Monday, November 29, 2010

Chatting with Kiki and Steven Howell - The Sorcerer's Songs and Weathervanes


Today I am pleased to welcome Kiki and Steven Howell.  I have had the pleasure of interviewing this couple and it's quite an interesting story on how The Sorcerer's Songs came about.  So I will be joining them on Kiki's favorite dock by Twin Lakes as we discuss her newest release along with her husband's Weathervanes CD.

Hello Steven and Kiki.  Thank you so much for chatting with me today.  I love the cover art for both the book and the CD,  they are absolutely inviting.


BK:  (Kiki) What inspired this novel?

KH:  This story was inspired by my husband’s music which has touched me in indescribable ways, and not just the songs he has written for me ;) He is an amazing singer/songwriter, I think, because he is so compassionate as well as a deep thinker. His song, “The Road,” has always got to me, stayed in my mind long after listening to it. There is just something about it, something that boarders on fear actually. Having regrets has always been a scary idea for me.

Plus, I have always marveled at how my husband can tell a story in under four minutes in his songs. And, “The Road,” well it said so much that it conjured a whole story in my head. While the song does not mention a sorcerer in any way, it seems writing about more mystical things is just what I do. So, before I knew it, the hero had powers, ones often shown in his music which made perfect sense in my mind. 

BK:  (Steven)  What are your thoughts on Kiki using your music to write a novel?

SH:  I was actually asked this question before in another interview, so I hope you don’t mind if I give you the same answer.

“I have to say that, at first, I had no reservations about the marriage between this book and my music; a marriage seemed appropriate, after all. But I must say that I began to feel a bit anxious as Kiki asked repeatedly if I thought this might not be a good idea. I guess I imagined that she was worried about something, and that maybe I should be worried about something too. But I couldn’t find anything to be fearful about. Once I read the book, I was not just relieved, I was fascinated – intrigued by what the music had led her to imagine and ultimately create. It was very rewarding. For years, she had inspired my writing, and it was moving to know that I inspired hers as well.”



BK:  That is fantastic,  I find it so...well lack for a better word,  beautiful that you two have brought your art together in such a manner.   When did you start playing guitar?

SH:  I started relatively late - 18 years old.

BK:  Kiki said that your song "The Road" is what inspired this story,  how did this song come to be?

SH:  "The Road" is the result of one of those moments when you look at your life, the choices that you made, and any regrets that you have about them, and then making peace with them. It's really the moment of realization that only I am responsible for who I am.

BK:  How hard is it for you to compose your music?

SH:  Writing music is not difficult for me because I tend to avoid it until it knocks on the door. If I wrote like my wife, each day for so many hours, I'm sure I would answer differently.



BK:  (KIki)  How different was it to write a story based on your husbands music?

KH:  I can’t tell you what a HUGE responsibility it is to take someone else’s creative work and then use it in your own. With this story I not only put myself out there, but I dragged my husband along with me for the ride. I can’t say thanks to him enough for allowing me to do that. I’m sooo fortunate to have such a loving husband, a best friend, who has always gone above and beyond to support my dreams. This story is just another in an endless line of examples of that during our marriage.

BK:  How difficult was plot and character development?

KH:  Not at all. The story kind of snowballed into existence actually, then practically wrote itself. Once I started the story from the original song, other songs my husband recorded started coming to me as well. So, I sat down one afternoon and listened to his newest CD. I got an idea, started sorting the songs and building a plot. In the end, each song seemed to have it’s place. My husband said it was amazing how songs he wrote for completely different reasons started to feel like the sorcerer had written them to perfectly match his fictional life.

Back to the paranormal element though, to me music often has magical effects on my own moods, etc. So I started researching the idea. I wasn’t alone in my thoughts finding music studies in psychology, but also used in Wiccan spells. I started to weave this in to the developing story line, to the reasons he sang his songs. It just all seemed to fit together so easily. One idea rolled into the next until I think my snowball ended up a snowman. It is amazing what the right inspiration can do!!!


BK:  How long have you been writing?

KH:  I got back into it in 2007 after over a decade away. But, prior I had been going to college to teach English and was just writing stories for classes and such. I had that dream of being a writer though my whole life.

BK:  How many titles do you have under your belt now?

KH:  Ah, I am at 21 published stories now if you count all the short stories I have out in different anthologies. Plus, I have five stories with release dates in 2011 already, and 6 currently submitted. I keep a very detailed submission and publishing history. I’m a list maker like that.

BK:  (Steven)  Have you read your wife's other books?

SH: - I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't read everything that she's written  - it is on my "to do" list, but I have read her work.

KH: – As the wife I would like to interject here, that my husband is too hard on himself when it comes to this. And, given what I write, romances where men are not really the main target audience, I have often told him to not even try to read it all. He was the one who endlessly encouraged me to start writing again, who  read and encouraged me to submit my first stories, and who after getting my first contracts told me to make writing my full time job.

BK:  I have to agree with you there,  about romance not usually being a man's cup of tea.  Kudos to you Steven for having read her work though.  Steven I have one last question for you,  Do you feel the same way about your music as Kiki does?  Does it move you in some way after you have the finished product?

SH:  If it doesn't seduce me at the beginning, I usually won't return to it. So, I am usually moved in one way or another when the song is finished.

BK:  (Kiki)  What is the one piece of advice that you were given that you still use today in your writing?

KH:  Actually, I have picked up many great ones along the way from various editors I’ve worked with.  Let’s see, one issue that comes up a lot for a paranormal author is building a believable world without info dumping. A good fix for this is a good conversation. In my latest work, my character was often alone, so praise the cell phone and calling the best friend option!

BK:  What advice can you give to new and aspiring authors?

KH:  Best thing I ever heard was to write the story in your heart. It was on a submissions guidelines page somewhere. The acquiring editor said it shows in the work, and I believe it does. When you stop writing to an audience who will one day read the story and just let the story inside of you come out freely, it really makes a difference. I can look back now at the writing processes I went through, my states of mind as I wrote my different stories, and pretty much show this result in relation to reviews.

BK:  Are you working on any projects?

KH:  Yes, I just finished my first draft on my first mainstream novel. I am really excited about it. First story also where I actually went on a trip to do the research for it.

BK:  Do you have any upcoming events you would like to share?

KH:  I have my first full-length novel, Torn Asunder, releasing in late Jan 2011. The book tour for it so far, plus all the information on the book is on my website at http://www.kikihowell.com/2010/09/torn-asunder.html

BK:  Where can your book be purchased?

KH:  The ebook for The Sorcerer’s Songs is up at Amazon, All Romance Ebooks, etc. Because it is only a novella, and due to the unique situation with my husband’s CD, I handled the print version on my own, so it can be purchased through my website (with or without the CD) at http://www.kikihowell.com/2010/06/sorcerers-songs-trade-paperback-novella.html There is also a Book Trailer Video there which lets you hear a sample of three of the songs from the story.





BK:  Where can readers find you?

KH:  My website is http://www.kikihowell.com/
On Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/kikihowell and Fan Page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kiki-Howell/22225069684?ref=mf
Or, you can follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/KikiHowell

BK:  Thank you so much for joining me today Kiki and Steven.  I am very excited to receive the book and cd.  Wishing you much success.

KH & SH:  Thanks Brandi. We’ve enjoyed being here

NOW for information about the book and my review!  YAY!

~All song lyrics in this story are from the CD, Weathervanes, by Steven Howell~www.stevenhowell.com

If I knew then, what I know now
I’d like to think I’d choose a different way to go
But, my mistakes have paved the way
Down this dark and lonely, dead-end road

Poised on a stool in a corner of yet another bar, in front of a crowd of maybe fifty, the harmonies he played reached out to those around him. The rhythms in his head stirred his heart. For a man of magic, a sorcerer with powers he had never asked for, his musical talents were sung spells. They were his weapon of defense against loneliness, bringing people to him like a siren’s song. Yet, for the most part, he let his music haunt the deeper needs of those who listened—letting musical phrasings stir wants unnamed or purposely forgotten. Although he felt but a living and breathing jukebox, these strangers who came to see him play were the only lives he could touch. He reached out to them with his songs.

That is until one night one of Adam’s songs lures him back toward his hometown, and he calls out for Stacey, the one he was forced to leave behind all those years ago. Only this time she wants answers as to why he left, and maybe a bit of revenge for the heart he destroyed.

I wrote The Sorcerer’s Songs using my husband's song lyrics to create the plot. It was a lot of fun to write, and a great writing exercise! I think I was so inspired by his music that the story practically wrote itself. Click Here to listen to the song that inspired the story called "The Road" from Steven's "Weathervanes" CD. I am just so excited, and so grateful to my husband, Steven Howell, for letting me use his music!

My Review:

The Sorcerer's Songs by Kiki Howell is a book that will have you still thinking about it long after you've finished reading it. 

Adam is struggling within himself,  in search of acceptance,  stability and love.  When he learns that he possesses the same magic within himself that supposedly killed his mother,  he vows to protect the ones he loves. 

Leaving the only life he's ever known behind,  he leaves his farm,  his best friend Pete,  and the love of his life Stacey in order to keep them safe from his magic. 

Playing gigs from bar to bar,  seeking the only thing that can keep him from feeling lonely if only for a night,  he uses his magic on woman to help them acknowledge what they are already feeling,  and keep him company.

When he decides its time to go home,  he swears he would never use his magic on those he loves.   When he runs into Stacey,  it stirs up old feelings that never died,  between both of them.  Stacey demands answers as to why he left and Adam struggles to find the courage to tell her the truth.  Will he tell Stacey his secret?  If he does will she accept it?

The Sorcerer's Songs was absolutely beautiful.  I don't know if it's because I first listened to the CD,  Weathervanes,  written and composed by Steven Howell, and the whole inspiration for the book,  but this book is truly moving.  Kiki has implemented songs from the CD into the book,  with such a description and connection to the story itself that you are literally moved by the words she's written.  I do know because I listened to the CD,  I was able to imagine Adam actually singing the words as they sound on the album,  placing myself right in the scene.

I also know I found myself struggling right along with Adam,  hoping that he will decide to tell his loved ones everything and that it wouldn't be a mistake in the end.  A true battle of magic vs love.  I loved it.

I give The Sorcerer's Songs ***** (5) Stars,  BK Walker


I just want to add as well,  the CD was wonderful.  I totally encourage you to purchase the book and the CD so you can get the full feel for the book.  I think it makes the read that much better,  though the book could stand on its own :).


Kiki Howell ~where love is a mystical thing~ 
NY Times Bestselling Author, Hannah Howell, says of Torn Asunder"Kiki Howell spins a wonderful tale of passion, magic, betrayal, and a love that conquers all. Enjoy."  Coming January 2011
Please visit http://www.kikihowell.com to see all available titles!





Please be sure to stop in to Kiki's site to see all her work.  You can purchase The Sorcerer's Songs and Weathervanes CD together right from her site as well - Don't miss out!  Purchase also available at Amazon.

Reactions:

3 comments:

Kiki Howell - Author said...

Thanks so much for having us on! The review just made my day :) I'm so glad you enjoyed the book and CD.

Kiki

BK said...

You're welcome Kiki. I loved the book and it was so easy to read and quick because I couldn't put it down. Thanks again for stopping in :).

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