The Strange Case of a Jekyll/Hyde, Musician/Novelist
Book-Signing and CD Release Party by Same Artist with Different Identities
Is it a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? One writes songs about life and love, while the other writes tales of murderous ghosts and, lately, genetic mutations that threaten the human race. How could the two possibly be reconciled into one personality?
Put away your straitjacket. John S. Howard and J. Stephen Howard are one and the same. It’s not a case of madness but more of artistic license, and the Owensboro native, who answers to both names, has simultaneously finished a CD and novel.
The CD, “Fragile Oasis,” has been nine years in the making. Therefore, it’s been the more dormant part of the artist’s identity. Besides the business of life getting in the way, Howard only recently acquired the studio equipment to self-produce the 12-song effort. Previous forays into the music business included contributing articles to “American Songwriter Magazine,” a song credit for independent movie “Venus on the Halfshell,” and a co-writing credit with Jimmy Borja on a song entitled “Bridge to Forever” for Sony Philippines artist, Ariel Rivera. Then, there was the 5-song EP, “This Game of Life,” produced by Guy Marshall in 2005.
Asked why it took so long to record a new CD, Howard said, “I never stopped playing and writing music. Then, when I got the right tools, it helped me explore old songs in new ways. I was inspired to produce arrangements including a wide range of instruments, from orchestral strings to hard rock lead guitar and even the accordion.”
“Fragile Oasis” is a pop/rock album that was influenced by classic bands and singers like the Beatles and John Mellancamp, along with modern sounds coming from the likes of The Killers and The Black Keys. It will be available on iTunes in December, 2014.
As for the “Hyde” part of the artist’s personality, J. Stephen Howard the novelist writes in the genres of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. Fear in Appleton, his first book, is a horror novel about a ghost who can find your deepest, darkest fears and make you face them. His second work, Frankenstein’s Confessional, is a collection of horror stories along with a novella that explore the concept of how people create their own monsters.
His latest novel, Fabled Circus, is a hybrid of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy, which is much like the characters. It’s set in the year 2082 when genetic modification has become all the rage for those who can afford it. Wealthy parents can now order up any kind of child they want and feel secure in knowing their child will have every advantage, won’t get certain diseases, and, heaven forbid, won’t be in any way deformed. This leads the protagonist’s father, who isn’t wealthy, to seek out the black market to ensure his son won’t have a condition like his, with his clubfoot. Although Teddy is born an apparently healthy baby, his different-colored eyes trigger the madness in his father. He just knows something’s terribly wrong with little Teddy that must be suppressed.
Unfortunately, it’s Teddy’s father’s madness that needs suppressing, and it leads to Teddy running from the horror scene that was his home. But the circus is not the new home he hoped it would be. The sinister underpinnings of Fabled Circus, responsible for genetic mutations like Chiron, a centaur, and Aello, a harpy, will draw Teddy into its tangled mystery. Once he learns the secret, he'll be fighting more than the ghost of his twisted father.
Asked about his inspiration for the novel, Howard said, “I wanted the main character to take us on his journey. That’s why the book is in present tense even though it’s set in the future. There’s an immediacy to his problems because they become the reader’s. Yet, it’s told in third person limited because Teddy is a twelve-year-old who can’t figure out what’s happening to him. So, as Teddy uncovers mysteries, we uncover them.”
Fabled Circus is the first in a series of books. A limited number of paperback copies will be available for purchase. The e-copy will be available by all e-book vendors, such as Amazon/Kindle in December, 2014.
Both John S. Howard and J. Stephen Howard will be appearing at The Crème Coffee House in Owensboro, Kentucky on Monday, December 22, from 7-8:30p.m. “They” will have copies for sale of the CD, “Fragile Oasis,” and the book, Fabled Circus. A reading as well as live performance of songs will precede the signing and meet-and-greet.
For news concerning the artist, visit: www.jstephenhoward.com
and www.johnshowardmusic.com (this site is under renovation; it will be up in December, 2014).