Not too long ago, I was rereading Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey. I hadn't read it in quite some time, preferring Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, and Emma. But I had just finished rereading Katherine Reay's Austen Escape, and she mentions the gothic novel quite a bit, so I decided to refresh my memory. Let me just say, I giggled through the whole thing. I love Austen's ability to make fun of herself as well as everyone around her, including those she is writing about.
But I was struck quite a bit by some lines she wrote in Chapter five, as she's describing her heroine enjoying a gothic novel. She defends herself for writing about novels, finding it ridiculous that other authors who write novels never let their characters read such drivel. And then, she says this: "Alas! if the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it." In other words, let's make our characters readers.
Yes! And I say again, yes! I don't think it ever would have dawned on me that my characters might not be readers. After all, they come from my head, and I can't imagine a day without reading at least a page or two. So, in An Unexpected Legacy, Jessica owns a bookstore and reads romance novels. In Faith & Hope, coming out in April, Hope escapes from an argument with her sister by hiding out in the bookstore down the street and reading away the afternoon. I want my characters to be someone you can relate to, and you must relate to readers, because you are one!
What do you think? Have you ever read about a character who didn't read and wonder how they got in a book in the first place? Does it seem strange to you, or do you expect characters to mirror real life, and even include those who will never know there are characters in a book that are just like them? Any strong feelings one way or another?
Remember last summer when I interviewed Erin Howard the first time? No? Well, if you'd like to see that one, too, click here. Otherwise, we'll just enjoy the discussion she's bringing today.
Erin and I met at the KenTen Writers' Retreat last June and have become cyber friends since then. She's spunky, crafty, and writes a great speculative fiction. Without further ado, let's chat with Erin.
Welcome back! You've been busy since we last chatted on here and have a second book coming out. How exciting! Several people have encouraged me to write a sequel to my book, but I just can't wrap my mind around continuing a story I feel is complete. Was it hard to write a sequel or had you already had the story line in place when you finished the first book? How was writing a sequel different from writing the first book?
Hi Amy, I’m glad to be back! Thank you for having me again.
I knew going into The Seer, that I wanted it to be a series. This story world has so much room for multiple books that I didn’t know how to contain it to one story. I’ve actually tried several times to write a stand-alone novel, but I can’t seem to do it. Short stories are hard for me as well. Perhaps I just have too much to say? LOL. But I like to think it’s because I don’t want to leave my characters and I have to keep exploring their stories. The sequel in a lot of ways was easier. I was already in a nice groove with the story, and I felt like I knew my characters. Bringing in a brand new character’s POV was a lot of fun. It was difficult sometimes because I’ve read books were the second one was kind of slow, and I didn’t want that to happen. But I can honestly say that this story picks up right where book one ends and doesn’t let you go. I’m really proud of it.
I just finished reading your first book and loved it. What made you come up with the idea of writing about a world that interacts with angels and demons? Demons aren't something everyone wants to think about.
Thank you so much! I’m glad that you loved it. Demons aren’t something that people want to think about. I always knew that I wanted to write a supernatural book, but kept putting it off. The book actually started off as a short story that I wrote for a writing workshop. We had to write a story from the villain's or an unlikely hero’s POV. I started asking “what if” questions, and it grew into a whole series. I’ve learned that I really like writing from an unlikely hero’s point of view, and Viktor is my absolute favorite character.
I loved the idea of the supernatural beings eating manna as their primary food. I don't think I ever would have even considered what an angel ate, if he did. Do these ideas just come to you as you read the Bible or what kind of research does it take to write something like this?
This is a question that came up in one of my plotting sessions with my husband. He loves sitting down with me and plotting, and I always discuss the story with him because he can come up with some excellent ideas. We were talking one day about their characteristics and abilities, and food came up, and we wondered if they would have to eat to keep up their strength, and I mentioned about how God feed people with manna. To me, if they did eat, why wouldn’t it be something that God made? I did a little research on what it looked like and then got a bit creative with it. I love the scene with Thea and Matthias, and he’s dipping the manna in honey.
I know in the past, you've talked about leaving Easter eggs, little personal touches in your book that mean something to you and your loved ones. Can you let us in on a few of them?
Yay! I love this question. All of your questions have been great by the way. One of my characters, Sentinel Cobb, always has a coffee cup in his hand. My husband loves coffee and always makes fun of me since I don’t like to drink it. Also, Cobb was my husband's nickname growing up, and he still has friends that call him that. (His name is Jacob). The way that Thea and Sam joke back and forth is inspired from how Jacob and I pester each other. All of the settings in the book are locations that mean something to my family. The character, Elnora, is named after my Grandmother that passed away while I was writing my book. In book two, The Soul Searcher, Elnora wraps a crocheted afghan around herself, and my Grandmother loved to crochet, and that’s where I got my desire to crochet as well. She made the most beautiful afghans. Those are a few of the most special ones to me. I plan on throwing new ones in the next books that I write.
You're quite creative outside your writing, too (like crocheting!). Got any non-writing projects going on or that you're looking forward to right now?
Right now, I’m in between projects. But I got some pretty yarn that was given to me at Christmas, so I plan on making something for myself this time, maybe a cute scarf. I’ve been watching videos on wood burning as well, and I’m looking forward to learning more about how to do that. I plan on making some jewelry.
I love getting pretty yarn! Wood burning sounds fun, too.
With the second book out this month, are you straight into writing the third, or are you going to catch your breath for a moment before starting again? Will the third book be the final in the series? Anything else in the works after that?
I took a short breather and then jumped right into the third book. I’m hoping that I can do a prequel for the series and then that would be the end of this series. I’m also plotting a new series, perhaps a novella series, which will be in the same story world as The Kalila Chronicles but will have new characters and new societies. It will also tie into the third book (kind of like a crossover), so if you’ve read the first two books, you’ll catch some Easter eggs in the new series, and if you read the original series, you can go back and read the first series and see how they line up on the timeline. I’m really excited to explore deeper into this world.
Wow! That sounds like a lot of fun and a lot of work at the same time. Good for you!
Can you leave us with a fun fact that almost no one knows about you?
I absolutely love chocolate, but every time I eat it, I sneeze. The richer or darker the chocolate, the more I sneeze and my face itches, so I have to be careful.
That sounds absolutely miserable, especially this time of year! Bummer. Hopefully you can find something else sweet to munch on, because we're all excited about your new book coming out and we need to celebrate.
Keep reading to learn more about Erin and her new book.
Upcoming Release: The Soul Searcher (The Kalila Chronicles, #2)
Release Date: 2/19/19
Back cover blurb:
Elnora’s parents gave her one rule:
Stay hidden away at all costs.
Elnora Scott is used to her survival depending on the decisions of others. Locked away in her safe house, it is easy to follow her parents’ dying wishes until an angel, demon, and seer show up on her doorstep. Now, waking up in a dirty cell, she wishes she would have gone with them when she had the chance, because the very ones who unknowingly ushered the kidnapper to her location may be the only ones who can save her.
When Thea learns that Elnora may be in danger, she doesn’t hesitate to go find her. Thea thought stepping through the portal would be her greatest obstacle, but it only reveals a more sinister threat.
Pre-order it on Amazon now!
Erin R. Howard is a developmental editor, fantasy author of The Kalila Chronicles, and has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing/English from Southern New Hampshire University. When she's not writing, Erin enjoys spending time with her family, fueling her craft addictions, and teaching writing workshops. Erin is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the KenTen Writers Group. She resides in Western Kentucky with her husband and three children.
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This is a place for me to tell you about what I'm writing, talk about the process or where some of my ideas came from, or even have other authors come in and talk about their books.
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