Coffee Klatch with Author K.J. Howe

If you missed my previous coffee klatches, you might not have heard the term coffee klatch.  Here’s a recap…

Mid-morning, after the kid in the ‘hood got on the school bus, the moms would get together for coffee and socializing.  They sometimes referred to this coffee break as a coffee klatch.   The term “coffee klatch” comes from the German word, “kaffeeklatsch,” which translates to coffee (kaffee) + gossip (klatsch). It refers to a group of friends getting together over a cup of coffee, usually at someone’s house. The word “klatsch” has turned into “klatch” or even “clatch” over the years, and both are considered acceptable to use.

Coffee klatches were popular in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was common for women to stay home with the kids. Ladies would get together with neighbors, discussing the latest updates in everyone’s lives.  For those of us who worked outside the home, enjoy your first {virtual} coffee klatch.

Grab your beverage of choice and meet author K.J. Howe…

 

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BJR: How did you get your start, and what were your earliest days like?

Ever since I read David Morrell’s BROTHERHOOD OF THE ROSE, I wanted to write fiction. I started taking local writing courses and workshops, then returned to do my Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill University. I also studied with Steve Berry, Karen Dionne, Lee Child, and Karin Slaughter at writing retreats—in fact, Karin Slaughter was kind enough to introduce me to her agent, Victoria Sanders who is now my agent as well.

 I came from a medical writing background, so the shift from technical/journalistic writing to storytelling required a great deal of learning. It is very different to “tell” in a journalistic style vs. “showing” or “dramatizing” fiction. And the first course I took at my local library was in romance writing, so I tried my hand at that—but when dead bodies kept popping up, I realized that suspense was my true passion.

BJR: What inspired you to write fiction?

I moved around the world growing up, as my father worked in telecommunications. I lived in Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Austria, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, and other locales. Always being the new kid, I escaped into books, and I realized that I really wanted to tell stories set in an international backdrop.

 

BJR: You’re an avid athlete.  How do you balance maintaining your active lifestyle and meeting your writing deadlines?

Given writing fiction means spending an immense amount of time being sedentary, it’s critical for my body and my brain to balance that with activity. I love “earning” my exercise time via meeting my word count. I find that physical activity stimulates and invigorates me, and I often come up with ideas or solve story problems while I’m exercising…so I can justify calling it part of my work day!

 

BJR: What is your favorite line from your book?

 “Thea Paris felt like she was trapped inside a giant cocktail shaker. Not the feeling you’re looking for while flying!”

BJR: What is the best thing someone has ever said about your work?

Esteemed reviewer Oline Cogdill shared, “K.J. Howe proves she owns a sub-genre that has long been neglected — the women’s adventure mystery.” Her kind comment was inspiring, as there are many action-adventure stories focused on men, but very few centered on women. Young girls need heroines to cheer for, I hope Thea Paris can be one of them.

 

BJR: Tell me about Thea Paris.  How much is she like you?  

Well, I certainly love travel and adventure as much as Thea does, but she is much braver than I will ever be. Not only does she travel to the world’s hotspots to bring hostages back home, she does it while juggling her type 1 diabetes. I wanted to show that a chronic illness doesn’t have to stop you from pursuing your desired career. Thea also has a very personal reason for becoming a kidnap negotiator—she watched at eight years old as her twelve-year-old brother was abducted from their house. Her brother returned home nine months later, but he was never the same. Thea wants to save families from going through the heartache hers did.

 

BJR: Did a traumatic incident in your life (or a friend/family member) inspire this character or the theme of The Freedom Broker?

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting former captive Peter Moore who was the longest held hostage in Iraq—Peter was held almost 1000 days. Peter was taken with four British guards, but sadly, he was the only one who made it back home. His bravery and ingenuity in finding a way to stay alive and combat the loneliness, boredom, trauma, and hardship of captivity inspired the authentic insights into kidnapping shared in my novels.

 

BJR: Who do you find most influencing (real or fictional)?

The real-life counterparts of Thea Paris are unsung heroes who travel to the world’ most dangerous hotspots to bring hostages back to their families. They fly under the radar, never receive public recognition (as that could endanger them on future trips), yet they risk their lives for strangers they have never met.

BJR: What kind of research did you perform for this book, and how did you go about doing that research?

I’ve been researching kidnap and ransom for the last six years, immersing myself in that world so I can bring authenticity to the page. I feel very fortunate to call some of the world’s best kidnap negotiators friends, and I’ve had the honor of hearing many emotional stories from former hostages. I continue to meet new people in the world of kidnapping who inspire me with their bravery and ingenuity. I do a lot of talks about travel safety, as one of my goals is to prevent people from being kidnapped in the first place.

I like to think of my hardcovers as the ideal travel companion: hopefully you’ll enjoy an entertaining thriller, you’ll learn a great deal about travel safety and the world of kidnap and ransom, and if the very worst happens while on holiday, you can use the hardcover as a weapon to ward off any kidnappers!

 

BJR: Similarly, do you travel to all your setting locations to get a feel for the area, or do you choose story locations based on a place that you’re already familiar with?


It goes both ways—I’m sometimes inspired when visiting a location and I also seek out certain locales because they intrigue me, and I find a way to include them in the books. I travel to every possible location in my novels, as I feel it is the only way to properly capture the smells, tastes, textures, and essence of that particular area. I think of setting as an important character and want to give it the respect it deserves.

 

BJR: How do you get past writer’s block? 


I often write myself into corners, as I have complicated plots with many players. When I hit that immovable brick wall, I always go back to the theme of my books, which is family. I find my answers to the plot issues or stymied characters when I delve back into what motivates me to write—family and all the complicated issues inherent in our messy lives. Having a central theme to your work, or a “plot compass” makes one’s writing both easier and more unified and resonant.

 

BJR: When can fans expect your next novel?


I’m working on a book called THE PERFECT HOSTAGE that focuses on a new character who is a hostile-environment consultant, someone who guards journalists, celebrities, ambassadors, and other VIPs in hot zones. Hoping for a late 2020 or early 2021 release, and very excited about the story and character.

 

BJR: Where can your fans find you and follow?

My website is www.kjhowe.com, and I’m on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as K.J. Howe. I love hearing from readers, so I encourage people to drop me a line at kj@kjhowe.com Thanks for having me on—it has been a pleasure. And remember, Thea Paris is always there for you when you’re traversing the globe.

 

K.J. Howe is the author of:

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The Freedom Broker

Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Skyjack

Goodreads

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