Howl Avery lives in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, US. Originally from the Western Mass area, Howl studied visual art with an intent to do photography while keeping creative writing on the side. In 2017, Howl stopped fighting the inevitable and fell back into writing romance, this time with the intent of being an author. When not writing, Howl enjoys reading, watching movies with friends and family, and snuggling with an opinionated tortie cat.
With the return of my Author Interviews, I had the pleasure of interviewing Howl Avery and what inspired Waves.
What inspired you to write this novel?
HA: A few things. Back in 2018, a selkie writing prompt was making the rounds and it occurred to me how few selkie stories I had read. At the time, I hadn’t seen any books with male selkies, either. So, I decided I would write what I wanted to read for NaNoWriMo 2018. After deciding I wanted a marine biologist as the love interest, his backstory came from more topics I thought should be written more (specifically dealing with anxiety and narcissism in a relationship). The final inspiration for Waves came from the setting in the book. I based the fictional setting off a mixture of towns on the Cape. The topic of how to address seal overpopulation got yanked from a headline debating the same problem at the Cape.
What is your writing process like?
HA: I’m a total pantser who writes daily. Generally, I know what I want to write, so I just write. Even when I have an idea of the plot, I always change my mind somewhere along the line when a better idea forms. I like doing character questionnaires to get to know the characters better and develop the story at the same time. I always make a playlist too, which helps form the idea. After a few drafts focusing on specific parts of the story, I have a finished product.
How do you approach writing your characters and bringing their relationships to life?
HA: I don’t consciously pick much about the characters myself. I’ll scroll photos for face inspiration and from there, the rest happens. They almost always get named the first name that comes to me, then from there I work on their attributes and quirks. When I’m writing, my internal monologue switches to their voice and I often practice reading the dialogue aloud to see if it sounds true to the character and their voice. For relationships, I put thought into how the dynamic should be, how the couple expresses love without saying the words, and take into consideration what their love language might be. Non-romantic relationships get similar attention since I prefer every main character to have at least one other relationship. Even if the best friend turns out to be a dog.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
HA: I went to parochial schools for thirteen years. Enough said.
What is the most challenging part of your artistic process?
HA: The biggest challenges come from myself. I like to give myself obscure challenges and experiment with my writing, even if it fails horribly (which it has sometimes). I had never written first person before writing Waves, and that was the challenge I set for myself. I like to think I’m constantly growing and changing, but also improving.
What do you hope readers take from this story?
HA: This story is more about reality than the paranormal despite the premise of finding a selkie. The main characters are soulmates, and while it’s a touch of the paranormal in the real world, having a healthy and functional relationship is not. Kai’s character has been called the perfect boyfriend, but that was entirely intentional. Everyone else got to make mistakes and bad decisions, but I wanted Kai to remain the shining example to contrast Thom, who is a textbook narcissist. Ezra is a bit in the middle, and his anxiety makes him do not so great things which he knows are wrong. I could’ve kept him a pathetic little bundle of nerves who never did anything out of fear or anger, but real anxiety doesn’t always work that way since it doesn’t simply mean being nervous.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
HA: Your writing is good enough. Stop treating your lifelong passion like a hobby and don’t bother having a more practical backup. You’re not going to end up doing those other things, anyway. Writing will be the only thing you want to do because it’s all you’ve ever wanted to do.
What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
HA: I can’t possibly pick one. Can’t do it. You can’t make me.
What would your advice be to any aspiring writers?
HA: Accept the first draft will be terrible. Really liberate yourself with the idea that no matter what you write this is not the final version anyway. Then have fun. All the errors are the next draft’s problem.
What are you writing next?
HA: I never write one thing at a time. In fact, I’m usually juggling multiple books in multiple series. Right now, I’m editing Devour, which will be the second book in the Inhuman Love Collection. Devour features a human studying to be a deacon who accidentally makes a marriage pact with a demon who eats the soul of anyone who breaks a promise to him. I plan to release Devour this fall.
The third book in the collection (which I never planned) is being written and features a gargoyle. The fourth and fifth book have also been drafted and started.
I also have a MMM zombie apocalypse romance that will likely become a duet, and I plan to release the first book next year. I also want to release sometime next year a MM+ rockstar romance, and I’m writing a second book for this series currently. And there’s even more projects I won’t mention since I’m not sure if or when those will be published.
A year after ending his engagement a mere two days before the wedding, Ezra has settled into his new life: documenting the local seal population, walking the beaches with his black lab, or having lunch with his one remaining friend. Life is simple, quiet, and predictable until the day Ezra befriends a man who walks right out of the sea.
Kai has been alone for a long time—a very, very long time. So much so, he can’t remember living as anything but a seal or caring about anyone human. Until one day, he meets someone amid the ocean who drives his urge to return to land again.
Waves is a low-angst MM paranormal romance featuring a selkie and human pairing.
Thank you again to Howl for a wonderful interview. Make sure to head over to this link for Howl Avery's socials, newsletter and everything book-related.