Holly West and I have been friends since we first encountered each other at a mystery convention years ago. I love sitting down with her to have an extended conversation, because you just never know where that rabbit trail will lead. But you can count on it being both fascinating and entertaining.

A successful writer and podcast host, Holly also edited one of my favorite “inspired by” anthologies, Murder-A-Go-Go’s. Over the years, Holly has also risen to be one of the best panel moderators on the crime fiction convention circuit. If you see her listed as leading a discussion, get yourself to that room. You won’t be sorry. Having moderated a panel on which she was a speaker, I can confirm that she is equally as good on the other side of the equation.

So, how did she tackle our Composite Sketch questions? Let’s take a look.

Name: Holly West
Location: Folsom, CA

This person from my personal life is such an inspiration:

My husband, Mick West, is the best and smartest person I know. Except for singing and dancing, he’s good at everything he does. After nearly twenty-five years of marriage, I still pinch myself because I can’t believe I get to share my life with him.

He taught me one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned: Spend your time and energy on people who make you feel good about yourself.

One of the people I admire most in the crime fiction community is:

I have such a girl crush on Jess Lourey. She’s worked hard and consistently to build her writing career, resulting in a repertoire of books that keep getting better. Plus, she’s so generous with her knowledge and expertise. I’m a few years older than Jess, but I aspire to be her when I grow up.

STALKER ALERT! If this fictional character were real, they would likely need to get a restraining order against me:

I first read The Secret History by Donna Tartt shortly after it was released in 1992. I was in my early 20s, looking for love in all the wrong places, and I had a penchant for tall, dark, brooding, Byron-esque men. So naturally, I fell hard for Henry Winter, the leader of the close-knit group of Greek students in the novel. Like Henry, I lived in my head, and in books and movies, and he came to life so vividly for me it was almost painful. To this day, I think about Henry and how he made me feel when I create my own characters.

People are always surprised that I am a fan of this individual (singer, actor, or artist):

This was a tough one for me. I ended up choosing Li’l Wayne, even though my love for him has, well, waned, in the last few years. Even so, I think he’s sexy (though I could do with fewer facial tattoos) and “Drop the World,” which came out in 2009, remains one of my anthems.

My personal catch phrase is (or should be):

“I’m sure it will be fine.”

I use this phrase often and it drives my husband crazy. I’m impulsive, I don’t like to read directions, and I’m often full steam ahead (without pausing to think about the possible repercussions) of pretty much everything I have a mind to do. I’ll give you an example: Prepping to paint a room is a waste of time. Tape off the bare minimum and get to work.

When Mick questions the wisdom of a given thing (like not putting a tarp on the floor to catch any paint spills), I say, “I’m sure it will be fine.” Even when there’s no evidence at all to support that.

But you know what? Aside from some terrible home haircuts/color jobs, a few regrettable tattoos, and maybe a bad DIY project or two, everything has been fine.

You can find out more about Holly on her website