Howard Whitehouse - Author

Howard Whitehouse

Howard Whitehouse was born in Birmingham, England, on April 13, 1958. He began school, as many children do, and didn't much like it. They made him keep going, though, and after a mere four or five years settled in and got good marks. He enjoyed creative writing (they didn't call it that) and was a master of the three-to-four page adventure story, by and for nine year olds. In fact, he couldn't write anything else, and even when the assignment was to write a Christmas scene, there would at least be some villains lurking behind Santa's sleigh.

As punishment for being the brightest kid in his class, young Whitehouse won a scholarship to King Edward VI School, which had been founded in 1552, and kept the same staff since that time. JRR Tolkien (the writer of The Lord of the Rings had been there as a boy, but he'd left long before Howard got there.

Howard received his Bachelor of Arts in History at the University of Warwick. After graduating in 1981, he took a job working with kids in trouble, most of it of their own making. Since Howard found these kids --- mostly teenagers --- immensely entertaining, this became his career for 18 years. He met and married Lori, and moved to Savannah, Georgia. Since that time the happy couple have lived in Georgia, Toronto and most recently New York's Hudson Valley. Lori is an ordained minister and church historian, with a Ph.D. from The University of Toronto. They share a 1900-era manse opposite the church, while Howard clutters up the place with model soldiers, miniature buildings and himself. Ursula the tabby cat supervises his efforts.

Birmingham, in England.

April 13, 1958.

Where do you currently live?
Rockland County, New York.

Do you have any pets?
Three spoiled cats, one of whom is on my lap as I type. Ursula, Cameo and Elmore.

What is your favorite book?
The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse.

What is your favorite movie?
Multiple Tie: Zulu, The Princess Bride, The Big Sleep, Casablanca, This is Spinal

What are your hobbies?
Painting and playing games with model soldiers. Playing guitar and harmonica. Eating strange food.

When did you start writing?
My first fiction dates from when I was about six. It may have involved teddy bears in a
western adventure fighting the Sioux. I doubt it is publishable.

What was your schooling or training?
I attended an ancient boys' school much like the one in my novel. After that I got a Bachelor of Arts in history.

How did you get involved in children's books?
A children's librarian friend suggested I have a go at it. At least, I think she did.

What is your favorite thing about writing books for children?
I get to play with my inner twelve year old. He's a lot of fun to be with.

How do you create your stories?
Mostly I just sit down and start tapping away; I don't usually know what's going to happen too far in advance. If there's something I need to look up, I may run onward and come back to it later, hoping there's nothing I'll have to alter. My first drafts are pretty complete, though a bit flabby in the language department.

Do you have any special secrets or insights about one of your books or characters?
Lal Singh is James Bond crossed with Jeeves, in a turban.

Do you have any tips for young creators?
Invent some characters you'll enjoy spending time with. Have a good idea what they'll do in any situation. Everything else follows from that.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
When I was 12 my family were on holiday in Cornwall. We decided to walk to the site of a Bronze Age settlement, which was two miles away according to the road sign. So we walked and walked. My mother and sister falling further and further behind my dad and I. When we'd walked forever, we came across another sign which told us that the settlement was, in fact, two miles away. Cue family mutiny. But we walked on, and on, and came to this amazing circle of ancient stones in a farmer's field. It was magical. (Of course, it was so isolated we were forced to live there until I grew up.)

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A Royal Marine Commando. I now recognize I'd have made a terrible commando.

Where do you currently work?
In my spare bedroom, or the basement, or on the porch in nice weather. I paint model soldiers and make miniature scenery for a living. It's my own business. There's no money in it, but the boss is great.

What is the weirdest or most interesting job you have ever had?
I taught ropes courses to kids for a while. It's amazing how people will take tremendous care when they are thirty feet in the air, but will break their ankle when they fall off a tree stump.