Celebrating Writers: Carol Holden – Author of Spirits With Friends

"Always, from when I was young, my mother hoped I'd write a book."

The excitement of receiving cartons of your books direct from the printer is one of the most rewarding times in the book creation process. Finally, the author can see their hard-work, time, energy, and concentration revealed in the joy of their own creation, their beautiful book. So, just how did this rocket of a woman, Carol Holden, come to write her first book, Spirits with Friends? Recently, I spent some time with the author to find out. 

inspiration for the book

Carol tells me it was the height of Summer. “It was so hot!” Even now she fans her face remembering back in time. “My friend, Anne and I were having afternoon tea, and I asked if she’d like a glass of Pimms. She hadn’t had one for 40 years!” 

Realising how busy their retirement lives were, the pair decided to meet at the end of every week for a “Happy Hour”.  During the meet ups Carol shared with Anne her discoveries about the spirit they were experimenting with. “I didn’t know much about Gin,” recalls Carol, “Rick always bought Bombay Sapphire. I wanted to find out more. I loved the research, looking at the photos and finding out new information. I became so interested I ordered a range of books on Cocktails.”

Having a fertile mind, Carol thrived on her internet discoveries and began to reflect on her childhood coming from a strict protestant upbringing of puritanism and temperance. She wasn’t a heavy drinker, although there was always liquor in the house as Rick would purchase liqueur, duty free, on their way home from their travels. They spent many happy years together travelling, including on a yacht, and enjoying French and Australian wine tours. Carol was always conscious and aware of being responsible for what she put into her body. “Sometimes the cocktails went not down our throats, but down the sink!” She laughs. 

Not thinking of her growing collection of research-based writings as being a book, Carol slipped the pages into a plastic-pocket folder as a way to show luncheon friends her explorations with cocktails, mainly because the photos of the cocktails taken in her garden setting were so striking. “The creative process seemed to snowball after that,” she recalls. Having already written some diary entries of her travels with Rick, she inserted some of the memories into the first draft of the manuscript. She then decided to engage an editor and after a Mt Martha Writers Group session asked Kyla-Jayne of Merilane Editing to enter her world of Trips, Travels, Cocktails & Life. 

From then on a happy convergence of author and editor began and the book took on a life of its own. The manuscript underwent the 3 stages of editing from structural/substantive editing to copyediting to proofreading while the designer finalised design templates and sketched objects from limes to whiskey bottles. Before Carol’s eyes, her stories, photographs, recipes and adventures became a 148-page coffee-table book dedicated to her late husband, Rick Holden. Even though the book can be opened at any page to an engaging story or delectable cocktail recipe, when read from begin to end, the reader will experience the rich appreciation the author holds for a life well-lived with a cherished companion.

Carol is now working on her second book in the Trips, Travels & Life series. 

Spirits With Friends is in its second print run. As the print runs are small and Carol is a gun of a saleswoman, please do get in touch to secure yourself a copy before they’re all gone! The book includes: 30 Cocktail recipes. High-quality glossy photos. Interesting facts about the drinks or spirits. Narrative recollections of Carol’s cocktail adventures with Anne alongside memories of travelling the world with her late husband, Rick Holden.

ISBN: 9780645001501. Price: $39.95. Publisher: Elevate Words Press. 

Copies can be purchased from EWPress, contact Kyla-Jayne: kj@elevatewords.com or kylajayne@merilaneediting.com.au

Kyla-Jayne Rajah

Kyla-Jayne Rajah

Author, Poet and lover of words. Kyla-Jayne enjoys editing, writing and publishing books for her gorgeous clients. In her spare time she talks to the cat, walks the coastline, and pursues her own writing goals.

2 thoughts on “Celebrating Writers: Carol Holden – Author of Spirits With Friends”

  1. Dear K.J. I really love your blog I’ll definitely forward to all the overseas people as well as people her. I enjoyed the review very much.The whole presentation! Excellent.
    Thank you.Carol Holden

  2. Hi Carol,

    Greetings from Rawene, sad to hear that Rick has died.

    The Rawene Library would love to buy a copy of your books, please advise what they would cost us including postage?

    Lis and I are still resident in the house you helped finish.

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