Today I get to introduce you all to Kevin Howard. Kevin has a wonderful sence of humor as I can attest to and after reading his answers to my atypical interview questions, I appreciate it even more. Kevin is a loving father and husband in addition to an author. Kevin has written a great Horror novel (I am excited to read it this winter).
We are also hosting an eBook GIVEAWAY. Winners will be chosen at random in 2 WEEKS!!! Winners will be notified between Oct 3rd & 4th. So make sure you leave a comment in order for a chance to win!!!
Please tell me about your novel. What or who inspired you to write it?
Yellowstone is suffering from the largest forest fire in the park’s history. Ranger JOE RAND, once passionate about nature and now drowning in alcohol after the recent death of his son, notices something is very wrong within Yellowstone after a string of disappearances. But when a fireman is found dead in the Old Faithful Inn after falling into a hole earlier that day, his body mauled and deprived of all its fluids, Joe knows he has no choice but to set down his flask and investigate. Joe and Lieutenant DALE CAFFEY of the Billings Fire Department go into the woods to search the hole the fireman had fallen into. They discover a series of tunnels lined with bones, the air thick with smoke. Joe and Dale conclude that the creature that had killed the fireman had left its subterranean dwelling to flee the overwhelming smoke from the fire above. The creature takes shelter inside the Inn, concealing itself within the darkened crevices, emerging to feast on passersby. After staging an evacuation of the park, they lock themselves inside the Inn to hunt the creature. After just a short while it becomes frighteningly clear that it is, in-fact, the creature that is hunting them.
Inspiration came very easy for this novel. I worked in Yellowstone National Park as part of a family tradition. My mother met my father there, and my sisters and uncle worked there. The park won me over with its beauty. I actually had a brush with death within the park. I had just gotten off of work and had decided to take a drive. I saw an animal dart out from the shoulder, so I swerved and pulled back too hard on the wheel. The car rolled off the shoulder and flipped several times, finally slamming into a tree. I hung upside-down, the lap belt anchoring me by my stomach, but I walked away without a scratch. It’s very easy to find inspiration from such an amazing experience.
Who are some of your favorite authors and books? Did they influence or inspire your writing style and give you ideas?
Stephen King will always be my favorite author. I will never forget giving a fifth grade book report on Salem’s Lot, and the look my teacher gave me. His imagination really inspired me to look at ordinary things from a different perspective, and to find terror in everyday places. I’m also a big fan of Ray Bradbury and Michael Crichton. My favorite novel is The Stand by Stephen King. It’s over a thousand pages long and I just wanted it to keep going. However, I don’t really get any of my ideas from these authors. Most of my novel ideas have come to me out of thin air and are completely random thoughts, like a bolt of lightning.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What was the biggest compliment? Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
I would hate to jinx myself, but I haven’t really had too much criticism toward my work. Possibly, the toughest problem I face is trying to show my family that this is not just a hobby. I guess their lack of faith did push me that much harder to get my novel as polished as it can be.
This or That – Chocolate or Vanilla?? Coffee or Tea?? TV or Movies??
Chocolate is my favorite…unless you give me vanilla covered in chocolate sauce. Coffee is a must. In fact, I usually go through four cups before noon just to keep my eyes open. Tea is a night time thing when I’m on vacation. As a side note, my family and I will be moving to the Big Island of Hawaii next year to work on a tea farm, so I guess I’ll change my answer next year. I usually prefer movies, because I like to have something lengthy on if I’m typing so I don’t need to bother myself with that need to flip through the channels. I’m definitely more of a night person than a day person and I usually do my best writing when I’m exhausted.
When you sit down to write, are you at a computer or do you do it, the ‘old fashioned’ way with pen and paper? Do you prefer one way or another?
I always sit down in the same recliner, with my laptop, around eight at night. When I was younger, I was definitely a pen and paper type of person. I hand wrote my first novel when I was about twelve…of course I didn’t have access to a computer then. When I was in my early twenties I worked for the calendar kiosk in the mall and I wrote an entire outline for a novel on register tape. I prefer my laptop. Anyone that has tried to read my handwriting would prefer it too.
What do you do in your down time? Do you pick up something from your ‘to be read’ stack?
I don’t think I have any down time. Most of my day is spent getting my children ready in the morning and walking them to and from school. Any spare moment I have is spent writing. It’s an obsession of mine and I have to do it every day. If my eyes are tired and I just can’t write, I would opt to turn on an episode of The Simpson’s. I have to admit that I love Homer. One of the first books I ever had signed was My Life as a Ten Year-Old Boy by Nancy Cartwright. I don’t really have much of a life outside of the home.
If your protagonist was a real person, what would they think about you? Would they want to hang out with you?
I would think the protagonist of this current novel would want nothing to do with me. Joe, my protagonist, is a loner with a drinking problem that wants nothing more than to disappear from the world. He would most likely think of me as an annoying stalker, for knowing so much about him. I don’t usually relate to my characters. I like to put myself in their shoes and imagine what I would do if I was faced with those challenges. How would I battle such internal demons or loneliness? What little games would I play to pass the time?
What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
I don’t really put too much stock in what the cover shows me. I always read the back and then flip through the first chapter. I don’t place my interest within a certain genre, because I don’t think an author is defined by one topic. I write whatever comes to mind. I want to read something I’m not too familiar with, so I can experience something new. More than anything, I want to feel entertained.
When you go to Starbucks or Jamba Juice, what do you order? Do they know you by name or drink?
I always order a Venti White Chocolate Mocha at 120 degrees…I know it sounds like such an annoying order. I actually don’t care for white chocolate, but it just tastes so great first thing in the morning. I hate being super picky, as to ask for a certain temperature, but I need my coffee instantly or I pass out behind the wheel and iced coffee just doesn’t do it for me. They don’t know my name, but they do know me well enough to ask if I’m going to want that extra croissant or not.
What has been your favorite part of being an author? What has been your least favorite?
My favorite part is the influence it has on my children. I would much rather have my children sit down at the computer and work on their book, because they saw me do it, than so many other things they could be doing. Plus there is nothing greater than doing what you love. I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I’ve never wanted to do anything else. However, my least favorite part is stepping out into the public light. I would love nothing more than to sit at home and work all day, but I have trouble breaking away from the reclusive writer in me.
When you walk into a book store, where do you head first?
This sounds so odd, but it’s the travel section. I’m addicted to travelling. It contradicted the reclusive writer mentioned above, but I can be reclusive on a balcony suite aboard a cruise ship too. Then, after I get my travel fix, I spend my time walking down the long, fiction section.
Did you get to quit your ‘day job’ and become an author, or do you have a ‘day job’ and writing is something you do for fun?
I just quit my day job after six years. It was a wonderful day. I actually downloaded the Aretha Franklin song ‘Think”, and played it over my head, on my iPad, as I walked out. Nothing like leaving while Aretha repeated the word “freedom”; it was all in good fun.
What has been the strangest thing a reader has asked you?
Nothing really unusual has been asked yet, but I can’t wait for those awkward moments. A few readers have asked me about what it was like to work in the park, but that’s not really all that strange.
What is your favorite junk food vice?
Pizza! I probably order pizza once a week. It’s so bad on our pocketbook, but it tastes so darn good. My worst habit is staying up until three in the morning with a plate of pizza sitting beside me as I type, but it’s my brain food.
Is their any movie you have seen that was based on a novel, which you think lived up to the novel?? What made it live up to the novel?
I think The Stand did a pretty good job living up to the novel. Probably because it was an eight hour production, but other than that, I can’t really think of any. I don’t feel a novel could ever truly be transitioned into a movie. Some do a great job, but they always have to trim the fat, which ends up being the best parts. In a novel, I love that extra bit. That’s why my favorite movie is The Stand, because I want it to run long.
If you could step into the shoes of your protagonist for one day, would you? What would you like to experience or see during that day?
That’s a very difficult question for me. On the one hand, I would love to wake up in Yellowstone National Park and spend my days walking the peaceful trails, but then I’d also have to deal with an evil creature that’s hunting me, so probably not. Joe is a very nice man at heart, but he has too many skeletons in his closet. I couldn’t spend my days in such a beautiful environment spending every second trying to shut that world out. I would love to feel his passion for the park, but I’d hate to drown in his sorrows. I suppose my answer would be not to spend a day in his shoes.
Did you have any teacher(s) in high school or college that encouraged you to write? Did you take their advice?
No, not really. My teachers were rather odd. I went to high school in southern CA and I don’t recall any of my teachers ever taking an interest.
What type of ice cream could I find you eating on a hot summer day?
I would have to say just a few scoops of chocolate. My favorite flavor is Gold Medal Ribbon.
We all have our little ‘things’ when it comes to reading or writing; is their anything that bugs you when you read a novel?
I hate spelling errors, which is kind of funny, since I’m a terrible speller. But I have my novels edited multiple times to make certain that they sound smooth.
What do you listen to when you write?? Do you need quiet or do you find inspiration in music??
It’s all about the mood I’m in at that time. When it’s late and I’m trying to calm my mind I go for Mozart’s Requiem, but then ten minutes into writing I might switch over to Metallica’s ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’. I love all kinds of music. My playlist ranges from techno to the Beatles. I do like it loud though, no matter what I’m listening too.
On a Friday night, what can we find you doing? Who are you with?
My Friday routine is the same as my Monday and Tuesday routine. After the kids are put to bed, you’ll find me downstairs in my recliner. My wife and I are probably two of the most boring people, because we’re happy to just stay home and hang out with our kids. I guess we might have the occasional pizza delivery driver stop by, but we’ve already gone over my love of pizza.
What genre(s) are you looking forward to most exploring during your writing career??
I would love to write more science fiction. I have always been fascinated with worlds and civilizations far beyond our own. Science fiction can be such a beautiful genre if done well. It’s a powerful feeling being able to create entire worlds and environments from scratch.
Who was your current novel dedicated too?? Any particular reason?
Faithful Shadow is dedicated to my wife and children for obvious reasons. Without them my novel would still be sitting within a little folder on my computer’s desktop. My best friend, Justin Van Uden, was an easy choice. He has always been a fan of my writing. He and I have been friends since I was five, and he was always there to listen to my crazy ideas. My good friends Hillary and Luke Melin are so very creative. I chose to dedicate the novel to them as well for all the moral support they offered through this entire process. No matter how busy they were, Hillary and Luke always found the time to read my samples or a query letter. I also made sure to thank my parents and my sisters as well.
What are you currently reading??
Right now I’m reading several “how to” books about promoting on Amazon.com, because a writer is used to just writing and not having to worry about all the marketing. In fact, writing a novel is easy compared to promoting it.
Is their anything else you would like to share or say to those who will read this?
Always follow your heart. I know that sounds super corny, but it’s great advice. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was young. I used to carry notebooks out with me during P.E. so I could write each morning. If you have a story to write then write it. I have maybe an hour or two to write in between working and raising the family, but if you take that hour or two, eventually it will get done. Also, I encourage anyone and everyone to visit my website at www.Authorkevinjhoward.com to see a ‘behind the scenes’, if you will, look behind my book. I have a slew of information about Yellowstone and my experiences that lead to the creation of Faithful Shadow. You can also read sample chapters of my upcoming novels. Please feel free to contact me for any questions and please enjoy the novel. I would also like to thank Stephanie for this wonderful opportunity to connect with all of you.