. . . . . Meredith knows three things: First, the man in the library begged her to help him. Second, he was afraid of his wife. Third, now he’s dead.
. . . . . While the evidence first points to a natural death, Meredith is certain there’s more to discover. People are tight-lipped in this small mountain village, and the man’s wife isn't talking either. Then a second death occurs, with remarkable similarities. It’s time to talk about murder.
. . . . . .As a slow-burning relationship heats up in her own life, Meredith struggles with concepts of love and hate, belief and suspicion, and absolution and guilt. Nothing is clear cut. She must decide: Is guilt, like evil, something you can choose to believe in?
Wild Women Authors is pleased to welcome Julie Howard, author of Crime Times Two, book 2 in the Wild Crime series. She's brought local county sheriff Curtis Barnaby for company.
Hi everyone. I’m Curtis Barnaby. Thank you, Kat, for having me here today. I’ve never been interviewed before so I’m a little nervous.
Don't worry, Curt. We don't bite. Often. Where are you from? Born and raised in Hay City, Idaho. Population 62, for those who’ve never visited.
Tell us a bit about Crime Times Two . The book follows a couple of mysterious deaths in a nearby mountain town called Twin Lakes. All evidence points to natural deaths, but Meredith – have you met Meredith Lowe? – is certain it’s a case of murder. I get pretty concerned about her because her husband was murdered in the first book, Crime and Paradise. She’s still recovering from that mess and might not be in the most rational state of mind. The case draws us closer together. Much closer.
Much closer, you say. What did you think the first time you saw Meredith Lowe? What a beauty! I think I embarrassed myself, but honestly can’t recall much of what I said. She must have thought I was a country bumpkin.
Maybe, maybe not. What was your second thought? That she was troubled about something. There was a sadness in her eyes as though life hadn’t been kind to her. Maybe I have a hero complex, but I wanted to comfort her from the very beginning.
Did you feel it was love at first sight? The first time we met, we literally bumped into each other in the grocery store and her children were with her. I felt drawn to her, but I’m not the kind of guy who moves in on another man’s wife. Later, though…
There's always a 'later'. What do you like most about her? Her inner strength and her devotion to her children. The more I learned about who she was and where she came from, the more impressed I became. Her beauty isn’t just on the outside and that’s important to me. She may be a bit on the stubborn side, but I suppose I am, too.
How would you describe Meredith? I’m not good at describing women, but here goes. Meredith has almond-colored hair that shimmers in the light, enticing gray-green eyes I could stare at forever, and a body that’s both firm and soft at the same time. She has a mix of innocence, strength and intuition – a depth to her I’m still exploring. Most of all, she’s kind and generous. Isn’t that the type of person you want most in your life?
How would she describe you? Do you think you could ask her?
Good recovery, Curt. What made you choose law enforcement for a career? My grandfather was county sheriff for forty years. He was my role model and best friend. He taught me so much – from fly fishing to the importance of building one’s community. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up, and I’m still trying.
What is your biggest fear? That Meredith will give up on Hay City and move away. Her husband was murdered here and some people still believe she did it. They don’t let her forget about his murder, either. I’m not sure what I would do if she left.
How do you relax? Fly fishing, building things, anything outdoors. I built my own house, and designed it too. I have an idea for another big project, but I’m not ready to talk about it yet.
Who is your favorite fictional character? Huck Finn. My grandfather used to tell me stories about him when I was little and I thought he was a real person for the longest time.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received? “Do unto others.” Still the best advice around.
Thanks, Curtis. It's been nice getting to know you off the page as well as on. Now, we'd like to chat with Julie.
What movies or books have had an impact on your career as a writer?
Anything by John Steinbeck, James Michener, Amy Tan and David Mitchell. They are great storytellers and their books transport me effortlessly into another world. My list of great authors keeps growing though. I’m always finding new ones and am so grateful there are people who love to weave stories as much as I do. My reading list is a mile long!
What event in your private life were you able to bring to this story and how do you feel it impacted the novel? I wasn’t prepared for the culture shock of moving from a very urban area of California to the considerably more rural Idaho. We moved to Boise, which is in the state’s largest metro area, but I couldn’t stop imagining what it must be like to live in the more remote reaches of the state. We’ve explored the state quite a bit and there are some pretty hidden areas where people get snowed in for months during the winter.
The idea for Wild Crime came to me almost immediately as I realized how vulnerable a woman could be if she lived out there and her marriage was violent and controlling. I set the book in a rural area where my main character would be isolated and then set the plot into motion.
And it worked for us as a reader. Tell us a bit about your publisher: how did you hear about them and what influenced your decision to submit to them? The Wild Rose Press is listed as a small publisher but they have more than a thousand books in their catalog. They are consistently rated one of the top small publishers out there and I’m so happy to have two books with them. A friend told me her goal was to be published by them, and encouraged me to send my manuscript in. I cried when they accepted my first book.
What books currently rest on your TBR pile? There are some interesting books out this fall that I can’t wait to read. Here’s my shortlist. “Unsheltered” by Barbara Kingsolver, “Melmouth” by Sarah Perry, “She Would Be King” by Wayetu Moore, and “The Kinship of Secrets” by Eugenia Kim. I expect I’ll get sidelined by a dozen other books along the way.Lastly, what's up next and when can we expect to see it on the shelves? Two projects are moving full steam ahead. A paranormal mystery should come out next summer. I’m also working on the third and final book in my Wild Crime series, also titled Wild Crime, which (fingers crossed) I hope to see published in late 2019 or early 2020. I even have my next series mapped out – a crime/romance (is that even a genre?) – but it’s way too early to talk about that one. I have projects that’ll take me easily a decade to finish and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.
Julie brought along an excerpt from “Crime Times Two”:
Jowls quivered under the man’s weak chin, and Meredith noted the stained and frayed shirt of someone who spent a lot of time alone in dark rooms, sending out a better version of himself into the virtual world. His eyes were anxious and beseeching at her as though she should have a clear understanding of him and his life.
Somehow, over the past hour and a half they’d been sitting next to each other – him playing video games and sharing his life story and her ignoring him the best she could – she had become his confessor and friend.
Meredith gave him what she hoped was an impartial-though-quasi-friendly smile. She reached for her purse and papers and rose from her chair. “Well. Nice talking with you.”
The man was lost in his own train of thought and seemed only slightly aware that Meredith was leaving.
He shook his head, morose.
“To make a long story short,” he summed up, “I think my wife is trying to kill me.”
To learn more about Julie Howard and the stories she creates, go to:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07D6CS4NQ (author page)
To purchase Crime Times Two, go to: https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com
To read a review of Crime Times Two, go to: www.WildWomenReviews.blogspot.com