Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in America attracting millions of people from around the world. Like many of the Stars living here, LA too has its stage names: The City Of Angels, Tinsel Town, La La Land. A variety of people make their way to our city for a taste of the weather, the beaches, the celebrities, while many end up moving here carrying hopes in pursuit of their dreams.
I’ve had the pleasure of discovering many talented artists for over 10 years, including John Howard who has been living his dreams successfully as an actor, author & singer/songwriter. John Moved to LA to pursue music and acting. At the time, he was writing for “American Songwriter Magazine,” and shortly after he moved here, he accomplished getting a commercial agent. John recently accomplished writing a Novel & finishing a new album, and I wanted to know more while shining the spotlight on him, so I asked him if he could spare some time from his hectic schedule to do this interview:
Where are you from?
How long have you been living in LA?
You’ve been living in Los Angeles for many years, do you see yourself retiring here?
I do see myself retiring here. I’ve been married for eight years, and I have laid down roots, no doubt.
What do you love most about living in LA?
What I love most about living in Los Angeles is the diversity in the people, cultural activities, and the food. So, the diversity is most appealing to a boy who grew up in a great place that, nonetheless, didn’t have the worldview of the City of Angels.
Do you go by your real name or do you have stage names?
Singer/Songwriter’s name: John S. Howard
Author’s name: J. Stephen Howard
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing for at least 28 years. I wrote a fantasy/Sci-Fi novel in high school called, “Egnaro”. Did you notice it’s “orange” spelled backwards? My friend kept a notebook full of ideas and stories and said it was orange, or, basically, everything in the world. My novel was about a parallel universe that was the opposite of ours. Queen Eg threatened to take us over, which would mean our destruction since they were pure anti-matter.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Dan Brown come to mind. King is the undisputed master of horror, but I’ve always appreciated the fantasy aspects of his writing. I’ve always had a big imagination, and certainly as a kid, I preferred to live in pretend worlds, even if they were scary. Ray Bradbury is the king of fantastical ideas for me. I’m currently reading a compendium of his short stories, and each one has a delicious idea at its core. For example, “On the Orient, North,” a woman notices a ghastly figure on the train with her. It might be a snowman, as there are references to melting, and then it seems to be someone sick. By the end of the story, we know it’s a ghost, and one can interpret that the woman who saw it actually observed her own spectral self or some other helping her to cross over. We realize she’s dead at the end. I interpret the story as someone becoming comfortable with the idea of their own mortality. As for Dan Brown, he creates masterful puzzles that are thrilling to watch unravel. His meticulous attention to details reminds me I have my work cut out for me to create a vivid world.
What inspired you to write a Novel?
This goes back to what I said about Bradbury being the king of ideas and me wanting to exercise (or, perhaps, exorcise?) my imagination. I became intrigued by the fantasy world of authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and realized that books and pages are great ways to explore exciting ideas. My latest novel, Fabled Circus, is set in a future where designer babies are not only the norm, they’re expected. In such a place, you are pressured to be perfect. Science today is taking us into some interesting but also scary areas. Mapping the human genome isn’t a big deal. Cloning, even, is becoming accepted as a natural progression of our ability to manipulate genes. Now, imagine scientists being able to design not only perfectly healthy babies but also creations mixing human with animal DNA.
You are also a singer, songwriter, as well as a novelist? Was the transition difficult from writing songs to writing a Novel?
I’ve always done all the above. In high school and throughout college, I was in a band called “Mercenary” that then changed to “Green Phunque”. I was always the lyricist and would have these ideas I just had to put into songs. Going back to Ray Bradbury, one song during that time was about someone who had died but hadn’t come to terms with his new reality. Novels give authors the opportunity to fully explore their ideas. In songs, you have to get right to the point and also make sure the words rhyme a certain way and have a melodic quality to them. They require hooks, whereas novels require twists that further complicate and explain at the same time.
Did you also recently release an album?
Yes, I produced an album of songs I’d written dating back to 2005. I finally got the right studio equipment to do it all myself. It’s called “Fragile Oasis” and has some songs that are philosophical in nature.
How did you find the time to do an album & write an album at the same time?
I try to manage my days so I devote an equal amount of time to music and prose. That tends to keep things fresh for me. In fact, right now I’m working on two books simultaneously. I will write a page or two for a story for my next short stories compilation, and then I’ll turn my attention to writing pages for the sequel to Fabled Circus (Bountiful Harvest).
What was the inspiration behind your newest album?
The title song, “Fragile Oasis,” is about finding your happiness despite a discouraging, sometimes hostile world. As with everything in the past decade of my life, my wife has been my inspiration and my means of finding peace.
Where did you record it?
I recorded it at my studio. I got a Mac Pro desktop, Logic Pro X software, condenser microphone, and some M audio speakers. I love the freedom of recording when, where, and how I want to.
Where can we find your music & book?
You can find both on Amazon. Also, you can purchase my music in the iTunes and CD Baby stores. My book can be found on the sites for Barnes and Noble and other major retailers.
Please check out both of my websites for news of my latest works at these addresses:
For singer-songwriter, John S. Howard: www.johnshowardmusic.com
For author, J. Stephen Howard: www.jstephenhoward.com
Anything else you’d like to add?
Being a creative person has been my defining trait since I was a kid. I’ve always had the need to write songs and stories. I expect and hope that will be the
case for the rest of my life.