Books Magazine

Katherine Howell - Author Interview Series

By Justwrite @must_write
Katherine Howell - Author Interview Series
Katherine Howell worked as a paramedicfor fifteen years and uses that experience in her bestselling crime novels. Her fifth novel Silent Fear was released earlier this month.

What authors/books did you read as a child? When did youfirst discover your love of books? I read everything I could get my hands on. Stand-outswere the Milly Molly Mandy series, the Little House books, various Enid Blytonsand Norah of Billabong books, and then the Trixie Belden series. (Not so muchNancy Drew : she seemed a bit prissy.) I don't remember ever NOT loving books.They were everywhere in our house and my parents were big readers, and used totake me and my brother and sister to the librery every week. We are still allvoracious readers. When did you first realize you were a writer? What do youhope your readers will take away with them from reading your books? I first dreamed of being a writer as a teen, and startedwriting short stories from that time, but I didn’t actually believe I was awriter until my first book Frantic was published in 2007. Even then it didn’tfeel real!

I hope my readers have a great time while reading , feelcompletely absorbed in the story and can’t wait to find out what happens, andthey take away the feeling that their time was well spent. Do you find it difficult to read purely for pleasure?Does everything you read come under your ‘writer’ microscope?Yes, absolutely. I find it's impossible now to turn offthat microscope: I'm always lifting the blanket of the story to peer at thescaffolding the writer has built underneath, and thinking about their choicesin everything from words to chapter beginnings and endings to plot. It can beexhausting and I miss being absorbed in the story but I figure it's aside-effect of the wonderful job I get to do now, so I'm okay with it.  Do you have to avoid reading certain types of fictionwhile writing your own? Does what you read while writing have an effect on whatyou write? In what way?I always keep reading while I write, and often find ithelpful, especially if it’s really good crime fiction. It reminds me of thepower of words on a page, and makes me feel hopeful and inspired.  Name five authors or books that have influenced orinspired your own writing in some way. Tess Gerritsen, for her medical detail and pacy stories;James Lee Burke, for his descriptive powers and his characters; MichaelRobotham, for his suspense, his characters, and sheer story-tellinginventiveness; George Pelecanos, for his incredible characterisation; and LeighRedhead, for her humor and the way she blends it with her exciting stories. If you were traveling and were told you could only takeone book with you, what book would it be and why?Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. I’ve read thismultiple times and would be more than happy to read it again. What makes a book ‘too good to put down’?When the characters feel real, the story has me gripped,and I can’t wait to find out what’s going to happen. What makes you put down a book without finishing it?Clunky writing, especially in the dialogue; boringcharacters; a story that doesn’t grip me. If a book has one of these but notthe others I will sometimes persist, but it depends what I have lined up toread next.  Do you have afavourite author? Who is it and what is it about their writing that draws youto them?I love the work of James Lee Burke. He writes crimenovels set in the US – one series in Louisiana, one in Montana, one in Texas. Ilove his characters, his stories, his descriptions, and his writing style. I’veread all his books more than once and sometimes when I’m having a rough daywriting I’ll grab one off the shelf and read a couple of pages and immediatelyfeel inspired by the possibilities of what are, when you get down to it, justwords on a page. If you had to list them, what would be your ‘top ten’reads of all time (excluding the classics) and why?Tough question! This list is subject to change ...James Lee Burke – The Tin Roof Blowdown. Much of Burke’swork is set around New Orleans  and inthis novel starring his regular character Dave Robicheaux he also shows thedevastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. It’s challenging because it’s so real,but it’s wonderful. Michael Robotham – The Wreckage. See below, in ‘best readfor 2011’.Robotham again – Shatter. An extraordinary and chilling crimenovel. Peter Temple – The Broken Shore. I love Temple’s paredback style. Kim Wilkins – The Resurrectionists. I don’t read a lot ofspeculative fic/fantasy but I adore this one. The characters leap off the page and thestory gets me in every time. E Annie Proulx – The Shipping News. I love thedescriptions of the Newfoundland setting, and the quirky characters. Leigh Redhead – Thrill City. Redhead has thisfinely-tuned sense of humor and timing, and can write scenes that make youlaugh out loud then fill you with suspense. Each book gets better and better. Kate Grenville – Dark Places. The story of an awful manbut told with such wonderful dramatic irony. I’ve read this countless times andwill read it countless more. Neil Cross – Luther: The Calling. Great character, story,and such spare writing.Russell Banks – Affliction. The main character, WadeWhitehouse, has ideas of fixing his life but nothing goes right. Beautifullytold. What was your 2011 ‘best read’? What was it that made itnumber one? ‘The Wreckage’ by Michael Robotham. Robotham’s storiesare always intriguing and his characters so real. I loved this book for itssettings (it takes place partly in London and partly in Baghdad), the story,and those characters again.  What do you think of the non-traditional publishingmethods – eBooks etc? Do you think the new technology will encourage morepeople to read? Do you think there’s a future for print books?I think there’s room for both e-books and print books.Some people will take up the e-books and that’ll be all they ever read; somewill read both, some will stick to print. I’ve used an e-reader but preferprint books. The ease of getting a book at any hour and wherever you are is anattraction, but I don’t know that e-readers will necessarily encourage morepeople to read. It will be interesting to see!Katherine Howell's work has wonawards and is published in multiple countries and languages, and in print,e-book, and audio form.You can find out more about Katherine here.

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