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At the lake house with Holley Cornetto

We are thrilled that Holley's original story "Forest Man" will be featured in our upcoming anthology "It Calls From The Forest: Volume 1" releasing on April 2nd.

Holley Cornetto was born and raised in Alabama, but now lives in New Jersey. To indulge her love of books and stories, she became a librarian. She is also a writer, because the only thing better than being surrounded by stories is to create them herself. She can be found lurking on Twitter @HLCornetto.

Have you always written, or was there a catalyst that prompted you to begin this journey?

I’ve always told stories. I told them to entertain people, to scare people, or just to pass the time. Storytelling didn’t really translate into writing for me until I was older. I was fortunate to marry a man who enjoys writing as a hobby, and he encouraged me. I am drawn to short stories because they remind me of the tales I’ve always told.

I didn’t start pursuing publication until 2019. I never thought anything I’d written was good enough to be published, but at some point, I found myself wondering, “What if…”

What is your favourite genre to read?

I love horror and fantasy.

When I was young, I remember collecting R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series before getting older and moving on to King, Andrews, and Saul. My mom also loved to read horror, so we shared books and recommendations. She always brought a book with her wherever she went, which ingrained that habit in me. More recently, I’ve been going back to classics like Poe, Jackson, and Lovecraft to fill in gaps in my reading that occurred along the way.

My love for fantasy came about as a teenager. I read, as most children do, The Chronicles of Narnia before graduating to more adult fantasy. I also love reading folktales, myths, and fairytales, all of which, for me, are tied firmly to the fantasy genre.

Do you remember the first piece of writing shared publicly? What were people’s reactions, but more importantly how did you react getting it out there?

I wrote a 500-word piece of flash fiction about a girl in an old house looking out a window who discovers she’s a ghost. I shared it publicly in a workshop for a creative writing class.

As a writer, sharing my work is simultaneously the most gratifying and most horrific thing I’ve ever done to myself. Waiting to see people’s reactions is panic inducing. What if they hate it?

What if they love it? What if they are indifferent?

I was lucky, because other participants in that class liked the work. I eventually revised it and submitted it to an indie lit mag, and it was published. I look back at it now and think I probably could have made it better, but I’m proud of myself for taking those steps.

What is your workspace like? What kind of atmosphere do you need to write?

I have two teenaged daughters, one of whom is disabled, and two very demanding little dogs who all fear that the sky is falling if they don’t have mommy’s undivided attention. Needless to say, I don’t get much writing done at home.

As I mentioned previously, I was fortunate to marry a man who also writes, so we make the time to go on “writing dates” to coffee shops and spread out with our laptops. It is a quiet, productive, caffeine-fueled time.

Did you have an imaginary friend when you were little?

I was my own imaginary friend. I was a strange kid. I talked to myself a lot (spoiler alert: I still do).

Without giving too much away, tell us about your story featured in “It Calls From the Forest” and what inspired you to write it?

I live in a town with several lake communities that used to be summer vacation spots for people to get out of the city. Most of the homes became year-round residencies as the suburban bubble pushed outwards, but I wanted to imagine what this place might’ve looked like before then. When I had this idea, the story was born.

The story features a group of kids that experience something horrific one summer at the lake. As adults, they’ve tried to block out the past or to forget, but each is still haunted by that last summer at the lake. The only way they can move forward is by going back, and finding out what really happened.

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