International and NYT best-selling author Anita Grace Howard lives in the Texas panhandle. She is most at home weaving the melancholy and macabre into settings and scenes, twisting the expected into the unexpected. She’s inspired by all things flawed, utilizing the complex loveliness of human conditions and raw emotions to give her characters life, then turning their world upside down so the reader’s blood will race.
Married and mother of two grown children (as well as surrogate mom to two Guinea pigs and two sweet cats), Anita divides her days between spending time with her family and plodding along or plotting on her next book.
When she’s not writing, Anita enjoys rollerblading, biking, snow skiing, gardening, and family vacations that at any given time might include an impromptu side trip to an 18th century graveyard or a condemned schoolhouse for photo ops.
Below is a collection of A.G.’s favorite questions and answers from assorted online interviews she’s done over the years. You’ll find a full list of the interviews/interviewers beneath the Q&A section.
What is your given name, when/where were you born, and where do you live now?
Anita Grace Howard. Born in Massachusetts on June 9th (I prefer to keep the year to myself), and now I live in Texas.
How long have you been writing, and what first inspired you?
As a teen, I wrote a few silly little stories. My dad actually threw them away accidentally a while back when cleaning out the attic, so they’re probably sitting in a landfill somewhere now, entertaining a rat or two. 😉 But, I started writing seriously in hopes to be published back in 2004. My grandfather died of cancer, and on the night of his death, I sat down and wrote a poem for him—my way of saying goodbye. It was a tribute to how his sharp wit and tender heart lived on in the lives of all of his grandkids. After reading it, my cousins were all so touched that they had the preacher use it as part of the eulogy. After that, poems just started pouring out of me. It’s like it opened a floodgate to a passion I didn’t even know existed. I went from poems to short stories, and then finally novels. So I’ve crammed a lot of writing in that small span of years.
Did any particular author influence your writing?
I had a lot of writing influences, but if I had to choose just one that impacted me the most it would be Christina Rossetti. I’d like to go back in time and just sit at her feet to drink in her brilliance. NO ONE could write description like her. She’s my literary crush (but if you happen to leak that to Neil Gaiman, I’ll swear that you’re lying and he’s my one true love).
What was the first book you ever wrote?
Well, I dabbled in a lot of “books” but the first one I ever finished (and finishing is the most important thing for a writer to do if they want to become a paid author) was called Infinity’s Pond. It’s a dark historical fantasy (set in the 1600’s) about a young woman in a Puritan society who discovers she’s descended from an ancient sect of elemental witches. I even won an award for the manuscript at a local writing conference. It’s actually meant to be a trilogy, and the second book is already written. Some day I hope to write the third and publish them all.
Could you share some details about your childhood/teen life?
There’s not a lot to tell about my childhood. I was born in Massachusetts, and then bounced around the U.S. as dictated by my fatherʼs Air Force career until the age of thirteen, when Amarillo, Texas became my permanent home. Since we moved around so much when I was smaller, it was difficult to make lasting friendships. So my constant companions became stories, books, and a vivid imagination. I believe that’s what inspired my unquenchable thirst for reading and storytelling. As for my teen years, I once wrote a Dear Teen Me article. You can read it here.
And how about a few details about your personal life today?
I have a daughter and son who’ve both graduated high school. My husband is a computer tech and is SO much smarter than I could ever dream of being. So he helps with my website when he has time. We have two sweet kitties, two adorable guinea pigs, and an humble flower garden. Gardening is kind of a challenge in the Texas Panhandle because it’s so dry and windy here; but I give it my best shot!
Did you have a job before becoming a career author?
Yes! When I was a teen I had lots of odd jobs. A waitress, a clothing store attendant, fast food, running rides and games at a local amusement park (to name a few). Then, as an adult, I worked until I wrote the book that finally got published. Before Splintered, I had written six books while working for eight years at a middle school as a library clerk. Once I wrote Splintered, which was my first book picked up for publication, my career took off and I became a full time author. I haven’t looked back since. 🙂
What five things would you like to accomplish in the next ten years?
1. Write and publish ten more books
2. Move into a house in the country or the mountains
3. Perfect my gardening skills
4. Make enough money for my husband to retire and play golf all day
5. See both of my kids graduate from college and/or have fulfilling careers that they love.
What is your advice to kids navigating snark-infested school waters?
The most important thing you’ll ever need, both in the teen world and the adult world, is a strong core of self-respect. Self-respect comes from knowing, accepting, and loving who you are. We’re all individuals. So how can someone else’s idea of normal be the same as yours? We have different gifts and beliefs that make us unique. Find what yours are and embrace them—nurture and grow them. Because if you’re true to yourself, even if you’re teased about it sometimes, you will find your own version of “normal.” And in turn, you’ll find your happiness.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Anything that had to do with horses. I was obsessed with them. Then later I wanted to be a fashion designer, which might explain why there’s so much attention to what everyone is wearing in my books. This guest post explains my love for fashion in more detail.
What’s your favorite style of fashion?
I’m drawn to all things old world, antique, or Victorian and lacy.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and why?
I would want the power to clone myself so I could put my other selves to work and give myself more time for fun things like roller blading, gardening, reading for pleasure, hanging with the family, and watching TV. 😉
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature (e.g., centaur, dragon, Medusa), and why?
Other than my twisted Wonderland characters, I’d choose unicorns. But I don’t see them as graceful creatures whose bones are fine and breakable like birds. In my mind, they have the size and musculature of Clydesdales. They’re large and powerful, yet quiet and wise. Introverted but observant. If necessary, they can be vicious, although to the pure of heart, they’re gentle and kind. They’re a study of contradictions, like all the best mythological beasts. Obviously, I hope to write about these creatures one day. 🙂
Which is your favorite season, and why?
Fall. I love Halloween (all the costumes and candy) and I also enjoy the cooler weather and the color of the leaves. Here in Texas, we have trees that change from green to red, orange, and gold. It’s beautiful!
What are you most afraid of?
Heights, spiders, and creepy dolls. I did a blog post about my fears here: Step into my nightmare.
What kind of music do you like?
My tastes are eclectic, but I’m usually drawn to a combination of alternative rock, experimental, and instrumental compositions. My favorite mood is melancholy.
Which is your favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving. I love the family time, the food, and the message of gratitude and peace behind the holiday.
What are your hobbies?
Reading, as you probably guessed. I also used to like sewing, and at one point wanted to be a fashion designer, but I don’t dabble in that much anymore. Now I rollerblade, garden, and explore old graveyards and abandoned buildings. Also, spending time with my family (husband, two kids, one dog and two guinea pigs). I sometimes like to cook (I even used to get paid for decorating cakes!), but when I’m too busy with book deadlines, I settle for eating instead. My two favorite foods are chocolate and pizza. ^.^
Are you a skateboarder?
No, but I’m an avid rollerblader. I love it, not only for the physical benefits, but for the mental ones, too. Yep, exercise builds up both the body and mind. I have proof! When a story that I’m writing gets difficult and writer’s block is looming, all I have to do is skate for about thirty minutes and the blood starts pumping … magically my mind is cleared. Nine times out of ten, the problem is solved and I pick up my story threads right where I left off.
What is your guilty pleasure? And what is something people wouldn’t guess about you?
Godiva Dark Chocolate. I eat one piece every day. And something no one would guess about me? I first learned to write through poetry. I even seriously considered writing for greeting cards for a while. I’ve written over two hundred poems. Though they helped shape the lyrical quality to my voice, they are all very personal and will likely never see the light of day. 😉
What’s one of your favorite movies?
My most favorites are The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, all of the Marvel movies, and Some Kind of Wonderful. But one of my lesser known favorites is The Fall. I’m a HUGE fan of brilliant/vivid cinematography, and this movie had it in spades. It also offered insight into the history of stuntmen and filmography in a very fascinating way. Not to mention, there was an incredible soundtrack. Candy for the mind, eyes, and ears.
Please share your favorite inspirational thought!
You always pass failure on the way to success.
Follow any of these links to read A.G.’s online interviews.
Official author interview with Splintered publisher, Amulet
QueryTracker Success Story: How I got my second agent.
Parenting to Publishing
My Submission Journey
The Splintery World of Wonderland
UK Author Interview
Five Frabjous Facts About Splintered
The Evolution of Splintered’s Cover
UK Interview: Splintered, from Conception to Manuscript
Getting My Debut On with Nikki at Fiction Freak
Real Life Isn’t Always Pretty, So Why Should Fairy Tales Be?
Interview on the Romanian blog: Whispers at Moonlight
Interview at Niahara’s World of Books
Interview with Amarillo Globe News
Interview with The Reading Cafe
How Splintered got its Name
My Writer’s Odyssey
Lucky 13s Interview
Jeanz Book Read-n-Review
The Enchanted Inkpot Interview
Fantasy Author Interview with Henry Herz
Top 5 Things Aspiring Authors Should Know
Advice for Writers / Interview for the Plainsmen Post (Frank Phillips College)
Dear Teen Me Interview
Songs that inspired scenes in Unhinged (All The Write Notes)
Splintered Series Interview w/The Notebook Sisters
Ensnared Interview with Serena Chase, USA Today
For more questions / answers, check out A.G. Howard’s Ask The Author page on GoodReads.
For tips on writing, or for an in-depth look at her personal writing journey, visit her Tips for Aspiring Writers and Newly Published Authors page.