Interview with Sci-Fi/Fantasy Author Douglas Owen

A Spear In Flight – Book 1 of the Spear Tetralogy


ProfileDouglas (Doug) Owen was born 1964 in Scarborough Ontario.  The youngest of three, he never had the pleasure of knowing his oldest brother who passed away from cancer at a young age.

Currently he makes Stouffville Ontario his home, a small town north of Scarborough.  Doug has always enjoyed the liberal arts.  When he was young he read continually, enjoying the works of Fredrick Pohl and L Ron Hubbard.  At one point Doug also took up acting, and was cast in the pivotal Role of Albert Peterson in “Bye Bye Birdie” during a 1981 stage production.

Doug worked as a trainer, teacher and musician until 1996 when he took a position with a major bank in Canada.  After a number of years he started writing in order to ease the tensions of work.  Then, unknowingly, he penned his first book, “I Hate Zero-G”.

Several years later he completed the NaNoWriMo Challenge by finishing “A Spear in Flight”. At over 75,000 words, the first novel in the series “Spear” shows his growth in the art of storytelling.

The Interview

D Owen A Spear in Flight Cover ImageQ:     Describe the moment that launched you on your journey of becoming a writer.

 A:     I can contribute many instances when I wanted to become a writer, but it wasn’t until 2011 that my journey started. I was talking about a short story to a friend, and how I wanted to write it. My friend said it sounded like a book, so why didn’t I just start writing it. Hence my first novel, “I Hate Zero-G” was written. Unfortunately, being a first draft and not knowing a lot about writing, the words needed work. Story, execution, and plot were toted as being great, but the writing fell short. Now, two years later (and a lot of learning), I have honed my art and am rewriting that one book to bring it up to par with the professionalism of a published author.

Q:    How has your ‘day job’ or post-secondary schooling influenced your writing?  What would you consider to be the main influencers to your writing?

A:    Would it not be amazing if I could support my family as an author? My “day job” does not afford any time to actually write, so I can only use the interesting people I meet as the basis of some characters. Many of the individuals I work with have little idiosyncrasies that make them unique and interesting. I have studied them and merge them with other traits to make characters more than two dimensional beings. Without my work, I would need to not only seek out more social contact, but travel all over our world to meet people I currently come in contact with every day.

The world influences my writing. News of how people work together and apart. Dreams also play a key role in my imagining of the creatures or influences driving the worlds I imagine. My wife, Sheila, gave me a fantastic idea about a society that exchange their children with other villages, in order to keep fighting to a minimal, for who would want to attack the village their child lived in? I expanded the idea and made the parents give up their child to the central depository, who kept records of where the child was delivered, and hence peace was established for the people never knew where their child was so they would not attack any area.

Q:    How instrumental was your support group (family, friends, colleagues) in making this book a reality? 

 A:    My wife has been a shining star in my world. Her undying support and understanding makes me love her even more. Friends at first thought it was just a distraction, nodding their heads and, at times, smiling and saying “That’s nice”. Now, with the publication of the first book of the Spear series, they are standing up and noticing.

Mom and Dad found it very interesting, from the first book to this latest release, though Mom acknowledged that A Spear in Flight was a little outside her genre, it was still something she could read (high praise from a non-fantasy reader).

My aunts have gushed about the latest work, demanding I start writing the follow up to the first novel before the scheduled date. Friends have acknowledged the writing as professional and entertaining. They are supporting my efforts and cheering me on and I continue in this journey.

Q:    What were the most challenging aspects of bringing your book to life?

A:    I wish I could come up with something deep here, something to spur your thoughts about society and intrigue you to become more knowledgeable about the world we live in, but no, it is the necessary evil that is the challenge. Like most people, I work for a living, and work hard. At the end of the day we are making ends meet but it leaves very little to throw at art work, editing, and other necessities to ensure a professional product at the end of the writing phase. I have been lucky and had many people help put my latest book out there, but still it caused a lot of penny pinching and saving to put together all the professionals needed to get a polished project to the public.

Q:    What is the fundamental message you would like readers to walk away with after reading your work?

A:    Evil exist in many forms.

Q:    Who is your favourite character?  Describe an interesting moment in the development of this character.

A:    I would love to tell you my favourite characters were the children, but to be honest, it was their main trainer, Chail, who I most bonded with. He starts off at the age of 40 and at the end of the first book is 53. The most interesting moment, for me, and one of the most challenging to write, was when Chail was having a heart to heart with the man who trained him to be a Spear. His mentor told him not to wait to marry the woman he loved, and how proud he was of the man he had become. It showed the humility of Chail, and how he was still “human” enough to have insecurities.

Q:    What was the most difficult scene for you to write?  Try to describe your efforts without revealing too much or ‘spoiling’ the moment for future readers.

A:    It was in chapter three, month 5 of the children’s lives as Spears. The instructor who works on numbing pain is working with the children without supervision. I danced around how to show the evil in the person without making the work too graphic. I was told I succeeded, and it was done without causing issues, though I felt generally unclean after writing it. I guess putting myself into that dark mind set was something that made me uncomfortable, and readers will probably feel the same way about it as well, but fortunately, justice prevails.

Q:    What insight can you give regarding the publishing industry and the route you chose for publication (traditional publishing vs. self-publishing).

A:    My mind goes to a joke that is posted everyone once in a while, of a stork trying to eat a frog and the frog trying to choke the bird in order not to be swallowed. The words “Don’t ‘EVER’ give up” written on the page. If I was to give insight into anything it would be to remember that.

Honestly, never give up is one of the best things I can say. Over the last two years I have expanded my knowledge in writing so much it is unbelievable. From the start of putting down the first few lines of “I Hate Zero-G” to the rewrite, the learning process has been wonderful, and the people supportive (mostly). No matter what rung of the writing ladder you are on, your opinion counts.

I remember helping critique a friend’s work. I came to a part that read like the two people were having sex and it didn’t make sense to me, and I offered suggestions to rewrite it. I thought it would help her, for she was writing it from the man’s point of view. She informed me it was not “sex” but what she called “fusing”, exchange of genetic material from one life form to a human host. It made sense then, but told her she needed to push a different voice to the work so people wouldn’t be confused like I was when reading it, and not see the difference. Even though I was a new writer, the insight I supplied help a seasoned vet; so yes, your opinion matters.

Q:    What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of publicizing yourself and your work?

A:    Getting the word out is the hardest thing to ever do. Facebook, Google+, Good Reads, and every other social media you can think of is draining. You can have all these friends but they don’t realize how important it is to give a little help. I always ask people to please read my book and offer an opinion on it, and they do by telling me; which leads me to say, “Why not say something on your Facebook page, or offer a review on Amazon, Good Reads or something?” They smile and say okay, but nothing happens.

Getting your name out there is the hardest think you can ever have to tackle.

My father mentioned this to me last night. A friend of his was looking for something to read, so dad gave him a book he personally enjoyed. His friend read it and loved it, so the man went out and purchased all 12 books that author wrote. It was called getting the word out there, and because one liked it another person liked it as well. I am at the stage of trying to get people to do just that, suggest my book to another person to read. Soon, though, after I have 12 or more books out there, people may turn to their friend and say, “Did you read that book by Douglas Owen? Man, you gotta read it…”

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