The girls at WGR are honored to have romance/suspense author, Victoria Howard with us today. Welcome, Victoria, and thank you for spending some time with us.
WGR: You say on your website that you consider Scotland your spiritual home, could you tell us what it was like living in the Highlands and what you enjoyed most about the area?
Victoria: Until my mid-twenties I had always lived in an urban environment and worked in the city, so moving to a croft in rural Scotland was a big culture shock. You can’t just pop out to the shop if you forget to buy a bag of sugar, as the nearest shop might be twenty-five miles away. My most vivid memory of those first few days in my new home was waking up to the sound of birdsong rather than the hum of traffic.
It’s exceedingly difficult to say what I enjoyed most about my time living in Scotland, it’s more a culmination of the whole country. Scotland is a place of contrasts; on one side you have the bustling modern cities, such as Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with their vibrant nightlife and on the other, you have remote, wild open moors, stunning mountains, and lochs.
WGR: Victoria, when reading through your bio, I saw you have a background in medical secretary, legal secretary, and managing a company. How did the writing come about and has your other careers influenced your writing?
Victoria: I’ve always enjoyed writing, although I think my English teacher might be surprised by that statement! As I child I found the task of writing essays on a given subject boring, and it was only when I started writing to friends, sharing travel adventures with them that the idea of writing a novel came about. In May 2000, I travelled to Seattle and that’s where I got the idea for my first novel, Three Weeks Last Spring.
I don’t think my careers have influenced my writing, but they’ve certainly given me inspiration. For example, in 1975 Howard Doris was granted permission to use Loch Kishorn on the west coast of Scotland for a deepwater construction facility for the production of oil platforms for the North Sea Oil industry. It was this personal knowledge that gave me the idea for The House on the Shore.
WGR: Your newest release, The House On The Shore, is coming up for review here at WGR. Please tell us a bit about the story.
Victoria: The House on the Shore is a suspense romance set in Scotland.
When Anna MacDonald’s boyfriend—and boss—cheats on her and gives her promotion to someone else, she resigns and decides to get as far away from Edinburgh as possible. She packs up her old Land Rover and moves to her late grandmother’s cottage on the shore of Loch Hourn in the Highlands.
With no phone or neighbours, and only two border collies for company, Anna sets out to finally achieve her dream; to write—and sell—the novel that has burned within her for years.
She’s finally on the verge of healing her heart and finding some peace when handsome American artist, Luke Tallantyre, sails into the loch with engine trouble. He’s sailed across the Atlantic to escape an artistic dry spell and to come to terms with his dangerous past. He rows ashore, and knocking on the door of the croft, asks to use the telephone, but the reception he receives is less than welcoming – in fact it’s downright frosty.
Anna resents the cranky American’s intrusion to her seemingly idyllic life. Luke thinks she’s an ill-mannered hermit. But an unseen assassin is after one of them. So they unwillingly join forces and embark on an adventure neither ever imagined…including a chance at true love.
WGR: What books do you enjoy reading and do you have a favorite author?
Victoria: I love reading, but I try not to read other authors’ work while I’m working on a novel. I don’t want to be influenced by their “voice” and word choice, so I tend to read when on vacation or when I’m not working on a manuscript.
While in Florida last Christmas, I picked up a copy of Linda Fairstein’s novel, “Final Jeopardy” and was hooked, due in part to my interest in anything legal. Since then, I’ve read more of her novels, and I find her one of the most exciting crime novelists I have ever read. I also enjoy novels by Elizabeth Alder, Katie Fforde, Dana Gabaldon, I could go on, but the list would take up too many pages!
WGR: If The House On The Shore was contracted for film and you could choose the actor/actress to play the leading roles, whom would you choose?
Victoria: What a difficult question. I think I’d choose Gemma Arterton for the role of Anna MacDonald. She was excellent in the role of Tess of the D’Ubervilles in the recent BBC production. Hugh Jackman would make an excellent Luke, as he has a cheeky smile that lights up his face.
WGR: What’s a typical writing day like for you? Do you have a set schedule and a specific place/office for your writing?
Victoria: Just because I’m at home all day, doesn’t mean I can sit and write all day – there are household chores as well as shopping, and cooking to attend to, so my writing tends to fit in around them. But on an ideal day, I’ll settle down in my office by mid-morning. My first task is to see if any emails have come in overnight from my publisher in Everett. I will answer these first, along with any requests for interviews, media packs or copies of the free first chapters booklet my publisher has produced. Once I’ve done that, I like to read over the previous day’s work, making any changes I think necessary, and any notes I may have made about what should happen next. Then it’s down to the hard work of writing. I’ll break for lunch, and then again to cook and eat dinner.
WGR: Where does your inspiration come from and how do you start? Do you use an outline or are you more of a ‘lets just start and see where it goes’ writer?
Victoria: Ideas for plots and scenes can strike at any time. I might hear something on the news, or read an article in the newspaper and think “that would make a good plot.” Or I might be on holiday and the town or city I’m visiting might become the setting for a novel.
Once I have an idea for a plot and have given my characters names, and identities, I like to write a 2 -3 page outline of the major plot points. I don’t plot scene by scene as some of my writing colleagues do. I find that too restrictive. Occasionally, as with the novel I’m currently working on, my characters will take me off in a slightly different direction than I first intended. This can slow my writing down, as I have to re-think how to get them out of a situation. However, I’ve never yet had to delete more than a few pages to get back on track.
WGR: Do you have any secrets you’d like to share…something your readers would never guess about you?
Victoria: Before I started writing full-time, I designed and produced knitwear using traditional Celtic knotwork patterns.
WGR: Other than writing, what are your other passions?
Victoria: I enjoy listening to music – anything from classical to jazz. I’m also a keen gardener, although I don’t have as much time to indulge the hobby, as I would like. I love to travel, and again don’t do nearly as much as I would like.
WGR: Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know and where can we go to find out more about you and your books?
Victoria: I have just signed a contract for the publication of my third novel, Ring of Lies, set in the steamy heat of Florida. It is scheduled to be released later this year under the Vanilla Heart label.
I have a website, www.victoriahoward.co.uk and a blog, where I post news and articles about writing, www.victoriahoward.wordpress.com Vanilla Heart also has a website with details of all its author’s novels, www.vanillaheartbooksandauthors.com
Victoria, thanks so much for being here at WGR. It was great fun!