I’d like to thank Howard for taking the time to answer some questions. My review of The Chloe Files #1 will be out in a day or two. In the meantime, get to know this guy by reading the interview and then checking out the Howard Hopkins Website and Howard’s Blog.
Do you write full time or part time, and how do you manage it?
I’m a full time writer, as well as an editor for Moonstone Books and Comics. It’s tough keeping focus sometimes with all the distractions that go along with working out of the home, but I tend to be driven and better off when I work by myself.
Tell us about your latest book.
I have a number of latest books (one a very special project I am unable to announce, but let’s just give a hint and say—Hi Yo, Silver!) but The Chloe Files #1: Ashes to Ashes is a series I think is a lot of fun and a great escape. It’s about an exotic dancer who chases down supernatural threats, such as ghosts, demons, zombies, vampire. Like “Ghost Whisperer on steroids,” as one reviewer called it. Chloe Everson is an dancer in the burlesque vein whose entire life has been plagued by loss and hardship and just when things seem to be going great—her fiancé vanishes and a demon with a mad-on starts giving her a hassle. There’s also a 600-year-old dead monkey named Bob who helps her out…
Why did you write this book?
I am fond of saying: “I read to escape…I write to help others escape.” And that’s exactly why I wrote this book, and am continuing the series. The Chloe Files is an escape—from the fears, worries and everyday horrors of the world. I love to take folks away from their problems, if only for a short spell. Chloe’s problems are far beyond what we normal folks go through—unless of course you have a demon or vampire bothering you!—and how she overcomes them and deals with all the tragedy in her life is meant to give readers a bit of hope in the end that life is not so bad and whatever Big Bad comes along, it can be conquered.
How did you come up with the title?
Chloe came from my horror novel, GRIMM. She was meant to be a victim of a cult in that book, but she refused to die. She also seemed to be telling me that there were dark things in her past—dark things that needed exposing. She said she had more stories to tell. In the novels, she writes these in her journal and sends the notes to me to transcribe. They are her “Chloe Files” so to speak.
Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
I actually have a number of new things, including two Western novels under my Lance Howard penname, a comic book written with NY Times best-selling Wicked author Nancy Holder involving three pulp heroines—The Domino Lady, The Golden Amazon (whom I have completely revamped), and my own creation, The Veil. I Have a Golden Amazon novel with Jack the Ripper, Three The Spider (a 1930s pulp hero) graphic novels, The Avenger: The Justice, Inc. Files, which I coedited and wrote for, Sherlock Holmes: The Crossovers Casebook, on which I am sole editor and wrote for, stories for The Green Hornet anthology vol. 3, and numerous other things. My horror novel Night Demons is also being translated into Italian by a publisher in Rome, and I will be assisting the translator a bit on that.
What inspired you to be a writer?
It goes back to escape again. When I was an adolescent the world was not so bright for me, but I took refuge in comic books and in particular pulp hero Doc Savage. I wanted to give back what had been given to me with the series. Perhaps be somebody else’s escape. Doc Savage—and his main writer, Lester Dent—inspired me.
Who is your favorite character in your books? Why?
I’m going to go with Chloe Everson again. She’s scared of the things in the dark she faces but courageous enough to face them all the same, feisty, finds a closed door and busts through it. Strong, independent, but not afraid of her sexuality or of letting herself be vulnerable. She MADE me write about her. And she will probably kick my ass if I don’t!
Tell us about the hardest challenge you had to overcome in writing?
Plots. This is the single biggest problem for me as a writer. I sweat them out.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it or discourage you. Writing is a tough business. Extremely discouraging at points, but there is no greater reward than to know you might have given someone some joy with it.
Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
Never have. Not looking forward to the first time ;)
Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?
Lester Dent, principal scribe of the Doc Savage series, for the reason stated above. Cannot thank him enough for the joy he gave me as a kid and still does to this day.
How did you deal with rejection letters?
Usually I hire a hitman…seriously, though, every writer gets them. You can’t take them personally, though it is nearly impossible not to do so. They are part of the game, unfortunately, and usually they just mean you didn’t have what the editor needed at that moment, assuming your writing doesn’t suck, which I am sure is not the case. Don’t let them stop you from getting right back on the writing horse.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
A semi-automatic…uh, oh, make that a computer. The only real tool seriously required is the ability to let yourself explore the limitless boundaries of your imagination. And second maybe the stubbornness to take what you find there and commit it to words.
What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?
With clothes or without? I don’t think I have done anything too strange, though I did call a morgue once…