AUTHOR: Richard Louden
BOOK TITLE: The Girl with the Haunting Smile
PUBLISHER: Can Write, Will Write, London
Tell me a little about your book. It's about Greg, a young Scot who for years worships Ellen, his American pen pal, from afar. Even when she vanishes, he never gives up hope and eventually flies to the US to hunt for her. But she doesn't know he has Tourette's Syndrome. If he finds her, will his romantic dream survive?
What gave you the idea for this particular story? In my work as an education director (school superintendent in the US), I met a number of young people with Tourette's and saw how maligned they often are. I wanted to play a part in making their condition better understood and accepted. I also knew that hardly any novels have a guy with Tourette's as their protagonist, so there was a genuine gap in the market.
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time? Nowadays, I only work part-time as a journalist, so time isn't a problem. I don't have a rigid routine, I write when the fancy takes me.
When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? I've always been fascinated by words, which isn't surprising, as I'm a linguist by profession. I started to write for my school magazine at the age of 13. From my early days at university, I wrote sketches for student revues and short stories for local radio.
What do you hope readers will take from your writing? Above all, I hope it will make them feel good. Though I've written about Tourette's on this occasion, I'm not a didactic author, I simply want to give enjoyment and fun. I can't write without humor, it's ingrained in me. For me, one of the attractions about the subject matter of this novel is that many people with Tourette's have a strong sense of humor which helps to sustain them.
Which genres do you write, which do you prefer, and why? The Girl with the Haunting Smile is best classified as contemporary fiction with a strong flavor of romance. My second novel, Spring Chicken, will be a feel-good story of an over-70 guy who refuses to await the grim reaper and sets out to live life to the utmost. I'm happy in any genre that allows me to write with humor.
What is the toughest part about being a writer and how do you get past it? For me, the toughest part is rite detailed plot lines and character backstories, so I don't do it. I think out an idea and a few key characters, then go with the flow. I know that would make some writers shudder but it has worked for me (so far!).
How much is your protagonist like you? How different? I suppose he is quite like me, especially in his sense of humor and love of writing, but I didn't plan it that way. He is very different from me in being uneasy in social settings (his Tourette's explains this), whereas I'm a gregarious beast.
What kind of research did you do for this type of story? Not much, as I already knew a lot about Tourette's and Wilmington, North Carolina, where a large chunk of the action takes place (my sister lives there).
Do writing violent or highly sexual scenes bother you? Why or why not? It wouldn't bother me but there are no violent scenes in my novel and the only sexual ones are comic and will offend nobody.
What about your book makes it special? It's my first novel and, as I said earlier, it's about a condition that is seldom covered in novels and is widely misunderstood.
What is your marketing plan? I'm active on social media, especially Twitter, Goodreads and World Literary Café. I hope to keep gaining valuable coverage on the blogs of lovely fellow writers like you. I'm currently on the hunt for authoritative reviews and have been promised two by Amazon top reviewers. It's a pretty sketchy plan, I know, but I'm a marketing newbie and I'm still learning.
What’s in the future for you? At the moment I'm coming towards the end of my second novel, Spring Chicken, though the title may change. After that, I think I may move into genre fiction, perhaps a crime or thriller series, as that is what most readers seem to want these days. I'll certainly continue writing, come what may. It's in the blood.
Greg Harris has been besotted since he was eight. As soon as the young Scot saw a photo of Ellen Fromm, a gorgeous ten-year-old from Wilmington, North Carolina, he was hooked by her soft, haunting smile.
He is devastated when, six years later, his beloved pen pal stops writing and vanishes. For many years he attempts to contact her but in vain. But he never forgets Ellen and clings to the dream that, one day, they will be together.
At last, at the age of thirty, he finds a letter Ellen once wrote to his late granddad. When she and Greg eventually meet, it says, she reckons she may fancy him in a big way. As this boost revives his mission in life, Greg flies out to Wilmington and hunts high and low for Ellen.
But a huge doubt lurks in his mind. He has Tourette's Syndrome and has never told Ellen about it. Even if he finds her, will his secret ruin his chance of happiness?