Thursday, July 1, 2010

Interview with DOROTHY HOWELL

Dorothy Howell/Judith Stacy is a multi-published author in more than one genre.  Read on to learn more about this fascinating, and productive, woman.

You’ve published many novels and have amassed a readership in two genres. Tell us about the challenges and rewards of writing in two separate genres.

The two genres I write in are historical romances under the pen name Judith Stacy, and contemporary mysteries under the name Dorothy Howell.

At first glance, they seem very different, yet both have elements I like to write – and read about. I love the emotional involvement with the characters and, of course, a happy ending. I get both of those with my romances and the mystery series.

One of the things I won’t write about – and don’t like to read – is graphic violence. I don’t like those pictures in my head. Even though someone is always murdered in my mystery series, the crime always takes place off stage.

Tell us about your most recent book: its title, release date, where we can buy it, and a short blurb.

SHOULDER BAGS AND SHOOTINGS, is the third book in my Haley Randolph fashion sleuth mystery series. It was released in July in hardcover from Kensington, and is available online, in chain and independent bookstores, and in e-book formats.

This book is the follow up to PURSES AND POISON and HANDBAGS AND HOMICIDE, which launched the series. Both are now available in paperback.

In Haley’s latest adventure she’s in hot pursuit of the season’s latest and greatest handbag when her purse party rival turns up dead in the trunk of her boyfriend’s grandmother’s Mercedes.

What’s your take on the eternal conundrum of plot versus character being the most important element of a novel?

In my writing and in the books I enjoy reading, it all comes down to character. I believe that’s what brings readers back to an author, particularly when it’s a series. We just HAVE to know what the character is up to now, what kind of trouble they’ll get into and how they will get out.

Your bio indicates that publication of your first novel didn’t occur immediately after completing it. Tell us about that process: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

My first book, a historical romance, took years to complete. Not because it was long or complicated, but because I’d find myself overwhelmed with self-doubt. Luckily, I have a wonderful husband who encouraged me to finish the book.

The manuscript was rejected by nine publishers. Each one was heartbreaking. I’ve since learned that a measly nine rejections is nothing! My books have been rejected well over 100 times since then.

Seven long years passed before I sold my second book, thanks to a critique session with an editor at a writer’s conference. I got an agent at the same time and eventually found my way to Harlequin Historicals where I sold 20 more romances.

My attempt at writing mysteries went much smoother, thankfully. I got a new agent right away and he sold the 3-book series in only four short days. Kensington brought it out in hardcover – my first! – and just renewed the series for three more books.

With publishing credits of a couple dozen novels under your belt, have you settled into a writing routing? Do you write every day? Do you produce so many words or pages a day?

Years ago when I quit my “real” job and started writing full time, I wrote like a crazy woman. I was so thrilled to devote myself to it! But I soon learned that what I’d thought was being focused and goal oriented turned out to be compulsive and obsessive. So for my own sanity – and the safety of others – I adopted a set writing schedule.

I write four or five hours a day, five days a week, weekends and holidays off. At this pace, I can write approximately 10 pages per day.

Do you have any special promotions going for the release of you newest book?

With the launch of every new book in the Haley Randolph series, I have a contest where I give away a gorgeous designer handbag. The winner is drawn at random from entries received on my Web site.

What are the names of your websites and blogs?

My romance site is
For mysteries go to
I’m also have a Facebook fan page at Dorothy Howell Novels.

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