Welcome to Part One of Confessions of a Reviewers’ interview with a gentleman (he hasn’t been called that very often) that I predict will be a household name very shortly and for a very long time, it’s Adam Howe!
If you don’t know a lot, or indeed anything, about Adam, then shame on you, but read on. In this interview, Adam was kind enough to take the time out to give us some detailed and, very candid answers to all the questions I threw at him.
Whether he was honest or not is up to you to decide. I have my doubts about one or two of his answers.
In Part One, tonight, we find out some general information about Adam and his writing and inspirations. Included in this part is a rather embarrassing picture including a really awful jumper, and an even worse shirt!
In Part Two, tomorrow night, Adam will give us some specifics on his last book, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet and he also takes on the mighty Ten Confessions.
On night three as always, Confessions will feature a review of Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, but not by me. This one is done by Confessions’ good friend, Matthew Cash.
Nothing left to say other than go grab some nibbles and a drink and sit back, but most of all……enjoy!
CoaR - So tell everyone a bit about yourself in general? Who is Adam Howe and what is he like in daily life?
AH - I’m a British writer of fiction and screenplays. I mostly write offbeat crime/horror ‘Murricana. I was born in England, spent my formative years in Australia, before returning to the UK in my early teens. This left me something of a misfit. In Australia, I was seen as a pom; back in England, due to my Aussie accent and mullet, I was an Australian.
The missus and I currently live in the South London burbs – our relationship is akin to that of Kathy Bates and Jimmy Cann in Misery – we have a Jack Russell terrier called Gino, named after a Steven Seagal character, and we’re expecting our first human child in July. In my daily life? I’m kinda quiet, actually. One of those “Wouldn’t hurt a fly” types… And you know how you have to watch them.
CoaR - What did you do before starting writing?
AH- I’ve been dictating stories since I could talk, and writing them myself since I could hold a pen, so the honest answer to your question is, shitting my nappy and sucking my mama’s titties. (She’ll thank me for that one.) I’ve served several tours of duty within the service and retail industries, being dishonourably discharged from every role. One employer memorably told me: “You’re a danger to me, and a danger to yourself, basically.” The world just wasn’t ready for a maverick fish-and-chip shop worker.
For a time in my twenties, I just about scratched a living as a screenwriter and script doctor/editor. More rewarding years were enjoyed trolling the French Riviera as an elite male escort and confidence swindler, preying on vulnerable high-society widows. A stint in the Foreign Legion may or may not have led to me being recruited by the C.I.A. to undertake classified Black Bag operations; like Steven Seagal, I can neither confirm nor deny this, and must leave you to draw your own conclusions.
CoaR – Can you see where the honesty issues may lie?
CoaR - Do you still have a pay the bills job?
AH - Currently, no. In fact, due to my chequered past, I’m pretty much unemployable. Fortunately, I still have my gigolo money to tide me over. Right now I’m gearing up to be a stay-at-home dad, and hoping I won’t get the sack.
CoaR - Why writing? Why decide on writing as a career?
AH - To paraphrase Tony Montana: “First you write the skunk ape noir, then you get the money, then you get the women, then you get the power.”
CoaR - Take us through your process for a story. How do you start it and follow it through to the final product?
AH - I tend to start with a central image, often part of a set piece. For instance, with Damn Dirty Apes it was the image of a Bigfoot-type creature abducting one of the performers from a backwoods porn shoot – a common enough image, you might even call it an overused trope; with Gator Bait, it was a human variation on the blood sport called ‘coon-on-a-log,’ a barbaric practice I learned about in one of James Lee Burke’s Robicheaux novels. I’ll start writing the action, just to build some momentum.
As the characters develop, their backstory starts to emerge. I’ll realise now that I’ve started the story too late. But by this time, I’ll have enough backstory that I’m able to start structuring a plot. So I’ll start over fresh and write my way back to the action, allowing the story to take shape as I go. Sometimes it takes me a few attempts to find my way into a story. I’m not a ‘Don’t get it right, get it written’ writer. (I do believe that’s good advice for beginners.) I like to find the right voice for each story; I’m also at the mercy of my muse, who demands that I do.
CoaR - Your short story, Jumper was chosen by some dude named Stephen King as a winner in his On Writing contest. How did it feel winning that?
AH - Oh, you’ve heard of the guy? Small world… When I won the contest, I was in my early twenties. I was in a bad place – and I don’t just mean stuck living at home with my folks. I’d recently dropped out of university, my girlfriend had dumped me, I’d just lost yet another job. (Not the one with the C.I.A.) and for the first time, I was seriously doubting myself as a writer. The day I learned I’d won the competition, I’d had one of those dark nights of the soul; I remember being unable to sleep, ceiling-staring, listening on the radio to the dawn shipping forecast – riveting stuff – and a news report that serial killer Henry Lee Lucas had died peacefully in prison. (Can you believe then-Governor Dubya Bush, who wasn’t slow when it came to frying prisoners, especially blacks, actually gave that crazy white boy a stay of execution?)
So that morning, when I received word from Hodder & Stoughton, telling me I’d won the On Writing contest – I’d forgotten I even entered the damn thing – I figured I must be having an unusually cruel nightmare, or I’d finally gone crazy. When it finally sunk in? No matter what I achieve in my writing career, nothing will ever match the excitement I felt. Any writer’s first credit is an enormous validation; but for Stephen King to have chosen my story as the winner of his writing contest…to be published in his book…to meet the man – that, my friends, is gonna take some beating.
CoaR - Did you actually get to meet him or was that just a rumour? What was he like? Did you whack his ankles with a sledgehammer?
AH - As part of the prize, yeah, I travelled to NYC and lunched with the King. Did you ever see Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live, his star-struck interviews with celebrities? All sweating and twitchy. Meeting Paul McCartney: “Remember when you were in The Beatles…? That was awesome.” It was kinda like that.
Anyone who’s met the man, I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who’ll say: “Steve King? Conceited asshole.” He truly is one of the good guys.
CoaR - Someone call the fashion police!
CoaR - How do you keep track of your ideas? Do you carry a notebook with you everywhere or write stuff on the back of your hand?
AH - I used to carry a notebook, but not anymore. The good ideas tend to stick with me; the bad ones filter out. When I’m working on a project, after putting in my regular writing shift – morning till noon are the magic hours – it takes a while for my brain to gentle down, and I’ll often jot lines or gags for the next day’s work. Sometimes a character will start speaking to me, telling me how to start their story. I’ll write that down, and if the character doesn’t shut up, I’ll know I might be onto something.
CoaR - Can you tell us if any of the characters in your books are based on people you have come across in your life or maybe even yourself?
AH - My most autobiographical character is probably the deranged retail worker from my short story, Jumper. That’s pretty much who I was at the time, which is kinda scary. The bulk of the story was inspired by a suicide that occurred at the shopping mall where I worked, an event that fed into a lot of the darker thoughts running through my mind at the time.
During my drinking days – I’m a recovering alcoholic – I was prone to self-pity and morbid self-obsession, aware that my behaviour was destructive but unable or unwilling to change. A lot of my current characters are trapped in that cycle. Always looking back, letting the moment pass them by, and failing to plan for the future. There’s something tragic-comic about that personality that really lends itself to black comedy.
CoaR - Who would be the authors you would give the credit of being your influences and who do you just not “get”?
AH - My first and biggest influence was Stephen King. You know, when I met him, he was in NYC to announce his retirement. That worked out! I think he’s written like twenty novels since then. (And here’s me, hasn’t even written his first.) King’s so damn prolific, his work these days can be hit and miss for me. I much prefer his non-supernatural work. His story 1922, from the Full Dark, No Stars collection, is a noir as good as anything he’s ever written. That story should be taught in schools… Like a lot of other people seem to be, I’ve been rereading his early work. It’s easy to forget – again, due to how prolific he is – just how GOOD he was/is. He was writing red-hot back in the day. I recently reread The Dead Zone (possibly my favourite King) and, with Trump making waves, it’s amazing how prescient that book seems… “The missiles are flying. Hallelujah!” Let’s hope not.
More recently: Joe Lansdale. For his tone, the balance of light and dark, as I’ve already said.
The writer I don’t get, try as I might, despite having once owned a Golden Retriever, and I’m not disputing the guy’s talent…is Dean Koontz.
CoaR - When is this first full novel going to available for your fans?
AH - It may be some time yet. Later this year I was hoping to take another crack at my novel One Tough Bastard (my literary equivalent of an action/comedy ‘buddy’ movie) but the impending birth of my first child has thrown a considerable spanner in the works, so you can blame the kid for the delay.
CoaR - What would your ultimate wish be with your writing?
AH - Right now I’m just thrilled that my work’s being read, and that readers seem to dig what I’m doing. The years I spent slogging away as a screenwriter, writing script after script for select-few eyes, work that was left to just gather dust; there were positives during that time, but overall, it was soul crushing. (It was my own damn fault. When I told Stephen King I planned to write screenplays, he made a ‘wanker’ gesture and advised me to: “Write a fucking novel.” But what did he know, right?) So it’s such a novelty now to actually be read. I’d like to continue growing my readership, and with a little luck, make enough money from my work to justify the time and effort I’ve put into it over the years.
Anyone reading this, I don’t want to strong-arm you into buying my books or nothin’, but like I’ve said, I’ve got a baby on the way, and the kid’ll probably need food, and it’ll starve if you don’t… So, uh – the ball’s in your court.
That’s it for Part One of the interview. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow night for Part Two when Adam gives us more on his writing, talks about the last book, Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, and takes on The Ten Confessions.
This is one part of an interview you do not want to miss!
Adam Howe writes the twisted fiction your mother warned you about. A British writer of fiction and screenplays, he lives in Greater London with his partner and their hellhound, Gino. Writing as Garrett Addams, his short story Jumper was chosen by Stephen King as the winner of the On Writing contest, and published in the paperback/Kindle editions of SK’s book; he was also granted an audience with The King, where they mostly discussed slow vs. fast zombies. His fiction has appeared in Nightmare Magazine, Thuglit, The Horror Library, Mythic Delirium, Plan B Magazine, and One Buck Horror. He is the author of two collections, Black Cat Mojo and Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, plus the eBook single, Gator Bait. Future works include Tijuana Donkey Showdown, One Tough Bastard, and a crime/horror collaboration with Adam Tribesmen Cesare.
And for more about Adam, visit his site, or find him on social media: