10 Questions for Linda Howard

Linda Howard

New York Times–bestselling author Linda Howard is passionate about many things including her family, her friends, her dogs, college football, and her home state of Alabama. One thing she could definitely do without? Cows. She describes these as “mean, devious, and psychic.”

Before becoming a full-time writer, Howard worked at a trucking company for 17 years, which provided her with plenty of opportunities to study human behavior. Eventually, she decided it was time she try sharing with the world stories she had been writing only for herself; her first book, All that Glitters, was published in 1982, and now she has authored more than 60. In 2005, the Romance Writers of America recognized her contributions to the genre, presenting her with a Lifetime Achievement Award. We spoke with her upon the occasion of her new book, The Woman Left Behind, out March 6.


JOHN CHARLES: Tell us about yourself.

LINDA HOWARD: I’m an unglamorous human being. I’m a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother to a one-year-old. I cook, I do laundry, I run errands. Reading keeps me in a happy place, and I’m fairly catholic in my reading tastes—though I do stay away from horror because it horrifies me.

I don’t like chocolate. We live in a rural area and my husband has cows, which also horrifies me, because whenever I’m alone on the place they escape, as if they know I’m alone. I’m sure they gloat. I have a golden retriever named Tank, and I believe humans can never be good enough to deserve dogs. I’m logical and analytical to the extreme, so I live in my left brain unless I’m writing a book. I have no idea how that works, it just does. I enjoy life.


What is The Woman Left Behind about?

It’s about a woman rising to an almost impossible challenge; she does what has to be done, deals with the costs, and realizes a truth about herself.


The heroine of The Woman Left Behind goes through a grueling training process in order to join her new work team. Do you have your own exercise regime, and if so, of what does it consist?

I don’t now, other than a lot of walking, though I used to be a gym regular. Sometimes now I get into some lift weight-lifting, which is truly the only exercise I enjoy because of the endorphin release. Walking is pleasurable, I like being outside, but it isn’t the same as lifting weights.


Why do you think romantic suspense is so popular with readers?

Because it presents dangerous problems that are solvable, and have good endings. Regardless of pop psychology, I don’t think readers confuse books with their own lives—I never did—but reading about dangerous situations in some ways helps you prepare in case you are ever in an dangerous situation, because you’ve already thought it through.


Describe your writing style in three words.

Focused. Clear. Connected.


What is one quality every writer needs to succeed today?

The ability to tell a story. Without that, nothing else follows.


What is one romance novel everyone should read?

I don’t think there is one, because reading tastes are so subjective. I may love a book that others dislike, or even hate. There are some very popular books that I didn’t care for. I’ve never seen a romance novel—or a novel of any other genre—that’s universally loved.


You can invite three authors, dead or alive, to dinner. Who would they be? Why did you choose them? And what would you serve?

Dick Francis, Vince Flynn, and Beverly Barton. I would choose Dick Francis because I loved the way he used the English language, Vince Flynn because I would want to pick his brain, and Beverly Barton because she was a dear friend who died in 2011 and I’d love to see her again. And even though I do cookI can make some killer from-scratch Southern biscuits – I would make reservations instead so I could enjoy myself. The reservations would be at Foothills Milling in Maryland, Tennessee.


What is next for you as a writer?

Linda Jones and I are collaborating on a doomsday book—though it really isn’t doom, because there’s a happy ending.


How can readers best connect with you?

On the Facebook fan page I share with Linda Jones.



About the Author:

The Romance Writers of America 2002 Librarian of the Year, Charles has been reviewing romances for Booklist since 1999 and is the author of Romance Today: An A to Z Guide to Contemporary American Romance. After working for the Scottsdale Public Library System for 30 years, Charles retired and went to work for Scottsdale's independent bookstore the Poisoned Pen, where he still gets to push books but has to deal with far fewer computer questions.

Post a Comment