Peace Corps Writers
Talking with Kris Holloway (page 4)
 Talking with
Kris Holloway
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page 4

Would you talk a little about how you wrote the book — at what time of the day — on a computer? That sort of thing.

Our boys were 3 and 1 when I returned to Mali and began writing the book, so I didn’t have much time alone. I was doing part-time consulting work, and spending the rest of the day with them. The early morning hours were the only available writing time — that and weekends/holidays when John or other family members gave me precious hours to write.
     Even though the kids are older now, I still find that the morning hours are my most productive time. I think it’s because I’m the ultimate extrovert, and the early hours offer limited social opportunities so I’m forced to focus. I wrote all of the book on my laptop, as I’ve got lightning fast fingers, though I did keep a small tablet and pen with me, in case I needed to jot something down when I was up and about.

Are you writing anything more about Mali?

I’d love to do more work in Mali and write about other aspects of the people and of life there. I’d also like to write about other great women who are too humble to write their own stories. I have some ideas. Another idea has more to do with stories from mothering and parenting. That would certain require the least amount of research (I’m living it!).

What suggestions might you have for someone like yourself who wants to write a Peace Corps book?

If I can do it, anyone can do it! I never set out to write a book based on my experience in the Peace Corps. When Monique died, I simply knew that I must write about her life, so that others could meet her, and potentially be as affected by her as I was. My advice to would-be writers:

First: Peace Corps offers a never-ending stream of interesting tales. You must separate grain from chaff and find the kernels worth telling, Who are people that changed you? What are the experiences that you can’t get out of your head?

Second: When you know this “essential story,” then learn craft. I took fiction-writing workshops because, ironically, I had a story, but I didn’t know how to tell it. Belonging to a writing group where every one of us is working on a manuscript has also been vital. I’ve learned so much through critiquing others’ work.

Third: Keep writing. Force yourself to write every day. All writers will tell you this and it is true. Be okay with putting crap on a page, because now at least it’s on the page, and not in your head. And besides, there WILL be something not smelly in there.

Fourth: Get something published in a local paper or a magazine, or a Peace Corps-related publication so that you’ll have something to show an agent when you need one. And don’t forget the Peace Corps Writers’ friendly agents on this website.

I give this advice because it’s the advice that I followed. I contacted an agent on this website, and she wanted to represent the book! I didn’t end up using her, but the point is that there are more resources than ever before to help writers at each stage of the journey to bookdom. Best of luck.

And the best of luck to you, Kris, and your lovely book.

Thank you!

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