Otter Holmes Finally Feels Like a ‘Writer’ After Learning to Keep ‘Friends Close, Co-Workers Closer’
Mr. Holmes, what do you have to say about this volume of the series?
It’s a lot richer. It’s more scandalous. Juicier. There’s more characters that get hired, and fired. There’s so much openness to drama. I’ve always wanted to write the biggest scandal, and I think I’ve hit some high notes here. The story lines are pretty “over the top.” It’s one big spider web, and everyone is tangled. Plus, I’ve developed a lot more as a writer. It’s a better book.
When you say, “a better book,” are you saying you’re not proud of There’s Something in the Coffee?
I am very proud of my first volume. I love it! There’s nothing I would change about it. The second and third volumes give me the opportunity to exercise my skill, and make The Cubicle Diaries a better and better story. I’m sure you can relate, as an artist, we’re always hard on ourselves, and nothing is ever good enough; we can always go higher and want higher, but we need to be realistic. We need to stop and smell the “coffee” and get ahold of ourselves. With the amount of time, energy, and seasoning I’ve invested into this book, I can’t be more proud of my product. Calling myself a ‘writer’ always sounded weird through my own voice, but now, I can successfully and happily call myself a “writer.” I’m a “writer!”
Seasoning. Sounds appetizing.
It’s very appetizing. You’ll want seconds.
I see the chapter size for Volume II has increased to 33, and it is divided into two parts. The first volume is only 22.
Yes! Like I said, this is a bigger and bolder story. There’s a lot going on and off the clock for the employees of The Firm Firm. The crazy stuff happens at work. There’s also a lot more dialogue amongst the characters. There’s backstory. The narrator is still the voice behind the story, but now the story is mainly being told through the characters dialogue. The narrator is still the narrator though. Plus, having all the characters have more dialogue, it helps readers understand the characters more. Readers can feel like they’re in there in the moment with the characters. Readers get the opportunity more to love, or hate, or both, the characters how they want to. I promise, there is not one dull moment. There is plenty to keep a reader entertained.
Are you the narrator?
HAHA. No, I’m the writer.
Yes! Yes you are!
What can you tell us about the title Friends Close, Co-Workers Closer? There’s a saying, “Friends close, enemies closer.” Is there any relation?
I’ll talk about the chapter it’s reflected off of. The chapter that is named after the book is not the longest or the “best” chapter, but it mainly explains the story itself. It’s a great chapter. I didn’t want it to be too much, because that’s what other certain chapters are for. We see the meaning of keeping friends close, and co-workers closer. The chapter pays homage to the narrator. The narrator opens and closes the book, but when readers swim more into the deep end of things where it get really complicated, we see the narrator step back a little. This chapter allows the narrator to step in and remind readers it is the driver. We see Derek being Derek; there’s a sense of nostalgia. The chapter “Friends Close, Co-Workers Closer” underscores the theme of the story, too. There’s a lot of betraying and revenge. As readers, we’re constantly reminded to keep “Friends Close, Co-Workers Closer.” We really realize just because we work with someone that doesn’t mean they won’t betray us or sell us out or talk about us behind our back. We do have to worry about them, and maybe sometimes the most, especially if you’re with a company you want to grow with and are around a bunch of sharks. The top only has one seat. The chapter is toward the end of the book, in part two. The chapter marks a point where all the characters conclude, man, I have to be careful of everyone around me, as if they didn’t know that already. There’s a lot of selfishness going on. I feel like I put that title and chapter in a good part of the book.
The staff of “The Firm Firm” is pretty “brutal” to each other, as one has said, are there any deaths in this volume?
Death of people’s careers, yeah. Also their status, reputation, emotions. There’s a lot of everything.
What is your favorite chapter?
All of them.
What was your hardest chapter to write?
“Who is Afraid of the Big Bad Doris?” was one of the more challenging chapters. It was very challenging. That chapter caused me to have writer’s block! I knew I had to make that chapter good. The title is good. I edited the book in order, and because of that chapter, I had to break the pattern. I had to move on and revisit it later, but it worked out because we see high points in there. You’re like, is this really happening? Anything where “Doris” is in dominancy is time consuming and energy absorbing. “Doris” requires a lot of energy. She is one of my favorite characters. She’s so great, I gave her her own titled chapter. It turns out, too, that this chapter ended up being the longest one. “Doris” is an important character to The Cubicle Diaries.
Are there any other characters that get their own titled chapter?
“Louva.” It’s called “Looking Louva.” I love that chapter. I call it the “exception chapter.” If this book were a play, it would be the intermission sideshow.
What do you love about the chapter?
It’s rhetorically flushed. It’s a gift to English. “Louva” has good dialogue. When she not gossiping like a little girl, she’s has good language. I like to see “Louva” as my “Shakespearean” character. She has really developed. Also, “Looking Louva” was an add-in chapter. I was editing, and I came up with it, and I was like, how in the hell do I fit this gem in here?! It was a must. I already told myself I was only going to edit, and not add, but “Looking Louva” came out of nowhere. It’s the shortest chapter, but it says a lot. It’s a little mind blowing.
Could “Doris” or “Louva” get their own series one day?
I still have another volume to publish; currently there is battered fish to be fried.
You said, “If this book were a play.” Are you hoping to adapt the series one day?
Of course! I do, however, see it more as a show. Volume II is episodic, yet so fresh and fluid. Everyone in the working world, especially people in an office environment, can relate to it. It would definitely hold viewership. I am open to having the series adapted as a play, because of its dramatic high points.
So, we learn the story of the infamous black rose, yes?
Yes! We do! Finally! Everyone will. Let’s just say, there’s a “Special Office Delivery.” But! The black rose does not stop there. We see them blossom, again. You know, I had so much fun writing and creating this series. In retrospect, “Secrets, Scandals & Secret Santas” is one of my favorites, besides all of them. It’s a great chapter. I had so much fun writing it. I was so caught up in it. That‘s where the second round of black roses appear, and this time they affect everyone, not just one person. That chapter is so thematic, lots of allusions. It definitely taps into the human nature of people.
Volume I finished with Derek in a rocky place, does he end up on top?
“Derek” always ends up on top. He’s “Derek Johnston.”
Well, Mr. Holmes, thank you for stopping by. We all look forward to the next installment of, The Cubicle Diaries. You’ve gave us quite a buzz with your feelings about the book. I can’t wait to read it, and see you, again.
Thank you! It was a pleasure stopping by. Thank you for having me. I’ll send you a copy when it comes out. I’m working on the launch dates.