This is an interview I did about year ago about the writing I’ve been doing for over 10 years. It was a very good interview, so I thought it would be cool to post it here for everyone to enjoy.
P. J. Lowry
Today in the Author Spotlight HypGothic is speaking with P. J. Lowry. Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for Booknet’s Author Spotlight.
1. Can you tell us what prompted you to first start writing and when did you begin your publishing journey?
To be perfectly honest, writing is something I’ve always wanted to do. Since I was very young, telling stories was something that I enjoyed doing. Whether it was a joke during recess or a spooky story around a campfire, I had a talent for weaving together a good fable, and knew this was something I wanted to continue doing for a very long time. As for my publishing journey, that actually started during my university years. The first thing I self published was a small poetry book titled Recurring Dream. It was a small book of mixed poems that I had written the previous year and it was a pretty decent. A few years after that I self published my first novel, which was titled The Manifest, which was a political thriller. Once those two books were out there, there really hasn’t been any slowing me down since.
2. How did you find booknet and what appealed to you to give us a go?
I have a pretty decent following online, and I get a ton of messages from sites and users of other websites, asking me to try other forums. When I check out a new site, I always keep an open mind because I’m always on the lookout for new outlets to share my work. I gave booknet a chance, and haven’t been disappointed since. I really like the site and am happy with the numbers I am getting thus far.
3. What are your early writing inspirations? Was it a book, author or teacher perhaps?
When I was in grade four, we had a teacher that went out of his way to encourage creative writing, and we wrote a handful of short stories that year. That was my first real dive into writing and I rather enjoyed it. A lot of my teachers growing up where big supporters as I grew up, never letting me think that being a novelist was a bad idea or was something I couldn’t attain if I put the work in. Another early inspiration was the novelist Clive Cussler, who recently passed away. Both of my parents are dedicated readers, and Cussler was my Dad’s favorite writer so we had an entire shelf dedicated to Cussler’s works. I remember reading some of those amazing manuscripts, and on the back of every hardcover there was a picture of Cussler sitting on or standing beside a vintage car that looked more expensive than a house. I thought that was very cool at the time, and it made me believe that writing was possibly something I could make a career out of it I put my mind to it like my teachers had suggested.
4. In total, how many stories to you have and how many more projects to you have waiting for you to complete?
Whenever an idea pops into my head, I drop whatever I’m doing and bolt to the computer to write it down as soon as possible. Some ideas develop into books, some of them don’t age well and get archived. I have four folders deep within my PC: Under Development, In the Process of Writing, Finished Projects and Archived Ideas. Under development means that I have a basic synopsis, character ideas, and notes written down but I haven’t starting writing any chapters… yet. In the process of writing means that there are at least two chapters written and the project in question is off to a decent start. Finished projects is pretty self explanatory, and archived ideas means that I no longer like the idea or have lost interest in the project. Sometimes someone else has already cashed in the idea and the “you snooze, you lose” rule goes into effect. As of this moment I have 48 ideas that are in development, 35 projects that are in the process of being written, and 25 stories that have been archived. That doesn’t even include the work I’m doing for River Comics, the non-fiction manuscripts, and collections of poetry that I’m currently working on as well.
5. When did you first call yourself and author and how did that feel?
I’ve always considered myself a writer, but the author part came when I met Peter S. Beagle, the bloke who wrote an amazing little novel called “The Last Unicorn”. During a Q & A session that I was attending, someone in the crowd asked Beagle if he had any advice he could pass along to any aspiring authors. His answer was quite amazing and I’d like to share it with everyone here on Booknet. Beagle told us that he hated the term aspiring, and that if you had taken that time to write something, then you are an author, period. It doesn’t matter if you’re published or not. If you write, then you’re a writer and that’s that, because Peter S. Beagle and I said so.
6. Do you have supportive family and friends who read your work?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. My family is full of people who are in the technical fields. Dad is an engineer, and mom was a nurse, and my brothers are working machines and stuff. So being a writer and a poet clearly made me the black sheep of the family. Bolting off to university also didn’t help that status either as I’m one of the few members of my family to also have a degree of higher learning.
7. What tips can you give to an aspiring author?
While I no longer approve of the word aspiring, much like Mr. Beagle… the advice I can give to young writers is to keep writing. It doesn’t matter if you’re working on a project, posting something on your blog, or even a little quib on twitter. Just keep going and keep your finger tips warm. Keep momentum and that is the best way to get things done. If you get stuck, put that project on a shelf and try another one and another until you find something you click with and then just keep going. As long as you’re moving forward, you’re going in the right direction. It doesn’t matter how fast of slow you’re going, progress is progress. Just keep writing.
8. It is pretty clearly you must plan your work out, can you fill us in a little on how you map out these stories and in fact, the worlds that you are building and do they relate?
That isn’t entirely accurate. Yes, there are some books that are clearly planned out, but there are also novels that are written totally off the cuff with zero planning. There are some books that I do a ton of research for, and others where I just pull the ideas out of my arse and fly by the seat of my pants. There are pros and cons to both methods, and I’m not going to choose one over the other. Some books are better off being well planned, while other books are better written by just letting intuition and the force lead the way.
9. Do you consider yourself successful in your writing?
Success is a rather loaded word, because it’s open to interpretation and the answer can vary depending on who you ask. Some writers consider writing ‘the end’ at the back of a good manuscript to be a success. To them that’s the proverbial crossing of the finish line. To others, getting signed by an agent/publisher and making tons of money is their idea of success. To some writers, just getting that story out there for the masses to read and consume is enough to float our boats. As much as I would love to be making John Grisham or J.K. Rowling money right now, that is not what I measure as success. My love language is words of affirmation, so the more people share comments with me about my work, the more loved I feel. Seeing comments about how my work made someone feel really hits home, and that sometimes is enough to consider myself successful. That I’m reaching people and inspiring them to write as well.
10. Out of all of your books, which one is your favorite and why?
As of this moment, my favorite book is a manuscript titled “The Official Douche Bag Travel Guide of Chad Barrington”. This book is a satire, which is a genre that I have often struggled with more than any other. This was the first work of satire that was so good that it had me laughing in my den like a madman, and to see others laugh when reading it brings a wide smile of pride to my face. The Official Douche Bag Travel Guide of Chad Barrington was released in 2017, and is currently for sale on Smashwords and Lulu for what I believe is a very reasonable price.
11. Can you tell us a comment that a reader has given you that validates your work or resonated with you?
I am very humbled and thankful when someone takes the time to share their thoughts with me about my work. So when someone posts anything, I can assure you that I’ve seen it and give my most sincere thanks. As for a comment that validates or has resonated with me, that actually came to me from one of my university professors. During my fourth year of study, I took an English course that specialized in creative writing, and the only way you could register for this course was to provide writing samples and be approved by the professor. I was one of only twelve students who was selected by the professor to register for the course that year. Throughout the semester, the other writers were presenting their best works and scoring top grades that were well deserved. I on the other hand, appeared to be struggling as I was scoring low B’s or high C’s the entire semester, which was the worst grades in the class.
Our final project was worth over thirty percent of our final grade, and the professor opened the floor and let us chose whatever genre and theme we wanted. I handed my story in a week later, and I got an email the next day that summoned me to the professor’s office to speak about it. I thought I was in trouble but later found out that the story I submitted, a fantasy, was actually the best submission he had read all semester! My professor was actually angry, asking me why I hadn’t submitted something this good all year. It was this moment when I came clean with my professor. The reason why I was struggling so much, was because I was intentionally writing in genres that I struggled with. I was intentionally avoiding genres I was good at because I wanted to expand my writing and improve in the genres that I clearly sucked at. Instead of showing off the genres I was already pretty good at, I intentionally write outside my comfort zone because I wanted to learn and improve in those areas. But for the final project, I put my best foot forward and went with one of my better genres, and apparently knocked his damn socks off.
And now here it is; the comment that totally validated me, and has been resonating for almost two decades. When asked what he thought about the fantasy story that I had submitted for my final project, my professor stated that it was the best fantasy he had read since reading the Lord Of The Rings to his children. That fantasy story I submitted was called “Gerig and the Kingdom of Dwarves”, and the entire story is in my booknet profile if you’d like to read it.
12. I’m really impressed that you just don’t settle on one genre. You write in science fiction, thrillers and action, paranormal and even a contemporary romance. You seem to be a jack of all genres. Which genre are you most comfortable with or are you happy to diversify?
Thrillers used to be my go to genre, but today I’m rather comfortable with all of them. I really like being a jack of all genres, and I don’t think I will ever settle in just one genre. I actually wrote my first romance novel because someone claimed it was a tougher genre to write than what I was working in. So I wrote an amazing romance novel out of spite and I have written a few more in the genre since the first was actually pretty good. I do enjoy writing Science Fiction, but I have to be in a mood to write it so that doesn’t happen very often. I just seem to go with the flow and work on whatever project gives me the momentum to move forward, as I said in a previous answer.
13. Where do you see yourself with writing in ten years’ time?
As much as I would love to say I’d be formally published, making millions and watching movies based on my books in theatres, as long as I’m still here and writing more stories, than that would be enough for me. While there is a part of me that wants to have it all, there is also another part of me that is starting to accept the possibility that the majority of my accolades might come after I pass, much like some great writers that came before me. So if I’m still kicking and posting stuff here a decade from now, that would be good enough for me…
14. If you could tell your younger self some wisdom to do with writing, what would that be?
I would tell him to never read Cujo by Stephen King, because Dad brings home a St. Bernard puppy two years later… and it took me a while to get used to having that dog in the house because of that freaky novel. Damn you, Stephen (shakes a fist).
15. Did you study writing, or have a background that has helped you with this?
I did a lot of writing when I was in school, and that continued as I got older. I attended Memorial University of Newfoundland right after high school, and I graduated a few years later with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring with the department of English language and literature. I also took many courses in folklore, sociology as well as criminal anthropology, all subjects that would be helpful in future writing projects. Clearly English was the perfect subject for someone who wanted to be a writer, and I have no regrets as attending university was very helpful in making me the writer that I am today.
16. Who is your favorite character that you have created and written and why?
Oh, that’s not fair. You might as well ask me if I have a favorite child. Rather than pick one character, I’ll let you in on a secret. When I create a new main, I sometimes base that character on someone I know personally. So when the character comes across a situation, I would often think “what would the person who inspired this character do or say in this situation?” and then write something based on that answer. It’s a process that has worked very well for me, and often prevents me from getting stuck in the mud, which happens often to us writers. Well, more often than I’d like to admit, that’s for sure.
Thanks so much for agreeing to participate in the Authors Spotlight. It was brilliant.