Welcome to Lavender Lass Books, Fowler. Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview!
Fowler Brown grew up in Arizona, where the scorching heat quickly taught him the virtues of indoor activities like reading. His career as a novelist began at a young age, with hand-illustrated “books” that featured lots of scribbly fantasy battles and very little in the way of characters, plot, or correctly spelled words. In a way, everything that’s come since has been an attempt to improve on those early abominations.
These days, Fowler and his wife live in Massachusetts, where actual, real-life snow falls from the sky! When he’s not writing, he can usually be found reading, slaying digital monsters, or designing and running tabletop adventures to test the mettle of his friends.
Reality is an uncertain thing. It shifts and warps without the taming yoke of human agreement to bind it in place, especially near the twisting chaos that is Nightmare. As Keeper of Days for a band of pirates, Teivi Nishiir maintains the log of the sand ship Uncertainty, holding back the world’s insidious influence by recording the crew’s deeds. She knows the cruelty of the desert. She has sailed into Nightmare and sung her defiance to the corrupting aberrations that make the boldest pirate hunters balk.
But even Nightmare is nothing beside a comrade’s betrayal.
A deadly secret lurks among the Uncertainty’s latest plunder, one that pirates and kings alike will kill for. With the Uncertainty thrown into chaos, fleeing friends and dodging fleets, Teivi’s quill won’t be enough to keep her crew from a sandy grave. If she can stay one step ahead, she might have a chance to achieve everything she’s ever dreamed of. So long as she’s willing to pay the price in blood.
And now to the interview:
1. What do you want to share with us about this story? What really stands out about it and made you want to write it?
The True and Accurate Log has two standout features that really grabbed my imagination from the get-go. First, it’s a pirate story where the pirates aren’t sanitized–they actually do piracy, when they’re not sailing for their lives or struggling to survive in the desert. They are by no means upstanding people or good role models; they just happen to be better than everyone else who’s hunting for the unique treasure they got their hands on. Second, the world itself is murderously unreliable. The geography literally shifts around when no one’s watching. Strange creatures wander the desert, and you’re lucky if they just want to eat you. The pirates desperately sing sand shanties to keep their wits about them as they sail through patches of Nightmare, where the idea of a stable reality seems like a fanciful dream. The protagonist, Teivi Nishiir, is responsible for keeping a semi-coherent account of the crew’s actions (and her own), and being so immersed in this strange, uncanny world gave her a distinct voice that was easy to find and, hopefully, a thrill to read.
2. Why do you write in this genre? What makes this genre particularly appealing to you?
Science fiction and fantasy offer such a rich scope of possible stories and characters that they captured my imagination as far back as I can remember. I love working in a genre that can easily contain thoughtful examinations of human society and wild romps full of mythological creatures, because both are fun and valuable in their own way. Most of all, though, I think SFF allows people to explore important questions in unfamiliar ways, using aliens, monsters, and gods to have important conversations about things that matter in our day-to-day lives even if we never meet an elf or an artificial intelligence.
3. What made you decide to become an author? Can you tell us a little about that journey?
In some ways, it’s been a lifelong dream, just with a few detours along the way. I’d been writing on and off as a hobby for years, but it wasn’t until the idea for what became my first novel, Death by Miracle, clicked together in my head that I really threw myself into it with enough enthusiasm and devotion to actually produce something worth publishing. The fact that people I didn’t know were interested enough to buy a copy, read it, and leave enthusiastic reviews was all the encouragement I needed to keep going from there!
4. Why did you choose to self-publish? Are there advantages to self-publishing? What about the challenges?
The more I looked into traditional publishing, the more apparent the tradeoffs became. Self-publishing means getting a larger cut of every sale, as well as full ownership and control of everything I create. The main challenge was a harsh learning curve and a lot of hard work–I set out to write a novel, not build a website or market what I wrote!–but like writing itself, all of that becomes easier the more one does it.
5. Where do you get ideas for your stories? Do they come to you over time, or do you suddenly think of an idea and realize it would make a great story?
Do other people not have ideas swimming around in their heads all the time? At any given moment, I’ve got a lot of things stewing, but they’re mostly little fragments: a character that might be interesting to write, a unique city, a magic system. Books happen when a bunch of those ideas click together into something more coherent. Sometimes it’s a purely intuitive process with a “eureka!” moment on the way to the grocery store, but sometimes it means sitting down and trying ideas like puzzle pieces to see which ones fit together. Then the really hard work begins, with a great deal of planning and outlining before any actual chapters get written.
6. Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
Science fiction and fantasy are broad. I’ve already branched into a variety of sub-genres: urban fantasy, near-future AI, and now a bit of cosmic horror, but I don’t see myself ever leaving SFF entirely. How could I ever lose interest in something with so much potential?
7. What do you look for in a story? Especially in your genre? (Original ideas, plot lines, character development, world building, research, etc.?)
I’m a sucker for rich, thoughtful worldbuilding, and you can hook me with a bold new setting or an intriguing, unfamiliar magic system any day. But ultimately, it’s characters that keep me reading. I love getting inside the head of someone completely different from me, and there’s nothing like a character with strong motivations or a unique voice to really anchor me in a story.
8. What is one thing you wish you’d known when you first started writing?
Some people can write their way through an entire, coherent novel without outlining anything in advance. I am not one of those people. It has been (wisely) said that plotters and “pantsers” (to use the industry jargon) do all the same things, just at different times, but I’ve realized that if I try to let the story sweep me away wherever it likes, the end result is an ugly mess that’s more work to fix than to trash and start over. However much I’m itching to dive into a story, it ultimately saves more time and effort if I plan it all out first.
9. Are you working on a new book? Can you share any details?
I’m actually working on the sequel to Death by Miracle, so it’s time for another murder investigation–this time with geopolitical stakes, new allies and magical gear, and more mythological monsters, familiar and unfamiliar!
10. Do you have any advice you would offer to writers who plan to self-publish?
Do as much research as possible before you ever think about publishing something. Learn everything you can about author websites, marketing plans, publishing platforms, cover art… There are so many pieces that go into a finished novel, and you don’t want to have to scramble to figure something out at the last minute.
You can find Fowler Brown’s book at Amazon! https://www.amazon.com/True-Accurate-Sand-Ship-Uncertainty-ebook/dp/B09PYY26N6
Thank you so much for sharing all this with us, Fowler. You can find out more about Fowler Brown’s books at the links below:
Website – https://www.fowlerbrown.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/FowlerBrown47
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FowlerBrownAuthor
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