Get to Know You Monday

I can't think of a better start to the week than a get to know you session with our authors.

Today we are getting to know
Joan Sowards

author of

Haunts Haven: An LDS Ghost Story and Chocolate Roses: An LDS Parody of Jane Eyre

Get to know you questions

1. What is your favorite food? Mexican

2. Do you prefer Chocolate or Vanilla Ice Cream? Chocolate

3. What is the strangest food you ever ate? Frog legs.

4. Do you have a life-changing book? The Book of Mormon of course would be first. Beyond the Darkness by Angie Fenimore. Her testimony and touching account of the afterlife had a powerful strengthening effect on my faith in God the Father and Jesus Christ.

5. What was your favorite picture book as a child? I don’t remember having a favorite picture book. My parents had bookshelves full of books, including encyclopedia, Life and National Geographic, the classics, and Josephus. They were both educators so there was never a shortage of books.

6. Where did you grow up? Mesa, Arizona. My great-great grandfathers came here in the early days when Brigham Young sent settlers in the 1870’s.

7. If you could go back in time, where would you go? I would visit ancestors. The first novel I wrote (many years ago) is a fictional account of a girl who went back to 1820 and visited her 4th great-grandmother.

8. What is your favorite kind of music? Rock music with a great melody and a singer with a straightforward voice like Karen Carpenter’s who sings so you can understand the words.

9. Do you have a favorite song? There are too many great ones to choose from. I want “I Write the Songs” sung at my funeral because it always brings tears to my eyes. I’d love to write songs that the whole world sings.

10. Do you like to sing? I love to sing and sang solos and in choirs for many years—BYU a cappella, ASU a cappella and the Tempe Institute’s Joyful Noise, AZ All State, and Arizona Deseret Choral.

11. Do you play a musical instrument? Yes. I play the flute, folk guitar, and piano.

12. What one place would you like to visit that you haven’t yet? Alaska

13. What is one of your favorite memory as an adult? Visiting Thailand (where my husband served his mission) and taking our five children, ages 19-10.

The Soward's Thailand adventure, 2000

14. What countries have you visited? The Scandinavia countries, Thailand, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Canada.

15. What is your favorite thing about yourself? My faith in Christ. I feel so privileged to be born into an LDS family so that I have the gospel in my life. I don’t know that I could have found it on my own.

16. When you have an hour of free time, what do you like to do? Family history.

17. What was a favorite childhood memory? When I was six, my dad worked in Duluth, Minnesota during the summer and took the whole family along. We rented a Jewish lady’s creaky old, three-story house that included a basement, an attic, balcony, and Jewish tokens in the doorframe. The LDS met in a small, converted home and we held primary in the basement. Being from the desert, living in Minnesota was an adventure with plush green growing everywhere, rain, lakes and rivers. What a treat!

18. What are your hobbies? Family history, writing, sewing, and composing music.

19. Are you a beach, country or city person? I love vacationing on the beach, (and going to the mountains to camp.) The desert is beautiful, but wouldn’t want to have to rough it here! I’d love to spend an entire summer in a house with an ocean view. The novel I’m currently working on is about a college grad who takes a summer journalist job in a coastal village in Oregon. I guess I’m living my dream by making the coast the setting for a novel.

20. What super-power would you most like to have, and why? To heal people physically and mentally.

21. What's your favorite thing to do on a Saturday night? Be with my husband, go to dinner, park under a full moon, watch a movie, and play Super Scrabble.

The Soward's family, 1995

The Soward's family, 2009

Why I Write

In 5th grade, I started writing a Nancy Drew wannabe novel. I had no plot planned, only characters, but I knew there should be a lot of weird happenings, ticking clocks, and hidden passageways. It came to a point when I knew the story was going nowhere. One day at school, I told the substitute teacher about my book. She must have had a vendetta against authors for she made some derogatory remarks aimed at them. I didn’t keep that story, but I wish I had so that today I’d have a sample of my first work. :-)

I’ve written songs and lyrics all my life and thought my talents were limited to singing and composing. Since the Nancy Drew incident, I hadn’t tried writing fiction again except that I made up stories on demand for my children. After my last child was born, I was very involved in family history research. I found a name of a woman whom I thought might be by ancestor, but couldn’t prove it. I continually felt prompted to sit down and write how an interview with her would go. When I finally gave in and started, the woman’s reaction surprised me. I kept writing until the story grew into a novel.

That experience opened up a whole new world. I learned I loved developing plots, characters, subplots, and everything about the craft of writing novels. I don’t have an agenda in my themes, just the desire to tell a story, something that might be pure enjoyment for readers.

It’s never too late to start writing. It’s never too late to discover new talents. I love the premise of the American Night Writers’ Association that we are daughters of God with talents that need to be discovered and developed, and as mothers, wives, and career women, our writing is often postponed until after everyone else has gone to bed.


  1. Loved getting to know more about Joan and about why she writes! I'm looking forward to "meeting" more authors through this Get to Know You Monday feature!

  2. I enjoyed the interview. Alaska is a great state to visit - when it isn't raining! I have been working on our families histories and I would LOVE to go back in time and visit some of my grandparents!

  3. Joan, I'm glad I got to know you better. Your stories sound wonderful, and I'll definitely get them for my Walnut Springs' collection!!