Behind the Book: Death at the Howard

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Behind the Book: Death at the Howard

Death At The Howard, the first Jake Katz novel, had its roots in my many visits to the Howard Theatre from the time of my arrival in DC in 1966 to attend George Washington University until the riots after Dr. King’s assassination in 1968. Although the Howard struggled to stay open afterwards, the destruction of 7th Street made it an inhospitable place for anyone to visit, especially a young white man trying to cope with the fear that replaced the joy he always felt there. Years later, when the experiences I had started to coalesce into a story, the Howard was just beginning to experience a renaissance. Developers began planning a new Howard for the 21st century at the same time I began to seek out and interview people who had been connected with the Theatre, as singers, dancers, patrons, police officers, hairdressers, restauranteurs, and their children. My meeting with Saleem Hylton and Jimi Dougans, who had both performed at the Howard as members of rival local singing groups, led me to become a member of the Howard Theatre Restoration Community Committee, where I had the great good fortune to meet and work with others who cherished – and shared – their memories of the theatre.

My wife Sandy and I attended the new Howard’s inaugural gala on April 12, 2012, where I was honored by a shout-out from the stage by Dr. Rodney Ellis, the Chairman of Howard Theatre Restoration, Inc.

From left to right, Dave Tevelin, Sandy Tevelin, Guitar Greg Gaskins, and Rev. Dr. Sandra Butler Truesdale at the Howard Theatre’s reopening gala.

From left to right, Dave Tevelin, Sandy Tevelin, Guitar Greg Gaskins, and Rev. Dr. Sandra Butler Truesdale at the Howard Theatre’s reopening gala.

That moment brought me almost full circle back to my nights at the Howard, but one thing still needed to be done – the publication of Death At The Howard. I managed to get a literary agent to represent me, which probably lowered the odds of getting published from a million to one to a thousand to one – but a thousand to one is still steep odds, and although I received a lot of kind words from a number of publishers, my agent couldn’t convince one to take me on.Encouraged by my agent, who gave me a big wow on the first chapter I showed her, I started writing Siege Of The Capital while was she was still trying to sell Death At The Howard. I’ll let you know how I wound up publishing them both on Amazon – and how easy Amazon makes it for authors to publish their works – in my next posts.

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