Interview with Brian Crowell

Published 2014-08-07.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read for pleasure across a broad range of genres and subjects. Those I tend to gravitate towards are horror, supernatural, comics, history, and mystery. I'm a big Stephen King fan, although I've been enjoying branching out a bit and reading some J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch works. I'm also a long-time Anne Rice fan. On the comics front, I like a number of characters, including Calvin & Hobbes, Peanuts, Get Fuzzy, Zits, and Dilbert. I've recently been spending some time with the great detective Sherlock Holmes. I've not read any history books lately, but I have a few on my shelf waiting for me. I think the last "historical" book I read may have been "Write it When I'm Gone" about late President Gerald Ford.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a number of devices, but if I had to pick one, I'd probably go with my trusty old Nook Color. I can dim the screen on it lower than any of my other devices, so it's my reader of choice at bedtime.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Giveaways seem to have worked the best. I believe most if not all the reviews I've garnered to date have been as a result of giveaways I've done, either through KDP Select, Smashwords, or Goodreads. I think the Goodreads was probably the biggest one, gathering over 1,000 requests for it and generating a very nice, detailed review from the winner. That may be an unfair comparison, though, since the entry period ran much longer than any of the other free periods I've had for the ebook.
Describe your desk
I made it! I've been meaning to make a blog post about it, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

short answer: it's a standing desk. The wood is stained a fairly dark color.

long answer: we had a pipe burst in my office over the winter. Fortunately, it wasn't pressurized, but it still had water standing in it (turned out there was a slow leak at the shutoff valve). My old pressboard desk and printer stand were damaged, really swelled up at the base. I've had a standing desk at work for awhile and had been wanting to construct one at home, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to make it (purchasing one like I wanted was going to be too expensive, and I'm a diy'er so it was a natural fit for me to make it myself). After hunting around for plans and inspiration, I found a blog that talked about making casual furniture out of 2x4's, and they had a plan for a seated desk. I took that and ran with it, making it standing height and adding a full-length attached shelf to the back for my monitor and additional space. I'm thrilled with the way it turned out: it's so sturdy and stable. My wife and I liked it so much, I built a pair of matching bookshelves to flank it and a high chair for when I get tired of standing. Every bit of wood in it is a 2x4. Now, I really do need to get that post up with some pictures.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Illinois, Texas, and Arizona. I think that it enabled me to see a lot of the country and experience the different cultures and geographies of those states (and those I've lived in since then). We moved around a lot, so I didn't make a lot of long-term, lasting relationships. I was also frequently seen as an outsider and different, so I think that this has colored my view of the world and the people around me. With such a diverse background, I have a lot of source material and experiences to pull from. I suppose the children's books spring from that optimistic and/or paternal side of my personality. The horror/supernatural stuff I write is drawn from that bitter well of those negative experiences. I tend to see the dark side of humanity when I look around, so it's easy for me to conjure up those characters.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had part of a novel written and was playing with the idea of trying to get it published. I don't remember how I stumbled upon him, but I discovered J.A. Konrath's blog and started to read. I liked what he had to say. I've always been a bit of a diy'er, so the process intrigued me. I finished writing that novel as part of NaNoWriMo, but I knew it needed a lot of work, so now that I had the writing bug, I moved forward with other projects. When it was finished, I saw no reason to pursue traditional publishing as getting into traditional bookstores didn't seem worth what I'd give up, so with my wife's blessing, I got it edited and had the cover designed and published it myself.

I didn't have to compromise or query endlessly or work around someone else's schedule. I've enjoyed doing it myself. It hasn't been profitable yet, but I have plenty of time (well, in theory) for it to become so. In the meantime, I'm enjoying writing and illustrating and can do it at my own pace, on my own schedule, and to my own satisfaction without needing to ask permission or otherwise coordinate with a publisher. That's not to say if in the future the right publishing deal came along that I wouldn't consider it, I'm just not pursuing it.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When the words are flowing smoothly and effortlessly. That's pretty great. I think the only thing that's better is seeing how my kids react to the children's book work I do.
Who are your favorite authors?
There are so many. Purely as a reader for myself, I tend to favor books by Stephen King, Anne Rice, Blake Crouch, and J.A. Konrath.

Now, if we go back to my childhood and also look to my inspirations for my own children's book writing, I'm a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Franklin W. Dixon (I know it's a pseudonym), E.B. White and a whole host, no doubt, of authors I'm forgetting.

Truthfully, though, it's hard to pick favorites. I read far and wide and these names are but a sampling of authors that I have enjoyed over the years.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Insomnia. And if that hasn't kicked in, the buzzing of my Fitbit at 5 AM. If they can't pull it off, I can always count on one of the pets or minions, I mean children, getting me out of bed.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Illustrating, working, spending time with the family, cooking, reading, sleeping... well, you get the idea.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
They come from all over. I subscribe to Bookbub and find ebooks that way. Sometimes I'll see something mentioned on social media or a blog post and go check it out. Occasionally, I just poke through retailers' sites looking for freebies or sales or best sellers. I now have such an impossibly large TBR pile that I don't spend a lot of time hunting down new ebooks; I generally wait for them to come across my radar.

Although there are certain authors I watch for, or there may be a subject I want to read more about and go hunt those books down. So, those add to my pile.
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