About Author

Britt Holewinski

Britt Holewinski is originally from Boston, Massachusetts, but during her childhood she lived in six different houses across the country, which inspired her to write about characters who must continually adapt to new situations and locations. She attended the University of Notre Dame and Pennsylvania State University, where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering.

In her spare time, Britt loves to go hiking along the Potomac River, learn French, and visit the Revolutionary and Civil War sites in Virginia and Maryland.

She has been living in the Washington DC area for the last twelve years. SCHISM is her first novel.

What inspired Britt Holewinski to write SCHISM?

I began writing this novel in January 1995. I was a junior in high school and I had just finished reading Lord of the Flies. Months earlier, I had watched a miniseries of Stephen King’s The Stand on television, and I became fascinated by the idea of weaving together the two plot lines: a world run by children after being the only survivors of a global plague. Though only seventeen, I was determined to write a book and began a first draft. I wrote nearly two hundred pages and then college, graduate school, and my career stalled further progress on the story.

In the intervening years, I tried to write as often as possible, sometimes on my laptop but more often in large spiral notebooks—random scenes written out of order that I knew I wanted to include in the final version. Finally, not long after finishing my year-long tour in Afghanistan, I decided to take time off from my job to focus on writing the book, and in December 2011, I finished the first draft.

Many of my own personal experiences are reflected throughout the story. Watching The Stand was the impetus for writing about a global virus. However, as I began my career and worked closely with the US military overseas, I had several discussions about how cautious the military must be to ensure that women and children are not harmed during air or ground raids on enemy targets. These discussions gave me the inspiration to define the virus in the book as one developed to be lethal only to adult males, thereby eliminating the need to worry about innocent civilian casualties. Of course, the virus was accidentally and prematurely released at the start of the novel, resulting in billions of deaths.

In September 2000, I was about to begin graduate school at UCLA. I had come to Los Angeles three months earlier and immediately felt out of place, especially after a rock cracked my windshield while driving into the city the day I arrived. As the summer passed, the nagging feeling that I was supposed to be somewhere else had worn me down, and by the time autumn came, I decided to move back east and transferred my enrollment to Penn State. I packed my car and drove three hours until I reached Barstow and finally stopped. The drive from LA that night inspired one of my favorite scenes in the novel: when Andy and Ben escape from the Coliseum and drive off into the night through the California desert.

Comments are closed