The Interrogation Room with Cameron Lowe
Welcome to the first edition of 2017 in The Interrogation Room where we get a good look at what goes on in the minds of the readers we love! Please welcome the first victim Cameron Lowe!
So, what have you written?
I have three books out in my Rankin Flats supernatural thriller series, with the fourth set to debut in January. They are The Ghost at His Back, Shifting Furies, and For All the Sins of Man. The fourth will be titled Bone Carvers.
Where can we buy or see them?
All of my novels are available on Amazon.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
My main characters were never designed to be superheroes. They’re flawed in really fundamental ways, and they come together through those faults and quirks.
Garrett Moranis isn’t a very particularly fantastic person. He can see ghosts, and he’s used that to become a Robin Hood-esque vigilante, but he’s a haunted man – and not just in the paranormal sense. His sight of the dead has led to a decade and a half of separation from his family. It caused his mother to have a complete nervous breakdown, his father to hit him, and his sisters to lose faith in him. His power has come at a price he’d rather not have paid, but he’s dealing with lie as best as he can and tries to do the right thing – even if he’s lining his own pockets by taking on criminals and psychopaths the cops don’t know about or won’t deal with.
And the rest of the characters are like that too. Garrett’s best ghostly friend Murphy is mostly a great guy, but in this little universe, ghosts are assholes who were neither good enough to make it to heaven nor evil enough to be sucked into hell. Murphy wasn’t always the decent guy he is by the events of the first novel. He was once a dealer, a crappy father, and largely a waste of life. But in death, he’s found reason to try to be a better man in helping Garrett. Neither man is perfect, but together, they help each other rise above their more basic self-destructive tendencies.
And then there’s Brianna, who I’ve come to love dearly throughout the course of these novels. She’s fiery, but doubts herself in her most private moments. She’s sucked into a world beyond her understanding and it nearly breaks her. She’s a beautiful soul and a fighter, but she might not be strong enough to survive everything this new world has to throw at her. To reveal more about her character would be to spoil a great deal of the first book, so I’ll just leave off by saying I never expected to like Brianna as much as I do. Garrett was originally intended to be a James Bond-ish lothario, and instead, this wonderful character pulled him in a wildly diferent direction, and me along with them both.
What genre are your books?
The Rankin Flats series are supernatural thrillers, first and foremost. They lean a bit into horror and romance, and there’s a little bit of sex in there to boot. Tonally, I’d compare them to something of a cross between John Sandford and David Wong. There’s a fair bit of action, but it’s definitely also largely a study of these characters and the relationships to the people around them. I didn’t just want it to be all thriller, all the time. These people have lives to live that are, at least to me, just as interesting as the monsters and the villains they must face.
What draws you to this genre?
It was largely a complete accident. I came up with the first line for the first novel – “Ghosts are assholes.” - in the shower one day when contemplating the philosophical implications of the possibility of ghosts existing, and what kinds of people ghosts would be if they existed. This snowballed into an idea about what a person could potentially do if they saw ghosts, and what sort of adventures they’d get up to. I’d never read much in the genre before – I love horror and I’ve read a few Dean Koontz and John Saul novels, but the supernatural thriller is a genre with which I’m largely unfamiliar. I thought it would be fun to create a John Sandford-esque series of novels about a man, his ghostly companion, and the lives they’d lead, and bingo, The Ghost at His Back was born.
How much research do you do?
I’m largely very familiar with the locations written about in the novel, but Rankin Flats is a fictional city, so much of my research has been focused in on the specifics of setting-building within the existing world. I’ve also had to research a lot of things that would probably get me put on a government watch list, such as cannibalism, torture tactics, and all the fun things that the ATF do.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve been writing on and off since my teens. I wrote a horrible, horrible poem about suicide and bullying in high school that won me some small-time notoriety, but have thankfully moved on to happier stuff, like ritualistic cannibals and shapeshifters that rely on chowing down on people’s hair to change their bodies. Really cheerful “sunshine on my shoulder” type dreck.
It’s not always been an easy road. I don’t have a lot of confidence in myself, and for years and years, even when I wrote stuff that people seemed to like, I believed they liked it out of pity or had some other motive in telling me my work was good. I’m legally blind too, and have relied upon disability for years to support myself, so the idea o trying to make it as a writer has been scary on a more financial level as well. But it’s time to put aside those doubts and try to get my work out there. It’s scary, but it’s been satisfying. This past year, I’ve put out three novels, with a fourth set to launch in January, and although I still have those moments of panicky self-doubt, it feels like I’m making forward progress for the first time in years.
Why do you write?
I’m really not great at much else. Writing is a pleasure some days, a chore on others, but it’s never physically taxing. I’d last about a week on my feet digging ditches or building things, and trust me, you don’t want me cooking your food or washing your dishes. So… I write. And I write. And I write some more, because it’s what I do. It’s what I’m good at, what I understand on a fundamental level. If I screw up, I’m the only one I’m hurting. I’m not getting yelled at by a boss (though truth be told, I’m way harder on myself than just about any boss I’ve ever had). I’m not coming home exhausted. It’s not easy work, to be sure, but I’m doing something I love, most days. Being able to say that is a blessing, one I will never take for granted.
Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I write every day. I started this off by setting small, reasonable goals – a thousand words a day, or a chapter section, or whatever worked for me. But now I’ve reached the point where I just write until I recognize I’m mentally exhausted and I need a break. That does happen, and it’s why we have rounds of edits and rewrites.
When I sit down at a computer, it’s usually either to socialize or to work, but more and more it’s for the latter. Turning off your Internet access while you’re working is one o the greatest tips I can give any aspiring writer. It really does help.
Where do your ideas come from?
Reading, reading, and more reading. Television is getting better and better at telling great stories, and we could go around and around on whether or not movies do too, but reading is the great fountain of every good writer’s ideas. Don’t just stick to one genre, either. Reading anything from genres you don’t like teaches you just as much as reading the best works from writers you enjoy. Learn why you don’t like something and you can use it as another tool in your belt.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I’ve taken to writing stupidly long synopses of my books, but I need to be better about writing down character specific details that emerge throughout the novels. I have a terrible memory, so I’m always screwing up little things like a character’s hair color or what car they drive.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Discipline has helped me focus in on my writing. I almost feel guilty when I’m not working. Taking breaks to watch TV or play a game leave me feeling antsy. That’s a fantastic thing, considering a year ago I was barely writing anything of consequence.
Strictly on paper, I think I’ve learned that smaller plots work better for me than the usual out-of-control trains I tend to create during my first synopsis. The original plot to the Ghost at His Back featured an absolutely batshit nuts ending that involved one of the baddies trying to take out the heroes with a truck loaded down with explosives, which was in itself a decoy meant to get their attention so that the real villains could kidnap them and take them to a Basement of Horrors. It was wildly convoluted and wildly stupid in retrospect, but it paved the way for the much smaller scale of the novel to come in the next two drafts.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
My body – specifically my eyes – sometimes cannot keep up with my desire to keep writing. It leads to migraines if I try to force myself to write past a certain point. I intend to utilize speech programs at some point, but for now, I’m happy with the volume of work I’m producing. Three books in a year is certainly not bad.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
I’m going to take some creative liberty with this question and talk about my third book For All the Sins of Man rather than my upcoming fourth book, since that would involve some heavy spoilers.
For All the Sins of Man involves some scenes of child and spousal abuse that were very hard to write. Trying to get into the mindset of a wife abuser at the beginning of the book was difficult enough, but that sets up what I hope is tonally a second gut punch when Rowen, a nine-year-old, is introduced as the neglected and beaten daughter of a meth junkie. Both Rowen and Sloan, the woman abused at the beginning of the novel, became very dear characters to me and elicited some paternal feelings I didn’t even know I had. Having to write from the perspective of their abusers at times was not only difficult but soul sickening.
A special thanks to Cam for being the first one step into the hot seat this year and all the best for what 2017 will bring him!
Make sure you keep in touch with Cam!
Amazon Author Page: https://goo.gl/pSpOzQ
The Ghost at His Back - http://amzn.to/2iCtA0f
Shifting Furies - http://amzn.to/2ipFdnS
For All the Sins of Man - http://amzn.to/2ipFhE8