Sunday, August 26, 2007

An interview with author Grace E. Howell by Margot Justes

Grace E. Howell is another talented author published by Echelon Press.

Grace, tell me a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, where my first novel, TRUE FRIENDS, takes place many years before I was born. I went to the same elementary school that was in TRUE FRIENDS, but by the time I got there, the name had been changed and instead of pastures, a golf course backed up to the school. I was married a short time after graduating from high school and had four children, three sons and a daughter, before I went back to college to become a teacher and later a school librarian. I was regional editor for The Lutheran Witness for five years and my writing for both children and adults has appeared in magazines and anthologies. I love reading, writing, gardening, watching basketball and basketball, and I am very active in my church.

What prompted you to write and did you always want to be a writer?

I have been a writer as long as I can remember, from early elementary school. Once I learned to read, I was hooked on books and have always dreamed of having books I wrote in libraries and classrooms.

How do you develop your characters? Do you use a set formula?

Anything I see, read, or hear about can spark the development of a character in my mind. The ones who make it into a story become quite familiar to me and may stay in mind for several years before making it into the computer or onto paper. I may begin with a time and place before I know the character. As the character in that setting appears and becomes real to me, the story starts, and I know the beginning and the end. The protagonist continues to develop in my thoughts as I go about my days. I don’t write anything down, but I begin to know the character's family, likes and dislikes, hopes and goals. I know what he or she looks like and what his/her strengths and weaknesses are. Branching out from this first character are others in the story, living in my mind until I know them well enough for them to live on paper. Then I may write a character sketch or notes on each character. I seldom need to refer to written notes about my characters as I write a novel because I know them so well.

What do you do to unwind, relax?

My daily escapes include reading a good novel and working in my garden or just enjoying the plants. If I have more time, I love to travel to places I've never been.

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Write about what you know. If you want to write about what you don't know, learn about it through experience and research. Read about it. Then you'll know
Read your writing aloud. If it doesn't sound good to you, nobody else will like it either.

If you want to know more about Grace E. Howell and her first novel check her website TRUE FRIENDS is available from Follett,, and Echelon Press.

Thank you, Grace.

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