Saturday, July 16, 2011

An Interview with Hannah Howell

Author Hannah Howell joins me today to answer some questions that I know you have all been asking. Author of the Historical Highlander series, Hannah has written in other genres throughout her career. So join me and welcome Hannah.

How long have you been writing and how long have you been published? I have been published since 1988, but I started trying to get published 5 years before that. Before that I'd write stories for myself as a teen and then graduated to really, really long letters.

How long did it take to publish your first book, once you started looking for an agent or publisher? I started out with trying contemporaries and had actually reached a stage where I got rejections but with hand written notes asking me to send something else. By then I had put together a historical romance and started trying to sell that. That was slow to take off since it was a medieval romance and I found out later that the publishers weren 't looking for those. I had started a historical romance with a western setting and was also sending that out. Both abruptly sold at the same time to different publishers. I had no agent but got one through a recommendation by a friend.

Do you write one book/story at a time or multiples? I always have some other story to play with while I'm working on the one that is on a deadline. It gives me something to play with when I've hit a block on the deadline story.

What genres do you write? I write historical romances only, mostly set in England and Scotland, but I have done a few with western settings in the past and even one set in Colonial New England.

Are there any genres you'd like to try but haven't? Paranormal romance or futuristic romance with a touch of paranormal. I have stories I'm playing with in both those categories but they're nowhere near ready to try to sell.

Are there any genres you'd never consider writing? I'd say erotica and mysteries. I read them both but couldn't write either. Can't write those raw loves scenes (and so many of them!) and, as for mysteries, the way one has to eke out the clues would make my brain hurt. Then again, I really don't like to say never.

What's your writing process? I'm a pantser with a touch of the puzzler thrown in because I'm apt to bounce around chapters when writing. As I believe most pantsers do, I have a core plot, some scene ideas, and a good grasp on my characters before I even think of starting to write. It's in my head, and I think everyone gets at least that much or there'd be no urge to sit down and write. I write the story out longhand and then type it into the computer editing as i go. The number of passes depends on how much I had to struggle to get the story out. The more the struggle, the more times I might have to go over it to smooth it out. Although, after so many years, I've stopped doing a lot of what beginners do that causes a lot of editing. However, being mildly dyslexic, I have to go over the manuscript several times just to make sure of my spelling and word usage, as well as the order the words are in. Spellchecker doesn't catch everything.

What authors would you like to meet, past or present? What would you ask them? Christopher Marlowe and Shakespeare. I'd ask Christopher to give me the scoop on who really killed him and Shakespeare to tell me where there's proof that he actually wrote those plays and sonnets as I"m tired of the never-dying claim by some that he couldn't have done it. Mostly because he wasn't of the right class as far as I can see.

What's the strangest/worst job you've held? I worked in a meat department at an A&P when I was still in school and often got the job of packing the livers and kidneys. Not surprisingly, I will not eat anything with either of those things in them.

Your favorite vacation spot is? England and Scotland. I'd love to have the time and money to go for a good long time, staying in some nice places, and just wandering around both countries.

Have you ever included someone who irritated you in the book? As what, and what comeuppance did he/she get? Oh, yes. Don't all writers do that? And mine usually meet a brutal death. Writing historicals as I do, I can make it very brutal indeed.

Now that I am done laughing over that last comment, let's move on.

When and where do you do the bulk of your writing? In my office at a big old roll top desk that I got from my father. It's a late 1860s Insurance Company desk with lots of drawers and cubbyholes. My second favorite place is the dining room table.

Where do you get your character names? I have a great book called Names Through the Ages by Teresa Norman that gives you first and last names from England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, and the US, plus it does it by time periods. Also, I have the Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, a book on surnames, and a bunch of Scottish and Celtic names. I will also make a note of a name in the credits of movies and read phonebooks.

Do you have animal companions while you write? How do they help or hinder the process? I have five cats that often feel compelled to sprawl on top of my paper or smack my pen while I'm trying to write.

What advice would you give a new writer? If you have a book you want to write, get started. Just dive in and, as you write, find other writers' groups, for support and information.

Give us your backlist with all publishers. My backlist is long, 40 or more books, so best check it out on my website. At the moment, my only publisher is Kensington/Zebra.

Tell us about releases you expect within the next year. I have only one book and a novella coming out this year. The rest that Kensington is putting out are reissues of my backlist.

Tell us about the awards you have won. I'm a RITA finalist, multi-time Golden Leaf winner, I've gotten several awards from Romantic Times, received the Book Buyers Best Award 2010, the CRW Award of Excellence, and the Goldrick Service Award from the New England Chapter of RWA.

Tell us about you next release. IF HE'S DANGEROUS went on sale June 7th. It's available on Amazon, at bookstores, and on Here is a blurb for you:

When Lorelei Sundun first finds Sir Argus Wherlocke in her garden, she'd never heard of the mysterious Wherlocke clan - or their otherworldly abilities. That changes the moment she watches Argus - the most tantalizing man she's ever seen - disappear before her very eyes. What she's witnessed should be impossible. But so should falling in love with a man she's only just met...

Pursued by madmen intent on harnessing the Wherlocke's talent as weapons, Argus meant to seek help from his family, not to involve a duke's lovely daughter in the struggle. But now, the enchanting Lorelei is his only hope for salvation - and the greatest temptation he's ever faced...

The entire first chapter is up on my website:

I am also on Facebook.

Thanks Hannah for a lively and entertaining conversation. I know everyone wishes you well with your latest book. I know I plan to buy it right away.

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