The girls of Night Owl Romance are pleased that you have granted us an interview
We would love to get to know you
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I will have been published for 20 straight years as of January; writing for 25 if you count the years spent trying to break into the market. I've lived in small New England towns all my life and my maternal family's been in New England since the 1630s. Married to the same man for 36 « years, 2 sons, 1 daughter-in-law, 2 « grandchildren and five cats. If I find a moment or two of free time I love to garden in the spring and summer, crochet, and read, read, read.
If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?
Practically all of them because they're young, in good shape, say just what they think, and are enjoying all that fierce heat of first love. I particularly favor Fiona from Highland Warrior. Despite being stalked by a psychopath, scarred and threatened, she could really kick butt. Plus she walked into a place filled with eccentrics and settled right in.
What's your favorite genre to read?
I don't really have one in particular. I love a good story no matter what it is or when it's set. I do love historicals, of course. I also love paranormals by such greats as Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, and Angela Knight. Funny contemporaries are good. And there's nothing like a good mystery - a cozy or a real dark murder mystery.
Who or what influences you when you write?
A lot of writers have influenced in some small way if only making me which I could do dialogue or intricate plotting as well as they do. Mostly it's the story in my head that gets me sitting down and writing.
What do you do on a typical writing day?
I try to hold to a schedule of doing `chores' in the morning - like shopping, emptying cat boxes, feeding the birds, etc. and writing in the afternoon and evening. I'm not a big morning person so finally gave up trying to do much writing then unless the story's flowing freely and can't wait for me to wake up.
When you have writer's block how do you break free?
I go and do anything else but write and think about where to go next in the story. I watch some of my favorites movies, shop, crochet (the « a grandchild needs blankets and sweaters, right?), and, maybe, even do a little housecleaning. Sometimes, if a deadline is looming I might try to just skip past the spot causing me trouble, write something further on in the story and that can occasionally help me to go back and straighten out the problem.
Can you please give us a sneak peek at any of your upcoming books?
Coming in late December/early January is Highland Wolf. The hero is James Drummond, foster son of Eric and Bethia Murray. He was such a good, helpful, sweet man and that made it hard for me to think of a story for him. So I wrecked his life. He's lost everything and After 3 years of running for his life and hiding, he's come up with a plan to prove that he's not guilty of the crimes her was accused of. Naturally there's a beautiful young woman to tempt and help him in that quest. The first chapter of that book should be up on my web site, www.hannahhowell.com , very soon. Right now I'm working on another vampire novella. I'm doing Berwald Macnachton's story - he appears in Highland Thirst. Can a man who lives with the almost constant presence of ghosts, and has a few other dark secrets, find happiness with a woman who has a few secrets of her own? Let's hope so. That story will be out in a collection next September.
Please tell us what you have planned next?
After the vampire tale is done, I start on my next Highlander tale - Highland Sinner. Tormand Murray - who appears in Highland Wolf - wakes up to the dead body of one of his ex-lovers. It soon becomes evident that someone is killing the women he was involved with and trying to point the finger of guilt right at him. He realizes he needs help if he is to avoid hanging for crimes he hasn't committed. So who does he turn to? - the Ross witch. And she knows he will soon come looking for her. I think I will have some fun with this one.
In 5 years, where do you see yourself? In general and in you're writing career.
Still writing and getting published. I'm on a schedule of producing a book every 6 months and that rather takes up all of my planning for the future. In general, I hope to toss out the last of my many bad habits so my health will be good enough for me to attend my grandchildren's graduations - from college.
Who is your perfect hero? And why?
My perfect hero is a guy who is macho yet has a soft inside. He wants to make the heroine happy but doesn't always understand her. He is strong, will protect those he cares for and those who need help but sees nothing wrong with showing his softer side with his woman or children or even animals(although he might deny he has such a side) He's faithful to his woman, honorable, has a sense of humor(although it might be a teeny bit twisted) and is - of course - big, strong, and studly.
What do you do for inspiration?
Think. A scene might pop into my head and I'll think about it for weeks trying to see if it's enough to build a plot around. Actually my inspiration can come from anything, any time, anywhere. It's hard to describe where ideas come from. Even a bout of bad weather can start me thinking of a story. I read about all the different historical subjects I can and can often find something there that inspires a plot. Is there a genre of book you would like to write but haven't yet?
I would like to write something that relies a lot heavier on paranormal, psychic factors. I'm contracted for 4 more books right now and still have a novella and a full novel to write so possibilities of future - non-Highland - tales can't take up too much of thoughts. I fantasize about writing something dark or some intricately plotted, dark and scary murder mystery, but, to be honest, don't think that's my voice. What type of book have you always wanted to write?
The above answer sort of answers this too. I have all sorts of ideas for other things but only time will tell if I get to them. I truly do love doing historicals and feel that my voice is just right for them. Even if I did venture into some other type of book some day, I would never give up the historicals. What kind of research do you do for your books? Do you enjoy the research process?
I enjoy research. History was one of my favorite subjects in school. I record every bit of research I've done as well as any dated info I come across. It's all neatly arranged by era and country in notebooks (one of the few nicely organized things in my house). After over 20 years of research I really only have to go after certain specifics now and the core of what I need is already in the notebooks. I also buy a lot of books and have gathered up a pretty impressive research library - some used much more regularly than others. Do deadlines help or hinder your muse?
In the beginning they could be a little choking but they are so much a part of the business that one gets used to them.
When did you first decide to submit your work? Please, tell us what or who encouraged you to take this big step.
I started to submit my work after several manuscripts (ones that will never see the light of day) were finished. Once I knew I could write a whole story I started to perfect the writing itself. It still took me almost 5 years of sending manuscripts out into the void before I sold one. I was writing medieval at a time when they weren't really buying any - I was a little ignorant of the ins and outs of the business. What would you like to tell your readers?
Buy my books? No, seriously, what I would like to say is thank you, thank you, thank you. Without readers I wouldn't be able to satisfy my demanding muse. What is the best and worst advice you have ever received?
That's a hard one to answer. I think all advice to writers is good, just maybe not good for you. I still go to workshops at conferences as I feel a writer can never stop trying to perfect their craft, but I learned long ago that what works for others doesn't always work for me. It's what I tell everyone before I start to pontificate on some aspect of the craft myself. I take away what I want and know I can work with, but that doesn't mean the advice was bad. Do you outline your books or just start writing?
I do a very vague outline. Before I start a story I know the beginning and the end, as well as what troubles they face and conflicts they have, etc. As for the middle - well, it's mostly a matter of what will be will be. I have to have that much at least as I have to give my editor a synopsis of sorts before I even get going. Do you belong to a critique group? If so, how does this help or hinder you?
I used to and they were a help. Now I simply don't have the time although I miss the getting together. When I have a need for a second opinion I have a set number of people I will toss around ideas with.
What was your first published work and when was it published?
My first published work was AMBER FLAME in 1988, which was recently reissued by Leisure as HIS BONNIE BRIDE. At about the same time I sold a western to Kensington called A TASTE OF FIRE and that has been reissued twice. It was out originally in 1989.
What would be the best way for readers contact you? Do you have a website? Email address? MySpace site? Blog? Message Board? Group?
I have a MY SPACE site at www.myspace.com/author_hannahhowell which can be reached at my website www.hannahhowell.com if that above address doesn't work right. One can e-mail through my website. I plan to start a newsletter one can sign up for as, despite my best intentions, I often run out of time to answer e-mails, doing a few here and there and then having to get back to the writing. A newsletter will assure that no one gets forgotten. I also have a section on my website for latest news that I try to keep updated. As for my blog that has lagged lately but I plan to incorporate it into my morning chores so it will soon be more regular.
Thank you for this opportunity!