“My background is in working with kids, so more than anything, I would love to write a novel that generations of children grow up reading. Nothing could be better than that.”
A member of the Writers’ League of Texas since April, Fred Holmes lives in Dallas, TX.
Fred Holmes: I write YA fantasy.
Scribe: What author would you most like to have a drink with, and what’s the first question you would ask them?
FH: Boy, there are so many authors, living and dead, I’d love to have a drink with and talk about why they wrote what they wrote. Can you imagine spending an hour with Shakespeare or Dickens or Hemingway or Terry Pratchett? That would be pure heaven, and I guess it would have to be in heaven! Then again there are a lot of living authors I would love to have a drink with and talk about writing in general: George R. R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King, among so many others. As you can see, I have fairly eclectic tastes. But if I had to settle for one, it would be Ray Bradbury, and for a number of reasons. First, he wrote my favorite book of all time, Dandelion Wine.
Second, I came very close to actually having that meeting. A friend of mine, Jerry Molen, was producing Martian Chronciles for Universal, Ray Bradbury was writing the script, and Jerry knew I was a huge fan of Mr. Bradbury’s. So one day he invited me over to DreamWorks to meet him, but I couldn’t go, and it broke my heart. We tried to reschedule, but the project fell apart soon after, and I never got to meet Mr. Bradbury, although he was kind enough to autograph a copy of Dandelion Wine. He even drew a picture of a dandelion next to his signature and wrote, “This dandelion is for you!” To this day, it is one of my most prized possessions. Had the meeting taken place, I would’ve asked him (as politely as possible) what had happened with the sequel to Dandelion Wine. He had said himself that it didn’t work, and I would have loved to have heard his take on why.
Scribe: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what book would you want to have with you to keep you sane?
FH: There are a lot of books that have the ability to transport me out of my current circumstances–the Narnia books, Lord of the Rings, the Discworld series–but if I had to pick one, it would be Dandelion Wine. And here’s the weird part: I’m not sure why it touches me in such a visceral way. It’s about an era I didn’t grow up in, and it’s very episodic. And yet, the characters and their lives draw me in and make me wish I was Douglas Spaulding during that last summer of his childhood.
Scribe: What have you learned from your association with the Writers’ League?
FH: That I’m not alone. My background is in film and television, and I was unfamiliar with the depth of talent writing fiction here in Texas. There are a lot of folks writing nonfiction as well, but my area is fiction, and it’s very encouraging to see how many people share my passion right here in my home state and are turning out really good work.
Scribe: Where do you see your writing taking you (or you taking it) in the future?
FH: I hope more and more people will read my books. Same thing every author wants. Would I want to someday write the Great American Novel? Sure, but my background is in working with kids, so more than anything, I would love to write a novel that generations of children grow up reading. Nothing could be better than that.
Scribe: Here at the Writers’ League, we love sharing book recommendations. What’s one Texas-related book that has come out within the past year that you couldn’t put down?
FH: Honestly, I can’t think of a Texas-related book that I’ve read so far this year, but I have read several in previous years. As a kid, I was a massive Alamo fanatic and read pretty much everything on the subject, including A Time To Stand, and 13 Days To Glory. I’m also a huge Larry McMurtry fan: Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show, and Terms of Endearment.
Scribe: Is there anything else about you that you would like to share with the world? An opportunity for blatant self-promotion!
FH: I’m a first-time fiction writer. I did ghostwrite a nonfiction book a few years ago, Letters from Dad, published by Thomas Nelson. However, I’m primarily known as a writer/director in television and film. I’ve worked on pretty much everything in my career, from television documentaries shot all over the world, to TV commercials, to corporate films, to series television, to feature films. I’ve been nominated for Emmys five times and have won twice, and I have written and/or directed some of America’s most iconic children’s television shows: Wishbone, Barney and Friends, Mary Lou Retton’s Flip Flop Shop, in Search of Heroes, Horseland, and many others. I’ve also directed three feature films, two starring Lou Diamond Phillips for Miramax and Lionsgate, and one was a Bollywood feature film shot on location both here in Texas and in India.
Why did I start writing novels? Quite frankly I had grown weary of writing screenplays and wanted to try my hand at writing prose. It had always been my dream to write novels someday, and I had fortunately reached that point in my career where I could afford to try it. My goal in writing is to touch the lives of children in a positive way and the first book in my Ugly Teapot series is designed to help kids deal with death. To do so, I tell the story of the calamity that ensues when Aladdin’s Lamp takes up residence in a small town in Tennessee and the genie offers anyone who rubs it three wishes. It has adventure, pathos, and a fair amount of humor, and I hope it encourages kids to rise above the difficulties in their lives.
If you’re a Writers’ League member and you’d be interested in being interviewed for our Meet the Members feature, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. It’s a great way for other members to get to know you and for you to share a bit about what you’re working on!