More about the Author
Edward Howers latest novel, Shadows
and Elephants was born out of his fascination with two historical figures, the famous
Russian-born mystic, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, and her partner, the American Civil
War veteran, Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, who was also a well-known journalist in New York
in the 1870s. But it wasnt in New York where Hower first encountered the
illustrious pair, but in Madras, India, where he was teaching on his second Fulbright
grant in the early 1990s.
Right around the corner from where he lived, he discovered by chance a 500-acre park which was the international headquarters of the Theosophical Society, an organization devoted to world peace and spiritual understanding. In the grand main building, among the palm and cashew trees, was an enormous marble statue of a buxom woman in Victorian dress and a muscular, full-bearded man who, according to Howers Indian guide, was a fellow American. "It turned out that these two had founded this arcane Society, which Id never heard of before. They were my neighbors," the author says, "so I had to find out what their story was."
For the next several years Hower researched the extraordinary history of the two explorers who founded the society in America and took its message to India, Ceylon, and eventually all over the globe. Their historyincluding its many scandals and public trialshas been told many times, but never as a novel. Once Hower started fictionalizing it, the characters took off on their own, and what resulted was a new story, based loosely on the flamboyant adventures of Blavatsky and Olcott, but with many added events and characters.
Hower says it was "by chance" that he discovered the inspirations for his novels characters, but it may be that fate was merely extending the pattern of his own life.
After graduating from Cornell University, the author spent three years teaching high school in East Africa. There he also became a regular performersinging Country-Western songs with his guitaron Voice of Kenya Televisions "Sunday Star-Time" program. In his spare time, he wrote his first novel, The New Life Hotel (Avon/Bard), which The New York Times praised as "A beautifully rendered story."
Back in America, Hower served as a high-ranking but silent spear-bearer for Cleopatras Egyptian army in 'Julio Caesare' at the New York City Center Opera Company. As history relates, his army lost, and the author, licking his wounds, took a safer job as a counselor in an upstate facility for juvenile delinquents. This experience led to another novel, Wolf Tickets (Viking), about which Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, William Kennedy, said, "Edward Hower is a writer of talent and substance."
The author explored his own privileged but troubled childhood in two novels, Night Train Blues and Queen of the Silver Dollar (both from Permanent Press), the latter set in an upscale mental hospital where torrid romances augmented therapy sessions. He also acquired a masters degree in Anthropology at UCLA and worked as a therapist at the Hollywood Free Clinic.
Hower first went to India on a Fulbright grant in 1986. During his first year, he collected folktales in rural villages near Jaipur, Rajasthan, and published the stories in The Pomegranate Princess (Wayne State University Press and Indian Illustrated Books). On subsequent visits to India, he wrote articles for The New York Times and Smithsonian. Over the years, his fiction has appeared in literary journals such as Transatlantic Review, Epoch and The Atlantic Monthly; his reviews in the book pages of newspapers such as The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, New York Newsday, The New York Times Book Review, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Miami Herald.
Edward Hower has lived in Ithaca, New York, with his wife, the novelist Alison Lurie, since 1975, and has two children by a previous marriage. He has often left home with his wife to travel and write while on fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, The New York State Council for the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center of Provincetown, Massachusetts. He has also taught Third World literature and English at Duke, University of North Carolina, Ithaca College, and Cornell, and given creative writing workshops in Britain, Greece, Trinidad, Nepal, and Sri Lanka as well as in several writers conferences and prisons in the United States.
In Shadows and Elephants, Edward Hower has created characters that appeal to his own love of exploration and adventure. The author is an engaging raconteur and is available for print and broadcast interviews.
Shadows and Elephants
PUB DATE: January, 2002
TRIM: 6 x 9
PRICE: $14.95 / Paperback Original