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Joan Hall Hovey

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· The Deepest Dark (a novel of suspense)

· Defective

· The Abduction of Mary Rose

· Night Corridor

· Chill Waters

· Sorry Wrong Number (Audio Play/Drama)

· Nowhere to Hide

· Listen To The Shadows

· Joan Hall Hovey Interview by D.L. Browne

· May Agnes Fleming: 1840-1880

· Joan Hall Hovey on Writing and Other Passions!

· The Deepest Dark featured in 'The Big Thrill' magazine

· Defective

· 'Spotlight' on Kindleboards The Abduction of Mary Rose

· Booktown Book of the Month (April)

· Want an excerpt of your novel narrated by a Pro?

· My first Virtual Book Tour! Win these silver Dreamcatcher Earrings!

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Books by Joan Hall Hovey
Joan Hall Hovey’s Advice To Aspiring Novelists
By Joan Hall Hovey
Last edited: Monday, October 16, 2000
Posted: Tuesday, October 10, 2000

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Recent articles by
Joan Hall Hovey

• Joan Hall Hovey Interview by D.L. Browne
• May Agnes Fleming: 1840-1880
• Joan Hall Hovey on Writing and Other Passions!
           >> View all 4
Rage at her younger sister’s brutal murder has nearly consumed Ellen Morgan. 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 dares the killer to come out of hiding: “why don’t you come after me? I’ll be waiting for you!”
Suspense is her genre, and Joan Hall Hovey of Rothesay, New Brunswick, does it very well. In Nowhere to Hide, her second novel, re-released in June from, she hoped to once again find her way to the bestseller list as she did with last year’s runaway success, Listen To The Shadows.

“In Nowhere To Hide,” Joan reveals “I wanted to explore the relationship between siblings raised in very difficult circumstances. I wanted to explore the bond that so often forms between sisters and brothers in that sort of environment – sort of us against the world.”

Joan’s curiosity about people is usually what serves to fuel her imagination. “I do like to delve into relationships and the human condition,” she explains, “even though it is genre fiction. That’s what makes it interesting for me to write. I know if it doesn’t entertain me, it isn’t going to entertain someone else.”

Breathing life into characters is something that Joan certainly enjoys and she has dedicated a lifetime to her craft. “I’ve been writing all my life – since I learned the alphabet,” she smiles. “But the only time you think of yourself as a writer is when somebody publishes that first piece and you see your name on it. Before that, you’re just doing what comes naturally to you.” And what does it feel like to see that first article in print or to be recognized officially as a bona fide writer? “It’s like hitting a home run for someone who likes to play ball – or sometimes just a base hit,” she says. And Joan has definitely scored a home run, because despite her many years as a freelance writer, penning her first successful novel undoubtedly validates her in the eyes of many.

Her first novel was with her a long time – it was her baby. “It’s really hard to say how long it took me to write the first book. It was almost like a learning tool because I wrote it and re-wrote it so many times. The last final polished draft took perhaps two years. But I played with it off and on for such a long time, in between writing articles and short stories, but always going back and wanting to write a publishable, well-structured novel that would entertain people and have substance to it.”

As well, Joan defends those who write what many consider to be ‘pulp.’ “I notice so often writers will talk to me and they will kind of pooh pooh genre fiction in favor of the great Canadian novel,” she smiled. “Well, I wouldn’t want to count how many partial great novels are lying around in drawers that no one will ever read and most no one would ever want to read – because they are self-indulgent, written with the kind of pretensions that what I have to say is so profound that it’s just going to knock the literary world on its axis.

“But if you sit down to write an entertaining story and write it was well as you know how, there’s always an outside chance that at some point you might just create art. But if you intentionally set out to create great art, I don’t think it happens.

Anyone with a notion to write has usually been told he/she has talent. That is an excellent starting point, but unless it is coupled with hard work, chances are a writer won’t go very far. What I would say to someone who wanted to write, is that unless you really need to do it, don’t – it’s too hard. But if you do, then you must learn self-discipline. You must read everything in the genre in which you want to write – about everything else as well. You should have some grounding in the classics so that you know what went before you. Have a real respect for your craft.”

Respecting your craft means not ever taking what you do too lightly. You must believe in everything you create – otherwise, you will only convey disbelief. Says Joan, “If you think you’d like to write a romance – don’t think you can toss it off – there’s a grat deal of skill and talent to writing a romance or a mystery or science fiction or any other.” She pauses for a moment. “It does almost sadden me to hear, well, it’s just a this or a that. Because I know the hard work and the skill that have to go into a successful piece of work, whether it’s commercial fiction or not.”

A writer must have excellent communication skills, and that includes not trying to impress people with how many big words you know. Remember that even the simplest person can make himself understood. “It’s easy to write muddy obscure sentences – much harder to write clear sentences. You’re trying to communicate – that’s all writing in, and you’ve chosen to do it through a dramatic work. To communicate some of your feelings, your emotions and your ideas – to explore what interests you.”

Joan has enjoyed success on a smaller scale for quite some time, but when her big break came it was, to coin a familiar phrase, the thrill of a lifetime. “When the phone rang that day I knew who it was,” she laughs. “It was just that sixth sense. I knew the book was good and I knew they published by sort of book. She said, “this is Zebra Books calling” and I scramed and said, “you liked my book’ and she laughed and said yes. Not too cool, was I? Then I laughed and calmed down. It was so exciting and I went around with a grin on my face all day.”

There was no agent to act as a go-between for Joan. “No, nothing,” she confirms. “Just over the transom.” She knew, of course, that there was the risk of rejection. “There’s always a risk, but they’re in the business of publishing books and a dollar is the bottom line – will people buy this book? An editor generally reads at least the first couple of pages (if that) and it’s the writer’s responsibility – it’s their duty to hook the editor in that couple of pages. If you can’t, you’re not going to hook the reader either – the reader that you want to buy your books. Especially in that kind of book (suspense), it is not a slow leisurely kind of thing. You’ve got to get to the point, grab ‘em by the throat real quick.”

Also, a writer may struggle with what type of book to produce. What will the trend be in a year’s time when the work will finally be published? Joan points out that this is not the writer’s responsibility. “That way lies madness,” she maintains, “because there’s no way you can predict public taste. You need to write what is fun for you to write. What inspires you to write, what is exciting for you and if it’s a good book, a good story – someone will buy it. I’m firmly convinced of that.”

Joan has sandwiched her career with raising four children, and countless community projects including a stint as a teaching co-ordinator for Vietnamese and Laotian women and children. A love of drama and an amateur actress, this busy woman easily recognizes a major source of her strength – her husband Mel. Married for 47 years, (they met when she was 15 and he was 16), she says warmly, “he is extremely supportive. I couldn’t do what I do without him.”

"...Chilling! You won't be able to put this one down - Guaranteed!" Rendezvous Magazine

"...if you're looking for the thriller of the year, you will find it in Nowhere To Hide..." Jewel Dartt, Midnight Scribes Republished by, available at all bookstores, either on the shelves or by special order.


Reader Reviews for "Joan Hall Hovey’s Advice To Aspiring Novelists"

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Reviewed by Anne Edwards

Nowhere to Hide
by Joan Hall Hovey

Love the way this story begins. It isn't a book you want to read on a stormy night when you are home all alone and the house is creaking. Joan Hall Hovey has created an atmosphere of suspense and tension throughout the story. It preys on your nerves like a tuneless whistle, keeping you on edge, wanting to know and waiting to see what happens next. A real page turner.

The heroine is Ellen Harris who receives the most horrid Christmas gift of all--the news that her beautiful sister, Gail Morgan, has been murdered. She gathers her courage and offers the killer a challenge, a challenge he accepts with unforeseen consequences to both.

You will love to hate the twisted killer. He is almost beyond description, something the reader should be allowed to find out on their own. That's half the interest in the story--who the villain is, why he chooses his victims--his demonstration of his own brand of evil. He is the mean, sly natured boy you knew as a child--all grown up. And you'll also enjoy meeting his Aunt Mattie.

Set against the background of New York City and a small town in New York, the author has captured the flavor of life in both places, grounding the story in reality. This is a cleverly woven tale of suspense and surprising warmth of friendship. The characters are very human. Anyone who loves mysteries will really enjoy this one. It comes highly recommended by this reader and I look forward to Joan's next book.

Anne K. Edwards, author of "Death Comes Knocking"
reviewing for

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