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Friday, June 3, 2011

Welcome Author Victoria Howard

1.    Where do you hail from? What do you love most about your hometown?

I was born in Liverpool at a time when the Beatles were becoming famous, but we moved when I was eleven.  Since then I’ve lived in various places, North Wales, Cheshire, Scotland and most recently to South Yorkshire where I now live.  However, I still think of Scotland as home, maybe because I lived there for twenty years.  I love the slower pace of life and, of course, the stunning scenery and friendly people.

2.    As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career? 

Like most children my ideal career changed from week to week.  After flying for the first time I wanted to be a flight attendant, jetting off all over the world.  It seemed such a glamorous life!  When I started grammar school, or high school, as you call it in the States, my thoughts turned to teaching.  I actually had a place at teacher training college but changed my mind (yet again) just weeks before term was due to start.  Instead, I trained as a medical secretary and it’s something I’ve never regretted.  Since then, I’ve worked for the National Health Service, and managed a company involved in the offshore oil industry here in the UK.

3.    What do you do for fun?

Travel!  I have the travel bug.  I love visiting different countries and exploring their cities.  When I’m not writing, I also like to garden and design knitwear for my knitting machine.  I have a Border collie called Rosie who loves long country walks.

4.    How has your environment/ upbringing colored your writing?

The ability to travel has, certainly.  The idea for Three Weeks Last Spring came to me while on a visit to Seattle and the San Juan Islands.  The concept for Ring of Lies came about while sat on the beach on Gasparilla Island, off the Florida Gulf Coast.

5.    Tell us about your latest book.  

Ring of Lies is an action-packed romantic suspense about one woman’s efforts to survive the remnants of a marriage built on deceit, and one man whose job it is to help her escape its underworld consequences.

When accountant Daniel Elliott dies in a car accident, his widow, Grace, is overcome with grief…and panic. Daniel was controlling and their marriage loveless, but he always took care of her.

 Or so she thought.

Grace soon discovers Daniel kept secrets: an alias, mob ties, a list of numbers, a mysterious beach house in Florida….and a girlfriend who looks like her. Grace flies to Miami to claim the house. But the price of her curiosity is peril. Underworld figures stalk her. And Jack West, the handsome, troubled FBI agent assigned to protect her, has a history with her. Surrounded by danger and with little to go on, Grace must learn to trust Jack to help her navigate the criminal world of south Florida, and find the truth behind the Ring of Lies.

6.    Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?

I’m currently working on an idea for my next novel, set wholly in the UK.  I’ve been busy with research – taking photographs of the village I plan to use for the setting and reading about the semi-precious stone, Blue John found here in Derbyshire.

7.    How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?

The title for my third novel, Ring of Lies was fairly easy to come up with – as the book is about a marriage based deceit.  My second novel,  The House on the Shore was originally going to be entitled, ‘Chasing the Sandpiper,’ the name of Luke Tallantyre’s yacht, but the book is about Tigh na Claddach – the house on the shore and the fight for the land on which it stands.  The title for my first book was the hardest to come up with.  Originally, I thought about giving it the title, ‘Learning to love again,’ but I felt it didn’t represent the story.  I was listening to a cd by Dave Cousins and the title of the track caught my attention.  I played around with it for a while and came up with the title ‘Three Weeks Last Spring.’

8.    Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?

Like most authors I dread writing the synopsis.  How do you condense a 120,000 word story into just two pages?  I go through countless drafts and even then I’m not always satisfied!

9.    What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Read.  Read everything you can about technique, plotting, character development and setting.  And then read some books by authors whose genre you are planning to write for.  That way you get a feel for what publishers and agents want.

10. Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?

Occasionally.  When it happens, I go for a long walk with the dog and try not to think about my manuscript.  I find letting my thoughts wander usually gets me over the block.  

11. Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?

I don’t have one favorite author, I have many!  Daphne, Du Maurier, Jane Austen, Valerie Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Lowell, Ken McClure to name but a few.  As for what books influenced my writing life, I guess I would have to the classic love stories of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. 

12. How did you deal with rejection letters?

I tell myself rejection is subjective and not personal.  There are a myriad of reasons why a manuscript maybe rejected.  You just have to put it behind you and make sure you submit the best possible work you can.   
13. What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A notebook and pen!  I never go anywhere without them.  You never know when an idea will strike or a snippet of overheard conversation in the local coffee shop will give you the basis for dialogue.
14. Where do you as an author draw the line on gory descriptions and/or erotic content?
I suppose it comes down to what I feel comfortable writing and whether the scene is appropriate for the genre I’m writing for.  I have no problem writing love scenes, although I know some authors who do.  Romantic suspense isn’t about gory descriptions, even if some of my characters are killed off by chapter three.  It’s about the relationship between the two protagonists and how they solve the external conflict. 

15. Do you ever research real events, legends, or myths to get ideas?

I do whatever research is necessary to ensure that the scenes I write are accurate.  For example, in The House on the Shore there is a gorge rescue.  I contacted the mountain rescue service and asked how this would be achieved. The leader of the group very kindly talked me through the whole procedure and then, when I had written the chapter, kindly read it and made suggestions.

16. Out of the books you have written do you have a favorite ?

I’d have to say Ring of Lies. I loved writing Jack and Grace’s story and doing the research in Florida!

17. Where can we find out more about your books?

All three of my novels are available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnesandnoble.com in both print and ebook format. You can also download the ebook versions from Smashwords.com


1 comment:

JL Walters said...

Nice interview. Always enjoy hearing about other writers. Good luck with your books. The semi-precious stone Blue John interested me.