Some Thoughts with ... Gordon G. Bowman
Gordon G. Bowman
Gordon G. Bowman is from Ontario, Canada. He grew up in St. Catharines and the Bruce Peninsula and studied physics at the University of Waterloo.
He has been a software developer in Ottawa ever since.
Welcome to another entry on my favourite section of the blog, talking with the authors. Today we are with Gordon G. Bowman, author of the Telepath series and The Scooter Diaries.
Let's dive in!
1.- When did you start writing?
I always wanted to be a science fiction or fantasy novelist. In my twenties (the 90's), I wrote down ideas, read books about how to craft a novel, wrote plot outlines and character profiles . . . and just never actually wrote anything. Finally, in 2005, I read Stephen King's "On Writing", in which he said all that stuff never worked for him--he just sits down and writes without any plan. So I tried that, and was amazed that for me, it worked! Unfortunately, I only wrote sporadically, and never finished it. A few years ago, though, I had a few months off and decided to finally try writing all day, every day. I discovered that I had never been happier and soon finished the book!
2.- What made you choose self-publishing?
I started off sending queries out to literary agents. When the initial dozen received form rejections, I sought advice from a professional editor, who helped me polish my query letter and the first ten pages I was sending to them. After another dozen form rejections, my editor told me to keep trying, that it often takes a hundred rejections over the span of a year before you land an agent. But the whole process just didn't feel right to me. Why were there two levels of gatekeepers now, agents and publishers? I was supposed to spend a year querying and be happy if I landed my hundredth pick for an agent, who might eventually find me a publisher, who might take another year to publish it? Why go through all of that when I could instead hire my own editor and cover designer and produce a book every bit as good but get it out to readers within months via print-on-demand? So, that's what I did. There are certainly downsides to it, like being difficult to get into brick-and-mortar stores, and not having the marketing muscle of a major publishing house behind you--but I love the entrepreneurial, anti-establishment nature of being my own boss, creating my own book exactly how I want it, and delivering it to directly to readers.
3.-How did the idea for Telepath series appeared?
My oldest daughter was a voracious reader at a very young age and devoured all the YA books around at the time, all of which seemed to feature a boy as the MC. So, I wanted to write a book for her and her younger sister, who would be reading in no time, featuring a female MC that they could relate to and be inspired by. I wanted to make it full of all the things they loved. They were huge fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Jackie Chan, for instance, so that meant martial arts and powers. I liked the Jason Bourne series and the idea of an MC with no memories but inexplicable abilities was a great way to get invested in the character, as she would be discovering her abilities and her history at the same time as the reader. I was also a fan of the movie Highlander when I was a teen and I suspect aspects of it also influenced me. There certainly are an awful lot of immortals running around modern-day cities with swords, anyway.
4.- May I ask, why did you decide to locate the story in Canada?
I grew up in Ontario, Canada, and have lived in Ottawa since the early 90's. So many books seem to take place in major cities like New York or Los Angeles or London, and so few seem to take place in Canada, so I loved that Toronto fantasy author Guy Gavriel Kay began his series "The Fionavar Tapestry" at the University of Toronto, and that Toronto science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer likes to set his books in Ontario. I wanted to do the same. So, my book begins in Ottawa where I live, moves to Toronto for a bit (where I have lived), and then somewhere in between.
5.- The Academy, what would you say influenced you the most into its creation?
It was important to me that it be an international school, with kids from all over the world suddenly realizing they have a rare gift and having to leave the life they know and learn what it means to be a Telepath in a world that doesn't know they exist. The teachers would likewise be from all over the world. In terms of architecture, there actually is a school outside of Toronto, which served as inspiration. I took a lot of liberties in changing it and its grounds, however, one of which was the addition of an animal sanctuary, intended to teach the students to have compassion for all living creatures. For that, I took some inspiration from the Sweet Sanctuary just west of Ottawa, where I have volunteered in the past.
6.- Which part of the whole writing process do you find the most challenging?
I loved writing dialogue and combat scenes. I get in a groove and it just seems to flow effortlessly. But having to describe, say, what people look like or worse, what a room looks like, in a way that isn't boring exposition does not come easily to me.
7.- There are several combat scenes or references to martial arts, do you practice one?
I used to practice Aikido. Never with enough consistency and for a period prolonged enough to get really proficient at it, but enough to write about it easily. I loved its philosophy of inflicting minimal damage on your opponent. I loved its footwork and its grace in blending with the movements of your opponent and redirecting them. I loved how its empty-hand techniques have their origins in swordsmanship. It was the perfect martial art for this book.
8.- What do you plan to do in the future?
I am currently writing book two in the Telepath series. I have a full-time job as a software developer, so I only write in my spare time, but I have been trying to write every day in the hopes of publishing in the Spring or Summer of 2023. If I can manage a book a year, I will be really happy. I'm not sure yet how many books will be in this series, but it will have at least three. Afterward, I think I will probably move to science fiction. I've always wanted to write the world's most amazing time travel story. :)