Category: Interview

A Conversation with J. Brandon Lowry

J. Brandon Lowry is a former research scientist with a PhD in Molecular Biology. In 2017, he chose to leave the life of a scientist behind and pursue his dream career, that of fiction writer. Now he travels the world with his wife, and the two of them detail their adventures at the travel blog The Places We Live. He is also a Contributing Editor for Literary Tourism over at Open: Journal of Arts & Letters. Currently available work includes the flash fiction collection Finding My Voice and the serial novel The Exanthropist Chronicles.

Finding My Voice:

Publication Date: November 29, 2018
Genre: Flash Fiction Collection (literary fiction, horror, and science fiction)  
42,894 words/ 127 Pages  

A detective caught in the web of a seductive murderess. A young man discovering his roots through music. A world that is falling apart, literally. Finding My Voice, the debut flash fiction collection from J. Brandon Lowry, features 24 stories that explore life in all its complex and messy glory. An experiment in craft and style, this collection also features original artwork and personal reflections by the author. Each tale can be read in ten minutes or less, perfect for today’s fast paced world. Love, loss, joy, sorrow, the highest highs, the lowest lows, all brought vividly to life by an emerging voice in the world of short fiction.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room):Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a former research scientist with a PhD in Molecular Biology. In October of 2017, my wife and I quit our jobs, sold all of our possessions, and took on new careers as digital nomads. While traveling the world, I began writing and publishing flash fiction while working on my debut novel. The two of us launched a community for writers who want to strengthen their social media marketing skills, and I’m also an assistant editor over at Midnight Mosaic Fiction. You can find out more about our adventures over at our travel blog The Places We Live. 

JRR: What made you decide to quit your job and become a ‘digital nomad’? You have been in several countries, which has been the country that you most enjoyed? Which country was so different that you really had to adjust? What country are you most looking forward to traveling to?

It was an incredibly difficult decision. I found myself on a treadmill of sorts, where each step was meant to take me somewhere, only to find that I hadn’t really progressed. Neither one of us were living our ideal lives. With no house and no kids, there was no reason not to make a change and dedicate ourselves fully to chasing our dreams. 

We’ve met great people everywhere we went, but I think our favorite destination was Hua Hin, Thailand. It’s a tourist city on the Thai coast, but because we house sit on our travels, we lived in a small expat community outside of the hustle and bustle of downtown. It gave us the chance to really see what life was like, both for the locals and for the expats. Strangely enough, China required the most adjustment, even though we had lived in Shenzhen for a year in 2006-2007. That’s probably because it was our first destination, though, and we were still figuring out our new lifestyle. This next year takes us to Europe, where I’m most looking forward to exploring Spain. 

JRR:  What inspires you to write? 

I’d say it’s my love of stories. Books, music, movies, TV, video games, whatever the medium, if there’s a good story, I’m there. That ability to be transported to other worlds and experience other lives vicariously is absolutely entrancing, and the opportunity to provide that experience to others is just too good to pass up. 

JRR:  Who is your favorite author as an adult?

My favorite is and always has been Stephen King. At the age of thirteen, I found a first edition of Christine at a garage sale and bought it for a buck. That story of teenage life and having a love interest disrupt a friendship really connected with me and began my quest to read all of his works. 

JRR: Who was the most influential author you read when you were growing up?  Did his/her writings influence you to want to become an author? 

While I fell in love with Stephen King’s fiction, it was his nonfiction books Danse Macabre and On Writing that made me want to do it myself. That peek behind the curtain made me realize that he was just a person instead of this mythical, monolithic figure. It showed me that talent isn’t the sole ingredient to success, that it takes passion and diligence to work at the craft, a dedicated effort to improve and understand what you’re doing with your words. 

JRR:  What made you choose short stories for your first book?

Well, my wife actually gets credit for the idea. These stories have all been previously published, but taken together they represent my growth as a writer (hence the title). I attempted a bit of everything in an attempt to figure out which genres I’m best suited to, whether I fit more in the literary or speculative fiction world, and in just understanding the basics of storytelling. From there I organized them into three parts based on tone and theme, and enlisted the help of some artist friends to do the cover and section illustrations, and Finding My Voice was born. 

JRR:  What can you tell us about The Exanthropist Chronicles: Nightstalkers?

Nightstalkers is the first entry in a planned series of serial novels starring Vlad, the world’s only true vampire. The anhedonia of immortality has begun to set in, leaving him in pursuit of the last thrill left to him: murder. An assassin for hire, Vlad gets more than he bargained for when his last contract sets in motion a chain of events that threaten to end his existence once and for all. 

The concept for the serial is to release a new chapter every two weeks. The story has not been written in advance, so I’m more or less publishing the first draft in as close to real time as possible. Nightstalkers can be found on Medium at this link. 

JRR:  If you could have dinner with three people(living or dead) who would they be and why?

Hmmm, this is a tough one. As a fan of Roman history, I think I’d have to invite Julius Caesar, if for no other reason than to get his take on modernity and how the world has changed. I’d also invite Sam Harris, as I’m a big fan of his work on free will and the nature of consciousness. And just to throw a curveball, I’ll represent the literary world with Chuck Palahniuk. 

JRR: Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?

There are actually quite a few classics that make this list. Catch-22, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird... pretty much all the books that are supposed to be required reading in high school that I ignored. I mean, there’s gotta be a reason they get assigned, right?  

JRR:  Is there anything else you would like to share?

Finding My Voice is available from Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback formats. Interested readers can find more of my work over on Medium. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter

**Thank you for your time with this interview!**

Contact J. Brandon:
Medium
Twitter @jbrandonlowry

Blog Blitz: The Christmas Spirit

Today I am part of the blog blitz for The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan: I interviewed her! There is also an INTERNATIONAL giveaway going on for some ebooks. Be sure to check that out!

Book Description:

Christmas is coming, but not everyone is looking forward to it.

Rebecca has just been dumped and the prospect of spending the holiday period with her parents is less than appealing.

Eighty- two year old Stanley lost his beloved wife, Edie, to cancer. How will he cope with his first Christmas without her?

Jacob’s university degree hasn’t helped him get a job, and it looks like he’ll still be signing on come New Year.

Workaholic Meredith would rather spend December 25th at home alone with a ready meal and a DVD box set. Can anything make her embrace the spirit of the season?

The enigmatic Natalie Hope takes over the reins at the Sugar and Spice bakery and café in an attempt to spread some festive cheer and restore Christmas spirit, but will she succeed?

Buy The Christmas Spirit now:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Jessica. Well, I’ve written four books and am actually in the middle of two more. I live near Glasgow with my husband and two cherubs, one of each. I juggle the monkeys and my proofreading and editing business, although I now have a dedicated writing day, which should mean more books in the future.

I love the theatre, quiz shows, fine dining (well, food, generally!) and movies. Did I forget books?!

JRR: Did you always want to become an author?

Yes and no. I have written stories from an early age, but life has a habit of getting in the way. I actually wanted to be a linguist when I left school and went to uni and did a Masters in French and Hispanic Studies, then worked in European and International Sales for many years. When I was made redundant a few years ago, my then boyfriend (now husband) suggested I try to publish the book I’d been writing on holiday for about six years!

JRR: And now you have written four books with more to come! What inspires you to write?

Everything and anything. It can be a chance remark I overhear in a café or in a conversation with a friend. It can be a person. I have some clients who work so hard that they put me to shame and I think ‘right, no more procrastinating, I will write today’ or it can be the germ of an idea.

JRR: So be careful where you are in public, you never know who may overhear you and use what you say for a book! 😉 Now, what does your writing process consist of? Do you research, do you handwrite or type, do you have music playing or need silence?

I handwrite only when I am without my laptop. Yes, writing by hand is nice, but a) my writing is awful – like a doctor’s and b) it just means I need to type it into the laptop later. When I am out and about, I do use my notebook, but more for planning out scenes and capturing ideas. I research a lot. I hate inconsistencies and now as an editor of other people’s books that has become even more important for me!

I don’t usually have music on but if I do it’s classical.

JRR: What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors?

Too long a list, but basically, write; write whenever you can; don’t give up; write what you love; write something you’d want to read. Don’t be afraid of not being good enough. There are ways to help you improve. No one gets it right first time.

JRR: Who is your favorite author as an adult?

Hmm. I don’t really have a favourite as I can’t choose between my top four or five. I will buy any new release by Jill Mansell, Carole Matthews and latterly by Holly Martin and Cathy Bramley, but I keep finding all these new authors that I love.

JRR: Who was the most influential author you read when you were growing up? Did his/her writings influence you to want to become an author?

My favourite author was the late Maeve Binchy. Her books and the way she wrote lovely, warm characters inspired me to write. And Enid Blyton’s stories made me want to always keep my imagination and believe in the magical.

JRR: If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be and why?

Rupert Penry-Jones (he’s lovely!), Queen Victoria (I reckon she was a lot softer than they made out) and Maeve Binchy (reasons above).

JRR: Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?

Anything by Jane Austen and Dickens. I’ve only read Pride and Prejudice and A Christmas Carol.

JRR: What is it like to write Christmas stories vs stories that take place at other times of the year? Do Christmas stories seem ‘magical’ to you?

I love writing Christmas stories. It is funny though writing about snow and decorations and mulled wine in July. I do feel that Christmas sparkle and smile to myself as I write (I know I do, I can’t help it!). Christmas is about spreading goodwill and my characters tend to need a bit of help around Christmas, so it warms my heart to be able to make that happen for them. And I love writing about all the Christmas traditions around the world.

JRR: Where did you get the idea for The Christmas Spirit? Which character was your ‘favorite’ to write?

I think I had a dream that inspired it. Natalie, the protagonist, was my favourite, although I did love writing Stanley, the old man, and Meredith was such a horror! Loved writing her too.

JRR: What’s the best advice you have ever received?

You’ve only got one life so live it.

JRR: Is there anything else you would like to share?

There’s a second book out, related to The Christmas Spirit, aptly named Return of the Christmas Spirit. And I hope to release The Proposal and Just One Day in the first half of 2019, with perhaps a Christmas-themed book for this time next year.

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope Santa’s good to you!

JRR: A second book! How exciting! And more from you in 2019! I look forward to it! Thank you for your time with this interview.


About the Author:

Susan Buchanan lives in Scotland with her husband and their two children. She is the author of four novels: Return of the Christmas Spirit, The Christmas Spirit, The Dating Game, and Sign of the Times. She is currently working on books five and six: The Proposal and Just One Day.

Susan is also a proofreader, editor and translator, and when not working, writing, or caring for her two delightful cherubs, loves reading, the theatre, quiz shows and eating out – not necessarily in that order!

Contact Susan:
Website: Sooz’s Journal
Twitter @susan_buchanan

**International Giveaway!**

Win e-copies of Sign of the Times and The Dating Game:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Blog Blitz: I’m Glad I Found You This Christmas

Today I am part of the blog blitz for I’m Glad I Found You This Christmas by CP Ward: I interviewed him! 

Book Description:

I’m glad I found you this Christmas – an uplifting sweet romance set against the magical backdrop of Christmas.

Maggie Coates is frustrated. Her longterm boyfriend, Dirk, recently moved to London to take a job she fears puts him out of her league. Despite the assurances of her best friend Renee, Maggie is convinced Dirk is slowly drifting away. All Maggie wants is to get married and settle down, but maybe Dirk has other ideas.

Convinced by Renee to make one last throw of the dice, Maggie books a romantic holiday for two in the quaint Scottish village of Hollydell. But will Dirk show up?

And if he doesn’t, what if there is a perfect man waiting for her among the Christmas magic of Hollydell’s snow-laden streets? What if Henry, the humble reindeer farmer with the kind smile, turns out to be the man of Maggie’s dreams?

I’m glad I found you this Christmas is a glowing sweet romance which will leave you feeling warm inside and buzzing with Christmas spirit.

Buy I’m Glad I Found You This Christmas now:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Chris Ward, I’m 39 years old (nearly 40!) and I’m from Cornwall in the UK. For the last 15 years I’ve been living in the mountains of Japan, where I work full time as an English teacher. 

JRR:  Japan: Nice!  My hubby wants to visit there.  Now, did you always want to become an author?

From as young as I can remember. I started writing little stories at the age of 5 or 6, then began dreaming of superstardom during my early teens while typing away on my dad’s battered old typewriter. 

JRR:  What inspires you to write? 

I find myself constantly examining the world around me. It sounds like a cliché but I’m always thinking “what if this happened?”

JRR:  That could be the best way to come up with a story( What if this happened?). What does your writing process consist of?  Do you research, do you handwrite or type, do you have music or need silence?

I write in multiple genres and in a variety of different ways. In general, I write in the mornings, to as much silence as I can get, and on a battered old laptop with the internet connection deleted. Since my daughter was born two years ago, very early mornings – I generally start around 4.a.m, write until she gets up, then go to work and steal a little time on the clock if I’m not busy. If I’m awake after my daughter goes to sleep (rarely) I do a bit of marketing stuff.

My process depends on the type of book I’m writing. I prefer to make it up as I go along, but especially for series books I plan them more in advance. Some, like my mystery pen name (Jack Benton) I write them intentionally on the fly. That makes the plots more difficult to figure out.

As for research, I do it as I go along, usually by watching YouTube videos or using the Internet. 

JRR:  Who is your favorite author as an adult?

Currently, Gillian Flynn. Everything she writes is genius. Historically, Iain Banks. I’m also currently partial to a bit of Mark Edwards, although I pick books and authors at random and there’s no one I’ve read comprehensively.

JRR:  Who was the most influential author you read when you were growing up?  Did his/her writings influence you to want to become an author?

To be honest, there was no writer who inspired me to become one. I can’t even remember what I used to read when I was very young. Whatever was in the school library, I guess. In my teens I got big into Stephen King, but I was also a fantasy nut, reading loads of fat long books by people like Robert Jordan. 

JRR:  I read Stephen King as a teen as well.  If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be and why?

 My grandparents, because I miss them, and my two-year-old daughter, because I’d like my grandparents to have met her.

JRR:  Aww, good choice! 

Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje. I bought it about a week before I got my Kindle. It’s been sat around on my table ever since, and I’ve got to page 14 about fifteen times. 

JRR:  I’m Glad I Found You This Christmas is different from the books you usually write. What made you decide to write it?

Simply because I love Christmas. I always wanted to write a Christmas book, and I finally got around to it.

JRR:  Women tend to write ‘sweet romance’ books. How did you feel about writing this type of novel?

It’s not the first romance I’ve written – I have three mystery novels which have a romantic subplot (although darker), and I’ve written some romantic short stories. In general, though, I can turn my hand to anything. I started publishing in 2012, and got pigeonholed into SF for commercial reasons, but in the years before that I only ever wrote standalone novels, and each in a different genre. I was strictly opposed to writing the same book twice, and even now I struggle to maintain my interest past three or four books. I generally don’t read series for the same reason, although I probably would if I had more time. I like to get a complete story when I buy a book.

JRR: Is Christmas your favorite holiday?  What made you pick Christmas as the time of year for this novel?

It’s absolutely my favourite. I’m a teacher by profession, and a foreigner in Japan, so every year I end up getting the suit on and going round all the kids parties, churches, schools. It’s a lot of fun. Christmas in Japan is a poor imitation of Christmas in Western countries, so part of it is nostalgia because it’s over by midnight on Christmas Eve as everything turns to the New Year celebrations that we have out here. 

JRR:  Sounds like you have a lot of fun every year at this time!  Is there anything else you would like to share?

Thanks to everyone who’s taken a chance on my book. I hope it will warm your heart. And if you like it, please let me know.


About the Author:

CP Ward is a writer from the UK who currently lives and works in Japan. This is his first Christmas book.

Contact CP Ward:
Website

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