Friday, August 26, 2011

Author Interview with Victoria Howard

Before we get to the interview questions here are the links to Victoria Howard's books on Amazon.

First of all I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for me! I’m sure my readers will enjoy reading your answers!

Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you get past it?
Sometimes my characters surprise me and take on a will of their own, leading me off in a totally different direction to what I had planned.  When that happens I have to pause, take stock, and consider what impact that will have on my novel.

What is the most joyous part of writing for you?
I love writing dialogue.  Once I've developed my characters and have the plot line roughed out, I can envisage conversations between the key characters taking place.  Until recently this always seemed to happen when I was driving, or late at night when I would be trying to get to sleep!  So I’ve learned to keep a notebook and pen with me at all times.
Conversely, like many authors, I hate writing a synopsis of my novel.  How do you condense 120,000 words into three pages without losing the essence of the story?  It’s something I find difficult, yet I know it’s what sells the book to a publisher or agent.  
Are any of your characters based on your life and experiences?
I prefer not to use people I know as role models for my characters, as I wouldn’t want anyone to recognize themselves and feel hurt or aggrieved in any way.  I prefer to people watch and if I see an interesting face I’ll jot down a description in the notebook I always carry with me.  Or I might search through a magazine and find a photograph, cut it out and paste it into my notebook so that I have an aid memoire to use when describing the character.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
There are many, but two deserve a special mention. Fellow Romantic Novelist, Liz Fenwick has a debut novel coming out next year.  I can also recommend Brenda Hill’s novel, With Full Malice, which will also be released in 2012.
What book are you currently reading?
The Flanders Panel by Arturo Perez Reverte, translated by Margaret Jull Costa.

Can you share some of your latest news?
I’m currently working on a fourth novel set in Derbyshire here in the UK.  It centers on burnt out aid worker, Nate Long, who returns to the small village of Castleton in the picturesque Derbyshire Dales, to fulfill a promise he made to his dying mother to find his father
 But Andrew Thomas is dead, killed in what appears a tragic accident.  For thirty years, Andrew, a cavern guide and the survivor of a mining accident in the Derbyshire Hills that claimed the lives of four other men, has kept a secret.   Andrew’s made plenty of enemies over the years and has recently claimed to have found a new vein of the semi-precious stone, Blue John, but had refused to say where.  Everyone knows Andrew has a fondness for the bottle and mainly worked to support his habit.
Nate arrives in to Castleton, finds Andrew dead. He does some investigating, and hears rumors out about the accident years ago, and thinks, Dale M murdered Andrew, but while in a pub, hears villagers grumble about Andrew supplying Alessia Hardcastle, a jeweler, who runs one of the three shops in the village selling Blue John jewelry and wonders. Half Italian, Alessia is a relative newcomer to the tightly knit community, and its known that she had a soft spot for old Andrew, even though he'd abandoned his own family years before, was kindly and fatherly toward her, had confided his regrets about leaving his family.
Nate finds himself attracted to Alessia, but he can’t dispel the feeling that she’s hiding something.  When her workshop is mysteriously damaged in a fire, Nate is unsure whether it’s arson or a cover up?  So, he needs to finds out who killed his father for himself.  As Nate delves into the circumstances of his father’s death, he realizes it was no accident.  His father was brutally murdered. 
But Nate isn’t the only person to have returned to his roots.  Newly released from prison, Dale Marten bears a grudge and is determined to settle the score.
Do you use an outline when writing or do you just wing it?
Once I have an idea for a plot and have given my characters names, and identities, I like to write a 2 -3 page outline of the major plot points.  I don’t plot scene by scene as some of my writing colleagues do. I find that too restrictive. Occasionally, as with the novel I’m currently working on, my characters will take me off in a slightly different direction than I first intended. This can slow my writing down, as I have to re-think how to get them out of a situation. However, I’ve never yet had to delete more than a few pages to get back on track.  
Now since I will be reading and reviewing The House on the Shore soon let’s focus on it for a little bit. What was your inspiration for this book?
I lived in Scotland for nearly twenty years and always knew I wanted to set a book there.  I had first-hand knowledge of the offshore oil and gas industry, as well as the management and running of a Scottish farming and sporting estate.  It seemed only natural to combine that knowledge so  I started asking myself ‘what if this happened or that happened’ until I came up with sufficient ideas for a plot. 
What is your favorite part of the book?
That’s a difficult question to answer, as there are so many, but if I must choose one, then it would have to be the scene where Luke rescues Anna’s friend Morag from the gorge.  I did a great deal of research for that chapter, contacting Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team to ensure that the chapter was technically accurate.
Was the book’s setting based on a place you once lived, where you live now, or a place you would like to live?
As I mentioned earlier, I lived in Scotland for twenty years and there’s hardly a town/village/area I haven’t visited at some point in time. The west coast scenery is dramatic and Loch Hourn, where The House on the Shore is set is accessible by sea or 22mile single-track road, at the end of which you have to turn round and re-trace your journey.  It’s one of the loneliest places in Scotland.

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