Monday, October 29, 2012

Spotlight Feature on Author Kevin J. Howard and His Novel Faithful Shadow

Review of Faithful Shadow

Let me start off by saying this: Faithful Shadow by Kevin J. Howard left me with my heart pounding and wondering what would lay in wait for me in the darkness.  This novel will truly make me think twice about stepping out in a dark forest for a while.
The book is based in Yellowstone National Park.  There is a wildfire in the park that is running rampant.  But that is not the only thing running out of control in this horror/suspense novel.  Something lurks in the darkness with glowing green eyes snatching people from around the park.  No one seems to know what is happening, as missing people within the national park are not an unheard of issue.  But as the numbers begin to increase along with the suspicious demise of one of the firefighters, clues start adding up to a disturbing conclusion that Park Ranger Joe Rand must deal with immediately.  Will he figure out what is in the dark?  Will he be able to stop it before more people disappear?  What is it lurking out in the darkness?  All these answers and more are answered within the pages of this, in my opinion, highly disturbing novel.
I began reading the novel a few days ago, unsure of what I would discover within the pages of this novel.  I began to be pulled into the story, as Kevin does a remarkable job of allowing the reader to get to know the characters in a relatively short time frame, but he does so in a way that does not come across as rushed.  Time passed, and before I knew it I was half way through the novel.  I was horrified by the disappearances and began to wonder what was dragging people off, never to be seen from again.  There were several passages in the book in which the victims terror is clearly communicated as well as their dawning understanding of what has happened to them.  Several times I felt my stomach try to jump up my throat, but I swallowed and soldiered on.  Horror is not a particular favorite genre of mine, but the tale crafted by Kevin J. Howard kept me riveted to the end.
If you are a fan of horror and suspense, then this book is right up your alley.  I got my attention even though I would admit that I am a wimp when it comes to things that are scary in nature.  If this is what Kevin can do as a debut novel, then I see a long bright future for him in the writing world.  So, take a chance and pick up your copy of Faithful Shadow today and discover what lies in wait for you in the darkness!

R&M’s Interview With Author Kevin J. Howard!

1. Can you tell us an interesting fact about you, your writing, or anything at all?  Or, is there anything in particular you want the readers to know about you?
My first novel, Faithful Shadow, is based in Yellowstone National Park where I was once an employee.  In fact, I almost died there in the park.  One morning I took my car for a drive where I saw an animal dart onto the road from the corner of my eye.  As an instinct, I pulled hard on the wheel which caused my vehicle to flip several times.  The car then proceeded to slide down a steep hillside upside-down and crash into a tree.  I managed to step out of my car without a scratch.  There are many magical places within this world, places where miracles happen every day.  Yellowstone serves as a strong inspiration for my writing, even now.
2. When did you first know that writing was what you wanted to do as a career?
In fifth grade I read Stephen King’s Salems’ Lot for a book report and I knew I wanted to be a writer.  My friends and I started writing horror short stories and passing them out to our classmates.  I then wrote my first novel when I was in seventh grade, but I must admit it was terrible.  Ever since then, writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do and I have to do it every day.
3.When you are working on a book, do you plan ahead, or do you let the story flow as you write?
I pretty much write all my novels the same way.  I get hit with an idea like a bolt of lightning.  It just hits me from out of nowhere.  I like to map out each chapter in a brief paragraph with very little description.  Then I take all my characters and create a background, writing several pages on each of them.  Once I’ve done this, I sit down to what I call the ‘vomit draft’.  I know it doesn’t sound pretty, but it describes it pretty well.  I just sit there and let each paragraph of basic description spew from my mind until I have ten or so pages.  If I can average seven to ten pages a day then it’s been a pretty good day.
4.Is there a special place in your home that you work at?
I do most of my writing from my favorite reclining chair downstairs in the living room.  I’ve written my last two novels in the same chair in the wee hours of the night.  I did just finish setting up my home office and have started an excellent writing schedule.
5.Are any of your characters in your books based on people that you know in real life?
I always like to put a few of my friends in all my novels.  In Faithful Shadow my main character, Joe Rand, is named after my uncle.  In my next novel, Precipice: The Beginning, the first woman on Mars is named after my best friend Hillary.  Most of my characters are made up on the spot, but I like to use a few friends here and there.
6. Do you have an interesting writing quirk? Maybe something that you have to do while writing, or something that you have to do before you start writing?
Every book I write is done in a ten font, single spaced.  I like to write the novel to completion before I change the spacing and font size.   I usually like to do all my writing very late at night when I’m really tired.  Sometimes I like to drink some wine or a large can of Fosters while snacking on something bad for me.  I wear headphones and choose the music that matches my mood at the moment, ranging from classical to techno.  I always have the television on in the background, but it’s always something I’ve seen a million times and don’t mind missing.
7.What is your opinion on Indie publishing versus mainstream publishing?
I think Indie publishing is an excellent way for new writers to find their audience in a terrible economy.  I had a literary agent that sent my work to all the major publishing houses and they all said the same thing: “we just can’t take a chance on a new writer.”  Indie Publishing and Mainstream Publishing both require an author to do a large amount of promotion, but at least Indie publishing won’t pull your book off the shelf if it’s not successful in the first year.
8.            Do you hear from your fans a lot? If so, what are some of the best & worst things that you have heard?
I’ve only heard from a few fans and mostly it’s just on how much they enjoyed the novel.  One fan did go on and on about how such a monster couldn’t really exist.  I encourage anyone who’s read the novel to contact me to tell me what they liked or didn’t like.  It’s great to hear an unbiased opinion on my work.
9. What does your family think of your writing?
Most of my family thinks it’s great, but I haven’t had as much support as I would have liked.  My wife and friends offer a lot of support.  Most of my family has yet to purchase a copy of my most recent novel.  If I was able to stop writing I probably would have done so a long time ago, but I can’t stop.  It’s like an addiction.
10.         How has being published changed your life, if any way?
It really hasn’t.  I’m still the same person today as I was last year.  I still spend all my time working on the next novel.  There has been a lot more travel.  My wife and I have been driving up and down the state dropping off promotion material at any bookstores along the way.  I do find that I have to check my e-mails at least three times a day now, but other than that there isn’t a whole lot of change.
11.           What are you currently working on?  We would love to know what is coming next from you.
Right now I’m working on the third and final novel in my Precipice series.  Precipice: The Beginning and Precipice: The Retrieval have both been written and are soon to be released.  I’m also working on a Fantasy novel titled The Seedling.  There is never a shortage of work.  I will also be releasing a sci-fi novel title Whirlwind in the next year.
12.          What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
Write every chance you get and never give up.  Never listen to anyone that tells you your idea won’t make a good novel, or that it’s been done before.  I always say that everyone has a story to tell, so just sit down and write it out.  I also tell them to take the time and outline your work.
13.          What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I find that writing the novel is the easiest part, but finding the time to do so is hard.  All of my novels, up until now, have been written in what little time I can find in between raising two small children and working a full time job.  That’s why laptops are so wonderful.  I’d write a chapter on my lunch break or when I can’t sleep at night.  I’d go to work an hour early so I can squeeze a chapter or two in before I’m on the clock.  Luckily I’m working full time as an author now, so when I clock in it’s nothing but time to write.
14.          What hardships have you encountered while writing your books?
Negative comments from my family have made me want to stop all together, but the problem with being a writer is that you can’t stop.  No matter how many times I’ve put my computer away and told myself to focus on other things, the next day I’m typing again.  It’s very tough in this economy to have to raise a family and promote a novel.  My wife and I spend all our free time calling bookstores for a book signing or printing bookmarks and posters.
15.          What books (or authors) have influenced you the most during your career?
Stephen King has been my number one influence.  I’ll never forget how impressed I was after reading Salems’ Lot and how it changed my life.  I’m also a huge fan of Ray Bradbury, Michael Crichton and Philip K. Dick.

Fun Questions:
1. Favorite flavor of ice cream:  Gold Medal Ribbon
2. Favorite color:  Changes from Blue to Purple…Red (depends on the shade)
3.Favorite animal: This changes all the time…darn discovery channel…I guess Grey Wolves
4.Favorite season of the year: Winter
5.Favorite Author: Stephen King
6. Favorite drink: Dr. Pepper
7.Favorite food: Pizza
8.            Favorite Halloween Candy:  Bite sized Snickers and Kit Kat Bars.

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