Holly Jurbergs’ love for science and music always informs and influences her writing. After completing a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin in 1996, Holly worked as an Analytical Chemist in pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical companies. She has played piano since she was eight-years-old and more recently, she has taken up guitar and songwriting. “On the screen, crime stories deliver big emotional payoffs when the monster is captured or slain. In real life, justice is often delayed or never realized.” Holly likes using true crime stories for inspiration and seeing where her own imagination can take her. She is also interested in strong female characters, family secrets, moral dilemmas, and forensic science.
Holly Jurbergs: I wrote the first draft of my thriller, “Cadaverine,” before I wrote my first short story. I guess I do everything backwards! I had a notebook filled with poetry that I envisioned as songs someday. Three years ago, I began taking songwriting classes with Girl Guitar Austin that have helped me understand song structure and develop tools like writing a bridge. Creating art is a beautiful way to leave a piece of yourself behind. Stories and songs are timeless and offer joy to future generations.
“Story is king.” Do you agree, and can you expound upon this, as it relates to your experiences and creative work as a musician and writer?
Holly Jurbergs: Whether you are writing a novel or a song, your job is to create feelings and empathy in your reader or listener. I’m drawn to writing about lost, love, and heartbreak because these songs impact me the most emotionally. Crime stories are also about the loss of a loved one and finding justice for the victims.
Can you share with us your creative process for composing music versus short story writing?
Holly Jurbergs: I like writing songs on the acoustic guitar because it simplifies the underlying chords and allows me to focus on creating the melody. Songwriting involves word changes, many revisions, and recording yourself to hear if the changes are working. There are chord progressions that always sound great together that can be used as a starting place. Short stories start as an idea that I want to explore in more detail. I have a work in progress about a magician who is also a scientist curious about time travel. It was inspired by a real-life British magician, John Nevil Maskelyne, who is credited with creating the famous levitation illusion.
How are you navigating and keeping active and creative during these Covid pandemic months of social distancing, and times of quarantine and self-quarantine? Can you share some inspirational words with fellow creatives?
Holly Jurbergs: This has been an unusual year because my husband and two boys have been at home with me. Despite the interruptions, it has been a productive time for me. I completed my second screenplay, “Three Graves,” that I am developing as a dramatic podcast. In the creative process, you will be drawn to tell certain stories, and you must follow your heart. Finding a supportive writing community is also essential. I am a member of the Writer’s League of Texas, Stage 32, and a screenwriting group that keeps me engaged and motivated to continue this creative journey.