I just finished reading her book, Healer’s Touch which gave me a little bit of a book hangover and decided to pick her brain a little bit. Welcome Deb E. Howell, a lovely lady from New Zealand. (I love the internet, it brings us so much closer together, at least virtually) –
Congratulations on Healer’s Touch! I am curious how the idea of a healer that has to pull “life force” from living things. Did you know Llew was a danger to herself and others when you began writing about her?
No! I had no idea just how difficult Llew’s power would be when I selected it. The idea originally came to me back in High School. I’m not sure where it came from… I watched cartoons like X-Men and Gargoyles, so I suspect they played a part. Back then, the character I developed was a sexy male for my teenage mind to fall in love with. But I stole his power and stuck it on Llew… and she’s not too happy about it. I tell you, there were times I was ready to pull my hair out trying to figure out how to get her and her companions out of trouble.
Could you give us a little idea of the progression of this story? Has Llew been fermenting in your mind for a while, or did she develop while writing?
They all developed while writing. That being said, I’ve been writing this for a while. You may have come across the advice not to publish your first novel (just stick in in a drawer and write something else). Well, I never believed that. I just figured, if it wasn’t publishable then I just had to keep working at it until it was. I had to study what made for a compelling story – things like structure, writing style, outlining (sort of…), etc
When I started writing this, I was writing purely to pass the time. But I shared a few chapters with people and they were very positive and suddenly I realised they might like to know the WHOLE tale… which meant I had to come up with one… So I wrote, and I learned about writing, and I rewrote, and I outlined, and rewrote… Finally, things seemed to come together into a coherent tale.
The driving force was always the characters. Once they became “real” I had to tell their story. Still do.
There are three books scheduled for this storyline, do you have those written already or an outline? Share with us a litte on how do you work/stay on course.
I am sorry to say I don’t have them written already. I’m about 30% through Book 2 (I started writing it in October last year, while still doing final edits for “Healer’s Touch”, so I hope to get it done fairly swiftly). These ones won’t require so much re-writing… I know most of the history of the land and the people, and I have certain large events blocked out, the rest is details.
I’m the mother of a toddler, so my writing time is limited (as is anyone who can’t afford to write full-time…but it feels much more so these days). When I was working, I wrote before work, at lunch times and after work – even while making dinner. Now, I’m limited to when my son is sleeping (also silent!) or if someone else can look after him (rare). So, when nap-time comes I know I have anywhere from 1.5-3 hours to make progress. How much progress I make comes down to how much confidence I have in my plan for the day. Some days are great, some not so much. I am driven to get them done, though, so the wait shouldn’t be long. I’d love to get book 2 (planned title: “Warrior’s Touch”) out by the end of this year, and Book 3 (planned title: “Magician’s Touch”) on it’s way soon after.
I know you are a new mom, when do you find time to write?! 🙂
As mentioned above: Nap times! (When they happen… Fingers-crossed for today, eh?). And evenings. My husband is in two bands and plays hockey (field), so is out several evenings a week, leaving me alone with my characters…
Any advice to new authors?
Number 1 is FINISH. So many writers write and polish a few chapters, never really moving forward. If you’ve got something complete, you’ve got something to edit, to assess, to offer. Number 2: Swallow your pride and learn from those who have gone before. The wonderful thing about today is, we have the internet! What a wonderful resource for the self-learner. Share some work. Get on sites like writing.com, youwriteon.com and whatnot. Share some work, get feedback. Don’t listen to it all, but if several people are saying the same thing, take it seriously before dismissing. And critique others. You learn as much from honestly telling others what their writing lacks, and what’s great about it, as you do from anything else… Read, read, read. Study (I recommend Larry Brooks’ storyfix.com, and Janice Hardy’s blog). And FINISH.
What genres do you normally read?
I’ve had a go at all sorts, and found good books all over (Chick Lit, Historical Romance, Contemporary, Sci Fi…). My favourites do tend to come under Fantasy, though.
What are your biggest writing influences?
Recently, I’d be inclined to say Joe Abercrombie. When I read his work, my writing is better.
Other literary influences are hard to pick; there would be so many. But you were right in your review! I was a HUGE David Eddings fan as a teenager. I read EVERYTHING related to the Belgariad/Malloreon series’, including the “Rivan Codex”. Also, Brent Weeks and Diana Gabaldon.
I haven’t read Rivan Codex, but I think I reread the Belgariad 3 or 4 times. In fact, I started it again recently (I might have a problem). What book are you currently reading right now? Any favorites you want to share?
I’m technically in the middle of several. Some haven’t really grabbed me like I want them to, but I’m not ready to give up yet. But the one I’m actually putting time into at the moment is “Warm Bodies” by Isaac Marion. I saw the preview for the movie and it looks awesome (gee, I need to get a movie deal…). The book is pretty good, so far.
Favourites? Well, it’s so subjective, isn’t it? Recently, I’ve loved “Best Served Cold” by Joe Abercrombie, and “The Black Prism” by Brent Weeks, oh, and a novella called “Never Trust a Prince” by Sonya Lano – great laugh. I love me some Terry Pratchett “Discworld”. But really, I know there are just so many books out there! So many great books that I’ll probably never find the time to read. I keep trying, though!
Yay, I have Best Served Cold on my TBR, I should move it up! Anything else you would like to share? Superstitions, traditions, favorite music?
It’s hard for me to say much without talking music. It’s a huge influence. I grew up in a house full of music. My dad can play pretty much anything and the radio was always on.
For those curious, I have developed a Youtube playlist made up of songs I listened to/that inspired me while I wrote Healer’s Touch. It’s more a matter of “It’s super important to me” than that I expect anyone else to care!
I’m not overly superstitious. I studied science (Zoology), and after having my childhood gullibility well and truly taken advantage of by my older siblings, I lean towards skepticism. That being said, I definitely have a spiritual streak.
We’re still developing traditions within our little family unit. Nothing much to get excited about, yet.
Oh man, I totally understand how skeptical you can become due to siblings, especially brothers! Thank you Deb for taking time out of your busy schedule to get lost with us here today! I am looking forward to finding out what happens to Llew next.