Today I’m happy to continue my Author SummerRead Exchange with Julie Howard. Join me for a glass of ice tea and we’ll get to know Julie better. (Love the background of your bio picture!)
Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at juliemhoward.com.
Julie has agreed to do answer some of my quirky questions. These are the ones she picked.
- How often do you write?
Every day! I don’t feel quite right if I don’t pound out a few words. Sometimes, those words are a blog or implementing a marketing plan. Most of the time, though, I make sure I’m writing one of my stories – either a short story (I love writing flash fiction) or my latest novel. I love disappearing into my characters’ world and joining them on their journey. When I emerge, sometimes many hours later, I’m charged up for the rest of my day.
For me, blogging is a great way to get my creative juices flowing. I get to enjoy my stories all over again.
2. Are you a plotter, a pantser or some combination of both?
Writing mysteries turned me into a plotter. I figured I needed to know who the culprit was before I started so I could lay the clues chapter by chapter. I’m big on writing outlines, but I always let myself wander off the path a bit along the way. In my first book, “Crime and Paradise,” I wandered so far off the path that I ended up changing who the murderer was! Most writers will tell you that you have to let your characters lead the story, not the other way around. So I’ll set my characters in motion, give them a setting, and then let them tell the story.
That makes sense. I start out being a pantser, but if I don’t do some plotting, it makes more work in the end. An outline works good for me, even if I only outline part of the story at a time.
3. Name an author or authors who never fail to inspire you.
I’m an equal opportunity reader, meaning I read everything from biographies to science fiction to historical fiction and everything in between. To me, good writing and good stories come in all packages. At the end of the day, though, I always come back to the classics. John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Henry James, Edith Wharton. I just finished rereading Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness about the Congo and it just about ripped my heart out. There’s a reason these authors stand the test of time.
4. Describe one of your favorite characters and tell us who you patterned them after and why.
I really love the daughter of the main character in my Wild Crime series. Jamie is five years old, sassy and smart. She questions authority, stands up for herself, has endless energy and loves her younger brother to pieces. This is a girl who you just know will grow up to be a strong woman. I’m sure I’ll cry when I finish the final book and have to say goodbye to her. She’s really gotten under my skin.
How interesting it must be to watch her character develop throughout the series.
5. What is the best compliment you ever received as a writer?
“I’m looking forward to your next book.” When people say this to me, it gives me a rush of adrenaline.
6. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
When I’m not writing, I spend time with family, reading or, as often as I can, I head to the mountains. Give me pine trees, give me a crooked path, give me the sound of a nearby creek – and I’m in heaven. Fortunately, I live in Idaho where it’s easy to indulge myself.
Blurb from “Crime Times Two” (coming Fall 2018):
Meredith knows three things: First, the man in the library begged her to help him. Second, he was afraid of his wife. Third, now he’s dead.
While the evidence first points to a natural death, Meredith is certain there’s more to discover. People are tight-lipped in this small mountain village, and the man’s wife isn’t talking either. Then a second death occurs, with remarkable similarities. It’s time to talk about murder.
As a slow-burning relationship heats up in her own life, Meredith struggles with concepts of love and hate, belief and suspicion, and absolution and guilt. Nothing is clear cut…
She must decide: Is guilt, like evil, something you can choose to believe in?
Excerpt from “Crime Times Two”:
Jowls quivered under the man’s weak chin, and Meredith noted the stained and frayed shirt of someone who spent a lot of time alone in dark rooms, sending out a better version of himself into the virtual world. His eyes were anxious and beseeching at her as though she should have a clear understanding of him and his life.
Somehow, over the past hour and a half they’d been sitting next to each other – him playing video games and sharing his life story and her ignoring him the best she could – she had become his confessor and friend.
Meredith gave him what she hoped was an impartial-though-quasi-friendly smile. She reached for her purse and papers and rose from her chair. “Well. Nice talking with you.”
The man was lost in his own train of thought and seemed only slightly aware that Meredith was leaving.
He shook his head, morose.
“To make a long story short,” he summed up, “I think my wife is trying to kill me.”
It’s been great having you visit, Julie. I hope you enjoyed my blog as much as I enjoyed yours!!