A long-time resident of Ottawa, Canada, Holly has been working in publishing since she graduated with an English degree from the University of Ottawa. She was a finalist in the 2013 RWA Golden Heart (YA Category). 5 to 1 is her debut novel.
In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, Koyanagar–a country severed from India–now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, and women are an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of wedding their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife. But after fighting so hard for freedom against the old ways of gender selection, these women have become just as deluded as their male predecessors. Sudasa Singh doesn’t want to be a wife and Kiran, a boy competing to be her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Kiran’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, each thwarts the other until they slowly realize that they might want the same thing. This beautiful, unique novel is told from alternating points of view—Sudasa’s in verse and Kiran’s in prose—allowing readers to feel both characters’ pain and grasps at hope.
Q&A with Holly Bodger…
Maddie F. asks, “What made you want to become a writer?”
HB: I don’t honestly remember. I wrote and illustrated my first book when I was 6 years old. After that, I moved on to poetry and short stories. I took every English class available in my high school and by the time I went to university, I knew I wanted to write professionally. I have been working either as a writer or in some element of publishing ever since I graduated and that’s in addition to writing fiction on the side. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Some people dream of winning the lottery so they can finally stop working. I dream of winning it so I can have more time to write!
Becca P. asks, “Was your first book ever rejected? If so how many times?” (Sara Ella adds: Any advice for how to deal with rejection?)
HB: My first book was SO BAD I am afraid to even open the file. I sent maybe 100 queries for it and only got a few partial requests. My second book was not quite as bad and got more requests, but it still sucked. My third one garnered an agent. I think I’d sent 400+ queries by then!
I wish I could tell you that the rejection part of my story ends there, but it doesn’t. I wrote a couple more books before 5 to 1 and had to deal with editor rejections on those. I’d hoped I would be done with rejection when I got a publishing deal, but that is so not the case. The rejection doesn’t stop, it just becomes more public. Trade reviews, bloggers, Goodreads… these are all just as hard as receiving a form rejection on a query.
The important thing to remember is that art is very personal. Not everyone is going to love the same things and what may appear brilliant to one person may seem dull to the next. What other people think is, and always will be, beyond your control. What isn’t beyond your control is your book, so write the best damn one you can and if that doesn’t sell, write another one. Just make sure you are doing it because you love it, because if you think you are ever going to earn universal acceptance on any kind of art, you are wrong. Acceptance never comes from the outside. It comes from within.
Daniela D. asks, “Where did you come up with the idea for your book?”
HB: 5 to 1 was inspired by a journal article I read about the effects of gender selection in countries such as India and China. While this problem is very real and very scary, the futuristic consequences that appear in my book all come from my own imagination.
Laura P. asks, “If you could hangout with your characters for the day, what would you want to do?”
HB: Oh wow. That’s a tough one. If I was with the characters from Sudasa’s world, I’d drag them to the market slums and make them see what real life is like for the poor. If I was with the characters from Kiran’s world, I’d probably want to hug them and feed them and then hide them away where no one could hurt them again.
Sara Ella (me) asks, “What is your most anticipated read of 2015 and why?”
HB: The Bollywood Bride by my dear friend, Sonali Dev. This is what I call “a grown up book” but it’s set in India and is about a Bollywood star so I can’t wait to read it!
Thanks for sharing on the blog today, Holly! It was a treat to have you!
Doesn’t 5 to 1 sound super intriguing? I think so! Share your thoughts below or tweet to me @SaraEllaWrites. I love hearing from you! Until then, happy reading!