Julie Howard sits down for an interview today to talk about her life and her writing process. She also lets us know about her newest release, HOUSE OF SEVEN SPIRITS, as well as her new novella coming out this summer. Please welcome Julie Howard!
Where did you get the idea for your new novel?
I traveled to Australia last year and was instantly aware of how unique this country was from anywhere else I’ve visited. I suppose you could say that about any continent, but there are numerous animals in Australia that don’t exist anywhere else on Earth (except in zoos). A fair number of these creatures are deadly! There’s nothing more stimulating to a mystery writer than deadly things. I instantly imagined a plot in this setting.
What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?
I would love to write a young adult book someday. I remember so many wonderful weekends reading as a tween and teen (yes, I was a total bookworm!) and would like to create a book that young people would love. I have a number of projects to finish first, so this will have to wait a while longer.
Do you work on more than one book at a time?
I have three underway at the moment. If I get stuck in one then I switch to another. In this way, I never have writer’s block because by the time I return to the first book, I’m ready to work on it again. I am always, always writing something.
Do you have any words of advice to beginning writers?
Never give up! The journey to being published, whether you go “traditional” or self-published, is difficult. If you want to reach your end goal, you really need to believe in yourself and your book. My first book received numerous rejections before it was accepted. Those rejections hurt! I let myself crawl into bed and be sorry for myself for a day. But I limited my pity party time to one day and then pushed forward again.
How many books do you have under the proverbial bed? Will they ever see the light of day?
Lots! I have a notebook filled with ideas and two more series sketched out. I also have a historical fiction completed that needs some TLC and rewriting.
What’s your favorite thing about being a writer?
Just like reading a book, I can lose myself in a story – the only difference is I am creating the plot and characters. But the enjoyment level is similar. I write because I enjoy stories. It all comes back to the stories.
What genre is your favorite to read?
Just one? I love them all! If I had to choose, I’d have to say my top two are historical fiction and mystery. Oh, and magical realism. I have to add that one because I’ve always loved a little bit of magic in the books I read.
If money were not an object, where would you most like to live? Why?
I love living in Idaho, but I wouldn’t mind a second home at the beach. Who wouldn’t? This is probably why my main character in House of Seven Spirits, Jillian, has a beach-view cottage. I can live this dream through her.
What did you want to be (occupation-wise) when you were a child?
A writer. No kidding. I decided by age seven I was going to be a novelist someday.
What do you like best about your heroine?
Jillian Winchester started her own business and controls her destiny. She’s young, smart, willing to take risks and doesn’t like it when someone stands in her way – including her boyfriend, Mason. She also has a fragile side and a unique history that drives her to speak to ghosts. While the books are novella-length, this character still offers some complexity, and I like this about her.
How can readers reach you or find you online?
Lots of places. I have a newsletter, too, that readers can sign up to receive via my website. Here are my online and social media links:
Tell us a little about your current work in progress.
I’m finished editing work on a novella that is part of a series my publisher will launch this summer. The series is called One Scoop or Two, and all books will have a flavor of ice cream in the title. Mine is called “Sea-Salt Lavender for Aphrodite.” Aphrodite is a standard poodle who happens to love ice cream, and she plays a role in the plot. I hope to do a cover reveal in May and the book will be scheduled to run sometime over the summer.
What’s your tagline for your new release, House of Seven Spirits? Why did you choose it?
“Some Secrets are Deadly.” The Outback can be a scary place and there are a host of things that can kill you. A couple of these factor into my story.
Tell us about this release.
House of Seven Spirits is a ghost mystery, and is the second in my Spirited Quest mysteries. Each book can be read as a stand-alone; you don’t need to read them in order. Below, I have the blurb and an excerpt to give readers a taste of what’s to come.
Some secrets are deadly, and ghost-blogger Jillian Winchester and her photographer boyfriend discover it's true when they set out to investigate an Australian family who disappeared without a trace in the 1880s.
An abandoned sheep station rumored to be haunted by the long-dead Kinsley family is one challenge. The other is the beautiful but deadly Outback.
As Jillian probes deeper into the mystery, one thing becomes clear: She might not make it out of this quest alive.
“Don’t go up there,” Mason warned. “The wood’s apt to be rotted in places. The floor may not be safe.”
She glanced over her shoulder at him and hesitated. Her California beach home was eight thousand miles away—a fifteen-hour flight plus a day’s drive along bumpy bleak roads. She hadn’t come this far to only examine the structure’s exterior. Her work required total immersion.
She put a foot on the first step and tested it with her weight. Mason strode around the car and halted just below the porch with arms crossed. “Jillian.”
The last thing she needed was someone hovering, directing her on what she could and couldn’t do. When she worked, the “real” world faded in importance. His uneasy energy interrupted her focus. “I’m fine.”
The stair was solid, at least. Not even a creak greeted her as she advanced onto the veranda. He cleared his throat as she took another step, but said nothing.
Despite the heat, a sudden chill rippled up her bare arms, sending prickles all the way to her neck. For a split second, her world tilted and her senses were overwhelmed. The musty odor of freshly shorn sheep wool, clothes flapping on a line, young voices chattering, the sharp tang of blood. Just as quick, the images dissolved and all was still, dry and lifeless once more. She let go of a deep breath, and a feeling of exhilaration swept through her.
Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime and Spirited Quest series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. Now she edits an online anthology, Potato Soup Journal.
Buy Links for House of Seven Spirits: