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My First Time with...Holly Cave

Holly Cave was born in Devon and has a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College London. Holly spent four years working at the Science Museum in London and after a career break to travel the world, she became a freelance writer and now writes about science and technology alongside her fiction work. The Memory Chamber is her first novel - although she self-published The Generation in 2015.

Holly is joining us at The Riff Raff on March 15th. Snap up your tickets here>>>

Here's the blurb for The Memory Chamber...

You are going to die.

You can preserve a handful of special memories forever.

Which ones would you choose?


True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity re-living your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop forever and ever.

Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal - and married - clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.

But when Jarek's wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds...

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?

I’d known for a while I’d wanted to write something that linked back to brain science, but I had no idea what. Then one sunny autumn day, I was walking my dog in the fields, gathering blackberries from the hedgerows. Everything felt so perfect, and I thought to myself ‘this is heaven.’ By the end of that walk, Isobel’s character was solidifying in my mind, and the bright beauty of the day was already turning to a much darker storyline.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write your first book?

That I would finish it. Things might have been a lot easier without the crushing self-doubt.

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

I’ve realised recently that I’m addicted to my phone. I’ve just started putting it on silent and leaving it on the other side of the room while I’m writing. But then it buzzes, and I start wondering if something vitally important and urgent has happened. Next step in the programme: switching it off completely.

What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing it?

I wrote myself into a plot hole on more than one occasion. I’m much better now at ‘killing my darlings’ rather than trying to hold on to something that isn’t working.

Best thing about writing your book?

The escapism. Writing has got me through some tough times. That, and being able to regularly wear jogging bottoms, forgo makeup, and not wash until midday. And the worst?

I fell pregnant at around the time I was finishing my very first draft of The Memory Chamber. I remember literally sliding off my chair on to the floor and falling asleep on the carpet because I felt so tired.

Go-to writing snacks?

Spring – hot cross buns. Summer – mini Magnums. Autumn - chocolate digestives (also applicable to other seasons). Winter – mince pies. And gallons of tea, obviously.

Who or what inspires you to write?

I’ve always felt driven to write by some force inside me. But my dad was also a writer, and if I’m struggling with it then I think of him grinning at me and telling me how proud he is.

The book that changed you?

So many, in so many ways. But one book that really changed my attitude as a writer was The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. It blew me away not only because of the phenomenal writing, but because it didn’t sit neatly in any box or genre. It was the first time I realised that there might be demand for the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.

Your pump up song?

I’ve never been that into music. I’m a book geek through and through.

If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer dead or alive, who would it be?

Ernest Hemingway. I’d swap the wine for martinis and then ask him to write me a killer blurb for the front of my book.

One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get a book published?

Write what you want to read, not what you think you should write.

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