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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Behind the Scenes with Joan Hall Hovey - Author, Writing Instructor, and Voice Over pro

As well as penning suspense novels such as Night Corridor, Chill Waters, Nowhere to Hide and Listen to the Shadows, Joan Hall Hovey's articles and short stories have appeared in such diverse publications as The Reader, Atlantic Advocate, The Toronto Star, Mystery Scene, True Confessions, Home Life magazine, Seek and various other magazines and newspapers. Her short story, Dark Reunion was selected for the Anthology, Investigating Women, published by Simon & Pierre, edited by David Skene-Melvin.
Joan Hall Hovey is also a writing instructor, and a Voice Over pro, narrating books and scripts. She lives in New Brunswick, Canada.

Tell us about the genre of your work.
I enjoy writing suspense novels because it's an opportunity to explore the darker side of the human psyche.  But it's more than that.  Although my first job as a writer of suspense is to give my readers a roller-coaster ride.  I like to place my main character in a frightening situation. 
Why did you choose this genre?
I think it's more that the genre chose me.  I've always been drawn to the dark side of human nature, as I mentioned.  As a child, I saw every spooky movie there was – and devoured books by Edgar Allan Poe.  I also loved the gothic tales with the misty moors and cobwebby attics.  I used to love to frighten my school mates with my stories.  Nothing pleased me more than to see them all sitting stone-silent and wide-eyed as I wove out another chilling yarn.  It was a lot of fun, and a great way for a rather shy, nerdy little girl could get some attention.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
When I first began writing professionally, I wrote many stories for the confession magazines.  My articles and short stories were published in numerous magazines.  My short story Dark reunion was anthologized in 'Investigating Women'.
What is your newest book?
ISBN: Trade Paperback   978-1-926965-44-4
ISBN Ebook: 978-1-926965-45-1-9

At 17, Caroline Hill was torn from the boy she loved, by her tyrannical father.  She then loses her child, and finally she gains a grasp on reality.
After nine years in a mental institution, once call The Lunatic Asylum, she is released.  As she struggled to find her way in a world she no longer knows, she realizes she is being stalked by a man who hides his face and whispers her name.
 Now, after nine years in Bayshore mental institution, once called The Lunatic Asylum, Caroline is being released. There will be no one to meet her. Her parents who brought her here are dead.

The staff at Bayshore has found her a room in a rooming house, a job washing dishes in a restaurant. She will do fine, they said. But no one told her that women in St. Simeon are already dying at the hands of a vicious predator. One victim is an actress who previously lived in her building, and there were others.

And now, as Caroline struggles to survive on the outside, she realizes someone is stalking her. But who will believe her? She's a crazy woman after all.

Then, one cold winter's night on her way home from her job, a man follows and is about to assault her when a stranger intercedes.  It is a stranger who hides his face and whispers her name.

And some of your other books are?


ISBN: 9781452301365



Raised in an atmosphere of violence and unpredictability, Ellen and Gail Morgan have banded together, survivors of a booze-fertilized battleground, forming a fierce united front against an often cold and uncaring world. When their parents are killed
in a car crash, Ellen becomes the mother figure for Gail.

When fifteen years later Gail is brutally raped and murdered in her shabby New York basement apartment, practically on the eve of her big breakthrough as a singer, Ellen is inconsolable. Rage at her younger sister's murder has nearly consumed her. So when her work as a psychologist wins her an appearance on the evening news, Ellen seizes the moment. Staring straight into the camera, she challenges the killer to come out of hiding: "Why don't you come after me? I'll be waiting for you."

Phone calls flood the station, but all leads go nowhere. The police investigation seems doomed to failure. Then it happens: a note, written in red ink, slipped under the windshield wipers of her car, 'YOU'RE IT.' Ellen has stirred the monster in his lair … and the hunter has become the hunted!

"If you are looking for the suspense thriller of the year-look no further…you will find it in Nowhere To Hide..."Jewel Dartt Midnight Scribe Reviews

ISBN: 9781452344447


Following the breakup of her marriage, Rachael retreats to the old beach house in Jenny's Cove, where she once lived with her grandmother. It is the one place where she had always felt safe and loved. Devastated and lost, Rachael longs for the simplicity of her childhood.

But Jenny’s Cove has changed. From the moment of Rachael’s arrival, a man watches. He has already killed, and mercilessly will do so again. Soon Rachael becomes a target for a vicious predator whose own dark and twisted past forms a deadly bond between them that sets her on a collision course with a crazed killer.


"...Joan Hall Hovey is a female Stephen King... a stunning, multi-layered, modern-day gothic, told with the unforgettable style and grace of a true master of suspense..." Rendezvous Magazine


ISBN: 9781452301518


When artist Katie Summers emerged from a four-day coma, she remembered all too vividly the horror of that night - the terrifying dead eyes that had stared back at her in the rear view mirror, causing her to crash her car. But nobody believed her. Even the enigmatic and disturbingly attractive psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Shea, implied that she had made the whole thing up...or dreamed it.

Released from the hospital, still weak from her ordeal, Katie took a taxi to her remote farmhouse on Black Lake. Darkness had already fallen. There was only the wind in the trees to greet her...and the cold and empty house.

But the house was not quite empty. Something awaited her, upstairs in her bedroom. Something with cold, dead eyes...

"...a work so accomplished, so fluid and so suspenseful it is difficult to believe it really is a first novel!"-Felix Griffin - Rave Reviews, NY

My books are all available at and in trade paperback.  My website address is: , my Authors Page at Amazon is:
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

So much of writing is an intuitive process.  The places, no matter what fictional name I give them, are all based on where I grew up, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, situated along the north shore of the Bay of Fundy.  All my novels have water prominently featured because the water is part of who I am, it is in my bones.  Like the flora and fauna.  I know the people.  I know how they think.  What matters to them.

How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?

If I may just alter this question slightly, and tell you that the seeds for all my ideas are planted in my childhood, although they have nothing to do with me, or my childhood. Before I confuse you further, let me explain: For Caroline Hill in Night Corridor, it goes back to when I was 12 years old.  Every Sunday I went with my grandmother to visit her daughter (my aunt) in the mental institution, once called The Lunatic Asylum.  They said she was 'melancholy', which today means manic depressive. Or maybe she was bi-polar.  I never knew exactly.  But she spent a good deal of her life within those walls.  I can still see the shadow-bars from the windows stretched across the dark green floor.

The sights, the sounds, and the smell of that place crept inside my senses and never left.  I can recall them in an instant, can still feel myself sitting in that hard-backed chair, my grandmother silent beside me, wearing her little black hat, clutching her purse in her lap.  

What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?

There really isn't.  The bad guy comes from some deep, dark place inside me.  I've met him from time to time.  We all have our dark corners.  We know what jealousy is, hate, rage,'s all a matter of degree.
What’s your favorite thing about your book?
It's not any one favorite thing, but the whole of the work.  Does it hang together well? Are my characters believable?  Do they act according to their characters? Does the story come alive on the page?  Does it all come together in the end in a satisfying way?  So that while the reader is surprised, she always says to herself/or himself – of course.  It couldn't have ended in any other way.  You can't always know all the answers to these questions, at some point you have to send your 'baby' out there in the world.  But heart-warming reviews let me know that I've succeeded most of the time. -:)
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
Similar to any good novel, it's about character and writing well.  Suspense is different, in that, first and foremost, you owe the reader a fast, thrilling ride.  All good books have an element of suspense; the suspense novel must have by its very nature, much, much more.  Because the circumstances are out of the ordinary person's experience, everything else must be true to life, ground in reality.
Why and when did you begin writing?
I do think I was born with a love of story.  Just as I was born left-handed and blue-eyed, writing is part of who I am, how I express myself.  It's a way of making sense of my life.  I was always with my nose in a book as a child, and in school English was my strength, math my nemesis.  I loved composition, as we generally like what we're good at.  I read constantly, and it was a natural outcome that eventually I would feel a desire to write my own stories.  To hear with my inner-ear my own voice coming up off the page.
What is your writing schedule?
I usually write in the mornings.  That's when my mind is most clear, the earlier the better, somewhere in the grey zone between sleep and waking.  I try to work for two or three hours.  You can get quite a bit written in that time, if you show up at the desk every day.  After you write the book, of course then there's the editing and a hundred and one little things to do, related to the book.  Then you must promote your book so that people know it's out there.  Since I also work as a tutor for Winghill School of Writing, I'm always doing a balancing act.  But I love to write, and can't think of anything else I'd rather do.  I also enjoy helping other aspiring writers to make their own dream a reality.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I will be working on a new suspense novel as long as the good Lord allows me my faculties.  My next novel involves a woman in a nursing home, where people are old, often ill, and expected to die.  To one person who works there, some aren't dying fast enough.

What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write (especially mystery)?
My books aren't mystery novels in the usual context, which is whodunit, although there is a definite element of mystery in the books. They deal more with why? And how?  There is that ticking clock.  My novels are about women who, through no fault of their own, are thrust into terrifying circumstances. They used to be called women-in-jeopardy novels.  So, to answer your question, if a writer wants to work in this genre, it perhaps doubly important that your characters and their surroundings are real.  Write out of yourself.  Let the novel 'come to you'.  Don't try to force it.  Make lots of notes.  Write from inside yourself.  Make a connection with your character.  Get inside her skin much as an actor takes on the role of her character. Write! Write! Write! And Read! Read! Read!  There are no shortcuts.
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning write?
First, as I mentioned above, you must be a reader, but then if you want to be a writer you already are.  I know I've never known a successful writer who was not.  Acquire the habit of writing everyday.  It's the only way to get any real work done.  Stop talking about that story, and sit down and start writing it. That's the key.
By Stephen King's book 'On Writing'. It's one of the best books for writers out there. 
What do you do when you are not writing? 
I enjoy playing piano, though I'm not very good.  But I find it very relaxing.  I especially love the old standards like Fly Me To The Moon, I'm in the Mood for Love, As Time Goes by and so on. For me, it's some of the best music ever written.   I also like spending time with my wonderful, supportive family, and especially my little grandson, Liam who always makes me laugh.  Also love playing with my sweet dog, Scamp.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?

Probably with the sale of my first novel Listen to the Shadows to Kensington Books, NY.  When I received the phone call I was floating.  It was a dream come true.   But of course, I hadn't really made it at all, it was just the beginning.   That feeling probably lasted through a couple of signings and that was it.  -:)  But it was definitely a highlight. No high like that first acceptance. 

 Receiving the Eppie Award for Nowhere to Hide was another.  Receiving a grant from Canada Council based on my work, was gratifying.  But the best thing of all is when a reader tells me, 'Your darn book kept me up all night'.   That's always lovely, music to the author's ears and it's the reason you write the books.  At least that's true for me.

Thanks for listening to me.


CHILL WATERS:  ISBN: 9781450212717

NOWHERE TO HIDE:  ISBN: 9780595003662


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