Author Interview with Holly Jennings of “Arena”

Hello readers! I got the chance to interview debut author Holly Jennings about her novel Arena, favorite books, video games, and more! I hope you all enjoy the interview!


Synopsis: Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV. She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier…

The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.

And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.

Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.

The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside…

Q&A Time!

  What inspired you to be writer and what is it about the sci-fi genre that draws you in?

To be honest, I feel like I always was a writer and I don’t think there was any one thing that inspired me to write stories. They were just always in me, waiting to come out. I’m drawn to science fiction because it’s the only place where I can meet aliens, travel to other worlds, or plug into a virtual world. I guess as a kid I had an overactive imagination (and probably still do), so if something could happen in real life, I didn’t want to read about it in a book. I wanted robots, clones and time travel. I wanted a world that would only ever exist on the page, because I could never experience it anywhere else.

 What book/s that you have read has most influenced your life?

If we’re talking about books that affected my life in general, then I have to say the Tao Te Ching was a big one for me. After reading it, I was a much more patient person and not nearly as anxiety-ridden as I once was. No Plot? No Problem!, the book about NaNoWriMo taught me how to disregard my inner critic and finish my stories. Without learning this little trick, I might not have finished my novel, or any story for that matter. Lastly, How to Make Friends and Influence People was a wonderful guide that taught a deeply introverted person like myself how to relate to others and converse with ease.

 Your novel Arena focuses on the world video games, and you’ve discussed that people tend to look down on video gamers in society. Why do you think this is and how can we address this issue?

There tends to be a lot of focus on video games as violent and the people who play them as antisocial shut-ins. Maybe I’m being naive, but I believe the problem is going to correct itself as things like eSports becomes more popular. Gamers are becoming celebrities and gaming competitions are beginning to be broadcast in prime time. As gaming and the people who play them become more and more apart of the mainstream (and if countries like South Korea and China are any hint), it might only be a matter of time before gamers are celebrated for their talents and video games recognized as a respectable hobby.

  What your favorite video game to play?

My favorite game of all time is GTA: Vice City with honorable mention going to Perfect Dark. I also spent many, many years lost in World of Warcraft. Overall, my favorite games tend to be open world, usually with a role-playing element. Still, I like to mix it up and will randomly play Harvest Moon or a classic Mario game.

 Is there anything that you found particularly challenging in writing Arena?

In the beginning, the fight scenes were very daunting. It’s incredibly difficult to find that balance between describing enough detail so the reader knows what’s happening and yet not too much so the fight feels slow and mechanical. However, I knew the fight scenes would be a big part of the book so I spent a lot of time studying how to make the most out of those scenes. Now, writing fight scenes is one of the things I look forward to in my books.

 What do you love most about the writing process?

I have two parts that I particularly love. The first comes from creating a world that never existed until I put it on the page. It appeals to my creative side. That happens in the outlining and early rough stages. The second comes from fine-tuning a sentence, paragraph, page or entire chapter to perfection. This usually happens in the final drafts. It appeals to my analytical, perfectionist side. I guess that means the middle drafts are kind of tough for me.

 What would the main character in your book, Kali, have to say about you?

I think she’d sympathize with me over our common hatred of alarm clocks, value my patience with her antics, and also tell me to write faster. She’d probably swear, too. 

 Does your book have a lesson? Moral?

Readers have told me several different morals they got from the book, so I guess it depends on the reader. Since the book is about pro gaming in the future, many current day gamers who earn their income from gaming have told me the book reminded them to focus more on having fun instead of it being all about profit. For me, the book is about learning to appreciate what you have and the world around you. 

About The Author



Holly Jennings is a lifelong gamer who has spent innumerable hours playing World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. ARENA is her first novel. She lives in Canada, where she is working on the sequel. Find out more about Holly online at

Facebook | Goodreads| Twitter


Thank you again Holly for the lovely interview! If you’re looking for a fast paced, action packed YA novel check out Arena today! 😀

Leave a Reply