For the chance to win a free e-copy of Julie Rayzor by Richard Howes, please leave a comment on this post with your email address included in the body of the comment. This giveaway will end at 3 PM (EST) on October 14th.
Richard Howes is a 30 year computer programmer, 20 year electronic engineer, a wild horse trainer, artist, father, husband and writer. He was born into the family of a Cape Cod Yankee dad and an Irish mom. Went to college in Boston and spent 14 years exploring the Nevada mountains and desert from horseback, he won a world championship buckle in the sport of Cowboy Mounted Shooting plus he programmed slot machines and worked as an engineering manager saving companies over $20 million dollars in sales during a three year stint of international travel fixing engineering problems in the field. He turned to writing as another one of his many hobbies and he hopes to retire some day in front of a keyboard writing books.
Hello! What’s your name?
My name is Richard Howes
What do you write and why?
I write because I love the process of creation. I’ve always been artistic – very right brain, but I work as a software engineer so I’m very logical also. I used to create oil paintings of horses and landscapes and I had a teenage point where I painted dungeon adventurers and dragons. (Yes. I’m a geek. I played Dungeons and Dragons [on paper with dice]). My artist side came out in bird carvings; chickadees, parakeets, hawks, etc. I’ve recently started playing guitar and I’ve owned a dusty keyboard for over twenty years. I’ve written three unpublished fantasy novels about a young wizard – not quite Harry Potter – my wizard-apprentice was dispelled from his home town for inappropriate relations with the Lord’s daughter. I spent about 17 years intermittently writing those novels and getting rejected from publishers and literary agents. There was a changing point in my career where I was laid off due to a company shut-down. It was one of those major crossroads in life. I sat down and wrote a 350 page mystery novel (The Killers Co-op) which came out in August 2011. I was toying with a zombie theme for a first-person 17 year old girl when I wrote forty pages of “Julie Rayzor” in three days and another 190 pages in five weeks. I spent the next ten months editing and proof-reading the work and published “Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies” on July 27th 2012.
Do you read the same genre that you write? Why or why not?
I spent the greater part of the last ten years reading mysteries. I started with Robert Parker and added Dick Francis. Before that there was a span of Larry McMurtry and Zane Grey westerns. (I ride and train horses and drive an old pickup truck in mountain explorations, so I’m sort of a computer programming cowboy.) I used to read a lot of Steven King and some Anne Rice, so I love the horror genre also. Mostly I read zombie books now.
What is the title you are promoting right now?
What is it about?
The short description is this: What do you do when you’re 17, in a fortress surrounded by a zombie apocalypse, and your boyfriend is outside and lost? If you’re Julie Rayzor, you lock and load.
17 year-old Julie is caught between a world of zombies outside of “Fort Tulsa” and a life of drama inside. When everything she loves in life is stolen away; her soldier-boyfriend missing-in-action; troubles with Jill, her best friend; Felix, a nerdy medical researcher fawning over her; plus a broken leg in a cast to weigh her down, she has to join the zombie war to fight or be killed. When she learns of a plan to rescue her boyfriend and save the city, she uncovers a dark secret – a secret that she must keep hidden deep inside until she can complete the most dangerous task of her life.
This other version is a little more descriptive: “Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies” is about the self-discovery of a 17 year old girl plus her interactions with, and the drama of teenagers and twenty-something soldiers; betrayal, deception, theft, the test of personal values and the heart-wrenching destruction of memories of the old world. A little horror (two somewhat gory scenes and a couple battle scenes fighting zombies and Scabs), some romance and a fair amount of action-adventure http://tinyurl.com/JulieRayzor
What makes this book different from others in your genre?
I think the main difference is that I didn’t read zombie books or watch zombie movies before I wrote Julie Rayzor. I came at the subject from a fresh perspective. There’s a minor mystery to solve and there’s lots of action with romance too. John Hill, the author of one of my favorite westerns, Quigley Down Under, LA Law, and Close Encounters mentioned that Julie Rayzor is a blend of sci-fi, a love story, and a war story and that the writing is of Elmore Leonard’s style and found in male adventures. That’s a pretty good summary for I believe that men and well as women will enjoy this book. I aimed towards the young adult audience but when I came to crossroads of where to take the story and writing style, I let the words flow. I’ll let the market decide exactly what kind of book “Julie Rayzor” is, just as I let her character define herself and her relationships during the writing.
What’s the story behind the story?
I had just moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma when I finished writing The Killers Co-op and as part of the culture shock moving from Las Vegas I wanted to accustom myself to the vibe that goes in Tulsa-time, and also learn about the city. I think of “Julie Rayzor” as a small tribute to Tulsa and Sapulpa. The people of Sapulpa were wonderful to me when we shot the book-trailer videos. The city manager was awesome and the chief of police supplied multiple patrol cars and details for crowd control – seeing as we were going to be having guys in full military gear running around with authentic looking airsoft machines and shotguns. If you look in the opening scenes of the videos the Sapulpa Buffalo monument is in the background.
What is your goal as an author?
Goal as an author? Write. Write well. Build a fan base. Having people like the work is important but learning how to improve my writing is critical to my own personal success. As I tell my friends and family, please be honest with me. Tell me the parts you didn’t like as well as the parts you enjoyed. So far, only my wife has been brutally honest! That’s okay. I ask people to write reviews on Amazon and to not hold back. Rate it how you saw it. Good and bad. We are all grown up here and I can take it! I did have someone tell me she didn’t want to read the book because she didn’t like the title, or the character’s first name, or the picture of the girl on the cover! That’s was pretty funny! I struggled with the title because it is not a true Harlequin romance type of novel and I’m sure some people are turned off thinking the book is something different from what it actually is. In the end I left the title alone because we already had an ISBN number assigned!
Are you working on anything new? Give us a preview of what’s to come!
RayzorWire is in production. It is a sequel to Julie Rayzor and it will be about 230 pages (plus or minus). I just returned from my honeymoon – my wife and I put it off for over three years while we struggled with debt, unemployment, and moving across the country. So while we were enjoying some places from a childhood destination of hers I stole a few moments away to write add about 30 pages to RayzorWire and I even took some photos for the new book cover. How many people will be able to guess that the coils of barbwire came from a Caribbean island dock and not an Oklahoma industrial facility?
Additionally, I have most of a Las Vegas murder mystery finished called Sullyland. It’s somewhat similar to Robert Parker’s novels. I’ve got a very strong emotional attachment to the book that I just can’t seem to break – it’s preventing me from finishing the book, but I might start-over someday because I really like the characters.
Thinking back… I have three fantasy novels written about that young wizard, but that needs a complete rewrite…
Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book?
Dick Francis at the moment. Just about all his work is awesome. I have a love of horses and mysteries and his books are steeped in those subjects.
Where can readers find you and your work?
I keep a writing blog and my books are at amazon and createspace but the fastest links are these: “Julie Rayzor ~ Romance, Adventure, Zombies” Http://tinyurl.com/JulieRayzor and “The Killers Co-op” http://www.tinyurl.com/TheKillersCo-op
What’s your view on the self-publishing/traditional publishing thing? Ideally, which one would you prefer and why?
I would love to get picked up by a traditional publishing house. I’d love to find a literary agent. I spent years sending short stories into fantasy magazines and writing query letters only to be rejected. The time just wasn’t right. I knew it then, just as I knew the karma/biorhythms were in a good place when I wrote The Killers Co-op. For now I’ll self-publish and write. Writing is a good place!
Do you have a favorite quote?
“All the best stories are about loneliness.” – Tom Hanks. Mr. Hanks said that when the movie Castaway came out and that has always struck me as being very true. We are all just boats adrift in the vast see of the world, sometimes surrounded by other people and still feeling lost and alone. To me, those inner struggles that we all have, that we all suffer silently, are the basis for great stories.
What is the most important advice you have for aspiring authors?
Write. Hire a copy editor. Keep writing. Write for your own enjoyment. Read a lot of works of authors that you enjoy. Study that writing style. When you are proof reading your book once it is written open a thesaurus and learn new words. Proofread your book no less than 12 times. I did it at least 11 times and I still found a mistake or two.
Is there anything else you’d like to say before we finish up?
If you are writing – Keep writing! If you are reading – keep reading and I’d like to say that my fans are awesome.
Awesome, thanks for allowing me to interview you!
You are welcome! Thanks for having me.