Holland traces both maternal and paternal lineages to Washington’s slaves. During the post Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation period he attended the County’s segregated Drew-Smith Elementary School named after the pioneering African American physician Dr. Charles Drew and 19th Century Gum Springs resident and educator Annie Smith. Holland credits his early childhood reading and education with inspiring the name of his lead protagonist Drew Smith.
Desegregation was complete by the time he entered the County’sFort Hunt High School. There he witnessed limited social and extra-curricular opportunities for blacks and sought out the historically black college experience entering Fisk University in the fall of 1969.
There he majored in English and Education studying under the late Harlem Renaissance writer Arna Bontemps. Holland graduated a member of Lambda Iota Tau International Literature Honor Society in 1973 then worked briefly at the Graduate School, USDA counseling military veterans and foreign students before enrolling at Howard University School of Law receiving a Juris Doctor in 1978.
He has served in several government agencies including the National Labor Relations Board and a number of Washington’s top national law firms. In the mid 90s Holland began freelancing for the local media. In 2008 The Writer Magazine published his How I Write profile of local best selling novelist George Pelacanos.
Holland identifies with Pelacanos’ writing style and hometown setting also adopting the same hard boiled noir fiction genre. For the past 10 years Hollandhas devoted much of his writing to completing the 4 volume Drew Smith series. He launches the series with the publication of Sleepless Nights, where the practicing attorney/bon vivant keeps it real both at work and play.
Holland currently blogs at editorialindpendence.com . More information on Sleepless Nights is available at SleeplessNightsNovel.com and his web site Norwood Holland.com
Get to Know Holland:
1. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a freelance writer and lawyer lobbying on behalf of police and security officers. I received my law degree from Howard University School of Law and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English at Fisk University. A native of Washington DC, I favor D.C.’s local color in my fiction and currently write the offbeat blog editorialindependence.com devoted to diversity issues and labor law, book reviews, and social commentary.
2. Describe your book ‘Sleepless Nights’ in 30 words or less.
Sleepless Nights is suspenseful with larger than life characters based on a true crime story changing the lives of three young men and those around them–an engrossing legal thriller.
3. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For me the most difficult part of writing Sleepless Nights was developing the plot line, and trying to come up with creative ways to raise the stakes for Drew Smith. A fundament rule for legal thrillers is to make your protagonist suffer and with that in mind the challenge was to make Drew Smith suffer while seemingly enjoying the high life. Drew Smith an urban bon vivant in his favor why should he be troubled? So I had the difficult task of causing him trouble. Once I had a central plot down then subplots and characters began to unfold naturally in the development.
4. What books have had the greatest influence on you?
I love biographies and particularly writer’s biographies. I’m a student of African American Literature so my taste may be a little esoteric. Two great books which I considered my favorite autobiographies are James Weldon Johnson’s Along This Way and Langston Hughes I Wonder As I Wander. As for popular fiction I’m a big fan of Harold Robbins and James Michener, I like epic adventures. I can say unequivocally the works of Langston Hughes have had the greatest influence on me.
5. Briefly share with us what you do to market your book?
Marketing is a challenge and a whole new experience for me. I’m targeting book clubs and reading groups to develop a core readership or fan base. I’m also targeting the Library market. I have found the local and national independent publishing associations to be valuable resources. They have also been instrumental in introducing me to book fairs and trade shows as possible venues for selling books. My promotional strategy is combination of both on line and off line. I plan to implement an intense internet promotional plan primarily made up of a bog blog tours to promote the ebooks and book signings at independent book stores and reading groups.
6. How do you spend your time when you are not writing?
Lately I’ve taken up golf as a hobby. When I’m not working I’m usually involved in some type of self improvement project like trying to teach myself new skills like building web sites and learning a second language. I also like to travel something I hope to do more of as I attempt to promote my book at book stores across the country. I enjoy reading, visiting art museums, and music. According to Auntie Mame, “life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving.” I try to end each day sated.
7. What are you working on next?
Minus One, the prequel to the Drew Smith Series is in its final editing stages. I expect to see it in print by Spring 2012. Drew Smith finishes law school and takes a job as a hotel concierge while awaiting his bar exam results. He makes new friends with two Bell Men and after a night out on the town suddenly finds themselves the center of a murder mystery.
In an already complicated life Smith is pressed into service when a vicious robbery leaves three dead and the city enraged. Drew Smith and his devoted sidekick Julio Mejia work to free his young client on the trail of a crazed gunman responsible for a growing body count.
In the end, the gunman and the dancer combine forces to bring Smith down. When death comes knocking Drew Smith faces the fight of his life.