find out more about my events and workshops for authors at Rage Against the Manuscript.
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© Copyrights 2020 Steffanie Holmes / Steff Green. All Rights Reserved.