Friday, 7 April 2017

Author Spotlight on Rebecca Long Howard

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing another talented author, Rebecca Long Howard, from the Real Lives Team, a sub-group of Books Go Social.
She is a survivor of a great disaster in her country and has written a remarkable true story about it.

Tell us a little about yourself

Rebecca is a writer and a tornado survivor, but God has involved her in other roles where she, also, receives more than she gives.
She is a mother, daughter, sister, grandmother, and friend.
She is a middle-aged silly girl, an animal rescuer, and a very active member of the human race.
She is addicted to coffee, nicotine, words (both her own and the writings of others), and studying whichever random subject strikes her fancy. Rebecca is made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions and the grace of God.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote my first little story when I was around five, “The Turtle Who Thought She Was A Lion”, and Aesop and Rudyard Kipling are probably still rolling over in their respective graves.
I've written constantly since then, but I never really told anyone about it.
I was not raised around creative people, and the fact that writing has always been as natural and essential as breathing did not seem a valuable trait in a world where making a living was the ultimate priority.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

The Day After the End of the World has been in existence for almost a year, and I am still wrapping my mind around identifying as a Writer. “I'm no Writer. I just write.”
A few months ago, a friend asked if I would do some writing for her nonprofit.
I responded, “I'd love to help, of course. But, um, don't you know any writers?”
She laughed and laughed.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Trauma-induced writer's block, actually.
I have always used fiction and essays as a way to privately deal with life events.
I think with my pen.
After a tornado destroyed my neighborhood, I developed panic attacks.
Creative writing, of any kind, was a trigger for over two years.
The act of writing, which had always been my way to figuratively breathe suddenly caused a physical inability to breathe.
And, frankly, it pissed me off.
So, pushing slowly through the panic and symptoms of PTSD, I began writing about the tornado.
It took about three years.
The Day After the End of the World became therapy, a way for me to say goodbye to who I had been, to understand the fundamentally changed person I had become, and to face the disastrous catalyst in between.
I was editing a dear friend's book, and I accidentally emailed her the wrong file.
She told me that “People need to read this story.”
I said, “Absolutely not!”
She talked about compassionate people who just don't know what a disaster is from the inside. And, she talked about those who do know how grief feels, but who also need to know that they are not alone, that there is hope.
That got to me.
The following Spring, I unleashed my story on an unsuspecting public.
I can write again, and I am busy making up for lost time.
As for the girl who was a little ashamed to admit that she could never grow up and quit making up stories, well, in a way, that girl died in a tornado.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Hope. There is always hope.

What book are you reading now?

Mist Falcon by Ryan J. Doughan. How Not To Write A Novel by Howard Mittelmark. Radio: One Woman's Family in War & Pieces by Alice H. Green & Peter H. Green.
And, beta-reading the next installment of the Brain Child series by Alan Garrett.

What are your current projects?

A short novel that serves as a practice run, as I haven't written any fiction for six years.
Also in progress, a lovely little historical fiction.
I'm writing pieces for nonprofits and ministries and filling journal upon journal with thoughts on all kinds of subjects.
I'm writing, again.
I'm writing. I'm writing. (deep sigh of relief)

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Other writers have been simply amazing. I have been warmly welcomed into the Tribe. And, I'm staying.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Publishing took most of the courage I had available in my personal arsenal.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

It's your story. Write it. Write the heck out of it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Hang in there, loves. It gets better. Not just my story, but yours.

If you were not a writer what else would you like to do?

Nothing. I'm good, here.

Connect with Rebecca on Facebook and Twitter

Buy her book at Amazon

"The book chronicles her journey through loss, reality and restoration... Howard's honesty with God and her struggles with her own emotions are recorded without varnish." - Bettie Marlowe, Cleveland Daily Banner