Crime & Paradise with Julie Howard

Welcome, Julie! Let’s jump in! What do you write?

My true love is in writing novels. I love the ability to build up a plot and lead the reader along with plot twists. I do fall in love with my characters and want to stay in their world as long as possible too.

That being said, I also write flash fiction, short stories and novellas. I’ve even written a number of “ten-word stories,” where you have to convey an entire story in just ten words (challenging, but fun!).  I also wrote non-fiction as a journalist. So, I’ve worked in virtually all areas of writing. Novels, though, give me the most satisfaction and joy.

When did your writing journey begin?

I’ve been writing ever since I can remember and have always wanted to be a novelist. When I got to college, they didn’t have a degree in being an author – and my parents wanted me to be able to earn a living – so I got a degree in journalism. The upside of that I did become a writer for a living, and I enjoyed meeting a variety of people, from business executives to celebrities. However, I never lost the desire to write fiction, and one of the best moments of my life was getting my first contract!

What was your inspiration for your Wild Crime series?

I lived mostly in urban areas so moving to Idaho was quite a change. My home is in Boise, which is definitely urban, but a vast portion of the state is uninhabited, forested and wild. I’m always amazed to find little outposts far back, miles down dirt roads, that are cut off during the winters. My imagination started churning soon after we moved here. I wondered who chooses to live in such isolated areas and what would happen if a woman didn’t want to be there. I created a character, gave her a worst-case scenario, and started writing.

Do you find inspiration in your own life for your writing?

I’m sure there’s a piece of me in every one of my characters. But I also draw liberally from everyone I know and come across. I’m afraid I have no boundaries when it comes to finding inspiration for my characters. A friend’s sweater with a hole in the sleeve made it in one book, and a wine merchant’s long hair and happy dance made it in too. These are just pieces of people though and not representational of them at all; I suppose all writers steal from life in one way or another.

Certainly, though, the biggest influence tends to be the environment and culture in which I live. I’ve lived in three states (California, Nevada and now Idaho) and all three are very different. The terrain impacts people’s lifestyles and how they make their living, so my books reflect that. I’m fascinated by how unique people are in various areas of the country.

Julie visiting Italy (check out the handsome soldier behind her), fire lookout tower in the Idaho wilderness, Irish castle with her son Trevor, and a walk with her dog in California.

Tell us about your experience with the publishing process.

I sent my first book, Crime and Paradise, to a number of agents first. I received a fair amount of interest but no one offered a contract. An author friend suggested that small presses might be the way for a new author to go. I sent my manuscript to two small presses and one of them was The Wild Rose Press, who responded positively almost immediately. I love working with them! They’ve been so encouraging and helpful every step of the way.

Any new projects on the horizon?

I’m off and running with a paranormal mystery that will be out next year, and I’m writing the third book in my Wild Crime series. I have two other series mapped out. There’s nothing that makes me happier than knowing I have more writing to do.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

Don’t focus on getting published until your manuscript is done and edited. Write the best story you can and give it everything you have. The story deserves your best work. I meet a lot of writers who obsess about the publishing side when they don’t even have a first draft completed. I think that is a distraction that can sideline writers from their main work.

What was the hardest part of the story to write/research?

I write murder mysteries so I have to get the law enforcement and medical parts right. I end up googling so many strange things, like what does a morgue look like, or what would happen when a bullet hits someone’s head. Awful stuff! My novels aren’t gruesome – I avoid the gory details – but I’d need to know if a body would be recognizable in a morgue, for instance. If I don’t get it right, my editor will let me know!

BOOK SALE ALERT! The first book in the series, Crime and Paradise, is on a 99-cent flash sale until Oct. 18 on Amazon.

The story follows a young abused woman who ends up in a remote Idaho town. When her husband is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect. The local sheriff develops an interest in her beyond the investigation, and together they uncover some unsavory secrets in their small town.

 Crime Time Two also just released!

“When divorce is out of the question, can murder be forgiven?”

Meredith knows three things: First, the man in the library begged her to help him. Second, he was afraid of his wife. Third, now he’s dead.

While the evidence first points to a natural death, Meredith is certain there’s more to discover. People are tight-lipped in this small mountain village, and the man’s wife isn't talking either. Then a second death occurs, with remarkable similarities. It’s time to talk about murder. 

As a slow-burning relationship heats up in her own life, Meredith struggles with concepts of love and hate, belief and suspicion, and absolution and guilt. Nothing is clear cut…

She must decide: Is guilt, like evil, something you can choose to believe in?

Excerpt from Crime Times Two

Jowls quivered under the man’s weak chin, and Meredith noted the stained and frayed shirt of someone who spent a lot of time alone in dark rooms, sending out a better version of himself into the virtual world. His eyes were anxious and beseeching at her as though she should have a clear understanding of him and his life.

Somehow, over the past hour and a half they’d been sitting next to each other – him playing video games and sharing his life story and her ignoring him the best she could – she had become his confessor and friend.

Meredith gave him what she hoped was an impartial-though-quasi-friendly smile. She reached for her purse and papers and rose from her chair. “Well. Nice talking with you.”

The man was lost in his own train of thought and seemed only slightly aware that Meredith was leaving.

He shook his head, morose.

“To make a long story short,” he summed up, “I think my wife is trying to kill me.”

 Where can you find Julie?

Facebook & her website

Speed Round!

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About the author

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and founder of the Boise chapter of Shut Up & Write. Learn more at juliemhoward.com.