Author Interview with Fred Holmes

  • How long have you been writing?

51r4987wb1l-_uy250_Forever! Before you’re born it’s very difficult to network, so the first thing I did when I popped out was ask my doctor, “Know any good literary agents?” Just kidding! —sort of.  Truth is, I started writing in school and never stopped. After college I started out as a director of television and films, but grew so tired of the quality of scripts I was being asked to direct that I started writing my own. This led to me writing and/or directing over 250 episodes of TV, which led to me writing spec screenplays for movies in Hollywood. One of these screenplays was optioned by Gerald R. Molen who’d won the Academy Award for producing SCHINDLER’S LIST. Jerry was never able to get it made into a movie, so one day a friend of mine at Disney suggested I turn it into a novel, and voila! THE UGLY TEAPOT was born! Boy, don’t you just love all of these metaphors about birth…?

  • What is your favorite genre to write?


  • Which genre have you never tried before, but would like to try?

I’m still trying to get fantasy right, but if I was going to try something else it would be a biography. I’ve traveled a good portion of this earth directing TV documentaries, and some of those places no sane human being would ever want to go. My wife has suggested I title my bio, “Dysentery From India to Africa.”

  • Please tell us about your book.

THE UGLY TEAPOT is the story of a fourteen-year-old girl who leaves home on an amazing adventure with her father. There is just one problem. Her father died a month ago.

  • Which character was your favorite, and why? Which character was your least favorite, and why?

Favorite: My protagonist, Hannah. She’s brave and resourceful, yet vulnerable and oh so dedicated to doing the right thing regardless of the consequences.  Least favorite: My antagonist, the Magician, because he’s everything Hannah is not.

  • What was the hardest part about writing your book?

I began my professional writing career writing teleplays and screenplays so making the transition to writing prose was a challenge. It still is! In screenplays you only write what the audience will see and hear, consequently you don’t get inside your character’s heads to experience what they’re thinking or feeling. That is left to the actor to portray. So when it came time for me to write THE UGLY TEAPOT, I not only had to teach myself how to get inside my characters, I also had to relearn grammar. Good grammar isn’t highly prized in writing screenplays. Your goal is to create an emotional blueprint for a movie.

  • What is your writing routine? Are there things you absolutely need to start writing?

I pretty much write seven days a week, about fifty weeks a year, and depending on whether or not I’m directing something, I write for about eight hours a day. I read once that Charles Dickens only wrote four hours a day, and I don’t know how he did it—especially writing long hand! What do I need to start writing? A computer, an idea, and some privacy.

  • How long did it take you to write your book from start to finish?

The short answer—a decade or more—because it started as a screenplay, then went through several incarnations as a novel. Interestingly enough, the sequel only took me six months.

  • Can you tell us about your editing process?

Unlike what they tell you to do, I go back and edit while I’m writing. Perhaps it’s the perfectionist in me, but I have a hard time moving forward unless I’m at least somewhat pleased with what I’ve written. Then once I’m done, I do multiple passes to clean it up.

  • Is this book part of a series? If so, how many installments do you have planned?

Yes, it is part of a series and there will be three installments.

  • Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write. What are you waiting for? Life is short and very unpredictable. So don’t wait. Start writing today. Start this very moment—this very second! Stop reading this and go write! –okay, well, it would be nice if you finished reading this first, but ignore those who tell you you can’t do it. No one—and I’m talking no one in the entire freaking universe—can write your story. So quit hesitating and get to work. And once you start, I want you to realize something extremely important. Stories are meant to be shared. They’re not meant to be put in a drawer and forgotten. They’re your gift to the future, so get them out there by hook or crook! And make them a good gift. Tell stories that lift people up and make their lives better. There’s already enough hatred and meanness in the world. Be someone who tells stories that make the world a better place. Then who knows. A thousand years from now someone just like you might read your story and be touched by it and be inspired to write their own story. Can you think of a better legacy?

  • Why should everyone read your book?

Why should anyone read any story? First, a good story teaches you empathy. You get to walk in someone else’s shoes for awhile. Second, a good story broadens your horizons. You learn that it’s a great big world out there with diverse ways of living and thinking, and learning about this diversity makes you a better, more well-rounded human being. And third, a good story teaches you to dream. It makes you realize you can accomplish so much more than you ever thought you could. Does THE UGLY TEAPOT embody all of these objectives? I sure hope so. I tried my best to portray them. And I would be honored if folks would give it a chance.

  • If you could meet three authors, dead or alive, which three would you choose?

First, Ray Bradbury; he wrote my favorite novel of all time, DANDELION WINE. Why I connect with that book so viscerally, I have no idea, because it is about a time in which I did not live, and a place I’ve never been, and yet I absolutely adore it. A big reason is Ray’s use of language. His writing is about as close to poetry as one can get. As a side note: Years ago, before Ray died, he was working with my friend, Jerry Molen, on the movie version of THE MARTIAN CHRONOCLES for Universal. Jerry was telling me about working with Ray, and I told Jerry what a huge fan I was of DANDELION WINE. Sure enough, when I showed up in Jerry’s office at DreamWorks the next day, he handed me an autographed copy of DANDELION WINE. On the inside of the cover, Ray had drawn a picture of a dandelion and written, “Fred, this dandelion is for you!” It remains one of my most prized possessions. As far as living authors are concerned, my next choice would be Patrick Rothfuss. I would love to talk to him about THE SLOW REGARD OF SILENT THINGS. It’s so subtle and wonderful and is the finest portrayal of mental illness I’ve ever read. And I would love to meet J. K. Rowling. Perhaps buy her lots of drinks, loosen up her tongue a little, and get her to tell me where all of those magnificent characters came from!

  • What inspired you to write your book?

THE UGLY TEAPOT is my emotional reaction to the death of my brother, Jim. He died at a very young age from cancer and it took seven years to kill him because he tried so hard to live. It was an absolutely horrible time, I was with him through it all, and I’m still struggling to deal with it. My goal in writing TEAPOT was to create an action/adventure story that would help kids deal with trauma so, hopefully, they will be able to deal with life’s heartbreaks better than I did.

  • Are you working on something at the moment? If so, can you tell us more about it?

I’m finishing up the sequel to THE UGLY TEAPOT. I can’t tell you too much about it without a bunch of spoiler alerts, but I can say that Aladdin’s Lamp has taken up residence in a small village in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, and the townspeople will never be the same. Some will live, some will die, and some…well…you’ll just have to read it.

Book: The Ugly Teapot

Fourteen-year-old Hannah Bradbury loved her father so much that she worried about him constantly. After all, he was a photographer who traveled to the most dangerous places in the world. To allay her fears, each time he came home he brought her silly gifts, each one with supposed magical powers: the Seal of Solomon, the Ring of Gyges, even Aladdin’s Lamp. It was that lamp that Hannah found most unbelievable, for it looked like an ugly teapot. Nevertheless, her father assured her it was real, and made her promise to save her three wishes for something very special. Then . . . six months later . . . the unthinkable happened. Her father was killed while on assignment to Baghdad. And so on the day of his funeral Hannah did something she never thought she would ever do. She took out that teapot and gave it a rub . . .

Buy on Amazon (Paperback) or Amazon (eBook).

Author Bio

51xakuez4zl-_ux250_THE UGLY TEAPOT is Fred Holmes’s first fiction novel, having previously ghost written a nonfiction book, LETTERS FROM DAD. He is known primarily as a writer and director of films and television, working primarily in family films and children’s television. His work can be seen on Mary Lou Retton’s FLIP FLOP SHOP, BARNEY & FRIENDS, WISHBONE, HORSELAND, IN SEARCH OF THE HEROES, and many other shows, for which he has won two Emmys and three CINE Golden Eagles, among numerous other awards. He has also directed three feature films, including DAKOTA, starring Lou Diamond Phillips, distributed by Miramax, and HEART LAND, a Bollywood feature film shot on location in India. He lives with his wife and son in the southwest United States, and can be found online at



  1. Thank you, Majanka!

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