Meet Author Rachel Howzell

Posted on January 23, 2012


I was in a group on Facebook minding my own self’s business when a discussion about AA authors who write mystery, thrillers suspense and all that good stuff came up. Rachel Howzell was one of the authors recommended for me to read, so I figured I should look her up, interview her and check out her books. Soooo, please meet Rachel Howzell.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun? Videogames – I love them, in particular role-playing games. Right now, I’m playing Skyrim which is the BEST. RPG. EVER.

Reading. I’m a ‘book slut’ so I read practically everything – right now, I’m reading a Lab 157 (Plum Island and biowarfare), In the Garden of Beasts (Ambassador Dodd in Nazi Germany) and Before I Forget (Dad with Alzheimer’s and son travel cross-country). I tend towards darker material, stories that may not have happy endings and sweetness and light.

I love watching movies, especially favorites that I’ve seen over and over again. Like Jaws, Alien and The Lord of the Rings. Great characters, great writing, and Ilose myself in them.

When did you begin writing? I was a shy child and didn’t really share with anyone how I felt about things and kept all my angst and worry to myself. And then, my GAT (Gifted and Talented) teacher Ms. Anderson bought me a fabric-covered journal when I was in third grade. And that was that. I haven’t stopped writing since. My first story was called “Blue Monday” and I still have it! I was telling dark, sad stories even as a third-grader.

Tell us about your latest book? Three weeks out of cancer surgery, crime reporter Syeeda McKay is in the pursuit of Los Angeles’s most active serial killer. Over the last twenty years, the Phantom Slayer has hunted African-American prostitutes working in one of the worst parts of South Los Angeles, killing eight victims in the alleys off Western Avenue, and then disappearing into the shadows. But Syeeda doesn’t know that the killer has turned his sights on her.

Detective Adam Sherwood, a hotshot investigator with the Robbery-Homicide Division of the LAPD, has been handed the Phantom Slayer cases, and together, he and Syeeda must figure out who is doing the killing . . . before Syeeda becomes his next victim.

Tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your latest book? The story was inspired by the Grim Sleeper murder cases – unfortunately, it is not aunique tale: Evil men hunting the most vulnerable in dark places. Also, much of Syeeda’s experiences with her friends come from my own experiences – sorority life, child of The Church, martinis, men problems, decades old grudges, flat-irons burning your ear… I put a lot of myself into the characters I write about.

The title “No One Knows You’re Here” came out of my learning about the real Grim Sleeper murder case in which the suspect killed prostitutes. In the real case, no one knew these murders were occurring until a reporter broke the story – like twenty years after the first murder. The case didn’t get much attention – from the national media, from the LAPD – since these women were on the margins of society.

In my story, the victims are also prostitutes and so again, ‘no one knows you’re here.’ But the title also relates even to Syeeda, who goes in between worlds, and to women of color, who tend to be ignored when they disappear or die.

Where can readers purchase your latest book? Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes

What other titles have you written? My first novel was A Quiet Storm and was published by Scribner. It received great reviews including those from Publishers Weekly and Oprah Magazine. It’s paperback and can be purchased on Amazon.

My second novel is The View from Here and it’s my first digital-only title. The View from Here focuses on the beauties and hardships of marriage; the betrayals and promises made between husbands and wives; and the grief of one woman haunted by secrets. Nicole Baxter has always tried to control every element of her life, but that control is slipping away. She has issues. Abandonment issues. Marital issues. Conception issues. And she thinks her house in the hills is haunted. It doesn’t help that her husband Truman spleunks and climbs, making her worry more with each adventure he takes. As the two grow apart, Nicole makes decisions that may ultimately shatter her fragile marriage.

Her life changes on the afternoon she receives a phone call from the harbor. During a scuba dive, Truman disappears. No one — not his diving instructor, not the Coast Guard — can find him. Is he still alive? Or is grief making her believe the impossible?


What do you find to be the best and worst part of being an author? Believing that your work is good. That cliché about being unable to see the forest because of the trees? Yeah, that’s writing. You’re in there every day, writing and thinking that your words suck and that you’re a fraud and realizing that you’re not a good plotter but do great character development and dwelling upon your shortcomings and on and on… Add to this that you’re reading (or have read) great books by incredible authors and your work will never, ever, ever be that good. Just put down the pen and find something else to do. But writing is what you do so you go on, hoping somehow that it will all work out.

What do you have on the burner for the next year?

Right now, I’m working on another LOLA (Ladies of Los Angeles) mystery titled A Girl is Like a Shadow. This one is from the point-of-view of Syeeda’s cop friend Elouise Norton. ‘Lou’ finds a dead girl hanging in a closet. On first glance, this seems to be a suicide but is it…?

How can readers reach you?

Please visit my blog Writing in My Car Also visit the Facebook page for No One Knows You’re Here. And follow me on Twitter @RachelHowzell.

Dee Here: Thanks, Rachel, for taking time out of your day to visit with us. I truly appreciate it.