Friday, February 10, 2012

Howard McEwen - Wrath

Our special guest today is Howard McEwen, promoting his book Wrath - the life and assassination of a United States Governer.

How old are you?

Where do you currently live?
Bellevue, Kentucky, USA!

Tell us a little bit about your life.
I'm a married father of two daughters. I work as an investment advisor.

When did you first start writing?
Probably a few minutes after I first started reading. Writing is part therapy, part hobby and part money maker.

What was your very first story about?
I remember it was a fantasy piece about a kid going into another world somehow. There were friends made and battles fought. I remember one character always called him 'pond scum'. Not sure where that came from or why it sticks with me.

Have you written anything that you were too afraid to let anyone read?
As a writer I not only wonder if people will see them or me in the story but if they'll read in anything into it that I didn't intend to put into the story….at least consciously.

Did you experience anything you’ve written yourself?
With my novel Wrath - the life and assassination of a United States Governor there is no direct experiences put into the novel. It is set in the 1890s. But especially in the family situations there are things that struck close to home.

Who are several of your greatest literary inspirations?
Edgar Rice Burroughs on how to keep a story moving. Hemingway on the economy of words. I've recently been turned on to P.G. Wodehouse. He has a lot to teach about writing - dialogue and plotting especially. I believe Booth Tarkington is the best at showing insight into characters and culture.

What kind of education have you received, and how has that affected your writing?
I majored in Finance and Accounting in college. I tried to be an English major but I didn't appreciate the people or what was being taught. They seem to teach you to write for other writers.

How much research time customarily goes into your projects?
Not too much. While I want to get the history right I'll sacrifice accuracy for story any day of the week.

Tell us about your featured book.
Wrath - the life and assassination of a United States Governor is the story of William Goebel who was elected Governor of Kentucky in 1899. Shortly thereafter he was assassinated. He is a complicated man and a divisive figure in U.S. history - and mostly forgotten.

Why did you write that?
I came across a short, 30 year old biography of William Goebel in the library. I sat down and read it straight through. It was a wonderful story but told in a flat, matter-of-fact way. For example, in 1895 Goebel shot a man in broad daylight standing next to the attorney general of Kentucky. Four years later he's elected governor. That's an incredible story but the 1895 murder is told in a casual way. There was so much drama that was passed up. My novel is a fictionalized account. While fictional I believe it communicates the passion of the times better than a dusty fact-based account.

Where is the one place you’ve traveled where you’ve felt most like you fit in?
My father was from Detroit, my mother from Charleston and we moved a bit during my childhood. I've never felt at home anywhere. I think that's given me the ability to see things as an outsider. Much in the same way that so many of our U.S. comedians are Canadian or Jewish. There's something insightful about being an outsider.

What activity or hobby, besides writing, do you find most enjoyable?
Reading. Watching a good, well-written TV program.

What was your favorite childhood toy?
A plush pillow shaped and colored like Richard Petty's car.

What is your most valued personal possession in life? Who gave it to you?
I don't really have one. However, I carry with me every day, every where I go a pocket knife and a lighter. You never know when you'll need those….

If you lost the ability to see every color but one, which one would it be?
Red. I'd like to see sirens if I'm being chased by the cops.

How do you treat people you’re not fond of?
Rather roughly. I've been told I'm a bit rude.

What is hiding in your closet as we speak?
Pants that I've grown too fat to wear.

What do you see as your greatest achievement?
I won an attractive wife, I fathered two children and have stayed around to raise them. I became a Chartered Financial Analyst and wrote a novel. Oh, and I've never been late on my mortgage. Those sound like pretty good achievements. Not sure which is greatest.

What, to you, is absolutely wrong?
Forcing or being forced to do anything. I touch on this is Wrath. I'm a Libertarian, freedom loving type of guy.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
This is a thing I've thought about. Pretty much all advice I have been given has been bad. The advice I give my kids is to ignore all advice and do what they think is right.

If you had to explain the concept of “love” to someone who’s never heard of it before, how would you?
Dedicating yourself to someone else's growth.

What about “hate?”
Wishing that person's existence terminated.

What do you classify as an “Adventure?”
Walking out the door not sure what I'm going to do that day.

If you could learn one new thing instantly, what would it be?
Play the piano.

Finish this sentence. “I sometimes find it hard to…”
Not hit people.

Who is your most favorite literary character?
Frodo Baggins.

Who is your favorite character of your own creation?
From my novel Wrath - the mountain man. He is the mirror image of Gov. William Goebel. He's not given a name. In my book he is Goebel's assassin.

If you were ever to write an autobiography, what would its title be?
I Told You So.

Our thanks to Howard for taking the time to be with us. His book can be found in paperback and ebook formats. Give it a look below.

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