Client Spotlight: John Holmes

Available now on Amazon

Welcome to another client spotlight!

Last fall I had the privilege to work with English author John Holmes on his latest novel, Lily Upshire is Winning.

Read on to learn more in John’s own words about him and Lily.


What is Lily Upshire Is Winning about?
Initially, a big company that won’t say sorry to a twelve-year-old girl. She refuses to be deterred, while the company makes increasingly generous overtures to her to avoid her request. She persists, and the resulting correspondence soon becomes a cause célebre.


What genre is the book?
Young Adult / New Adult. A quirky coming-of-age novel.


Why Winning?
It is common in England, less so nowadays, to ask of someone ‘Are you winning?’ in the sense of: defeating whatever challenges the person addressed is dealing with.


What inspired the book?
I’ve always been fascinated by how something very sophisticated and powerful can be made vulnerable by the failure of the most humble of components. It is a similar principle here.


Tell us about Lily.
At the start of the book, she is approaching her thirteenth birthday. She has no parents or siblings and lives with her grandmother in a loving but often fractious relationship. At school she is an outsider with all the problems typically associated with that. She is sweet-natured but has not yet learned to control her tongue, which gets her in trouble.


Apart from Lily and her grandmother, who are some key characters?
The neighbours, Nancy and Fred Peacemaker, are professional claimants and they are instrumental in turning Lily’s request for an apology into a campaign. Frank Salesman is the embodiment of the big company, greedy to acquire struggling businesses and absurdly over-ambitious, but in his heart he means well. He talks constantly in colourful American expressions. The book is in part a celebration of these idioms.


The blurb mentions satire and surrealism – what does that refer to?
It is mainly in the corporation’s behaviours and actions which are exaggerated to absurdity. There are passages that are on the border between dream and reality.


What was the involvement of writers’ groups?
Over two years, extracts covering a majority of the manuscript were read aloud at writers’ groups where people share their work. Lily’s story has been a popular regular with the groups I belong to.


What is the best writing advice you ever heard?
Nancy Mitford’s exhortation not to be boring was intended generally, but it goes a long way when it comes to writing, which of course she was an excellent exemplar of. I can’t wait for the upcoming TV adaptation of The Pursuit of Love.


Be sure to go check out Lily for yourself!

And follow John on Twitter to keep up to date with him and his future projects.



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Thanks for spending this time together. See you again soon.

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