Today I’m excited to have debut author R.T. Lowe on the blog answering a few questions about himself and his book The Felix Chronicles: Freshman.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m from a little town in Oregon and I moved to New York for law school almost twenty years ago. I now live in Newtown, CT with my wife and three boys. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to take up the pen and put my thoughts on paper. I always felt like I had a very creative streak in me, but I struggled to find the right outlet. I remember one time right after graduating law school I was working in the Mergers and Acquisitions department at the largest law firm in New York City when a senior partner asked me to draft a simple document. He called me up to his 40th floor office and stood there behind this massive desk with lower Manhattan spread out behind him through floor to ceiling windows. It looked like central casting had hired him to play the role of senior partner (perfectly knotted tie, dignified dusting of gray above the ears). He gave me a bored look and said wearily, as if he’d uttered the same tired lecture to generations of young blundering associates: “Why did you change the wording in the form, you ***damn ****up? This isn’t an exercise in art appreciation. Do you think you’re smarter than the people who created it? Change it back and stop wasting my ****ing time.” Then I was summarily dismissed to toil away on other documents, never forgetting the importance of precedent. But to someone with a creative streak, the lesson was a painful reminder that not everyone wants to hear something unique, and most importantly, if you have something unique to say, you better find the right forum for it.
How did you come up with the idea behind The Felix Chronicles?
I drive to work now. The traffic in Connecticut is pretty awful and the commute takes about an hour. A few years ago I started telling myself a story to pass the time. The story took place on a college campus and the main character was a freshman. His name was Felix. In some ways this freshman (and the story) was quite ordinary. Felix made friends, went to class, studied, and partied like any eighteen-year-old away from home for the first time. Then I took that basic story and layered it with elements that interest me. After all, I was making it all up in my mind while stuck on the Merritt Parkway to entertain myself. Once I had it locked down tight in my head I sat down and started to write. 500 pages later (and a year or two of very little sleep) I published the book.
What drew you to this genre of writing?
Writing an Urban Fantasy really just aligned with my personal interests. I grew up reading YA and Fantasy. I also read just about everything by Stephen King which may account for the violence and general ‘tone’ of my book. I’d like to take just take a moment to address this issue because I’ve been criticized recently for the level of general mayhem and ‘gore’ in my book. In The Felix Chronicles, I created a world in the midst of an approaching darkness, where strange creatures roam the nearby forest and a serial killer murders teenagers who fail a “simple” test. The encounters with the unfortunate victims are chilling, violent and bloody. I made the decision ‘to spare no gore’ after a great deal of thought, fully aware that I was potentially subjecting myself to criticism. I understood that it would shock some (and most likely remove the book from the reading lists for those under sixteen), but I didn’t want to hint at the violence or rely on my readers’ imaginations. There are characters in my book who are truly bad people (or flesh eating monsters, in some cases) and I took the position that their actions should be described in such a way that the reader will understand that there is no limit to their cruelty. To put it another way, I want my readers to literally wince at the prospect of ‘what will happen to that poor girl when she can’t move the piece of wood with her mind’. Spoiler alert: nothing good.
Which writer(s) of your genre do you admire most?
I love Young Adult and Fantasy, but I’ll read just about anything if the mood strikes me. I really admire Suzanne Collins because of the way she was able to create a story (The Hunger Games) that appeals to just about all age groups. Part of it is the writing, which is exceptional, but I think there’s a depth and genuineness in her characters and her storytelling that makes the whole thing come alive. I actually live in the same small town in Connecticut as Ms. Collins, and I sometimes wonder if I’ll bump into her at the grocery store. There is this one woman I tend to run into at the deli counter on Sunday mornings who likes to talk about books, and I’ve deliberately refrained from pulling up Ms. Collins’ picture just so I can hold onto the possibility that I’m chatting with the person who created The Hunger Games while I order cold cuts.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you or your book?
Other than my wife, no one knows that I wrote it. Not family. Not friends. Not the people I work with. At first I kept it to myself because I didn’t want well-intentioned supporters flooding my Amazon page with ridiculously glowing reviews. Nothing says “amateur” like a five star rating in fifty-six out of fifty-six reviews. But now that it’s been a few months since I published the book, I’ve decided to keep it under wraps as an experiment: I’m waiting to see if someone I know will ask me if I wrote The Felix Chronicles. I’ll be sure to let you know if someone uncovers my secret.
Don’t Miss The Felix Chronicles, Available Now!The Felix Chronicles: Freshman by R.T. Lowe
Series: The Felix Chronicles, #1
Published by Self Publish on 2015-05-20
Length: 500 pages
Reeling from a terrible accident that claimed the lives of his parents, Felix arrives at Portland College hoping only to survive the experience. In time, however, his reality star roommate shows him there is more to higher education than just classes, shared bathrooms and bad dorm food, and Felix gradually dares to believe he can put his past behind him. But a fateful storm looms on the horizon: In the nearby woods, two hikers become the latest victims in a series of gruesome murders; a disfigured giant embarks on a vicious cross-country rampage, killing teenagers who fail his 'test'; and an ancient society of assassins tasked with eradicating the wielders of a mysterious source of power awakens after a long silence. Only one man--the school's groundskeeper--knows that the seemingly unrelated events are connected, and that an eighteen-year-old boy stands in the center of the storm.