Wednesday, August 23, 2006

H.A. Fowler Spotlight

H.A. Fowler's writing is the stuff of "nightmares, fantasies and dark desires." Reviewers have used words like action-packed, fascinating, vivid, and WOW to describe her books. To date, she has published Sword of Regret with Freya's Bower, and The Veil is due in October from Cobblestone Press. And coming soon from Lady Aibell Press is Positive Encounter, in the Vamprotica '06 Anthology.

I hope you enjoy this closer look at an up and coming author.

Kate Willoughby: Which of your characters would you like to meet? Why?

H.A. Fowler: LOL! What a cool question. But a difficult one to answer, because as awesome as my characters are and as much as I love them, I think a lot of them would be mighty scary in real life. I'd say it's a tie between three of my unpublished characters. Brian MacMillan, the actor from my first novel (and only contemporary) HEMINGWAY'S HEART--he's smart, sweet, sexy, and loves the Grateful Dead--like me. *G* Second, Faron Kai, the antagonist from my unpublished dark fantasy THE BLACK SUN CHRONICLES VOLUME I--he's dark, dangerous, brilliant, and a terminally sexy vampire with a smart mouth. Are you noticing the pattern here yet? *G* And finally, Handsome Jack Sharpe, the cowboy ghost from my unfinished paranormal western manuscript. He is... say it with me now, smart, sexy, more than a little snarky, and hard on the outside with a mushy heart on the inside. My favorite kinds of characters are tortured, reluctant heroes and heroines.

Of my heroines, I can't pick a favorite--they're all strong, sexy, independent and determined. Powerful in one way or another. I can't stand a TSTL (too stupid to live) or TWTL (too weak to live) heroine, and there are far too many of them out there these days, even in paranormals. I love an alpha male (boy howdy do I!), and adore seeing a fierce heroine find her softer side... maybe get a little dominated in the bedroom. But I think some popular authors and series walk the wrong side of the thin line between sexy power games and barely-consensual sex hidden behind variations on the concept of "soulmate." In other words, that couples are "meant to be," beyond their will or control. It allows for lazy writing when the author isn't required to develop the relationship, or show us why these people/creatures should be together. They're like modern day bodice rippers, and they drive me crazy. I mean, if you know anything about the BDSM lifestyle, for example, it is all about safety and explicit consent, no matter how rough the games get. Without that consent, it's just torture and rape.

Sorry for the tangent. It's a pet peeve.

KW: How did you come up with the idea for Sword of Regret?

HF: I didn't! LOL! My first contract with Freya's Bower included writing based on a prompt they gave me and a genre of my choosing. I chose vampires, of course. The prompt was a sword that, when touched, overwhelms the person with feelings of guilt and remorse. I created the characters and built scenarios based on that prompt. It was much more clinical than my process usually is, but I tried to explore both sides of the coin--a vampire who touches the sword, and a vampire hunter.

KW: Looking at your own books, what would be your favorite line of dialogue?

HF: Heh. Well, one of my favorite exchanges comes from THE BLACK SUN CHRONICLES VOLUME I, but I can't share it because of the language factor. *G* I'm a huge fan of snarky, punny lines. I also love sweeping, romantic dialogue.

Oh, I thought of one! There's a line in OTHERWORLD, the sequel to THE VEIL, that makes me snicker. I can't set it up too much because it gives some things away, but Harrigan is in a place that reminds him of the cantina in Star Wars. He meets up with his guide, who's a 6'4" hunky male model type whose attitude gets right on Harrigan's naturally frayed last good nerve. Harrigan needles the guy a bit, as is his wont, and the guide loses his temper, leaps to his feet, and snaps out a pair of wings with a span of over 10'. Harrigan goggles at him for a minute and then says, "There weren't any of you in Star Wars." Hee.

I love Harrigan. I should have mentioned him in my favorite character list.

KW: Do you have an core theme that appears in all your books?

HF: I like to think it's "love is the most powerful force in the universe." I mean, that's essentially what comes out of romance as a genre, don't you think? The HEA or HFN ending--hope for the characters, and often the world, comes from that love and happiness. But within those stories of two becoming one, I like to weave themes of developing individual strength, and emphasize that pair bonding should make you stronger, better, more, not be the end all and be all of your existence. You can be complete as an individual. You should be able to stand on your own. But it's nice to have company.

Also, there's the very central, "Vampires are hot. Naked vampries are hotter. " *G*

KW: What was your favorite book when you were 12?

HF: Wow, that was a long time ago. It's hard to remember. I think I had a few! INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE is one that stands out-- I read it the year it was released, when I was 9, and it remained my favorite until I was older and came to appreciate Lestat more than Louis. ;) GONE WITH THE WIND was another favorite. FOREVER by Judy Blume was a hot read for my age group, and I was no exception. I think it was the first "steamy" book I ever read. Also, back then I was a freak about horses--especially black Arabians, so I was way into books like BLACK BEAUTY and THE BLACK STALLION. I also couldn't get enough of biographies of famous women like Florence Nightengale, Betsy Ross and others. Finally, SE Hinton's books were on the top shelf and remain so. THE OUTSIDERS, RUMBLE FISH, THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW. Finally, I remember being crazy about Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.

I had, and still have, eclectic taste in books!

KW: What's your favorite book now?

HF: I swear, that could change from one minute to the next, depending on my mood. Right this particular second... and actually, a lot of the past 10 years or so, it's OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. Jamie Fraser is my all time favorite hero, too. Running a very close second is Jude Devereaux's A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR. I'm also deeply in love with the entirety of LKH's Anita Blake series, Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden series, Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series, La Nora's In Death series, and Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, but you couldn't possibly force me to choose one book that's a favorite. I'm a freak for ongoing series, because you get to know the characters so deeply. I'm dedicated to reaching the point in my own career where I'm lucky enough to get to develop a single couple over time, ala Eve/Roarke (In Death), Jamie/Claire (OUTLANDER series), Stephanie/Morelli (Stephanie Plum) and the like.

KW: What was the last novel you bought?

HF: I usually buy them in stacks, so it's hard to pinpoint exactly! I think the last "paper" book I bought was DANSE MACABRE by Laurell K. Hamilton, who I love beyond all reason. The last ebook I purchased was DOUBLE TROUBLE by Allyson James, which I haven't gotten to read yet because my TBR is about four million volumes long right now! LOL!

KW: What did you want to be when you grew up?

HW: I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was really small, but then I realized I was too tenderhearted to deal with animals in pain or dying. Still am. I diligently avoid children's movies because it seems like an animal always dies in them! When I worked on my first bachelor's degree, I wanted to be a Psychologist, but I loathed the politics and backstabbing in graduate school, so I lasted only a couple of semesters before I got fed up and quit. For a while after that, I knew I wanted to teach and write, but I didn't have any real focus or goals. It wasn't until I started writing fiction about eight years ago that I knew I'd found my calling! Good thing, too, because as I've often said, I'm utterly unemployable otherwise.

Now I'm finishing up my second bachelor's in English Lit, with an aim to get my MFA starting winter 2008. My ultimate goal is to write full time and teach part time. I want more than anything to share the joy of the written word with others. Learning to write, to express myself in fiction, was the best thing that ever happened to me. I know it sounds corny, but I want to help other people get in touch with that same joy.

KW: You write paranormal, one of the genres I tend towards, as well. Do you believe in the paranormal? Have you ever had any first-hand experience?

HF: I don't not believe. I think there's a great deal more to reality than what our very limited, linear human minds can comprehend or experience directly. I know too many people who've had paranormal experiences to dismiss them out of hand. I grew up in New England, and ghost stories are part of the history there. I guess they're in my blood as a result! I personally have seen some wild things in my life, but nothing that couldn't be explained in some scientific way. I believe, at the very least, that there are vast parts of our human minds that we have yet to tap into, and their function sometimes asserts themselves in incredible ways. Whether that means we actually *see* ghosts, or whether we are simply projecting some need for a world beyond? I have no idea. I guess I'm a paranormal agnostic. *G*

I also believe that many things we see in paranormal stories, like vampires, are actually metaphorical representations of human psychology--experiences, deepest desires, worst nightmares, etc. Another one of our fun ways of dealing with the unknown or the unattainable. Part of what I want to study as a scholar of literature is what the vampire does represent, and how those representations change with the human experience over time. How and why did the vampire go from a terrifying, bloodthirsty monster in folk tales to a sexy, sympathetic hero in modern romance? Examining those kinds of questions fascinates me!

KW: Tell me something about you that very few people know.

HF: I'm addicted to cheese. No seriously, I have a dire cheese monkey on my back. I get very cranky if I don't have some kind of cheese every day. Extra sharp Vermont cheddar is my favorite, followed closely by pepper jack, but I'll eat pretty much any kind (except the especially stinky cheeses. Blargh.). I think that I could, quite literally, eat everything with cheese on it. I am currently in the process of testing that theory. *G*

*sigh* Now I really want some cheese. I have to go grocery shopping.

I'd like to thank Heather very much for answering my wacky questions. It was a pleasure!

Visit Heather at her website, blog, or MySpace.



Blogger H.A. Fowler said...

Thank you for doing this, Kate! It was a BLAST! :)

12:51 PM  
Blogger Kate Willoughby said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Kate Willoughby said...

No, thank YOU! We have a lot in common, actually. Outlander and Knight in SA are two of my favorite books, too. Ditto Interview w/Vamp, GWTW, Forever, Black Beauty and Black Stallion. LOL.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Debbie Mumford said...

Very nice interview, Ladies!! I enjoyed reading it!


6:21 AM  
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