Holly Sykes lives in Hong Kong, having relocated with her family from the northwest of England in 2021. After teaching English in secondary schools around the UK for fifteen years, she is now able to devote most of her time to writing, although the glittering cityline and mountainous landscapes often draw her away from the page.
Over the past few years, Holly has had fifteen short stories published in various literary magazines including Dream Catcher, The Stand and Firewords. She is currently working on a novel, with the support of a distance learning MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster University.
Q: If you could travel back in time, which of the great writers would you like to meet and why?
A: Great writers seem rather intimidating, but I’d love to meet some great characters: Elizabeth Bennet, Miss Havisham, Mrs Dalloway. A cup of tea with Nelly Dean at Wuthering Heights is my dream.
Q: Is there a book that you keep going back to, and if so, how many times have you read it?
A: I don’t really return to individual books, but I return to authors like Sarah Waters, Zadie Smith and Anne Tyler, and get unreasonably cross when I run out of their books.
Q: What is the least interesting part of writing for you?
A: Although I don’t find any part of writing uninteresting, I struggle with the middle bits when trying my hand at longer fiction, especially sustaining pace. But beginnings are thrilling – that first taste. And endings can feel like such a relief, when it’s gone well.
Q: Do you have a favourite quote? (From a book, film, song, speech…)
A: ‘I’m wondering what to read next.’ – Matilda by Roald Dahl
We had walked down to see the frozen canal. It was the day after Bonfire Night and the sky was bright blue. Not a cloud about. Cold though. Coldest it had been all year. We sat on a bench and ate slices of Alison’s homemade lemon drizzle. Drank tea from a flask. There was a …
Her car glides around the bend and suddenly the colours change. The light sky is swallowed by a darker cover and the yellow fields of barley and oats become bottle green and mud brown: land for livestock, not crops. A flooded field shines silver: a reflection of the slate-grey sky, the sun gleaming through the …