Philip Howells - storyteller
If you’ve stumbled upon this website by accident or coincidence, I should start by introducing myself. I’ve written professionally for much of my life; initially that meant writing text to promote the services of BOAC (later British Airways), the airline that was my first employer. After that I wrote video scripts commissioned from my company. After my father died in 1967 I realised how many questions I'd not asked him. With this in mind, when I retired from my video production career, my first literary project was an autobiography for my children and grandchildren. That eventually extended to almost 250,000 words. Compared to that, writing the novel that we're each supposed to have inside us seemed relatively less arduous. I’ve always been an avid reader. One of my earliest literary heroes was Paul Gallico whose collection of short stories remains one of my favourite books. On first reading it when I was 17, the book almost persuaded me to try another hobby, for Gallico believed it was difficult if not impossible to write about something one hadn't experienced. What have most 17 year olds experienced that's worth writing about? Fortunately other writers I admired included J R R Tolkien and Ray Bradbury whose work - fantasy and science fiction - obviously couldn't be based on lived experiences. The work of these authors and others, including Irwin Shaw and Sebastian Faulks, overcame the doubt sown by Paul Gallico and, though I would never claim comparison with such writers, I persisted with my ambition to write novels. A recurring comment by people who’ve read my books is that they’re very ‘filmic’. While that isn’t a quality I set out to achieve, given my previous work it isn’t entirely unsurprising. However, they remain novels - quite apart from anything else, it would be very costly to film in such a wide range of different locations. When I started writing novels I imposed two disciplines on myself that I've maintained ever since. The first is that I only write bad language when it is dialogue that serves to emphasise the character of the speaker. To my mind writers who use vulgarity as part of their narrative style demean our language and their art. Bad language is the haven of the uneducated or bone idle. Writers worth their salt should be able to express the most extreme emotions or situations without resorting to vulgarity. The second self-discipline is that I regard explicit sex scenes in writing just like such scenes in film or television - simple titillation. My readers are adults and I don't think they need a technical treatise on sexual technique or depravity. In other words when the action gets steamy, the pictures fade to black. I am fortunate that I am not writing to make a living. Earning money is nice but for me it's much more important that my readers are entertained, thrilled, amused and engaged by my stories. Let me know if you are. As much more famous writers than me have said, authors write to bring pleasure and enjoyment to their readers. Print versions of my books are always less than £10 or the equivalent in other currencies and once the launch is over, that price reduces further. Electronic versions of my work for Kindle or other e-readers are always less than £1 or free on subscription. I hope you enjoy reading them.