Kristi at a Texas park
Kristi Holl is an award-winning author of over 50 books for children, adults, and writers. (By the way, “Holl” rhymes with “doll.”) Her fiction books have won many honors, including Children's Book Council list of Outstanding Books, Children's Choice Awards, and Junior Library Guild selections. She taught writing for 25 years and is a frequent speaker at writers’ workshops. Her devotionals for girls have been translated into several languages.
Kristi was born in Iowa, where her children were raised on a farm and in small towns. Some of her favorite mysteries are set in state parks there, and she still has many ties to Iowa. She and her husband now live in San Antonio near two of her daughters and four grandchildren. Kristi has always combined writing with parenting and, now, grandparenting. “It’s the best of both worlds!” she believes.
In her spare time, she reads, quilts, hikes, visits museums and historical sites, and dreams of visiting England again.
As a girl, who were your favorite authors?
I loved Louisa May Alcott who wrote Little Women; Doris Gates, who wrote Blue Willow and Sensible Kate; Frances Hodgson Burnett, who wrote The Secret Garden; and Madeleine L’Engle, who wrote A Wrinkle in Time. I was an adult before I discovered C.S. Lewis’s The Chonicles of Narnia, which also became favorites.
What is your favorite color?
Orange! It’s so cheery. Orange shirts, orange flowers, orange popsicles! A couple years ago, I asked to have an orange birthday where all the birthday presents had to be orange. So now I have a lot of orange in my office. At Christmas time, I even have a small orange Christmas tree that sits by my computer.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Kristi, first grade, with baby sister
At the age of ten I wrote a sequel to Little Women called The Four Sisters because I didn’t want the book to end. But I didn’t dream of becoming a writer until I was nearly thirty. I really only wanted to grow up, get married, and have lots of children. In case no one married me, I decided to get an elementary teaching degree so I could be surrounded by children at school. I did get the teaching degree, but I only taught a short time before my first daughter, Jenny, was born, and then I stayed home. When my second daughter, Laurie, was born, I took a writing class through the mail and discovered I absolutely loved writing for children and early teens. I sold my first novel, Just Like a Real Family, right after my third daughter, Jacqui, was born.
Where do you get your ideas?
In earlier years, I got many of my ideas from watching my children deal with school and friendship problems. For mysteries, ideas came to me from visiting places in Iowa. The Haunting of Cabin l3 is set in Backbone State Park, Danger at Hanging Rock is set at Effigy Mounds National Monument, and the Carousel Mystery Series is set in Story City—all Iowa settings. Now that I live in Texas, my mysteries will undoubtedly include Texas settings.
Kristi, first grade
Do you get writer’s block?
If I do, it’s usually because I brought it on myself! I tend to make deadlines too close together, or agree to too many projects. That kind of pressure can freeze up my brain. The best cure for writer’s block I’ve found is to walk away from the computer, take a stroll, go for a walk, play with the grandkids—in general, lighten up and loosen up. Then the ideas start to flow again.
What is your favorite food?
Anything at all that’s chocolate!