Today Barbara Howard is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Final Harvest, her first novel in the Finding Home mystery series.
Welcome, Barbara. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about your novel. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
Final Harvest is Book One of the 3-part Finding Home Mystery Series. It is about Traci Simmons who has been fired from another job and must decide if it’s time to give up her home and start fresh in another town. But, when her elderly neighbor dies mysteriously, she is pulled into leading a crusade to save the neighbor’s urban farm and find the killer. Through her new and unexpected relationship with these invisible people, Traci faces her own insecurities to learn what home really means. The story continues in the third and fourth books in the series as Traci and her boyfriend are the target of the killer’s revenge and they finally discover who has been behind all the terrible events.
Where did the idea for the mystery that is central to the story come from?
I was inspired by my observations and the people in the different cities and towns where I have lived and how they felt about family and community.
Is there a theme or subject that underlies the story? If so, what prompted you to write about it?
Yes, the backdrop to the story involves homelessness and coping with anxiety and how much strength it takes for some people to achieve what others may consider simple milestones in life. I think we could all be kinder.
How do you create your characters? Do you have favourite ones? If so, why are you partial to them?
My characters evolve as I throw them into conflict throughout the plot. Randall Wells is a favorite of mine because I am very protective of the important people in my life. By the third book in the series, Milo’s Journey, Jules is my favorite because her quiet presence she inspires Milo to make one of the biggest decisions in his life. The librarian is the true hero in Final Harvest, as many are in real life.
How do you bring to life the place you are writing about?
I have mental snapshots of towns where I’ve travelled, and I also have old photographs. I give names to all the streets, neighborhoods, stores, schools, etc. There are sounds, landmarks and landscapes that place the reader in the exact spot.
What research do you do to provide background information to help you write the novel?
I contact experts when developing characters; law enforcement, military vets, and sportsmen to help me along with sensitivity readers. I mentioned in book two, Charlotte’s Revenge that someone was holding a fish in a photo. I called a fisherman to ask about what type it should be. The conversation lasted over an hour. It’s a small detail but that didn’t matter. Accuracy is important to me.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about the book?
I hope you enjoy meeting Traci Simmons and the family she builds around her life. I think she’s pretty special.
Thanks for answering my questions, Barbara, and good luck with Final Harvest, the first book in the Finding Home Mystery series.
The novel is available online at Amazon
About Barbara Howard: Barbara is a “not-so-cozy” mystery and YA author of a dozen books, including her most recent trilogy, Finding Home Mystery Series; Final Harvest, Charlotte’s Revenge, and Milo’s Journey. She is a first-generation tech geek turned master gardener with a passion for fresh air, vegan cuisine, and tracing her roots. A big city girl with a small town heart, she returned to her family home in the Midwest after an extensive career as a Department of Defense Project Manager at the Pentagon and spends most of her time treasure hunting, spoiling her fur-babies, growing veggies, and raising chickens.