Interview with thriller author K.J. Howe

Thriller author K.J. Howe joins me today to chat about her
new novel, The Freedom Broker.
Bio:
K.J. Howe is the executive director of ThrillerFest,
the annual conference of International Thriller Writers. A three-time Daphne du
Maurier Award winner, she completed her MA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton
Hill University. She is an avid traveler who has raced camels in Jordan, surfed
in Hawaii, and dove with the great whites in South Africa. She became
fascinated by the kidnap and ransom (K&R) world after meeting Peter Moore,
a British computer consultant who became the longest-held hostage in Iraq and
the only person to survive of the five men who were taken that day.
Welcome, K.J. Please tell us about your current
release.
The Freedom Broker features elite kidnap negotiator Thea Paris in the toughest case of her
life. She has a special client: her father. This is the first book in the
Freedom Broker series. I’ve researched kidnap and ransom for the last three
years, interviewing kidnap negotiators, former hostages, reintegration experts,
K&R insurance executives, and the Special Forces soldiers who deliver the
ransoms and execute rescues. I hope readers will learn about the world of
kidnapping while reading The Freedom
Broker
. The actual name for kidnap negotiators is “response consultant,”
but I didn’t feel that was as compelling as it could be, so I created the term
“freedom broker.” The experts that I’ve interviewed seem to like it.
What inspired you to write this book?
Born in Canada, I consider
Toronto home, but I had an eclectic upbringing, as my father worked in international
telecommunications. We lived in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the
Caribbean, and I enjoyed learning about different cultures and countries. Always
the new kid, I adored the escape that books provided.
Passionate about thrillers,
when I read David Morrell’s Brotherhood of the Rose and Lisa The Perfect Husband, I thought—wow, if I could ever provide the kind of wonderful
escape these talented writers did for me to someone else, then it would be a
dream come true.
I found kidnapping
absolutely compelling, as it is a purgatory of sorts—you’re alive, but you’re
not really living. Instead, you’re dependent on your captors for everything, completely
at their mercy, waking up every day not knowing if it will be your last. It’s a
horrible existence, testing the hostage’s mental and physical stamina.
I met former hostage Peter
Moore after his almost 1000 days in captivity, and his experience touched me
deeply. With over 40,000 reported cases of kidnapping a year, it has become a
serious issue. I hope to bring awareness about the many hostages who are still
being held in captivity, and I’m also speaking about travel safety at different
venues to help prevent people from taking unnecessary risks while abroad.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I was fortunate to sign a
two-book deal, so Skyjack will be the
next Thea Paris adventure. Thea is shepherding two former child soldiers from
Africa to London when the plane they are on is hijacked. The adventures kick
off from there. The novel features secret stay-behind armies from WWII, the
Sicilian Mob, the CIA, and the Vatican. Warning: do not read it on a plane.
I’m also researching future
Thea Paris novels, as I have many rabbit holes to explore in the world of
kidnapping. I enjoy visiting the locales where I set the stories, so I can
bring authenticity to the settings. Travel and adventure are my passions, so
it’s no hardship to spend time abroad.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve been a medical writer
for many years, but I always wanted to make the jump to fiction. I wrote my
thesis at Seton Hill University, and the story featured a female sniper. The
book is in my drawer, as I feel it has some structural issues, but the
character I created will be joining Thea in a future book. No words are ever
wasted!
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day
like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to
write?
In addition to being an
author, I’m the executive director of ThrillerFest, the annual conference of
the International Thriller Writers, a not-for-profit organization that supports
thriller authors. You can learn more about the event at www.thrillerfest.com It’s a fun and
friendly event, and I hope to see you there.
I write in the mornings, as
I find my subconscious is still active and relaxed, allowing me to be creative.
After that, I delve into the more administrative and logical tasks. I also try
to escape to the tennis court whenever I can.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’m a research junkie. I
live and breathe it, and the things I learn help propel mu novels. I truly want
to know the ins and outs of everything I write about whether it is breaking
into a hotel safe or hanging upside down on a zipline. Actors often use method acting. I like to have fun with method writing.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. I loved to read,
and I always wanted to write. But I felt like I had to find something practical
to do, so I worked at many other jobs on the way to realizing my dream. I feel
that the more life experience you have, the more textured and layered the
books.
Anything additional you want to share with the
readers?
I adore sports, travel, and
adventure, which dovetails well with writing international thrillers. Visiting
the locales that I include in the book is critical, as I like to bring the
sights, smells, and sounds of the locations to the reader. When I travel, I
seek out adrenalizing activities and opportunities to learn new things, seize
every moment and enjoy it.
Here
are my links for Facebook,
Twitter and LinkedIn.
Thank you for being a guest today!
Thank you for having me on
the blog. I appreciate your thoughtful questions and kind interest in my
writing.
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