Holly Bush was born in western Pennsylvania to two avid readers. There was not a room in her home that did not hold a full bookcase. She worked in the hospitality industry, owning a restaurant for twenty years and recently worked as the sales and marketing director in the hospitality/tourism industry and is credited with building traffic to capacity for a local farm tour, bringing guests from twenty-two states, booked two years out. Holly has been a marketing consultant to start-up businesses and has done public speaking on the subject.
Holly has been writing all of her life and is a voracious reader of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, particularly political and historical works. She has written four romance novels, all set in the U.S. West in the mid 1800’s. She frequently attends writing conferences, and has always been a member of a writer’s group.
Holly is a gardener, a news junkie, and was the vice-president of her local library board for years. She loves to spend time near the ocean and is the proud mother of two daughters and the wife of a man more than a few years her junior.
Q: Thank you for this interview, Holly. Can you tell us what your latest
book, Reconstructing Jackson, is all about?
I’d love to and thanks for having me. Reconstructing Jackson is set a few yearsafter the Civil War and follows Confederate veteran, Reed Jackson, as hemoves west to begin again after the devastation of the war.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
Reed Jackson is in a wheelchair, having lost part of one leg and the full use
of the other from a war injury. When he arrives home, his father decides
because of his injuries, he is unfit to carry on the Jackson legacy, and deeds
the plantation to Reed’s younger brother. With that deed goes Reed’s fiancé
from a neighboring plantation. Reed’s mother urges him to move to Fenton,
Missouri, where her nephew, Henry Ames’, operates a successful hotel and is
eager to help his cousin get settled in a new town.
Belle Richards is dirt poor farm girl and lifetime resident of Fenton. She
endures an abusive family with one quest in mind – learning how to read.
Circumstances throw Reed and Belle together in a violent fashion.
Beulah Freeman manages The Ames Hotel for Reed’s cousin Henry. She is an
oddity, as a former slave, to be in a position of responsibility, literate and
teaching others to read.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally
from your imagination?
Totally from my imagination!
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do
you discover it as you write?
I do not know the entire plot of the book at the outset, but I do quickly know
the arc or dramatic turn of the book. Mostly, I see characters in my head and
record their actions and write their dialogue. With Reconstructing Jackson,
I saw a man, a young man, in a wheel chair on a dusty train platform, with
his trunk beside him looking around as if thinking about where to go next. I
wondered why such a young man would be in a wheel chair, why no one was at
the station to meet him. Where was he from, where was he going?
Q: Your book is set in Fenton, Missouri. Can you tell us why you chose this
city in particular?
The state of Missouri was the site of battles and guerilla warfare before and
during the war. The Dred Scott case, eventually argued by the Supreme Court,
originated in St. Louis and the state sent money and soldiers to both sides of
the war. This split of sympathies must have resulted in some dramatic and
horrible rifts among families and neighbors, even in the fictional town of
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
The time period plays a major part in the development of the story because
while Missouri was an obvious place for violence and tension, these kinds of
stories played out across America as social change was far ahead of general
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
Belle is holding a dictionary. She has never seen such a book before in her life
and is overwhelmed when she sees a word she knows. The book is a gift from
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
Reed’s cousin, Henry, visits him his first evening in Fenton.
Henry chuckled. “Turnabout is fair play, I suppose. I tried my hand at
Father’s business for a while. Didn’t care for it much. Had a dream of moving
west. Wanted to watch this country grow. I love it here. I found a beautiful
woman and my life’s work. Oh, I miss my family and what I grew up with, but I
know I would’ve never been happy in Boston.”
Envy of a clear-cut longing and the fulfillment of that goal filled Reed’s
head. Nothing seemed clear for Reed. He was schooled as an attorney, yes,
but had practiced little. Reed certainly missed nothing of his life after the war
began. Had the war not come, things may have been different. He would have
continued on as the second son to a prosperous cotton farmer and would have
managed a great estate’s affairs. But the war had come. Gone were a genteel
existence, his older brother, and Reed’s legs.
Henry corked the brandy and stood. “Mary Ellen told me to keep this
visit short. That you’d be tired. I fear I’ve worn you out more than you already
“My bed does seem to be calling,” Reed said. “Thank you for the ramp.
An ingenious invention.”
“Mary Ellen and I both would like you to be happy. We have no family
nearby and want you to make your life here,” Henry said. “I know I’ll never
replace your brother, I never had one, of course, but it will be good to know I
have someone to lean on. And that you, too, can count me as family.”
The sincere exposition touched Reed in a way that seemed foreign.
His thoughts of family were as muddy and murky as the bayou, filled with
pride, resentment and the undeniable knowledge that he may have done the
same things under the same circumstances. Maybe, just maybe, his mother’s
encouragement to begin a new life elsewhere came from the heart. And maybe
she was right. He had best try and forget the hurts and the wrongs of the past
and make something of himself in a new land. He had told Henry it was a new
world, and perhaps this was the place for a new beginning.
Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on
I usually take a break from writing for a few days or weeks. Then I read other
stories or books I’ve written and then I read the story I’m currently working on.
Usually by the time I’m done with the reread, I’m ready to write again.
Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you
Read or write.
Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?
Pride and Prejudice. Then I’d be a genius of subtle character building.
Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding
getting their books out there?
The publishing industry has changed and many of the barriers to publication
are gone. It is very tempting to self-publish, which has been a wonderful
experience for me and very, very successful so far. But I would caution writers
that while rejection from editors and agents is discouraging, there are usually
other agents to query. Rejection from the public, however, could be a once
and done affair. Make sure your book is ready and has been edited by a
professional before self-publishing.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Holly. We wish you much success!
Thank you for having me!