Thursday, November 16, 2006

Welcome back Kim Howe

We invited Kim back, not only because she's a really talented writer, but also, because there's been some controversy about one of the judge's comments about her heroine on the Romantic Times American Title contest.

A lot's already been said about the comment - And I'm paraphrasing here - about not liking a heroine who would choose military service, and I know I feel that comment was sort of ridiculous, but a lot of readers bring with them predjiduces regarding what the heroine and hero should be. I'm not condoning it, but I think it's far more prevalent that we would like.

We asked Kim about it, as well as some other questions we were curious about.

What sort of books have inspired you, what authors, and why?

When I first started writing, I protected my characters with the ferocity of a lion guarding her cubs. It didn’t work. The tension fizzled, the stakes were laughable. I studied other novels, looking for answers. The books I couldn’t put down had characters who faced incredible challenges, failed, tried again, and finally triumphed. Rage of Angels by Sidney Sheldon, Savages by Shirley Conran, and The Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell are all excellent examples of brilliant character torture, and they were all bestsellers. I learned a valuable lesson not to overprotect my protagonists. To truly change, characters need to face and conquer their deepest fears.

Why do you write romantic suspense?

Romantic suspense is my favourite genre because I’m able to write two novels in one. Sometimes it’s tricky layering the story, but the challenge makes it interesting. Each scene must further the romance or the plot, but I love it when a scene does both! The suspense keeps the pacing strong and the romance gives the novel emotional depth. Romantic suspense also satisfies the both aspects of my personality—the thrill-seeker and the romantic!

Can you expand on why you chose Kenya as your heroine? You definitely avoided the cliché of the scared woman in peril.

More like “scarred” woman in peril. J Kenya is more than capable defending herself in battle, but when it comes to her heart, she is incredibly vulnerable. I was inspired to write about a female sniper after learning about the 2,000 female snipers who participated in the battle of Stalingrad. They were more successful than their male counterparts because of their patience and skill. Unfortunately, only 500 women survived to share their experiences. Kenya’s grandmother Tatiana became one of them and that’s where the story started.

All we're trying to do is create differentiated fiction, and a sniper heroine is a great hook. A lot of readers would pick up the book based on that alone, but some would put it down. Not sure where I'm going with this, except we won't please everybody, but we can try and really please a select few.

A sniper heroine is definitely a little off the beaten path for a romance novel. I hope readers will give the unique premise a chance. When I read novels, the heroine’s occupation is always an interesting addition, but what really matters to me is character. If the protagonist is someone I care about, her job will not get in the way. If readers allow Kenya into their living rooms, maybe she’ll ensnare their hearts. Besides, a sniper is always a good friend to have and Kenya works freelance now.

You’re represented by the Evan Marshall Agency. What drew your agent to this book?

Evan told me he liked two things about my work: my voice and the fact that ONE SHOT, TWO KILLS was different than anything he had read—not all romantic heroines prefer Glock over Prada. J
At this point the controversy regarding the comments made about your entry are ALL over the internet—do you think that's going to help you with voters?

It’s not about the votes. Rather, it is the principle I feel strongly about. Women form an essential part of every democracy and we have a right and responsibility to participate in all aspects of the countries we love so deeply. Women have fought and died for their beliefs for centuries, and there is no reason to exclude strong, capable women from serving their nation. Romance readers are educated, wilful, and independent women who are making their own way in the world. The idea that women don’t belong in combat hurts the image of our genre, and tells us we should stay in a limited role in our life. As a modern woman, I take offence to anyone telling me to be a good girl and let the men do the fighting, especially in fiction! If we cannot explore cutting edge or new ideas in women’s fiction, we will stagnate as a genre. I am most surprised and pleased by the number of women and men who have rallied to support me on this issue.

Thanks for re-joining DWT, Kim. We're thrilled you're coming back.

Kenya and I both appreciate your invitation. Nothing better than joining the Drunk Writers after a hard day sniper-crawling through the publishing jungle!


Wylie Kinson said...

You're in inspiration, Kim!!

Anonymous said...

Excellent interrview. You're right, you can't make all readers happy with a single book. As long as it's well written, and has interesting characters, that's all you can expect from a writer.

Good luck Kim!

Anonymous said...

Awesome interview, I definately look forward to reading ONE SHOT TWO KILLS! I was shocked when I read that judges comments, especially with all the women in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the fact Canada just lost it's first woman soldier in combat a few months ago. If the judge did check her history women have been fighting in battles for centuries.

Good luck Kim!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for dropping by, Kim.

I was a little shocked by the judge's comment. I sort of thought industry professionals wouldn't bring that sort of bias to their work.

I guess I was wrong. It really goes to show you how subjective this business is, and how rejection may have nothing at all to do with the writing.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Kim you are proving to be incredibly diplomatic about everything. Well done - and of course we all voted. Stop by to vote for ONE SHOT, TWO KILLS.

I thought your book and characters sounded the most original and expectation bending!! Keep up the good work.

Maureen McGowan said...

Thanks again for doing the interview Kim! We're pulling for you in the next round.

Heidi Ruby Miller said...

Fiction is meant to be talked about, not just read.

You're already off to a good start, Kim.

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