Deerbourne Inn Series: Spirited Quest by Julie Howard

Welcome, Julie.

Tell us about what you write.

My main focus has been my mystery novels, but my current release is Spirited Quest, a novella. This is my first novella and I had such a blast writing this shorter mystery that I’ve already started a second one.

When did your writing journey begin?

I’ve always written stories and had a career as a journalist (the nonfiction side of me). But writing fiction has been my life’s dream. Now I’ve written short stories, novels, and novellas. I can honestly say I love all three lengths since they allow me to develop different types of stories. I always picture my reader when I write. A short story can be read over a cup of coffee, a novella leaves one breathless, and readers can fully immerse themselves in another world in a novel.

What was your inspiration for Spirited Quest?

Before I heard about my publisher’s Deerbourne Inn series, I never considered writing a short book, or novella. I’ve written more than a dozen short stories that have appeared in a number of literary journals, as well as two full-length novels. A novella, though, is in that in-between space, and I wasn’t sure I could fully develop an appealing plot or characters.

It was the fictional town of Willow Springs, Vermont, and the publisher’s description of the Deerbourne Inn that drew me in to this project. Each author in the series is taking on a separate main character who lives in the town and choosing our own genre – from romance to mystery to paranormal to historical. The clincher for me was the fact there was a ghost at the Deerbourne Inn. The story grabbed me from the start and wouldn’t let go until I wrote it all down.

My full-length novels are mysteries, but I’ve written paranormal short stories and absolutely love writing and reading a story with mystical elements. Within a few hours of learning about this series, I had my plot outlined and knew who I wanted this ghost to be. I knew what role she would play in my paranormal mystery. The title jumped out at me: Spirited Quest. I submitted a synopsis to The Wild Rose Press and began writing.

The surprise I discovered about writing a novella was twofold: First, the length (less than half that of a regular novel) created more drama as the plot raced along. Second, I developed a thirst for writing more of these short books. While I still have full-length novels underway, I’ve outlined a novella series I hope to pitch to my publisher later this year.

What else have you written?

I have two other books out by The Wild Rose Press. “Crime and Paradise” and “Crime Times Two” are part of my Wild Crime mystery series. I’m currently working on the third and final book in this series.

Words of advice for fellow writers in the trenches:

Never stop writing and never give up your dream. The road to being an author is tough, especially these days. Don’t worry about rejections; everybody gets them. Just keep submitting and keep perfecting your craft.

A bit about Spirited Quest:

Paige Norman believes in a tangible, explainable world. When her ghost-hunting niece comes for a visit, she tries not to scoff. But someone, or something, is stirring up trouble at the Deerbourne Inn and her niece, Jillian, is at the center of the mystery.

Paige is certain the handsome Aussie photographer is behind the unexplained disturbances, and she warns her niece to stay clear. Meanwhile, Jillian gets to know the otherworldly Lady of the Deerbourne, who foretells an encounter with "two men." Then the pranks turn dangerous. Has her niece attracted a stalker or has she conjured an evil presence? Can the culprit be the man who has captured her heart? 

Where can you find Julie? Website, Facebook, Goodreads & Amazon

Speed-dating round:

Oxford comma, yes or no? Sometimes. This must drive my editor crazy. But there are times an oxford comma makes sense (to separate ideas) and other times unnecessary.

Ice cream? Chocolate!

Coffee or tea or wine? Coffee, to make it to the wine

What does your desk look like? I work at cafes. I love the buzz of conversation around me.

What is your writing vice or must-haves? I suppose coffee, though is coffee really a vice?

(Jean’s comment: YES! It’s my must-have, too, along with red pends and Post-its)

Describe a perfect writing day. Some days my head swims with characters and plots, and so I write all day and well into the evening. Those days come more and more often, and they are wonderful.

Where is your favorite place you've visited? I loved Istanbul and how very different a culture it is from ours. The language, religion, manner of dress and even the driving rules (none!) are literally a world apart. I love to travel and take advantage of the opportunity every chance I get. My dream trip is southeast Asia, where I have a historical novel based.

Beach, lake, or mountains? I’m torn between the beach and mountains, but I think beach wins by a nose.

Morning rooster, night owl, or midday lark? I get up before the sun. One of my favorite things is watch the dawn appear.

What comes first, character or plot (or other)? Plot, though the main character is right on its heels.

You find a $100 bill in your purse/bag, what would you spend it on? Books. What else?

Favorite book of all time? The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck. It’s a very different book for him, set during WWII and in a town occupied by German soldiers. Incredibly beautiful story.