I often search high and low for an author who can send real chills up and down my spine, and I don’t often find what I’m looking for, so it’s a real treat when I run across an author like Joan Hall Hovey.|
From the very first paragraph of one of her books, I can feel the hairs rising on my arms. She’s that good, and I love every second of it.
Joan Hall Hovey grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, where she put on variety shows with her friends as a child. One girl was wonderful at making fantastic fringed skirts and vests out of crepe paper for a girl who sang “cowboy songs”. One girl juggled potatoes, and was very good at it, but one day dropped one, and Joan’s father said, “What a hell of a waste of good food.” Of course it was just after World War II.
Joan spent a lot of her childhood reading, and can’t recall when she didn’t have her nose in a book. She thinks books saved her life in a way, and they also taught her how to write.
She used to laugh all the time when she was younger, and she still laughs now, but it takes more to make her laugh like that. Once in a play called After Dark, during a long, tension-filled moment, Joan and her best girl-friend broke into laughter on stage and couldn’t stop. Though the audience was laughing too, for them, it was a horrible, nightmarish moment. But somehow when they talk about it now, it’s hilarious.
Joan loves to play the piano, is passionate about singing, and has been involved in theatre much of her adult life. She’s even played in Arsenic and Old Lace, which she claims was lots of fun.
Some of Joan’s favorite things include: piano, acting, spending time with family, her grandson, Liam, sitting outside reading or working on a novel during a nice day, the smell of roses her husband brings to her from their garden, the first snowfall, looking out on the river from her picture window, and swimming in that river in the summer.
On Writing in Ms. Hovey’s Own Words
What or who inspires you to write?
My grandmother was an artist and I know she inspired me to always do my best in writing, or whatever I was doing. She was a good artist, perhaps not great, but she always strove for excellence and was very disciplined. She had very little money but I remember going with her while she took an art lesson. My grandmother was 74 at the time. I recall her counting out the change in her palm to pay the woman, whose name was Mrs. Hoyt. She lived on Elliott Row in Saint John.
Life itself inspires me to write. To try to organize what is disorganized, and make some sense of it. And of course I find it ever fascinating to explore the dark side of humanity.
Why did you begin writing?
I had a vivid imagination, but also because I was good at writing. We know very early in school what we do well. We also know what we're not good at. I don't think I ever passed a math test. But I loved telling scary tales to my classmates, and reveling in the silence and the feeling of anticipation in the air. I was a rather shy little girl, so that was my way of being popular I guess, of getting attention. And of course I quickly developed a love of creating stories to entertain myself and others.
What author inspires you?
So many the list would be long indeed. Lately, I've been feasting on everything Patricia Highsmith wrote, aside from the popular Ripley Books. She's quite wonderful. Claustrophic and creepy. I just finished reading a fine biography of Highsmith entitled Beautiful Shadow, by Andrew Wilson. Other authors who inspire and entertain me are Ruth Rendell, Tess Gerritson, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Shirley Jackson and many more. My favorite book of all time is Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. I love the atmosphere of the British countryside, of Edward Rochester's house, and the author's passion that leaps right off the page.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
The work itself. I love to write. Which doesn't mean it isn't the hardest work I have ever done, but it's also the most satisfying. Hours spent with my characters are always rewarding. The extra bonus is when someone tells me my book kept them up half the night. Those kinds of comments give you confidence to move on to the next book.
Have you experienced writer’s block? And if so, how did you cure it?
I think knowing the source of the block is the first step to overcoming it. I'm not sure there is a "cure." It's generally fear of putting yourself out there, never knowing if you'll be praised or ridiculed that freezes the creative spirit. Fear that you're not good enough can cripple you. You just have to rise above the fear and do what you know how to do when all the cylinders are firing. There is no other way, no short cuts. If you stay with it, the block will pass eventually. Someone will publish something you wrote. Even small successes build confidence.
When is your next book due out, and what’s it about?
My latest manuscript is off to market and I'm hoping it finds a good home. I won't say too much about the storyline for fear of jinxing it, except to say that this is another suspense novel with the working title The Abduction of Mary Rose. Wish me luck.
The print editions of my books are available at amazon.com and other online bookstores.
Please visit this talented author’s website at: http://www.joanhallhovey.com to learn more.