Have you ever strolled under a beautiful fruit tree and had the good fortune of having a deliciously ripe and juicy treat fall into your hands?
Such was the cyber-meeting of author Kim Howe. I'm tickled pink that not only was I able to ask her ANY question I wanted to, I also had the privilege of doing an INTERVIEW!
For the excerpts that had me revved and excited, check out her website.
Folks, you know me by now.
I luurve my romances.
In them, I look for action or intrigue, emotional depth and the ability to connect with the characters as well as a sense of humor. But most of all, I look for my
Equally exciting is finding a new author and being able to share the thrill with you.
Today, I get to SHARE!!! *grin*
Come with me to meet author Kim Howe.
M: In Red Diamond, the excerpt showed that you had a firm handle on the maneuverability of the plane. Your descriptions were precise and the visuals clear. Have you ever flown as a pilot?
KJ: My father is a private pilot who enjoys aerobatic competitions. I’ve been up in the plane with him in rather dicey conditions! I have taken a few flying lessons, but I haven’t pursued my pilot’s license yet—I’m hoping that I will in the future!
M: I found the initial meeting of the "priest" interesting. Right away, I had a sense that all was not as it appeared. The description of a man as "long and lanky" and his stride "swift and powerful" led me to anticipate an upswing in story intensity.
Those words have no part in describing any friendly parish priest that I ever knew. LOL!
KJ: Carson Lockwood definitely isn’t “priest” material. He’s a rakish anti-hero, the bad boy you can’t stay away from. He’s tracking down heroine Sierra Lazarus, but his demons aren’t far behind!
M: Is there a description that you'll use for a hero that is your personal favorite? Do you visualize an actor in the role of your male character heroes or are they pure imagination?
KJ: Every hero is unique and distinct for me. I visualize scenes (like a movie) in my mind that help bring the hero to life. Creating the hero is one of my favourite parts of writing. I love giving him a “Grand Canyon” size wound that only the heroine can heal! Sometimes an actor might come to mind, like Matthew McMonaughey, for example. J
M: You have your heroine in a violent part of the world where atrocities are common place. Why there? It truly felt as if you knew the subject, the politics, the risks. How'd you get the inside track on such a volatile and emotionally charged part of the world? Why choose to write about that?
KJ: I lived in Kenya for three years when I was a kid. Although there has been incredible political strife, the people have an amazingly resilient spirit. They are warm, caring, and hopeful, even in the most trying times. The simple things, like smiles and food are what matter to them. Africa is a magical place. When I returned to visit this summer, my love for Kenya was renewed and I knew that I wanted to set a book there.
M: Do you speak a bit of Swahili yourself from your time in Kenya? If not, what do you mostly use, people or books for your research or does it occur in equal parts?
KJ: I can order a cold beer in Swahili, but any in-depth conversation is beyond my skills! I use both books and people to insert language snippets into my novels. I always ask a local to look over my work to make sure I honor their language properly. Just like English, there are colloquialisms that only a resident would know.
M: As for False Dawn, DANG! That was heart wrenching! What inspired you to write that scene with the little boy? How hard was it to see that in your mind and put it into words? Does he live?
KJ: Mamadou, an eight-year-old boy from Chad, captured my heart. He made money for his family by selling sodas to the soldiers guarding a food depot. Desperate for money, he traipses out into the night to visit the soldiers. What he doesn’t know is that the soldiers are on guard, expecting an attack from rebel soldiers. In the blinding sandstorm, he is accidentally shot. The scene was heart-wrenching to write. I was trying to show that mistakes happen easily in a trigger-happy, war-torn place, even to good men. It still brings tears to my eyes when I read the scene. Mamadou doesn’t live, but his death changes the hero’s life forever.
M: I can only imagine everyone serving in Iraq and Afghanistan being able to relate to the patrolling scene...the sand, the discomfort. Indeed, the sand in the eyes scene had my own eyes hurting in sympathy pangs. How did you know?
KJ: My father worked in telecommunications, so we traveled a fair bit. In Saudi Arabia, we experienced several sand storms. As a Canadian, I’m used to white-outs, but brown-outs are a whole new experience. The sand is a lot grittier and harsher than snow! The sand bits are also smaller and get into everything. After a sandstorm, your front hallway will be covered in dust. It seeps into your mouth, your nose, everything!
M: The Mamadou scene is written from a guy's perspective. Did you bounce the ideas off of someone or interview a military guy? How far do away does your input come from? Local or across country or across the world? When it initially comes from your own mind, how do you imagine what a guy will say in reality? I wonder about that a LOT as men and women not only view a situation differently, but react to it differently AND their dialogue is diverse. Male dialogue is a stumbling block for me. Perhaps because I drive my DH nuts with MY "logic". *grin*
KJ: I grew up with two brothers and an adventurous father who included me in all the wild and crazy activities. My husband was in the military as well. My hero, Stille Rutger, is a French Foreign Legionnaire and I did a lot of research into that organization and the type of men who are drawn to it. With respect to point of view, men are visual creatures and they tend to live in the moment more than women. For some reason, I’m more comfortable writing from their perspective than my heroine’s! Maybe we should trade off? J
M: Where does the title One Shot, Two Kills come from? How about the phrase "Pig-ugly"?
KJ: My heroine Kenya Alexikova is a former U.S. Army sniper. One shot, one kill is the sniper motto. I played with it a bit to come up with One Shot, Two Kills. The title has significant meaning later in the book (I won’t ruin the surprise!).
Pig-ugly is the way Kenya describes the designer duds the tourists wear when they charter her scuba diving boat for the day. She comes from the Army, where high fashion means the dress uniform. The phrase helps characterize her in the reader’s mind. This girl prefers Glock over Prada!
M: Do you believe in an HEA for all your books?
KJ: Absolutely. Life is full of harsh realities and I try to capture them in my novels, but I read for escape and adore that feeling at the end of the book where everything is finally okay. Happily ever after will definitely be a guarantee with my novels. It might be painful for the characters to get there though. J
M: On your site, nowhere, that I could see, is there ordering info. The first chapters or prologue grips the reader which I'm sure you are glad to hear. But where can we find out what happens next? Will there be any contests for ARC's in the future besides the contest that is going on now?
KJ: I have signed with a wonderful agent—Evan Marshall—and we are working together to find my romantic suspense novels a home. I will definitely have different contests and giveaways on my website. In fact, to celebrate making the final four of the American Title III Contest, I’m having a KILL ME OFF draw. To enter, all you have to do is send me an e-mail via my website www.kjhowe.com with KILL ME OFF and your name. The lucky (???) winner will have his/her namesake meet an untimely demise in my next novel. I promise to make it an interesting event!
M: Will you be having a video commercial done to promote your book(s)?
KJ: Excellent question. I’m very interested in video commercials, podcasts, and all the other wonderful tools technology can offer.
M: The webpage banner is a work of art. Did you design it or have input in its final stage? My perception is that it captures the heat and intensity of your stories. Was that the goal or did you just like the look?
KJ: Thanks for the compliment. Shelley Kay from Web Crafters is my designer and I would highly recommend her. She read my work, had me fill out a detailed questionnaire, and designed a website that reflects the international/romantic/suspense aspects of my novels. The blue silhouettes inside the countries represent the mysterious side and the orange bursts reflect the adrenalin!
M: On your links, I saw Tess Gerritsen's name. Have you ever met her?
KJ: Yes, I had the pleasure of meeting her at Thrillerfest in Phoenix last year. She was also a guest speaker at Seton Hill University where I just graduated with a Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction degree. Tess Gerritsen is a warm and generous person who freely shares her ideas on writing. Her blog is also quite entertaining.
M: Do you mostly write solo or do you have a critique group that you bounce ideas off of?
KJ: My husband is my first reader, but I do have a few fantastic critique partners including fantasy writer Maria V. Snyder (Poison Study, Magic Study, LUNA), suspense expert CJ Lyons (upcoming Berkley medical suspense), and the prolific Debra Webb (Traceless, Nameless, St. Martin’s Press and many, many Harlequin Intrigues).
Thank you for inviting me to M’s Favourite things. I appreciate the lovely hospitality. If you have a moment, please drop by the American Title III Contest at http://www.romantictimes.com/news_amtitle.php and read the dialogue scenes... maybe my sniper heroine will be able to earn your vote?
Thank you SO much,Kim, for your patience and graciousness in letting me pester you with so many questions. :-)
I had as much fun meeting you and doing the interview as I had reading your excerpts.
I look forward to seeing your stories on my bookshelves soon.
Good luck with the American Title III contest!!
All the best to you,