FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Holden answers some of his most frequently asked questions from readers.
Q: Is Invisible Boys based on your own life?
A: Yes and no. Invisible Boys is fictional - the events and characters are made up. This isn't a memoir. However, I did grow up homosexual in Geraldton, Western Australia, so the journeys of the boys in this book are heavily drawn from the emotional truth of my own life.
Q: Which of the main characters are you most like?
A: All three boys. Zeke, Charlie and Hammer are all aspects of myself. At high school, I was most like Zeke - a shy, anxious, repressed Sicilian Catholic schoolboy. After I left home, I became an angry, outspoken punk like Charlie. These days, my two hobbies are working out at the gym and playing footy, which is where the Hammer part of me comes from.
Q: Will there be a sequel to Invisible Boys?
Yes, probably. I have a clear idea for what happens next, and I intend to write it as my fourth book.
Q: I love your work - what's the best way I can help support it?
A: Readers often ask which retailer they should buy a book from to help me out the most, but the best way to support a book is not where you buy it from, but simply spreading the word if you like it. Leaving a review on Goodreads or other websites lets more readers know about it. You can also share your review on social media or tell your friends about it - word of mouth helps authors a lot.
Q: Is there an audiobook version of Invisible Boys?
A: Yes! The audiobook of Invisible Boys was released in 2021, produced by the team at Wavesound Australia and narrated by talented Aussie actor Nic English. It is available anywhere you buy audiobooks, including Audible.
Q: Is there going to be a film or TV adaptation of Invisible Boys ?
A: Yes! The screen rights for Invisible Boys have been optioned by director Nick Verso (Nowhere Boys, Itch, Boys in the Trees) and producer Tania Chambers OAM (How to Please a Woman, Kill Me Three Times). After receiving funding from Screenwest, Screen Australia, and streaming service Stan, the project is now in development as a ten-episode TV series. Read more from Inside Film here.
Q: Are Invisible Boys and The Brink available overseas or just in Australia and New Zealand?
A: Both of my novels are available globally in eBook and audiobook form. Outside of Australia and New Zealand, paperbacks can be ordered in by your local independent bookshop (support them!) or alternatively via Amazon.
Q: Can I book you for events or public appearances?
A: Yes! I love doing author talks, panels, live storytelling, in-conversations, workshops, guest lectures and more. I visit libraries and schools in particular. Contact me via my Contact page to enquire about availability and appearance fees.
Q: I'm from the media - can we interview you?
A: Yes. Please contact me via my Contact page, and my publicist or I will reply to set this up with you.
Q: I'm a reader - can I send you fan mail or is that weird?
A: You can totally send me fan mail via my Contact page. It makes my day to hear from readers, and I do my best to respond if I can.
Q: I loved Invisible Boys and I'd like to read more of your work. What else have you had published?
Q: I'm a high school teacher or librarian. Are your books appropriate for my library or classroom?
A: Yes! Both Invisible Boys and The Brink are in many high school libraries and classrooms across Australia and have even been used as exam texts. Both texts are recommended for readers aged 15 and over due to the graphic content in terms of sex, substance use, swearing and violence.
Teaching notes have been developed for both books, aligned to the Australian curriculum. They are freely available here:
I've done many author talks, workshops and residencies in high schools and can be booked to visit your school to talk about the book, or about writing more generally.
Q: I am struggling with my sexuality. Where can I go for help?
Like the Invisible Boys, coming to terms with my sexuality was not easy. But it gets better. I've been with my husband, Raphael, for over a decade and we've built a happy life together.
As a teen, I worried my sexuality made me less manly, but accepting and owning my attraction to guys made me feel more confident and masculine. We can't change which sex we're attracted to, and that's okay. Worrying about your sexuality won't change it - trust me, I've been there. You're fine just as you are.
Some same-sex attracted men don't even identify as "gay" or "bi" or label their sexuality at all. I personally call myself "homosexual" or a "same-sex attracted man" or "rough trade". There's no one way to be anything, and you don't have to justify it to anyone. Call yourself what feels right to you.
If you're struggling, I recommend reaching out for help. I got help from a mental health service when I was at my lowest, and it helped me get better. I recommend Lifeline's free and anonymous crisis counselling service via phone and instant chat.
Q: I'm a writer. Can I send you my book manuscript/TV show script/collection of Hungarian spoken word song cycles?
No, please don't send me your manuscripts. I won't read them. I get these requests very often and I'm afraid I just don't have the time to help with this.
Q: But how can I get feedback on my writing? Don't writers help other writers?
Yes, writers help each other out. I wouldn't be where I am without the mentorship, advice and guidance of fellow writers. Many writers offer manuscript appraisals, structural edits and mentorships, but they do charge a fee for these services. The Australian Society of Authors has an amazing range of mentors and they are listed here. WritingWA has a Literati database of West Australian writers here who offer a range of services including mentorships.
For more informal arrangements - or if you're broke, as many of us writers are - consider joining a writer's centre or writing group. Lots of these will offer feedback and critiques for free. Also, once you make friends with fellow authors, they may be happy to read your manuscript - or part of it - for free, though they might want you to do the same for them in return.
Q: In that case, what advice can you give me about how to get started with my own writing?
The best advice I can give you when you're starting out as a writer is to read a lot in your genre, so you learn more from what other writers in that area. This will also help you understand the expectations of that genre and help you identify the gaps in what's being published at the moment (i.e. the niche your book might be able to fill for readers).
The second thing is to start writing - now. Lots of budding writers - including myself - spend a really long time on planning and making notes but often being too scared to take the plunge and start writing. Just start. You can spend years, even decades, making notes and planning, but you won't get any closer to your dreams of having a book published if you don't just start writing it. There's never a perfect time that a writer is 'ready' to start that first draft. Start now. Don't delay it.
And when you do start writing, give yourself permission to write a terrible first draft - let it be absolute horseshit - and this will free your headspace creatively. The first draft is you just shovelling the sand into the sand pit; the second draft is where you will build a proper sandcastle. Or to paraphrase Stephen King's words, the first draft is the writer telling himself the story; the second draft is telling the story to the reader.
In terms of resources, join your local writer's centre - these are a great way to connect with the local writing scene and tap into a community of fellow writers. It's hard to get proper encouragement from non-writer friends and family - they don't always 'get' it. Fellow writers will understand the ups and downs and can offer helpful advice. You can also find a strong writer's community on Twitter and other social media.
When you're ready, consider taking workshops or longer courses to hone your writing skills. And getting a manuscript appraisal or mentorship is a great way to help develop a full-length book draft.
I recently contributed my knowledge about writing and publishing to a book called How to be an Author: The Business of Being A Writer in Australia (Fremantle Press, 2021). It features insights from a wide range of published authors and the book's editors, Georgia Richter and Deborah Hunn. I strongly recommend it as a resource to aspiring and emerging writers. It is available here.
Q: I see you have a literary agent. Can I send you my manuscript for you to forward on to her?
A: My literary agent is Gaby Naher of Left Bank Literary, however I can't act as a broker for your manuscript. If you want to pitch to Left Bank Literary, see the submission guidelines on their website.
If you want to learn more about how to query agents, check out New York literary agent Janet Reid's blog, which is a total gold mine. Also check out Janet's brilliant Query Shark blog, where she deconstructs authors' query letters for them and helps make them better.
Q: What are you writing next and when can I read it?
A: I'm currently working on rewrites for my third novel, which will be published by Text Publishing. Feel free to follow me on the socials to keep up to date with how this book is progressing.