Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Meet .... Lee Allen Howard

Today here at Pinky’s Favorite Reads, I am very honoured to have Lee Allen Howard, author of Death Perception and his new novel
Call of the Piss Fairy.
Welcome, Lee!
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Lafayette, Indiana, USA, while my father was attending seminary.
Tell us your latest news.
I’m psyched about the release of my bizarro psychological thriller, Call of the Piss Fairy. Armed with electric hair trimmers and a military fighting knife, protagonist Russell Pisarak, a 26-year-old bedwetter, accepts his dark commission from the mythical Piss Fairy and steps forth to make his bloody mark on the world.
In May, I also released Death Perception, a supernatural thriller, and it’s really doing well. It’s about a young man who finds he can discern the cause of death of those he cremates—by toasting marshmallows over their ashes. When what he discerns differs from what’s on the death certificate, Kennet finds himself in the midst of murderers.
I’ve spoken about self-editing your fiction and other topics at area conferences this year. And this past summer I had a publicity photo shoot in a cemetery that was a lot of fun.
If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?
That’s a fun question! So many to choose from, but gathered at my table would be:
  • Ernest Hemingway – to find out why he developed such a spare writing style.  And to see if my gaydar went off.
  • Thomas Tryon – because he was such a handsome thing, one of my role models as a gay novelist, and because his electrifying first book, The Other, is responsible for making me want to write.
  • Patrick McGrath – because I love his writing. Asylum is one of my favorite books.
  • Stephen King – because, well, what writer wouldn’t want to meet him?
  • Ramsey Campbell – because he’s my favorite British horror writer. The House on Nazareth Hill actually scared me.

What are your current projects?
As I mentioned previously, Call of the Piss Fairy is just out. It’s a dark psychological thriller about a young man whose disturbing dreams of a mythical catlike creature cause him to wet the bed—and fulfill his murderous fantasies with a pair of electric hair trimmers and a military fighting knife.
I’m now working on novel number 6, which I just started to draft. I hope to finish the first draft by the end of the year.
What books or authors have influenced your writing?
I was a precocious reader. One of my favorite books in elementary school was Norman Bridwell’s humorous and horrific How to Care for Your Monster (1970). At 12 I devoured the tome Tales of Terror and the Supernatural. But it was Thomas Tryon’s The Other and James Herbert’s The Rats that really made me want to write.
Is there an author that you would really like to meet?
Besides my dinner guests, I hope to meet Trent Zelazny because he’s one of my favorite new writers who’s updating noir crime and making it popular again. I just finished Too Late to Call Texas, and it was phenomenal.
I also want to meet Dustin LaValley. He’s another of my favorite new writers: literary horror, bizarro, and crime. I just finished The Deceived. Tremendous!
Both these guys have been an inspiration and support to me, and I really love their writing.
What book are you reading now and in what format (ebook/paperback/hardcover)?
I’m rereading Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God in paperback. Beautiful writing, fascinating characters, and a disturbing subject. I read plenty of ebooks too on my Kindle.
Tell us a little about your background. When did you start writing?
In second grade I started writing my own stories on three-ring notebook paper, binding them with construction paper covers. One memorable tale was titled “Eyeballs Only,” about a mad scientist who turns into a monster that goes on a rampage to pluck people’s eyes out and eat them.
I continued writing through grade school and high school, passing my work to friends. At age 12, I inherited my father’s old Olympia manual typewriter, a 50-pound tank of a thing. The keys were so hard to press that I tore the skin from under my fingernails the first few weeks. Then I toughened up, like a true horror writer.
For a decade, I took a break from writing, but began again in earnest in the 1990s. I’ve been publishing steadily since 2010.
What is your writing process?
With my latest release and my work in progress, I did much more “pre-writing” than usual. This means, beyond character sketches, I do a lot of free-writing about the characters, their relationships, and story situations so that I know them fully before I start drafting. I conduct any necessary research during this time.
From this preliminary material, I then plan the broad three-act story arc. I briefly outline all the scenes, then go back and meticulously plan each scene.
Only after I’ve done these things do I sit down to write the first draft. Because I’ve done so much planning, I can draft very quickly.
After a cool-off period, I start my revisions. I’ll typically do five or more edits and a final polish before I consider a book to be ready for the world.
Do you write full-time?
I’ve been a technical writer in the software industry since 1985. So, although I do write full-time, it’s some pretty boring stuff. But it has definitely increased my writing and editing skills and enabled me to handle huge amounts of text. I also do freelance editing.
I write fiction evenings and weekends. Someday I hope to transition to full-time fiction writing.
Call of the Piss Fairy is rather dark. Where did you get the idea?
Call of the Piss Fairy is by far the darkest thing I’ve ever written. The idea came to me in December of last year.
I have no idea why I remembered him, for he wasn’t a close friend, but I went to school with a kid who had long, stringy hair. One day he came in with a buzzed head, and I said, “Wow, you really got your hair cut.” He became very upset, and I found out—whether it was from him or someone else, I don’t remember—that whenever he wet the bed, his parents shaved his head as punishment.
Thinking about what that would do to a young man weighed heavily on me until I knew it was a story I needed to write. The inspiration was quite strong and definite.
How long did it take you to complete?
I did a character sketch and some story questionnaires over holiday break, jotting down inspired snippets. The first six weeks of 2013 I plotted the entire story. From mid-February to April 4, I wrote the first draft, 50,000 words. I did seven revisions. This is the fastest book I’ve ever written.
Are any of your characters in Call of the Piss Fairy based on real-life friends or acquaintances?
No, and anyone who knows me and reads the book should be overjoyed.
Do you ever incorporate yourself into your characters?
There’s a little bit of me in every character I write, to be sure. I suppose there’s part of me in Russell Pisarek and Kennet Singleton and all my other protagonists, both their weaknesses and strengths. I hope I’m becoming a better character by writing about them.
You can tell that you have done a lot of research for your books. How do people feel when you approach them wanting to pick their brains, or do you have a wide friend base in diverse workplaces you can draw on?
When I develop story ideas, I draw from my current base of acquaintances as well as perform educational research about topics and situations I currently know little about. I did a lot of research about the funerary industry for Death Perception. A helpful mortician explained the process of cremation in detail.
For Call of the Piss Fairy, I spoke to a number of people who had work information that I needed, and they were happy to help me out. They’re mentioned in the acknowledgments.
Does your reading inspire you and your work?
Absolutely. All the writers mentioned previously have influenced not only my desire to write but also my writing style. Seeing how other writers have turned their ideas into full-blossomed stories is always an inspiration to me.
Where can we find you online?
Lee Allen Howard writes horror, psychological thrillers, and supernatural crime. His credits include Call of the Piss Fairy, Death Perception, The Sixth Seed, Mama Said, Desperate Spirits, Night Monsters, and Stray. He blogs about his writing at and nitpicks editorial topics at Lee is a practicing Spiritualist medium and metaphysician: You can find him on Facebook (Lee Allen Howard, author), and Twitter: @LeeAllenHoward.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for interviewing me, Sharon. This was a lot of fun!