Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On Writing, with Jessica Holmes

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On Writing, with Jessica Holmes

Jessica Holmes talks to Open Book about breaking through writer's block, her favourite comedians and her new book I Love Your Laugh: Finding the Light in My Screwball Life, published this fall with McClelland & Stewart.

Open Book:

Tell us about your new book, I Love Your Laugh: Finding the Light in My Screwball Life.

Jessica Holmes:

This book is validation wrapped in humour. I'm not an expert on much, but I do know a LOT about embarrassment—and it was liberating to put everything down on paper, realizing that bumps in the road can be funny instead of awkward or painful. My lil' dream is for women to read it, laugh, and say "phew, it's not just me."


What made you decide to write a memoir?


I had writers block for a few years leading up to this book. I kept hitting a creative wall when I tried to write standard jokes. The ideas only flowed when I ignored my fear of vulnerability and wrote about personal experiences. Hence, a comedic spin on the quirkier, uphill parts of my life.


Who are some Canadian writers, comedians or actors you admire?


I always enjoyed reading Margaret Laurence and Margaret Atwood. Basically any serious women named Margaret. But when it came to movies, I was a comedy junkie. I saw the movie Airplane over and over—I'm still amazed at Leslie Nielsen's delivery. I'm also a huge fan of Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Catherine O'Hara and, more recently, Debra Digiovanni and Jon Dore.


Describe your writing process.


Improvisation (thanks, Second City) comes in handy when I'm writing. It's quite a spectacle, with me voicing a lot of characters out loud, reliving the moment I'm writing about, then shutting my eyes and watching the scene unfold in my mind. I put it down on paper, and there's not a lot of editing afterwards. It is, and I've always wanted to say this, "a very organic process." My writing style reads a bit like a television script because I want the reader to envision it the way I do, awkward pauses and all.


What are you reading now?


I'm hooked on Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, where a nurse travels back in time to 18th-century Scotland. The sex is a little much, particularly because my mother-in-law gave me the books, but it's a neat mix of history and drama.


Do you have any upcoming projects in mind?


I'm developing a few series. And I'd really, really love to write another book (you reading this, M & S?)

Jessica Holmes is a comedian, writer, actress and speaker. She has appeared in numerous films and television shows, as well as onstage in the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal, in The Second City's Touring Company, and opening for comedic luminaries such as Leslie Nielsen and Jerry Seinfeld. She has starred in her own comedy series and special, The Holmes Show and Holmes Alone, and most recently in Royal Canadian Air Farce. She has been nominated for several Canadian Comedy Awards as well as the Gemini Award for her TV and sketch comedy work. Visit her website at

For more information about I Love Your Laugh: Finding the Light in My Screwball Life please visit the McClelland and Stewart website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

1 comment

Enjoyed this interview. Especially liked to hear about Jessica's writing process. Must be a hoot to watch! I have loved and reread Diana Gabaldon's whole series many times, they are addicting!
Thanks for the interview of this very funny lady! Looking forward to reading her book!

Joan A Hamilton

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