What is your name?
Deb E Howell
Tell us about you.
I grew up writing, but being known for drawing, especially horses ('cause I wanted one). I never considered being an author because authors were old guys from "over there", not little girls from New Zealand. And so I assumed I would grow up and get a "real job". I studied Zoology at university and even chose a really useful project for my post-graduate study: a nematode-eating fungus (nematodes are the worms we drench sheep, cattle, etc against). That was cool, but still didn't quite push the buttons.
Finding myself between jobs one day, I picked up pen and paper purely for entertainment purposes again... the rest, as they say... yada yada
Tell us about your book.
Healer's Touch brings the classic fantasy quest into a Wild West setting. It is the tale of a girl who finds herself on the run after she survives a hanging. She joins a group of warriors escorting a young woman to her future husband in a foreign land. On the journey, Llew faces hostile natives, highwaymen, and the enmity of her own companions should they find out who and what she is: a fugitive, and a feared Healer. One of the fighters, Jonas, possesses superhuman prowess as a warrior, and carries the knife with the power to ‘kill the unkillable’; the knife that can kill Llew. But there are worse enemies out there...
What inspired you to write this book?
A mind-numbing job! No, really, I'm serious. I found myself in a thumb-twiddling job... You know how you get some phones systems where a recorded voices says "Press 1 to speak to Jim; Press 2 to speak to Susan..."? Yeah, well, I was the live version of that recording. I picked up the phone, found out who the caller actually wanted to talk to and put them through... And so, I came up with a way to entertain myself between calls.
At the time, I had been watching episode of "The Young Riders" and was loving the whole Wild West thing (went onto "Brisco County" and "Deadwood"), but I've barely been out of New Zealand, and didn't feel like setting the tale in my home town, so a fantasy world seemed to be the answer. I stole Llew's power from a character I developed back in High School - Llew still hasn't forgiven me for that. Then I realised my story had some steampunk-ish characteristics, so I delved a little deeper into that, and slowly the story evolved into what it is now.
What can readers expect when they open your book?
A gritty tale of acceptance (of self and others) and the journey to get there. Right at the start, Llew is betrayed by her only friend. As the story progresses we see that there is no clearly good outcome for her, only a less-bad option. But if she can learn to trust again, things might not turn out so bad.
Do you have any suggestions for writers just starting out?
Number 1 will always be FINISH. Go back and make it perfect later. But you have to have something to revise.
And keep learning. What is writing if it isn't learning? Learn history, learn biology, learn psychology; learn physics, weaponry, sports... learn whatever interests you. And your writing will be fuller for it.
What is your favorite quote?
Okay, it's really long, but:
“The truth is, everyone likes to look down on someone. If your favorites are all avant-garde writers who throw in Sanskrit and German, you can look down on everyone. If your favorites are all Oprah Book Club books, you can at least look down on mystery readers. Mystery readers have sci-fi readers. Sci-fi can look down on fantasy. And yes, fantasy readers have their own snobbishness. I’ll bet this, though: in a hundred years, people will be writing a lot more dissertations on Harry Potter than on John Updike. Look, Charles Dickens wrote popular fiction. Shakespeare wrote popular fiction—until he wrote his sonnets, desperate to show the literati of his day that he was real artist. Edgar Allan Poe tied himself in knots because no one realized he was a genius. The core of the problem is how we want to define “literature”. The Latin root simply means “letters”. Those letters are either delivered—they connect with an audience—or they don’t. For some, that audience is a few thousand college professors and some critics. For others, its twenty million women desperate for romance in their lives. Those connections happen because the books successfully communicate something real about the human experience. Sure, there are trashy books that do really well, but that’s because there are trashy facets of humanity. What people value in their books—and thus what they count as literature—really tells you more about them than it does about the book.”
― Brent Weeks
If you could exchange lives with any of your characters for a day which character would you choose and why?
Gosh... tricky. Probably either Anya or Braph.
Anya because she tends to be blissfully happy and not much gets her down. Her life is laid out before her and it's looking pretty shiny.
Or Braph because he's smart, resourceful and can do cool magic!
If the book being featured is part of a series, tell us more about it.
"Healer's Touch" is the first book in a series. I realised as I was writing it that there were things that called for deeper delving and that the first book wasn't the place to do that. So, while I endeavoured to make HT stand on it's own, there are ends still to tie. Some are obvious by the end of HT, some I've yet to bring to the surface.
I'd love to tell you more, but I hate to spoil surprises! All I can say is that I've been having fun writing it!
What does writing mean to you?
Often my thoughts aren't clear until I write them down, so it's a chance to really get things in order - through journalling and planning.
It's also a drug. If I'm not doing it, I can get uptight, moody and fidgety.
Tell us 5 random things about you the person, not the author:
1) I still love horses... but I'm kinda scared of the full sized ones!
2) I was learning bass guitar until I got too pregnant to hold the guitar right. I have a pretty purple one (o:
3) I finally got a horse. A 3ft tall one... when I was 29. But he doesn't live with me )o:
4) Purple. Ahem, I mean... PURPLE!
5) I was a maths geek at school
Where to connect online
FEATURED BOOK: Healer's Touch
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Celebrating Authors is run solely by best-selling Kindle author Carolyn Arnold. You can find her books on Amazon for Kindle and in print, as well as other fine online retailers in ebook format.