I love supporting great mystery and thriller writers and introducing them to you, my fearless readers.
This month, I’d like you to meet Julie Howard, author of The Wild Crime series. Here’s a little Q&A so you can get to know her.
1) I know you had a career in media before you started writing fiction. What drew you to fiction?
Actually, fiction came first. I always wanted to be a novelist, but also needed to earn a living. I got a degree in journalism and went to work in newspapers so that I could write all day long. My goal was to eventually take my journalism experience and translate it into writing fiction. I’ve read a few thousand more books since my college days, and written ever since, so I suppose I’m more ready than ever to write my own novels!
2) We often think because we can string some words together to form a coherent sentence, that writing a story will be a piece of cake. It wasn’t for me. What was the process of transitioning from nonfiction to fiction writing like for you?
To be honest, it was a surprisingly painful process. My journalist brain was screaming “Don’t make stuff up!” While newspaper articles are called “stories”, that’s where the similarity ends. No adjectives, no description, and the murderer is revealed in the first sentence. After struggling a bit, I took a couple of online fiction classes through Stanford University. Those classes were great in leading me through plotting, structure, dialogue and also giving me permission to use adjectives. Now, I have no problem making stuff up. It’s a good thing I never plan to go back into a newsroom.
3) I think setting is so important in fiction, and you write it well. How has your home town of Boise, Idaho inspired your stories?
I lived half of my life in urban areas, both in Sacramento, CA and Las Vegas, NV. The move to Idaho came as quite a cultural shock. Idaho is sparsely populated and there are some very remote towns, miles along dirt roads up into the mountains. I started to wonder what made people want to live so far from others and, then, what would happen if a woman was moved there against her will. That was the genesis of my Wild Crime series. I do have to note that Boise, where I live, is quite urban with a beautiful downtown, great restaurants and cultural activities. The wild outdoors, though, is never far away.
4) Pick one of your favorite descriptive passages from one of your books. Let us read it and tell us why you love it.
The ground was damp but far from muddy, drying quickly as the sun rose higher in the sky. From the trail, there was a view of the valley below and lush green mountains rising far on the other side. Above, snow already coated the topmost peaks. Down below, farm equipment was parked for the winter, fields were harvested and empty, and there was the small cluster of structures marking Hay City.
Not long ago, she would have said the rural scene was a view of nothing; her perspective was one of a city person craving the bustle of roads, buildings, and people. Now, her mindset was changed. There was so much to take in; she could stare out at this vista forever and never truly see it all.
I like this passage because I can completely relate to Meredith’s transition. The longer I live in Idaho, the more I see. This is such an amazing place to live and I’m so fortunate to call it home.
5) Did your main character come to you as a fully formed individual, or did she become one as you wrote? Tell us a little about her.
Meredith Lowe grew up with an absent father and vagabond mother. When she meets her husband her first semester of college, he’s sort of the knight in shining armor who will rescue and cherish her. Whatever self-esteem Meredith has developed is broken down by his abuse and, when this series begins, an idea is already partially formed in her mind: What would happen if he disappeared?
I wanted to start with a stripped-down individual at her worst moment and see what she would do. My character surprised me a few times along the way, and I altered the plot once or twice to better fit her personality. I’m writing the third and final book in the series now and am excited at how she’s come into her own.
6) What are you working on now?
I have a few projects underway. I’m just wrapping up a paranormal mystery that will be released next year. Of course, I’m also writing the third book in the Wild Crime series that will bring some final surprises into my character’s life. Finally, I have a new mystery series under development. I plan to be writing for a long, long time.
Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild, editor of the Potato Soup Journal and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at JulieHoward.com.
And you can find her new book Crime Times Two on Amazon.