Chris Howard loves to create, primarily with words. As an army brat, he
grew up all over: Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Indiana, Presidio of San Francisco,
France, Germany, and Japan. His story "Hammers and Snails" was the amateur
division winner of the Heinlein Centennial Writing Contest. He is a writer who
also paints, working in pen and ink, watercolor, and digital formats. He has
settled in coastal New Hampshire with his wife and two wonderful kids. Chris
has blogged steadily since 2004, mostly on writing, art, Aristotle and
technology. Seaborn is his first novel. Read his blog
and Saltwater Witch: The Seaborn Web
Chris has many diverse interests and seems to have time for all of them, even
though he is a software engineer who frequently travels -- not to mention two
and a wife. He thanks his parents for his ability to juggle many balls at
one time. "My father's an engineer, a career US Army officer, who took us all
over the world to live. My mother was an actress (off Broadway), author,
journalist, artist, everything. Growing up, I never felt that any occupation,
study, or interest was off limits."
He created Kassandra, one of the two main protagonists of Seaborn, as a
teach his daughter Chloe how to write fiction. "We spent weeks in the winter of
2003-2004 doing story structure lessons, world-building exercises, character
development. Chloe asked me to teach her, and I said I'd give her everything I
know about writing. My son Christopher is more of the visual artist, graphic
novels, movies, and we'll see where he goes with that--someplace exciting, I'm
He does admit to running "in a state of perpetual tiredness, kept alive by
coffee" and that he and "couldn't do any of it without my wife, Alice."
Chris started writing Seaborn "thinking about the loss of control, the
freedom, and how awful that would be. I had already written about Kassandra, so
she came first, but Seaborn really began with me exploring the loss of freedom
in different forms. Corina Lairsey loses everything, all physical control to
someone--something--else who has moved in and taken over her body--and she has
to bargain, plead, calculate her way back to freedom. Kassandra has an entirely
different problem with autonomy. She has what appears to be all the power in
the world, but can't trust a single thought in her head, can't really be certain
that anything she does is her own will, or some other power inside her pulling
He wrote Seaborn's first three chapters, which ended up being chapters
through five. "then I wrote the ending, and outlined the middle. I had a lot of
characters, and many never made it into the story. Some of what ended up being
chapters of Seaborn's sequel, Sea Throne, were first part of
Seaborn, but it
didn't make sense to bring in characters that weren't really going to join the
main action in the first book. So, I cut those and moved them to next book.
Chris usually starts with an idea when he writes, not characters. "Characters
typically come out of the story as it's developing. I may start with a
character name, but not really fill in the spaces until I'm well into writing
He also paints and draws for each book.
some of Chris's art.) "I do a lot of character studies, scene
studies. I must have a couple hundred sketches, scribbles, full drawings,
watercolors, digital format works for Seaborn and Sea Throne--many
posted on my blog. I like to have the ending figured out--and even written to
some extant--before I can really get into the story. I need direction, some
point to aim for, a place to drive the characters toward. After that, it's all
writing, and I can usually put down a thousand words a day--easy. I just push
on through even when I'm not sure if it's working. I do a lot of re-reading. I
know the word is that writers shouldn't go back and read everything, but I do it
all the time, a hundred times, editing it at every pass. I think it works.
On the eve of his first novel's publication, Chris Howard has just completed a
short story and hs a couple of novel-length ideas "rolling along". One's
another Seaborn story, although not with Kassandra and the others. The one that
may get off the ground soonest is a YA about food, cooking, and magic."
Nine-cities -- Somewhere on the floor of the Atlantic.
Art by Chris Howard.