Interview – Victoria Howard – Romantic Suspense Author

Book Name and Description:

The House on the Shore

Heartbroken Anna MacDonald leaves Edinburgh to find peace at the edge of a Scottish loch. Safely ensconced in her late grandmother’s cottage, she can finally heal her heart and write the novel that has burned inside her for years.

Her peace is short-lived. When debonair artist Luke Tallantyre’s yacht gets stranded in the loch, he seeks help at the nearest residence – Anna’s croft. She finds him annoying. He instantly dislikes the stunning but cranky hermit.

But there’s indisputable evidence that a hit man is on the prowl in the village. Is he after Anna? And what is Luke keeping from her that could deepen the danger? Against their wills, they join forces and embark on an adventure neither ever imagined…including a chance at true love.

Ring of Lies

Daniel Elliott dies in a single-car accident one rainy English night. His wife, Grace, is grief stricken. Although their marriage was imperfect, sheltered Grace doesn’t relish the future alone.

She soon learns how little she knew about Daniel. There are secrets: an alias, a strange list of numbers, a house in Florida – and a mistress who’s a dead ringer for Grace.

Terrified but determined, she flies to Florida. Underworld figures stalk her…and so does the other woman. To her surprise, handsome FBI man Jack West takes the case. Grace has a past with the troubled agent. Despite her efforts, she finds herself falling for him all over again.

With danger around every curve, Grace and Jack navigate the criminal world of south Florida to find the truth behind the Ring of Lies.

Three Weeks Last Spring

Friday Harbor, a picturesque small town in the Pacific Northwest, and a haven for fishermen and yachtsmen. For Skye Dunbar, it is a
place where she can overcome the pain of a broken heart and put her life back together. Renting a cabin by the shore, the last thing she expects is to be accused of computer hacking.

Jedediah Walker is investigating the dead marine life washed up on the island’s beaches. When he discovers the fish contain a high concentration of toxic chemicals, he suspects someone is deliberately dumping them in Puget Sound. Swift to jump to conclusions, he suspects the auburn-haired woman renting his cabin is somehow involved.

Skye tries to ignore him, but necessity throws them together as they struggle to find those responsible for the environmental atrocity.

 Interview Questions:

What gave you the idea for The House on the Shore?

I always wanted to set a book in Scotland, especially as I had lived on a croft in rural Aberdeenshire for twenty years. At the time, I managed a small company involved in the offshore oil and gas industry and worked part-time as an administrator on a local estate. I used my knowledge of the offshore industry and the difficulties of managing a large estate as the basis for the plot of The House on the Shore.

What got you into writing in this genre?

I’m a voracious reader – historical novels, crime, and yes, romance.  When I was younger I read a great number of Mills and Boon and Harlequin romances, but these are only 55,000 words long and have a shelf life of three months. Rather than write a boy-meets-girl romance where they fall in love, fall out of love and fall in love again, I decided to write a romance with a much stronger plot. Romantic suspense fit the bill as it combined my love of romance with a mystery that my characters have to solve.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, although I think my English teacher might be surprised by that statement!  As I child I found the task of writing essays on a given subject boring, and it was only when I started writing to friends, sharing travel adventures with them that the idea of writing a novel came about.

Tell us about your past books and stories?

I’ve written three novels and am working on a fourth.  The House on the Shore, a 2009 Joan Hessayon Award finalist and 2009 London Book Festival Honourable Mention: Fiction, Ring of Lies, and Three Weeks Last Spring.  I’ve also written several short stories that have been published in various anthologies.

What is your writing day like?

I try to write each day, even if it’s only a few hundred words. We have a small office in our home – large enough to hold two desks, computers, and all my reference books. My Border collie usually lies in the doorway, keeping me company and ensuring I have peace and quiet to concentrate! I also think she likes to make sure I don’t forget to take her for a walk.

What is your favorite book (other than your own book, of course) and why? What book disappointed you and why?

There are so many books that I read and re-read!  Where do I start? Susanna Kearsley, Diana Gabaldon, Mary Stewart, Valerie Fitzgerald, Daphne Du Maurier, Milly Johnson, Katie Fforde, Ken McClure, Ian Rankin, Lee Child, as well as Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte.  I could go on, but the list would take up too many pages.

As for favorite books, I would have to put Daphne Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ near the top of the list, along with Susanna Kearsley’s Slains series.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?         

Apart from a good dictionary and thesaurus, the ability to listen. Ideas are all around us, you just have to let your brain absorb them.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

The first draft is just that and is not ready to be published. Do your research, especially if you set your novel in an actual place or are considering writing a crime novel.

What piece of your own work are you most proud of?

That’s a difficult question to answer as most authors will respond by saying their last book.

For those who haven’t read any of your stories, what story/book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?

The House on the Shore. I travelled extensively while living in Scotland and know the area well. It’s the reason I set Anna’s cottage on the shore of Loch Hourn. In 1975 Howard Doris was granted permission to use Loch Kishorn, the loch to the south of Loch Hourn, for a deep-water construction facility for the production of oil platforms for the North Sea Oil industry, which gave me the idea for The House on the Shore

What are you doing next?

I’m currently working on another novel set in Scotland.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Learn your craft.  If you are able, sign up for one of the many writing courses available both online and locally. Read ‘how to books’, on structure, characterization etc.

 bio:

 Victoria Howard lives in South Yorkshire, with her partner Stephen, and her 8 year-old Border collie, Rosie. She is the author of three romantic suspense novels; The House on the Shore, (a 2009 Joan Hessayon Award finalist, and London Book Festival Honourable Mention: Fiction), Three Weeks Last Spring (a Pushcart Prize nominee), and Ring of Lies. Several of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, including the Kindle short, A Little Protection.

Although born in Liverpool, her heart is always in the Scottish Highlands. She lived on a remote croft for twenty years, managing a company involved in the offshore oil and gas industry.

During those rare times when she isn’t writing, Victoria can be found curled up with a book, gardening, designing knitwear, walking Rosie, or travelling the world.

Victoria is a member of Romantic Novelists’ Association and Sheffield Authors

Links:

Website:   http://www.victoriahoward.co.uk

Twitter:    https://twitter.com/VictoriaHoward_

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Victoria.Howard.Author/

 

© The Literary Librarian 2018

 

 

Book Review – Ring of Lies – Victoria Howard

A Romance with Dimension

Ring of Lies is a suspenseful romance with strong character development and an engaging plot, making this a very satisfying read.

We start the story with Grace as she says her final goodbyes to her husband, Daniel. What she doesn’t know, however, is she is also saying her final goodbyes to the illusion she was living. Her life was based on lies created by Daniel, and on his death, the lies fall away like a house of cards.

Until this point, Grace has led a simple life, although not necessarily a happy one. Her husband was a controlling man, making her doubt her own ability to function. Despite this, she is pushed out of her comfort zone as an intimidating stranger begins to harass her and new facts come to light (such as the fact her husband bought an expensive vacation home without her knowledge). Grace decides she must unearth the truth. Frightened and still suffering from a damage ego (again, thanks to her controlling husband), she reaches out to a man she met who works for the FBI, Jack. The two met when she was on vacation, and they very nearly ended up having an affair. Grace was unhappy at the time, but being a highly ethical person, she did not follow her desires.

As you can imagine, being forced to go out in the world and face many unsettling and frightening things, she begins to grow as a person and learns to trust herself more and more. But one of the most intriguing things I found about this character was what did not change: her strong moral compass. This is why she did not have the affair, this is what drives her to search for the truth when her life falls apart, and this is why her husband despised her. The man had controlled every part of her life except this one thing, which also happened to be the one thing he lacked himself. In my opinion, this made Grace remarkably strong, even though she did not know it; as much as she loved her husband, as much as she handed over so much of her life to him, she never let that part of her be altered or even touched. And this core strength comes in handy, because Grace soon learns her problems are bigger and more complicated than she ever imagined. I’ll let you read the book to see what I mean by this, but my main point here is that it is this contrast between being weak, yet not weak that made her one of my favorite characters.

Her love interest, the FBI agent Jack, was also a very likeable and complex character. His life is a bit screwed up when Grace asks for his help. He has a girlfriend who has recently given birth to a daughter. Jack is trying to do the right thing, providing for his girlfriend and his child, but he has a HUGE problem: The girlfriend hates the baby. What a terrible problem to deal with when you are trying to work a day job as an FBI agent. And then here comes Grace, the woman he’s still in love with. He’s having one heck of a week.

Another aspect of this book that I loved was the setting (once the investigation begins): Florida. It felt almost like going on a tropical vacation. The backdrop just added another satisfying layer to a highly enjoyable read.

Bottom line, this book was top-notch, and I highly recommend it.

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Ring-Lies-Victoria-Howard-ebook/dp/B009BA0WLW/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1518975027&sr=8-2&keywords=Ring+of+Lies

 

© The Literary Librarian 2017