“Writing is something you either want to do, or you don’t want to. I have to write. It’s a passion, one that isn’t going away,” said Brian Howald, home in Morrisburg to discuss the launch of his new novel, Inside Looking Out.
Howald, a graduate of Morrisburg Public School, and, in 1982, Seaway District High School in Iroquois, talked about his writing career on October 31.
He originally studied broadcasting at Loyalist College, then lived for a time in Toronto, working for a casting/modeling agency and taking part in the Toronto music scene.
A move to Kingston in the late 80s led to work with Theatre 5, and some writing of music and film reviews for a small independent newspaper. He also took a full time writing course at St. Lawrence College, an option he found very valuable.
Eventually, however, Howald was drawn to writing full time. In 1993 he formed a company called Bookworm Literary Productions. For him, it was the best of both worlds; publishing books, with ample time to work on his own writing.
His first book, The Chopper of Lucy Electra, appeared in 1996.
It was “ a murder mystery which was set in both the Seaway of the 1950s, and partially in modern times.”
Other articles and books followed since Howald does not restrict his writing to one particular genre. What ever strikes him as interesting, with potential as story material, that is what he will write about.
His 2011 novel, Inside Looking Out, is being launched at Bookworm in Kingston on November 11. Inside Looking Out, is set in the very early years of World War II.
“I began exploring a lot of historical accounts of World War II, researching military engagements and doing a great deal of reading,” Howald said. “My story and characters grew out of this.”
Inside Looking Out follows two young men, one a civilian pilot contracted to the R.A.F., the other a soldier who did not make it out during the hurried evacuation of stranded British troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in early June of 1940.
The two men ultimately meet in a German prisoner-of-war camp, eventually taking part in a daring and desperate escape across occupied Europe to Denmark, and then Sweden.
“The characters of Pete and Terry came out of my research. They are as real as I could make them. For young men in their 20s war is a kind of ultimate adventure,” the author said.
Howald stresses that his German characters are not “stick figures. This is a time when the Germans are at their most triumphant. They expect to win the war. I would call this story a dramatic thriller in the old style meaning of the term.”
He did not deliberately set out to release the novel on Remembrance Day, but it is perhaps fitting that it will be available starting November 11.
Brian Howald is an old fashioned writer in one way.
“When I write, I use traditional, spiral notebooks and I write long hand,” he laughed. “I do not like the “box”, my word for the word processor. I have people who are much better at processing my work than I am.”
His preferred writing venue is also a little unusual.
“I am far more comfortable writing in restaurants and coffee shops,” he said. “I actually prefer the noise and music that forms the background in these places. I think I got used to that kind of ambiance when I was writing in Toronto.”
Howald is currently at work polishing a new novel called The Spot Marked X, also tied into events of World War II, which should be coming out in 2012.
In the meantime, he continues to devote himself to a challenging but ultimately rewarding career.
“Writing is not an easy choice in life. There are years spent writing a book, not to mention the endless editing and rewrites. But if this is what you love, you have to write,” he said.
Howald’s original novel Inside Looking Out should soon be available at the Seaway Pharmacy and the Basket Case, Morrisburg. Contact Brian Howald at firstname.lastname@example.org.