Interview with P.J. Lowry

Published 2017-01-02.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I'm a storyteller. Whether I'm in a bar with friends or sitting around the camp fire with a bunch of kids roasting hot dogs and marsh mellows... I love to spin a good fable. I live to see the look in someone's eyes when I tell them what happened and when and where and why. It's the same rush I get when I finish a new novel or a fresh batch of poems. So when someone buys my work, I feel like you're my new friend and I've got a great story that I'd love to share with you...
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I honestly tried to do things the 'traditional' route but right now the old school route to publishing is broken. Right now agents will not represent anyone who isn't already published and publishers won't speak to any writers unless they are represented by an agent. For new, unpublished authors, that's one hell of a Catch 22. I literally sent out hundreds of letters looking for representation, and fell flat every time. All the time I use chasing agents could be and is better spent writing more books, which is why I chose to work with Smashwords.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I've pretty much lived in big cities most of my life, split up between various locations around the world. I was born in Hamilton, which is in Ontario, Canada. I lived in St.John's, Newfoundland when attending university and also had some small stints in other cities such as Detroit and Seoul. Visiting these remarkable cities and noticing what makes each one unique has had a profound impact on my writing.
When did you first start writing?
I was very, very young when I first started writing. One summer when I was thirteen, I stayed home the entire two months away from school and wrote my first novel, which was around a hundred and sixty pages. The next summer I wrote another that was over two hundred pages. Neither of those books were any good but with practice and even more practice, my work gradually got better.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My newest novel is a book that was a joy to write. "The Official Douche Bag Travel Guide of Chad Barrington" is a satire that I've always wanted to compose, something that is knee slapping funny... a narrative that I hope gets everyone else to bust a gut. It's a project that was completely out of my comfort zone... and I'm proud of this book and I hope everyone enjoys reading it!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
While my work isn't selling like hotcakes, I am making sales and that itself is very humbling. The knowledge that someone is picking my work and purchasing it to read is very flattering and I am thankful for every sale I make. It gives me the inspiration to keep writing.
What are you working on next?
Right now I'm working on a few non-fiction projects. One of them is a book about modern day slavery and the other is a study of modern serial homicide in Canada. I studied criminal anthropology when I was in University so you'll get a sample of some of the very cool stuff I learned under some amazing professors in that department. The last non-fiction project I'm working on is another book about Atheism since the first one was so well received. Combine that with other ongoing serial projects (including a Rocket Patrol sequel) and I clearly have a lot on my plate.
How do you approach cover design?
This is a very interesting question because it's a tricky subject. To a publisher, you want to create a book that will sell as many copies as possible, which sometimes doesn't give a loyal perspective of what your book is about. When I am designing a cover, I want to use a picture that will accurately give you an idea of what you are getting into. In other words, I want the cover to be honest with the reader into what kind of book they are getting. The last thing I want a reader to do is look at a cover and wonder what part of the book that was in cause they don't remember reading it. That's not fair, and it's dishonest. I want my covers to give you an accurate preview of what is to come. Anything less is not right.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My kids. The day I became a father opened my eyes to a new world. Not only did this pale blue dot we live on feel different but I also began to worry about what kind of world I would leave to my kids when I pass on. This inspired me to be more proactive about many issues today, including defending our environment. Traveling to other nations also changed my perspective of the planet we all inhabit together. I've done a lot of growing up the last fourteen years and I'd like to think that a lot of that maturity has bleed onto the page. Only time will tell I guess...
What is your writing process?
When it comes to the writing process I am very chaotic. Sometimes I do write down a plan, summarizing each chapter. Other times I just start with a blank page and just use the force and fly by the seat of my pants. A writer I respect once told me that you write with your heart and edit with your head. So based on that, sometimes writing is like jumping off a plane. You have no idea where you're going to land but you can always try again if you're not happy with the result.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first full novel I ever read was when I was eight years old. The book was "James and the Giant Peach" and I loved it. From there I started reading whatever I could get my hands on.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have a handful of authors that I love to read. Some off the top of my head include Roddy Doyle, John Irving, Lee Child, W.P. Kinsella, Tony Parsons and John Grisham. I have an enormous collection of Gordon Korman books that I've been collecting since I was a young teen and I've just started to read them with my son Ethan. When it comes to classic writers, I'm a sucker for Oscar Wilde, Alexandre Dumas and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
To be honest, I tried to stay away from e-readers. At first, I was a snobby English Major who felt going electronic was a betrayal of everything I stood for. Then my brother bought me a Sony E-Reader for Xmas. I take it everywhere I go. I have over 300 books on it and have read more books in the last year than I have in the previous five. Now I love it and will upload my books now rather than buy them in print. I honestly believe one day all books will be electronic so I guess it's good I got on board with what is the most environmentally friendly option.
What do your fans mean to you?
I value my readers a great deal and I work hard to make sure they are not taken for granted. I try my best to offer the lowest prices possible, which is one of many reasons why I enjoy working with Smashwords so much. I can set my own prices and that means I can set them based on my needs and no one is getting gouged. I wish I could offer all my work for free but bills a child support don't pay themselves. I need to charge money for my stories so that I can have a place to live, a computer to write on and an internet to deliver them to this website. All of that costs money. If I were to win the lottery tomorrow, I would make every thing free the next day. Right now I can't afford to do that. While I try to make enough to move on to the next project, I try to respect my readers by not gouging them. I charge based on word count, in other words by how much work went into each story. I think that's fair considering that I need to be compensated for services provided.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I play chess, watch a lot of television, read whenever I find something that interests me and even attend Blue Jay games at the dome when I can afford to get out there. I like to do things with my kids, like watch movies, attend festivals and concerts. It's what motivates me to work hard and deliver a great product.
Describe your desk
It's a mess. There are two computers on it, one desktop that I write on and one laptop that I use for games and research. There are a lot of action figures on it, stacks of books around the computers as well as posters and other various decorations around it. The desk is the centerpiece of my living room which is a real man cave. I enjoy working at that desk.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1) Shoesless Joe (W.P. Kinsella) - For those who don't recognize this book, you might know it better for the movie that based on it called Field of Dreams. What I love most about this book is this blows up the entire idea of write only what you know. This is considered by many to be the best book about the American Pastime of all time, and it was written by a Canadian. Bill Kinsella is a fan of baseball, that's all the experience he needed to write this amazing book, be passionate about what you're writing about. For everything else there is google, wikipedia and your local library.

2) The Satanic Verses (Salman Rushdie) - This book is a part of my collection out of sheer defiance. I don't like being told what to do, especially when it comes to books. If someone tells me I can't read a book for whatever reason, I'm going to read it just to piss you off and to see what the fuss was all about. I have a 1st edition hardcover of this book and it's my goal to one day meet Mr. Rushdie and get him to sign it for me.

3) The Commitments (Roddy Doyle) - Funniest book I have ever read. Hands down...

4) Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) - This is the first book that ever made me pause and rethink how I looked at the world. This was a game changer for me. A lot of things I did, especially how I wrote was deeply effected by this book.

5) James and the Giant Peach (Roland Dahl) - You never forget your first...
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

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