Molly talks with Joan Hall Hovey

hello Joan Hall Hovey! I know you have written not only a number of books to date, but also articles and short stories in addition to being a writing instructor, busy gal! Please, if you will, tell us which of your books you are most happy with. And why.

I'll answer your question in a round-about way, Molly. Because I trust in the muse a lot, I begin with an image or a situation. With NOWHERE TO HIDE I had an image of a room in an 'home for girl', where the girls slept. I could see the child and the lamb picture on the wall above one of the beds: I viewed the scene through the killer's eyes. These little girls already had a number of strikes against them, and now they were in dire danger from a madman.

When I began to write my first novel, LISTEN TO THE SHADOWS I had a situation in mind. A "what if?" Katie's fiance went missing in Vietnam years earlier. As you has finally begun to accept that he is dead, frightening evidence that he might still be alive, (and not as the sweet boy you knew) begin to show up. I like to work up the suspense slowly, building and building so that my reader is turning those pages in anticipation of what is coming next.

As to what book I'm most happy with - I consider my best work so far the book I'm presently writing. A cliché answer, but that's because it's true. I'm totally immersed in my characters and their story right now. The stories I've already published belong to my readers. But all my books are my babies, and I love them equally, although for different reasons. I hope readers will too.
Read excerpts to both LISTEN TO THE SHADOWS and NOWHERE TO HIDE on my website. E-Book editions available at

Do you use a non de plume Joan? If so would you tell us the reason why you chose this particular pseudonym? If not, please tell us how you decided against it.

One reason some writers choose to use a pseudomn is because it gives them more freedom, at least psychologically, to delve into more deeply personal issues (or maybe erotic, etc. I think Lawrence Block used to write soft-porn, which was probably pretty tame stuff back then.) And then there are those like Stephen King whose publisher thought he was too prolific, and thought he should have a penname for some of the books - hence, Richard Bachman. And sometimes it's for tax purposes. Being business-challenged, I have no idea why that's a good idea.

As for me, No, I don't use a pen name, Molly. I've never really considered it, perhaps because I want to be able to connect with my readers on a more personal level on occasion. I like receiving those fan letters addressed to me. I also want those nasty girls in my highschool class who chose me last (and with a sigh of resignation) for the basketball team to know who wrote those books. (Smile.)

Chuckle, I do know the feeling! Joan, your books are filled with rich details, how much time do you usually spend doing background research before you begin a new book and what does your research involve?

I do the research on my books on a need to know basis. For example, in LISTEN TO THE SHADOWS I needed to know about the native Indian's use of straw in making baskets, etc. - whether that straw needed to be dry, etc. It was enjoyable and interesting fun learning about that. While research is necessary for the books, it also increases my own knowledge of things and people in the world. I learn the most fascinating things in the process of researching.

In NOWHERE TO HIDE I wanted to know about body bags - color and so on, so I simply phoned our morgue here. Voila, all the information I needed. The story also required that I find out the strategic details on how firefighters deliberately demolish a building, and contacted a firefighter at our fire department. He was most helpful and generous in explaining the procedure, and answered all my questions. It's been my experience that folks love to share their expertise. Most people are fascinated to know a real author and eager to help you get it right.

Your exciting suspense filled tales are becoming so well known to readers Joan, have you tried writing other genre as well?

When I first start out writing, too many years ago to count, I wrote many true confession stories, but even they generally had a dark thread of suspense running through them. I am drawn to the dark side of humanity so I suspect I will always write in the suspense genre, albeit with a touch of romance. It's gives me the opportunity to be fully creative. I like to probe those cobwebby corners of our minds, the full range of our emotions. We all know love, hate, anger, jealousy, greed, envy - it's a matter of degree.

Yes, that is certainly true. Please tell us what are you writing at the moment? And how soon do you think your latest project will be finished.

I've just finished a third book with the working title, "I've Been Waiting For You" and in the process of finding a good home for it. Here's a brief premise:

Tossed aside by her husband for his blond, young assistant, a devastated and lost Rachael Warren Timmins retreats to the old beach-house once owned by her grandmother, the artist, Emily Warren. Rachael's own mother having died only days after giving birth to her, left her to be raised by a silent, dour man who wordlessly blamed Rachael for her mother's death. It was only at Jenny's Cove, with her grandmother, that Rachael felt safe and loved.

Now, all these years later, she instinctively gravitates to Jenny's Cove, a wounded animal seeking a warm, dark place in which to lick its wounds. But there is no comfort to be had in Jenny's Cove. Something else entirely awaits her. Instead of the tranquility she seeks, she becomes a target for a madman whose own dark past weaves a deadly bond between the two.

And sets Rachael on a collision course with a crazed killer.

Have already begun the next book, which is one I've been wanting to write for many years; until now the time was never quite right. It is in large part autobiographical. The plot involves an older woman, an actor named Melanie Wilkins, who returns to her childhood home determined to clear her father's name in the murder of her mother which occurred when Melanie was twelve.

Sounds fascinating! Look forward to reading them both. Joan, do you have upcoming plans to do book signings and where will you be appearing soon? What do you enjoy most about book signings?

I've done many signings, and when the new book finds a home of course I'll be doing lots more of them, as well as radio and TV interviews, etc. I always see book signings as my gold star for persistence and belief in the story I'm telling. I feel exhausted as I put a period to that final chapter in my book, drained, but also wonderfully free. The signings are my reward for hanging in there through the long months of hard work, struggle and self-doubt. I now have a book that I can hold in my hands. One that has my name written on the cover. As you well know, Molly, you have a sense of accomplishment; there's no high quite like it.

It's exciting and fun to meet readers; as I said, my reward. They ask me all sorts of interesting questions, keep me on my toes, and give me all that wonderful attention I probably craved as a kid. Providing of course they show up. Now that's a really scary premise. It's never happened so far, although I've had to fill in a little time signing books and trying to make eye contact with curious passersby. All 'grist' for the author's mill.

Thank you for a delightful insight into such a prolific and interesting writer Joan!
Joan Hall Hovey's books: 'Listen To The Shadows' and 'Nowhere To Hide'/EPPIE AWARD WINNER 2001 available at online bookstores or by special order.
Be sure to visit Joan's Website:




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