Interview with John W. Howell

Posted on August 26, 2013


Tonight please welcome John W. Howell!

Photo by Tim Burdick - Copy


Do you write under any other names? No just John W. Howell

What are you currently working on? My debut novel is currently in the editing process at Martin Sisters Publishing and I expect it to be launched this year. I am also at 71,000 words on my next.

What inspired you to write your first book? I have always wanted to write fiction but could never find the time. My inspiration came mainly from my imagination.

Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer? I love to write in first person, present tense. It adds tension to the story.

How did you come up with the title of your book(s)? The title is still not final since the publishers has the right to change it, My operating title is My GRL which is the name of the protagonist’s boat.

Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp? I would hope they find the historical referenced somewhat interesting. Also my protagonist has a slight case of Attention Deficit Disorder which I would hope the reader can recognize.

How much of the book is realistic/true? The facts in the book relative to place, mechanics and function are all researched. The situation is totally made up by me and the outcome is of my imagination.

Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life? There are a few things from personal life like the protagonist’s love for gin and the fact that he drives a 1978 Toyota FJ 40 Land Cruiser but most is fiction.

What books have most influenced your life most? I think the Leon Uris series of books, joseph Heller’s Catch 22, Kurt Vonnegut’s books especially Jailbird and John Irving’s wonderful writings

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”? Has to be Kurt Vonnegut

What book are you reading now? Norman Mailer’s Naked and the Dead

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. I belong to two writer’s groups The Rockport Writer’s Group and the JELM Writer’s group. Both have been extremely supportive

Do you see writing as a career or a hobby? Career (I hope) I really do not do anything else

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? I think I would leave it pretty much the way it is.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? Yes I was very ill and received a copy of Catch 22. The story fascinated me and I started reading everything I could put my hands on. Had the book been bland or cookie cutter I would not have found such an interest.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? Let me give you a brief synopsis: John J. Cannon a high priced San Francisco litigation attorney has made enough money to take a leave of absence. He wants to start a charter fishing service and buys a 65 foot Hatteras which he names My GRL. Unknown to John, his boat has been selected by terrorists to serve as the conduit for their mission to embarrass the US. John’s first hint of trouble is he wakes up in the hospital and learns he was found unconscious next to the body of the young girl who sold him the boat in the first place. John is the only one that stands between the terrorists and their success.  

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? I find that after I have the basic plot outline the actual writing of the story gets pretty boring. When this happens I turn to writing poetry or short stories as a refreshing agent.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? I still believe it is Kurt Vonnegut. What strikes me is his ability to overlay a large piece of fiction over a backdrop of factual events. Slaughterhouse Five is about aliens but with a back drop of WW II history. Jailbird tells about a great story about redemption with the Watergate scandal as the stage.

Who designed the covers of your books? The cover is being designed by Martin Sister’s Publishing

What was the hardest part of writing your any of your works? The actual finger to key board pounding it out.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Yes. When you think you should quit writing you have reached the point necessary to be successful. Patience is a virtue

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? I would like them to know that my stories are for pure pleasure and that hopefully they get their money’s worth.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to life? Research is so much easier now that the internet is user friendly. I think the biggest challenge is always the psychological mindset of the writer. If a writer is convinced that failure is not an option then it will not happen. Too many writers think that there is a short game to success. There is not. Even self-publishing is hard work. The ability of a writer to build some awareness that the work is available takes a tremendous amount of time and even more patience.

What character from your writing is your favorite and why? I have a reoccurring character in my short story whose name is Frank. I like Frank a lot because I can stick him with all the pompousness that I saw in business and he never seems to question if he is doing the right thing or not. He eventually will get his just desserts, but for now he keeps falling asleep thinking he is a business mogul and wakes up a homeless man. If only it could really happen.

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