Name Roxanne D. Howard
Where are you from?
I’m originally from Utah, but I travelled around a lot and served for most of my young adult life in the U.S. Army. I’m married to “Mr. Darcy” – a terrific British bloke I met while serving overseas. We lived for a while in London, and then moved back to the states. We have two darling daughters. Education-wise, I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My first novel, At the Heart of the Stone (ATHOTS for short), is being released on February 16th with Loose Id. It’s a contemporary erotic romance novel. Here’s a blurb. 😉
Dreams are the perfect shelter for our fantasies, safe havens to step inside without changing our daily lives. For Lark Braithwaite, all that is about to change. During the last six months, Lark has dreamt of a mysterious Irish lover, who knows what she wants, and gives her exactly what she needs. In her waking life in busy London, things aren’t as ideal, as her long-term relationship with Charles, her controlling fiancé, has hit a dry spell.
When Lark is called home to Oregon for her father’s funeral right in the middle of a high-stakes corporate merger, she heads back to face the demons from her past. What she doesn’t expect is to meet her dream lover in the flesh. Niall O’Hagan steps straight out of her fantasies and right into her life, and the powerful connection they share rocks her foundation. Although she’s dealing with the bitterness of being betrayed by Charles and his jealousy, Niall soon stirs Lark’s awareness of the superficiality of her existence and reawakens not only her sexuality, but her soul.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
That’s a great question! I started writing stories as soon as I could write. For as long as I can remember, it’s been the first thing I’ve wanted to do when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about before I go to sleep. I used to write little stories as an eight year old, and later on kind of stemmed to novella-length tales. I’ve just always felt the pull of expression and the need to put my thoughts down on paper. In a way, I find it a great form of therapy.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Well, I first started writing prolifically in journals and diaries as a teenager. At the time, I had dreams on the back burner of someday becoming an author, but I was more enchanted with the idea of working in law enforcement. Though I’ve always written poetry and things here and there, I didn’t really consider myself an aspiring writer until after the birth of my first daughter, and that’s when I got serious about writing a novel. Over the years I’ve kept ideas I’ve had for novels and outlines of possible books in files. It was nice to finally realize that dream and actually work for it. Though, the term “writer” is relative, I mean, everyone’s a writer, published or not. A guy writing a poem on a sidewalk in France is a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Many, many things. I’ve traveled a lot in my life, and have been fortunate enough to know, work with, and come across many amazing and interesting people. I fell in love with London a long time ago, and I always knew I wanted the book to at least start there, so I sort of went from there. The story I wanted to tell was about two people finding each other, you know? How do people shape, compliment and change one another for the better? I’m always interested in the twists and struggles that make up the human dynamic. Really, it’s an amazing thing we can find someone and fall in love.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I like to be descriptive. 😀 I am a complete poetry nut, and often have to shave down a lot of prose in my writing, but I really love the facets of imagery and visualization. I like it when authors paint with words – Dean Koontz is a great example of that. When you read his writing, you can literally see the pine cones perching like little owls on aspens because of how he pulls you in with his descriptions. My style fluctuates depending on what I’m writing. In ATHOTS, it’s both descriptive and about emotion in the dialogue.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title kind of came up to me! I struggled with the title. At one point it was called “Arms Open Wide,” but after going through several rewrites, I just sort of woke up one morning and realized I wanted to call it At the Heart of the Stone, because it relates to something Lark and Niall find together both in their relationship and physically.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, one of personal empowerment through the choices we make. We have the right to happiness, to let ourselves love and be loved, and no one should give up on the kind of love that comes around once in a lifetime.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
Ha ha, well, it’s a contemporary romance, but about 30% of it deals with the fantasy dreams Lark has of Niall and what goes on there. I’d say it’s open to interpretation. Have we as people dreamed of a lover or a special someone who knows what we need? A lot of people would say yes. The majority of it is based in reality, though. No ghosts or werewolves in this one, though I did write one with a ghost. 😀
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
No. I wanted this book to be original. My husband and I had a really amazing beginning, and I will fictionalize it at one point, but I can honestly say that this story is all Lark and Niall’s.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Oh gosh, Fiona. Too many to list! I have them tagged on Goodreads. Off the top of my head, On Writing by Stephen King, On Romance: How to Craft a Novel That Sells by Leigh Michaels, everything by Stephen King, The Hunger Games trilogy, Intensity by Dean Koontz, the Earth’s Children series by Jean M. Auel, Maya Angelou. . . mentor-wise, I had a pretty awesome Drill Sergeant about fifteen years ago who set me straight on a lot of things. I mention him in the novel’s Acknowledgements section. He was a neat guy.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
At the moment I’m reading Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I love Marie Lu. She’s a genius. Patrick Ness, Tessa Dare, and Daniel H. Wilson. I like to read a lot, and a lot of different genres.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’ve written a paranormal romance about a ghost soldier in St. Augustine that I’m currently editing, and I’m now writing a contemporary romance that I hope to have finished by the end of April. 😀
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
God. And the military. Without God I wouldn’t be where I am today, and the military gave me opportunities I never would have had both in situating my life and also in meeting some pretty amazing people.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I used to be pretty straight-laced and worked in corporate (hence where I got Lark’s background from) in London, but my focus now is on pursuing my writing, and just letting it all out.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I don’t think so. I may groan at myself later for saying this, but I’m happy with how it turned out. I shelved ATHOTS for seven years because I doubted myself, but it went through so many rewrites and character changes, that I feel like I finally got it chiseled to where I wanted it. I had an amazing editor with Loose Id who helped refine it, too.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Honestly, I think I just fell in love with words from the time I could read. It’s a wonderful, incredibly vast form of expressionism. How can you read a book or poetry and not be inspired? I think reading first kind of stemmed into my love for writing. The two go hand in hand.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure. This is from Embodiment.
“That’s it,” she snapped, whirling around. She gulped, searching around the room with frantic eyes. “Look, I don’t know if this is some kind of reality hidden camera show or what, but I want answers, and I want them now.”
He circled her as she spoke, intrigued by her bravado.
“If you are a ghost, give me a sign. Close the bathroom door, or something.”
Braxton glanced at the bathroom door, still open. He could do it, but doors were a bit more work, requiring concentration, and could cause a spiritual exhaustion which often left him weakened. Lights, on the other hand, were much easier to handle. He looked at the ceiling light and focused, sweeping his hand in an upward motion toward it. It flickered off, and then on.
Keira froze, and looked up. “Was that you?”
He did it again, watching her just behind her shoulder.
She quivered, and her breath became visible from his closeness. “Wow. Okay. Once for yes, twice for no. Got it?”
“My word, love, you aren’t asking much, are you?” he teased, flickering the lights once.
She turned and rifled through her suitcase, finding a soft, white sweater. She pulled it over her head, rubbing her hands together for warmth as she sat down on the bed. “Okay. Talking with a ghost here. Real normal, Keira. Where are – I mean, can you see me right now?”
Yes. He sat down next to her, studying the way her dark eyes reflected the light, a nice divergence against her dark red hair. Against the sweater, her paleness leant an angelic quality.
Keira shivered a little, and turned her head to look straight at him, though she didn’t know it.
“Hello there,” he murmured, raising an eyebrow. “Care to consort with an otherworldly spirit? I don’t have a body, but I’ll try to make it worth your while.”
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Stephen King. Always Stephen King. He’s such a gifted storyteller, and he always writes strong women. He gets people in his characterization, and he always remains true to what’s going on in the situation through interaction, rather than just servicing the fans. His work is honest and really, really good.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet! 😀
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The cover was designed by Dar Albert with Loose Id. I am really happy with it, and I think she did an amazing job at capturing the whole feel of the novel.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The sex scenes!!! I got there in the end, but sex scenes are hard to write. I’ve been married for fourteen years, but girl, I struggled. J For anyone in the same situation, just keep at it. Diana Gabaldon has a great article about how to implement at least 3 of the 5 senses when writing love scenes, and it really helped me.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I think it made me more aware of how precious love is. How scary it can be to open our hearts to someone else, but how rewarding it can be also. As a writer it taught me a lot, both about my style and about the whole editing process.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never give up. We all struggle with self-doubt. Just write, write, write, and worry later. For me it’s about being in the moment, feeling what the characters feel, and taking the journey with them. Read a lot, too. Reading helps you grow as a writer.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for being interested in my writing! I really hope you enjoy the novel, and that you take something away from having read it, whatever that may be. J Friend me on Facebook and Twitter.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I remember being really into Little Women when I was eight years old. My daughter is that age now, and she’s into Harry Potter. I remember loving Louisa May Alcott, and I occasionally pick it up once in a blue moon.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Raw emotion. I was a solider for a good number of years, and a mom for more, so I’m pretty hard-wearing. But I love seeing someone truly push themselves or achieve something, like in the movie “Creed.” That movie made me cry big-time. I love stories about the underdog. I relate to them very well.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I’d love to have a sit down with Stephen King someday. I would completely geek out and fangirl all over him, but seriously – he is an amazing writer, and his writing has taught me so much, and gotten me through so much.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Beloved wife and mother. Because above all else, that’s what I value.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Yep, I play guitar and sing. I mostly do things with my kids, and I love it. After reading ATHOTS, I’m sure some fans will probably think I lounge in a boudoir somewhere wearing a negligee and eating bon-bons, but the (gasp) truth is that I’m a soccer mom and really family-oriented. I love my family. 😀
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
!!!!The Walking Dead!!!!! I binge-watched it on Netflix and now I’m obsessed. I also like Agent Carter. I’m pro-Carvis (Jarvis and Peggy). 😀
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love Indian food. I miss Nando’s in London. Color: dark blue/purple. Music – eclectic. I’m a big Bon Jovi fan, but I listen to everything from Classical to Rap.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’d teach English.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Yes! They’re below. Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview!