Darkstars Fantasy News

4. Oktober 2020

Interview with Greg Howard

Category: Interviews – Darkstar – 17:35

Ein Flüstern im Wind

Ihr möchtet das Interview auf Deutsch lesen? Einfach hier klicken!

Greg Howards THE WHISPERS has been definitely one of my reading highlights this year. The story is deeply touching, the characters a well fleshed out and relatable and the writing is excellent.

THE WHISPERS is about eleven year old Riley. He’s intending to go on a quest, finding the Whisperers: magical being that dwell deep in the forest and are capable of fullfilling your heart’s desire – if you’re willing to pay a price. Most people think they are a myth. But Riley needs to find them. It’s his last hope to find his mother, who’s disappeared for quite a while.

As I mentioned above I really loved THE WHISPERS, and therefore I am super-excited that author Greg Howard agreed to answer my interview questions:

Interview with Greg Howard

Rileys mama used to tell him the story of the Whispers. Which stories did your parents or grandparents tell you again and again?

I was too young to remember this, but family members say that before my mama died she would tell me bedtime stories that she made up every night. I wish I could remember them.

I guess no one else in the family had that same love for storytelling, but Mama definitely passed it down to me.

Greg Howard Autorenfoto

To give readers who didn’t read the book yet a feeling about what awaits them: Which color(s) and which key word(s) would describe the atmosphere of your novel best?

Oh – interesting question! For colors, I would say deep, rich shades of blue and green.

For words, I would say mystery, longing, love, and hope.

What do you like about Riley?

I like that Riley sees the world through innocent eyes, yet he is also wise beyond his years. Riley has an old soul, as they say.

But the thing I like the most about Riley is that he never gives up hope.

His journey in this book is a tough one – and deeply touching. How hard was it to right about certain topics?

There are a couple of scenes that were difficult, yet extremely cathartic, to write. But I don’t want to give anything away because they are key moments in the story. Mostly though, the book was a joy to write and the story came very easily.

What urges you to write novels?

When I first set out on this writing journey, I was motivated by the excitement of getting an agent, having a book published, and even the noteriety that cames a long with all that.

But very soon after my first young adult book was published (Social Intercourse), I went to my first book festival where middle school and high school students were in attendance. The first girl to approach my signing table was so nervous to meet me that she could barely talk.

I was not expecting that.

When she told me through tears how Social Intercourse helped her through some very dark times and gave her the courage to come out as gay, then my whole perspective on writing books changed. I realized I written that book for her and all the other kids and adults who need their stories to be told—to feel like they matter and that they’re not alone.

So now I write for all of them.

And why did you want to write THIS story in particular?

The Whispers

This is he most personal story I’ve ever written.

It was inspired by my own mother and my close relationship with her when I was young. And like Riley, I was aware of my attraction to boys from a young age but I didn‘t live in an area or a time when I could just be who I was openly. The religious oppression was also stifling like it is for Riley.

Many of the characters in the book are based on my family and childhood friends—Riley’s dad, brother, and grandparents, his friends Gary and Carl, and his crush Dylan. Even Tucker was based on my dog, Tucker, and he was exactly as described in the book.

There are even scenes in the book that were taken from my own childhood experiences such as the burial of can’t and if and the terrible thing Riley overheard Sister Grimes—the church gossip lady—say. I felt like this was a story I had to get out of my sytem, even though my publisher at the time discouraged me from writing it.

Can you share with us a few things about your writing process? Do you write chronocally? Do you have any weird writing habits?

I don’t think I have any weird writing habits.

Usually I write in the early morning hours with my coffee and with my three dogs lying all around me on the sofa. I do write chronologically and keep story notes in my journal.

Usually I start by free writing a chapter or two of an idea I have, then I stop and create blurb description of the book like you might see on the back cover. Then I hammer out an outline or a synopsis before I continue writing.

Can you remember what your very first story (or novel) was about?

When I was around eight or nine years old, I watch this television movie called THE LAST SURVIVOR.

I really liked it and went right to my room and wrote out the entire story in a spiral bound notebook as if it were a book I’d written. The next day at school, I showed it to my best friend Michael and he added illustrations to the story.

So I guess that was the first book I wrote even though it wasn’t my story. Michael and I even sent it off to a publisher in New York! We got the address from inside one of the books in our classroom library. A month or so later we got a very nice letter of decline. They must have gotten a real kick out that.

Although authors make stories up, often they have to do research. What’s the weirdest thing you ever did research on?

Anal bleaching. (for my young adult book, Social Intercourse)

Which novels – or which kind of novels – do excite you?

I read all kind of books from kids to adult genres. I particularly enjoy reading thrillers. But I get most excited about books written for young readers with LGBTQ characters.

Within the last years we’re seeing more and more books with lgbt characters at center stage. Do you think this is a trend that will continue? Are you yourself missing something in novels with queer characters that you wish we’d see more often – or even see at all?

I’m excited that we are seeing more books written for young readers with LGBTQ main characters and I do think this is a trend that will continue. I would love to see more stories about trans and bisexual kids.

What do you plan next as an author? Can you already let us know what you’re working on currently?


THE WHISPERS is being developed into a film, and my second middle-grade book MIDDLE SCHOOL’S A DRAG, YOU BETTER WERK! is being developed for TV.

My next middle-grade book is a queer ghost story called THE VISITORS and it will be coming out in the US next summer.

I’m working on a couple of new story ideas now.

Fun question: If you could invite a few fictional characters over for tea or dinner: Who should it be and why?

Definitely Beckett from my gay young adult romantic comedy novel SOCIAL INTERCOURSE. He’s hysterical and completely irreverent.

And also Tom Ripley from Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley series. He would be quite interesting to spend an evening with.

Thank you so much!

You can find a german translation of that interview here.

Author photo (c) Greg Howard 

Greg Howard online: Website / Instagram

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