Happy Monday everyone! Today I’m chatting with the lovely Milla Holt. Grab you coffee (or tea, water, or whatever you prefer!) and join the conversation!
Jessica: Can you start off by telling us why you decided to write about people of color or diverse issues?
stories. My husband is from Norway, so, again, I reflect my own
experience when I write about people who find love across racial and
Jessica: I love that! What is your greatest struggle in writing characters of color?
Milla: When I write about Black people, especially people of East African
descent, I’m writing what I know. It’s more of a stretch to write about
people with different cultural backgrounds. I don’t want to come across
as inauthentic or using lazy stereotypes, so it definitely takes a lot
more work and conscious effort.
Jessica: We’re thankful you take the time to research it! How do you make your non-White characters believable and relatable?
Milla: The non-white characters I’ve written so far have come from cultures
with which I’m very familiar. In my first book I included several
Ugandan characters. Since that’s my ethnic background and I lived and
worked in Uganda for many years, it was easy to craft these
personalities, their attitudes, their life circumstances, and their
reactions to the events around them.
In my second book, I thought it would be fun to make hair a part of the
plot. My characters meet because a White father is having trouble
choosing hair products for his mixed race daughter and the Black female
love interest steps in to help. This is, once again, something that I’ve
experienced, being Black and the mother of mixed race children. So, I
would say that what I write comes out of things I’ve experienced and
I put a lot of effort into developing my characters and getting into
their heads, their backgrounds, the defining moments of their lives that
made them who they are. Most of this material never actually makes it
into my books, but it helps me immensely. People are complex and
multifaceted, and I feel that when authors do their best to go beyond
the surface level and dig into what makes their characters tick, that
goes a long way to creating characters who are not cardboard cutouts.
This is especially important when we’re trying to avoid stereotypes of
Jessica: There’s so much more to writing then just putting the words to paper! Do you relate to any of the characters in your books?
Milla: Definitely! Each of my characters has at least one thing that I
personally resonate with, whether it’s a detail relating to family
background, career or a pathetic dating history.
Jessica: It’s nice to see Milla amongst the pages! Where do you get your ideas for storylines?
Milla: Oh my, ideas come from all over the place. But most typically, I’ll
think about people whose circumstances put them in conflict, and then
complicate that conflict with romance. So, for example, in my first book
I had an AIDS activist cross paths with the head of a pharma company. Or
in my second book, two people who have lost their spouses start falling
in love, but their massive emotional baggage gets in the way.
Jessica: Awesome! What do you have coming up next for readers?
Milla: I’ve got two projects that I’m very excited about. I’m just finishing a
story that will be free to download. It’s about a couple who broke up
years ago and find themselves stuck next to each other on an awkward
transatlantic plane journey. That should be available on my website in
early August. And in November I’ll wrap up my Color-Blind Love series
with a workplace romance about the White daughter of a billionaire who
meets the son of a Ugandan refugee. She gets the job that he thinks
should have been his, so there’s lots of lovely conflict there.
About the Author
Milla Holt writes fiction that reflects her Christian faith. She loves
happy endings, heroes and heroines who discover sometimes hard but
always vital truths, and stories that uplift and encourage.
She hails from East Africa but now lives in the east of England with her
husband and children. They enjoy rambling in the countryside, reading
good books, and making up silly lyrics to their favorite songs.