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Dee J Holmes

The Four Houses


Dee J Holmes is an artist and author—at least when she's not working her day job, or being bossed around by her Great Dane—who writes tales of monsters falling in love and characters who break the rules. The fifth and final book in her Four Houses series is coming soon!

Why do you write? Like, give us the reason that drives you.

I started writing to make the stories I wanted to find in the world. Not to say there aren’t—or weren’t—great stories out there. But there wasn’t enough of what I craved: Stories where monsters were people first and abilities second. Where women could find their strength, and the people (or monsters) they love would cherish that strength. I wanted worlds where a big, tough Alpha werewolf could also have a gentle soul and a kind heart, where vampires weren’t dead or driven blindly by blood, and where the tiniest witch might be the scariest thing in the room. And, of course, I wanted them all to find love.

This desire for a big urban fantasy world, full of complex characters and love that breaks boundaries, drove me to create the world of The Four Houses.

What is this week’s featured book about? Tell us a little about it!

The Four Houses is what happens when four magical races—witches, werewolves, vampires and fae—who’ve been forced to live apart for a thousand years—collide. Escaping from an evil witch’s cellar together, a witch, werewolf, vampire and fae learn that the horrors they’ve been taught about each other aren’t true. In fact, they not only need each other to survive… but they might even find love.

Unfortunately, even after they escape the dangers of book 1, they discover the conspiracy behind that threat runs deeper—all the way to the grave. If they’re going to keep each other and the love they’ve found, they’re going to have to unearth that conspiracy and change their worlds.

What drives/motivates/inspires your life, and how does that flow into your writing?

Oof, tough question. Sometimes it’s just the basics that drive me: making rent, paying for my dog’s

care, groceries. You know, the things we all (or at least the majority of us) struggle with. But when it comes to my writing, I want to both entertain and inform. Not “inform” in some kind of bulls**t preachy way. But I do believe that stories can be tons of fun—can be heartwarming, hilarious, with kick-ass fight scenes—and still tackle big ideas. And that those big ideas don’t have to be smothered in overly flowery prose or heavy-handed academic jargon. I mean, sometimes all you need is a hot

werewolf, right?

"I wanted worlds where a big, tough Alpha werewolf could also have a gentle soul and a kind heart...and where the tiniest witch might b

e the scariest thing in the room. And, of course, I wanted them to find love."

Are there any common themes or tropes that seem to find their way into your work over and over again?

Do zombies count? It’s a weird thing, but somehow a zombie—or something of the creepy, undead

variety—always makes it into my work. I’ve yet to unpack this… and not entirely sure I want to.

Okay! So in seriousness, my books tend to revolve around the main themes of “finding light in the dark” and “doing the right thing, even if it’s hard.” These are core tenants for me, and there’s just no way that can’t bleed into my work. I also tend to feature characters learning to love themselves, and to embrace their strengths.

In terms of tropes, forced proximity is one of my favs—and one I’m having a blast playing with in my current newsletter serial. (If you like badass women, great danes, and complex relationships with friendly zombies, come on down). I also love—and tend to play with—the tropes of chosen one, fated mates, enemies to lovers, and beauty & the beast. I’m sure there’s more, but those are the ones at the top of my brain right now.

What’s your writing process?

My books usually start with an idea—like what would happen if a witch and a werewolf were forced into a false mate-bond, only to discover they genuinely like each other?—and then I move into figuring out who the leading characters are and what they want. For me, two of the most important pieces are figuring out where the story starts—and especially how it ends. Knowing the ending is a pretty crucial piece for me (sure, that ending might change, but it gives me a fixed point to work toward).

Once I’ve got the basics, I outline. I outline like a b**ch. While I might not stick to that outline, I’ve learned I just need it. No outline? My writing speed rivals that of a geriatric turtle on sleeping pills. With outline? Hold on, because I can word fast and furious.

When it comes to drafting, I’ve learned the hard way that I have to write from start to finish—I can’t skip ahead and write that one scene I’m dying to dig into. Nope. If I do that, I’ll forget not only drop key threads, I’ll never want to go back and write those before pieces. So, yeah. I have to start at chapter one and work my way to the end. What I’ve learned to love about that linear process, is how it makes me find the punch in each scene, and how it helps me keep the pacing tight—because I’m just as excited to get to the next “money” scene as I want a reader to be.

"...stories can be tons of fun—can be heartwarming, hilarious, with kick-ass fight scenes—and still tackle big ideas."

If you can share, what is the project you’re most looking forward to writing one day, even if you don’t currently have plans for it? I’m talking that dream project that’s always on your mind!