Today, I’m excited to welcome Andy Holloman to our forum. He’s a man with a history in business, and his story about how his novel “Shades of Gray” came to be is truly fascinating. Grab a cold drink and get ready to spend time with a truly fabulous author.
Tim Greaton: I know you are a successful entrepreneur, and I was hoping you might start by telling us a little about your businesses and non-writing background?
Andy Holloman: Thanks for the question Tim, and a big thanks for having me as a guest. I’ve been a fan of your site and your support of writers for a long while. My background is as follows - Born and bred in North Carolina, currently living in the Raleigh NC area. Did my studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, thus I’m a big Tarheel fan. I built a travel agency business throughout the 1990’s. That business stumbled and closed after 9/11 and some other big changes in the industry. Since 2003, I’ve been a residential mortgage lender. I’m a proud father of three perfect (well mostly) children – 14 y.o. daughter, 12 y.o. son, 8 y.o. son and I’ve been happily married for 20 years. I love the great outdoors in NC (mountains and beaches), hiking, camping, and jogging.
Tim Greaton: I usually don’t hop into discussions about releases this early but I have to ask. Other than it being an all-around great story that has ranked near the top of the Amazon charts, I hear one thing about your novel “Shades of Gray.” Apparently, you’ve heard the same thing…a lot. Can you tell our readers what we’re talking about?
Andy Holloman: The compliment I’ve received regularly (and of which I’m truly grateful) is that my story ending takes a lot of readers by surprise. I found the ending to the novel after I had written half of it and it fit so well that the ending was a great asset in the creation of the remainder of the book. I enjoy the same whenever I read and found the complexity of creating a surprise ending to be very fun. I worked hard to drop in just enough clues such that it didn’t reveal the ending but once the readers got to the end, they could see clues clearly.
Since we’re talking about it, where did you get the original idea for “Shades of Gray”?
Andy Holloman: OMG! There is a story behind that. “Shades of Gray” grew out of my experience as a travel agency owner and a client of the business. One of my staff members brought a situation to my attention whereby a client was making some strange (but legal) requests on how her first class airline tickets were to be issued. My staff and I all suspected that she was doing something illegal during her travels which appeared to be confirmed when she was found shot, execution style, in her burned out home in Durham, NC. This event planted a seed in my over-active imagination, and that seed developed into my novel.
Tim Greaton: I’m always fascinated by the different paths we writers take to perfect a story. What’s your story-polishing process like?
Andy Holloman: I found beta readers to be invaluable to the revision process. I currently have three writer friends who review my drafts. I find it impossible to be objective about my own writing and look to these talented folks to point out areas that need polishing and/or don’t propel the story forward. Beta writers are an essential part of the re-writing process for me. One of my beta readers noticed a recurring concept in my early draft that she felt would be a turnoff to female readers. I’m so lucky that she found this flaw and completely agreed with her assessment. The resulting changes improved the story greatly.
Tim Greaton: Is there any one author who has influenced your work?
Andy Holloman: Wow! I have to admit that I have one favorite author who I model myself after, although I’m certain that it will be a goal I pursue forever. I’m a hardcore fan of John LeCarre, the greatest writer of spy novels. His writing style is one that I’ve labeled as “rich” in that his writing has great depth and complexity in how he reveals the plot points and the actions of his characters will consistently be difficult to interpret. He never lays out his plot in such a way that you can identify all the “moving pieces.” There’s ambiguity and the “meaning” of events and character actions is subject to many interpretations. In his genre, he’s also quite different in that his stories are never filled with action, violence, car chases, or such. His is a thoughtful, melodic, complex portrayal of the world of clandestine activities and he is a master. So, my feeble attempts to emulate him revolve around those similar themes of using nuance, mystery, ambiguity, and misdirection to allow the reader to make a variety of interpretations of the scenes and character actions that play out in my stories.
Tim Greaton: Getting back to your novel “Shades of Gray,” which part of your story was the most difficult to write?
Andy Holloman: My novel begins with an automobile accident that involves the protagonist and his young daughter. My initial idea for the story revolved around the idea of “what would be the very worst thing that could happen to a father as a consequence of his life choices”. As a father myself, writing these first several pages and describing the accident were very difficult. As any parent would understand, envisioning a horrible event befalling your child is heart wrenching.
Tim Greaton: I don’t think this is too much of a stretch to imagine “Shades of Gray” becoming a movie, so who would you want in the cast?
Andy Holloman: I have to admit it would be fun being involved in making a film. My main character would be played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, whose range and ability to play a HUGE diversity of characters make him perfect. My main character’s partner, Wanda Johnson, would be played by Jada Pinkett Smith who is as talented as she is attractive (which is one of Wanda’s attributes). My antagonist would be played by the wonderful Don Cheadle, who I love to watch on screen. He does bad guys especially well.
Tim Greaton: It would be great if you could share your website/blogsite and links to where our audience could directly communicate with you and purchase your stories.
Andy Holloman: Folks can connect with me through my website/blog at www.AndyHolloman.com and can also find me on Twitter - @AndyHolloman and Facebook –
And, as a special THANK YOU to readers of this forum, send me an email and mention “Tim Greaton Forum” in your email and I’ll send you a FREE eBook copy of my novel, which can be read on most e-reader devices, including Kindle!) My email address is
AndyHolloman AT gmail.com
Tim Greaton: Andy, your offer of a free book is amazing, and I’m sure there are people typing your email address even as they read these last few lines. I want to thank you for taking time with all of us. It has been great having you here.
Thanks, Tim. I feel honored to have been able to chat with you today and please know that I LOVE READERS!! To have people reading and commenting on my novel has truly been the greatest pleasure of the publishing process. Nothing makes me happier than to swap messages with people of all stripes who have taken the time to read my book.