Author spotlight: Holli Herrle Castillo

By Hyenas in Petticoats Press - December 22, 2020
Author spotlight: Holli Herrle Castillo

This week's featured contributor Holli Herrle-Castillo, answers questions about her story, "Slick River," in the anthology THE STORIES OF SHE.

What inspired you to write this story? 
I had another script and beginning of a novel series with a similar storyline, but something was missing, so I retooled the concept and created new characters.
What is SLICK RIVER about?
 When a pre-K teacher is framed for murder, she returns home to the backwoods, where her estranged family agrees to help her in exchange for working in their down home criminal empire.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for your story? 
The concept evolved from a concept I had for another tv pilot and book series that was missing something. For the characters, I looked at other tv shows that were comparable, and tried to make my characters as different as possible from the ones that already existed, so it wouldn’t look like I was trying to recreate shows that were already out there. I even ended up modifying characters after watching what I thought my show would be compared to so that I didn’t end up with tropes I thought were original. 
What inspired the names of the characters in the story? I wanted the protag and her siblings to be named after flowers, because it said a lot about the matriarch, so the girls were easy. I had to figure out how to make flower names into boy names, but it worked out.
How did you come up with the title? The title I wanted was already a book being made into a limited tv series, so I changed the name of my river and made it the name of the story.
What do you hope readers will connect with in your story? The characters, and how it is difficult to fight genetics, good or bad. The whole nature versus nurture issue.
Did you learn anything during the writing of this story? That I like country music. I listened to it on Spotify to get a feel for the lingo and ended up loving the whole music genre. No one was more shocked than me. I was always an alt girl with rock or pop as a runner up, but country took me by surprise. I even like the songs about trucks. More like I especially like the songs about trucks.
Have you written any other books or scripts, published or unpublished? 
I’ve written several scripts and tv pilots and have a published novel series that was stalled when my publisher died. I was frozen for a while trying to decide what to do, and I finally decided to have the books re-edited and re-release them on my own, which I am in the process of doing.
Describe your writing style. 
Dark and to the point.  I get bored with a lot of description. 
What kind of research do you do before you being writing a book or script? 
I mostly write about strong females with dysfunctional families involved in crime, which I know well [Holli is an attorney], so I don’t really need to do much research until I’m looking for the specifics on crimes, such as penalties or what they call the crime in a particular state. I do research the titles, to make sure I’m not using one that’s already been used, and I’ll research character names to make sure characters and real people don’t exist with the same names that I’m using.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? 
I have to write to music. I make a play list according to the tone of the scene. I’m a method writer. It helps me get the tone and the characters down.
What's on you current writing playlist? Right now, my playlist is all popular country songs to keep me in the mood for the characters.
Do you write one thing at a time, or do you have several projects going at a time? 
I juggle so many balls I often get hit in the head with them. Right now I’m working on pitching the TV show for Slick River, getting my Gumbo Justice novel series edited for re-release, starting the novel series for Slick River, and have several TV pilots and scripts I’m working on, some not complete yet and some I’m editing or fine-tuning or pitching. 
If SLICK RIVER had a candle, what scent would it be? Tom Ford’s Private Blend Tobacco Vanille. Or Classic Old Spice.
Fun facts/behind the scenes about SLICK RIVER: 
1. In the story, Goldie was originally Daisy and vice versa. But the more I thought about it the more I thought the name Goldie sounded like it belonged to an older character. 
2. Tucker’s character was always the most difficult for me out of all of them, and still is.  He plays a smaller role in the short story than in the tv pilot, but he’s important in both. I’m still figuring him out.  
3. In the tv pilot, I’ve had to change a few things to make them Covid-friendly or at least Covid-easy. The bar in the pilot is empty except for one table of poker players. I figure that can be modified if Covid becomes less of an issue, but I don’t want my pilot to not be considered by a producer because of Covid limitations. The less the producer has to think about to say no, the closer I’ll get to a yes.

HOLLI HERRLE-CASTILLO - Screenwriter, novelist, appellate public defender, and former New Orleans prosecutor, Holli writes screenplays and novels set in the South featuring strong female protagonists, dysfunctional families, and lots of crime. A founding board member of Salter Network Press, Holli is also Executive Director/Producer at Bad Wolf Productions and the author of the Crescent City Mystery Series, including Gumbo Justice and Jambalaya Justice. The next book in the series, Chocolate City Justice, will be released later this year. An optioned screenwriter, her story Slick River is a suspenseful neo noir based on her feature-length screenplay, Slick River.