Guest Author Louis K. Lowy
In the interview below, the highlighted words are hyperlinks. You can click on them and go to the website represented, either an author site or book or even, thanks to Louis, a YouTube video of him and the band Hemlock performing in the 1980's. Find the online book review in one of the links.
Q & A with Louis K. Lowy
When I first met you, you had written some short stories with very real characters and dialogue. Now you have three full novels published. Tell us about the development of your work.
First off, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be on your site, Neil. It’s an honor to be included. Regarding how I transitioned from short stories to novels, it was more a natural progression than a conscious effort. My short stories started out around 6-8 pages and gradually increased to forty-eight pages, which is venturing toward novella territory. When I started my first novel, Die Laughing, it was intended to be a short story, but as wrote it, I kept finding new avenues to explore. About fifty pages into it, I made the decision that it was going to be a novel. Of course, I had no idea how I was going to do that, but I kept plugging away.
You have the official Book Launch for To Dream: Anatomy of a Humachine coming up Saturday January 28 5p.m. at Books & Books in Coral Gables. You must be very excited. How do you set something like that up?
Yes, indeed. I’m very excited! As to how you set it up, welcome to the business of writing. Basically, it boils down to contacting Books & Books, speaking with the person in charge of events and working out the details; contacting the caterer and working out the details; contacting the publisher and making arrangements to have the books; sending out notices via word of mouth and social media; figuring out what you’re going to present and then practicing it. There are numerous details in-between, but that’s the basic steps. It’s sometimes uncomfortable and time consuming work, but in the end it’s wonderful to see friends and book lovers gathered to hear your work. I also love the question and answers, I never know what’s going to pop up—or for that matter how I’m going to answer. One other thing, let me throw a special shout out to John Dufresne, he’s graciously agreed to do my introduction.
Do you have an agent? How did you find your first publisher?
I don’t have an agent. I found my publisher—IFWG Publishing—the old-fashion way. Hard work. First, and most importantly, before sending out my manuscript (or any of my work, for that matter) I made sure it was as perfect as I could make it. That includes edits and typos. When I felt confident the manuscript was ready, I researched publishers and how to contact them. There are great online resources these days. I also researched how to write a query letter and put one together. I sent it to many publishers and was fortunate to find that IFWG was interested in work. They’re great to deal with. Word of advice, you’re going to get a lot of rejections. I won’t lie, they sting, but the key is persistence. Remember, it’s not the amount of no’s you may receive, it’s only that one yes that counts.
I see some very active social media campaigns promoting your work, on your website, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads, for example. Do you do all that yourself?
Mostly, but not all of it. This is my third novel and I’ve made some wonderful acquaintances along the way in person and online. They’ve been generous in supporting me, reposting, retweeting my notices. I would be negligent if I didn’t mention how supportive the South Florida writing community is. My creative writing alma mater, FIU, has been particularly encouraging, that includes the staff, fellow grads, and the instructors.
Has your background as a musician helped you with the literary arts? Tell us about your music and bands. Do you still play professionally?
Playing music has definitely influenced how I write. I tend to think about the rhythmic structure of words and sentences, which is a throwback to my music. I unconsciously throw in bands and music in nearly all of my stories—certainly in all of my novels. I also think of playing music and writing in similar same terms. Both take discipline, constant listening (or reading), and practice.
Regarding bands—the most well-known was a group called Hemlock. We were signed to Warner Brothers Records and had a minor dance hit called “Disco Break.” This is super-embarrassing, but here’s a YouTube link of us playing it on a local TV show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKoYsKjmdV0 I played in original bands after Hemlock and loved the creative process. In most of the groups I was the go-to guy for lyrics, which helped later on with my writing.
I don’t play professionally anymore because I love writing too much. I do have to admit, though, that writing is like being in a one man band. You make all of the decisions about timing, structure, pacing, feel, and length. When it works, it’s very satisfying creative wise.
What are you working on now?
I’ve recently completed a fantasy novel about a gambler on the brink of death who gets a chance to save his soul, and a late Victorian era horror story. I’m current working on my sixth novel - a crime story that takes place in Florida, circa mid-sixties.
What sells best for you, print books or eBooks? Do you have to format your own eBooks?
Hmm, I don’t know. It’s probably a combination of the two. I’ll have to look at my publisher statements closer.
As far as formatting eBooks, I don’t do anything involving the actual process of publishing, including formatting. The publisher handles that. I do get a say on the interior look and the cover, which I’m always happy about.
How did the Creative Writing program at Florida International University help you?
In addition to their support, the beautiful thing about the Creative Writing program is that it saved me time. Through their classes I was given the opportunity to learn the craft of writing, and to avoid a lot of trial and error. Not all of it, of course, but more than if I had worked on it without any guidance and instruction.
Who are some of your favorite authors and books?
Charles Dickens – Great Expectations, James Joyce - Dubliners, Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice, Stephen King – Carrie, etc., Ray Bradbury – R is for Rocket, Stan Lee – his Marvel comics body of work, William Gibson – Neuromancer, Louise Penny – Bury Your Dead, J.R.R. Tolkien – Hobbit, etc., Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood, Ernest Hemingway – To Have and to Have Not, and the one I’m currently reading, J.D. Salinger – Nine.
What is your schedule like this year?
Busy! Between my writing schedule, preparing for my book launch of To Dream, keeping up with my writing groups and sending out queries for my other novels, days zip by.
Do libraries carry your books? Where do they get them? (Direct from the publisher or through Ingram, for example)
Some libraries do carry them. Sometimes I’ll make the acquaintance of librarians and they’ll get the book through me, other times they’ll order them through the publisher, I suppose, but possible Ingram, too.
Tell us about To Dream: Anatomy of a Humachine
It’s my most ambitious piece to date. Four key storylines are going on in different centuries and different planets, but they all intertwine and affect each other. As to the actual plot, I’ll quote from IFWG Publishing: “Guilt ridden over the death of her 17-year-old son, Jay, scientist Niyati Bopari heads a team that creates a Humachine (human machine) for mega-corporation Ameri-Inc. Niyati dubs the Humachine J-1 and creates it in Jay’s image. She secretly infuses it with Jay’s DNA. J-1 is the most sophisticated robot ever created and its purpose is to replace human labor. Before J-1 and his blueprints can be transported to Ameri-Inc. headquarters a rogue Ameri-Inc. agent attempts to steal them.
“Anatomy of a Humachine is a science fiction epic spanning two centuries and crossing two planets. Book I: To Dream centers on J-1, an artificial intelligence struggling to find his humanity; the grieving scientist who created him; the ruthless head of the corporation who owns him; and the iron-willed leader of a rebel force seeking revenge for the death of her family and the destruction of her planet.”
Do you write every day?
This is my writing schedule: Monday through Friday, minimum three hours a day (though I rarely go over three hours). I’m strict about it and only break it if I have no choice.
Who are some local writers and artists you’d like to see featured at Miami Writers and Books?
There are so many amazing local writers, including, but not limited to, Mike Creeden, Jan Becker, Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, Corey Ginsberg, Fabienne Sylvia Josaphat-Merritt, Nina Romano, M.J. Fievre, Rita Fidler Dorn, Cathleen Chambless, Laura McDermott, and, of course, John Dufresne, Lynne Barrett, Julie Marie-Wade, Campbell McGrath, and Denise Duhamel.
What else would you like to say to readers interested in your work?
Check out my website, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’m easy to find and love to hear from anyone interested in reading and writing.