Interview with Nathan Lowell

Read this interesting interview with Nathan Lowell, the author of the “Share” series from the “Golden Age of the Solar Clipper.” Then read my reviews of two of these books: “Quarter Share” and “Half Share.”

Interview with Nathan Lowell:

First, let me thank you for taking the time to share this with me and my readers. I have really enjoyed your books and hope that my readers will also pick them up so they may also.

Q: How did you catch the writing bug?

Lowell: I’ve been dabbling at writing since I was about 10. I always thought that it would be cool to make a living off my imagination and telling stories was always something I had fun doing. After several passes at the slush piles and trying to get shorts into magazines in the 70s, I gave it up as not in my stars. In 2004, I found podcasting and in 2005, podiobooks. By the end of 2006 I knew I wanted to try to tell my own stories. The podcast novel had very low barriers to entry and I liked that it was a direct connection from me to listeners. The stories would have a chance to live or die on their own–without the traditional filtering that comes from commercial publication.
In January, 2007, I sat down to write and I haven’t really stopped (although my production as slowed considerably as I keep tossing more balls in the air and trying to keep them all up there.)

Q: Your tales from the “Golden Age of the Solar Clipper” in the “Share” series have very much of a merchant marines feel about them. What was the inspiration for that type of dynamic?

Lowell: I was tired of the “save the universe” stories. It was a direct response to “blow up something every ten pages and save the universe every fifteen” kinds of stories. While I enjoy military sci-fi, I was looking for something more like the old Heinlein. I got the idea that there had to be other kinds of stories out there. Stories about people who weren’t the ship captains or the lost princes. I wondered what the “red-shirted crewman” did on the ship before he got tapped for the Away Team on the old Star Trek shows. I had a good idea of shipboard life, and built an economic model around the “clipper ships in space” idea. What would happen if the exploration of space were by an airline, not an air force…if we sent freighters instead of frigates? The rest just fell out from there.

Q: Ishmael Wang is a thoroughly fascinating and fully drawn character. His problem solving and natural leadership skills are inspiring. Was there a real life inspiration for him?

Lowell: Ishmael is the perennial “other” … as such he has the ability to see what “common practice” doesn’t work. He’s based on the notion that organizational inertia has a tendency to persist–that is, organizations tend to do what they’ve always done and it’s only through the application of an external viewpoint that they can achieve any kind of real change. As for his leadership skills, he manages a lot like my father used to but I don’t know that he’s modeled on him.

Q: You seem to have become one of the more popular authors among the PodioBooks set. If you were starting out again knowing what you know now, would you do it the same way again? What would you do different?

Lowell: Do again: Pump out content! Connect with listeners. Respond to comments on the Podiobooker blog.

Do different: Buy a digital recorder FIRST. That one thing solves so many problems with the technical production of the stories and it’s usually the last thing people do.

Q: Will you continue to podcast your new projects now that you have broken into print?

Lowell: I’ll always podcast my stuff. The only new project that’s gone to print first was “Light in the Dark” and the only reason it’s not on podiobooks is that it’s too short to make a good podcast. There’s a five episode minimum and at 21k words, that’s only about four. Tony C. Smith at Star Ship Sofa has accepted it and as soon as I get it recorded, it’ll run in his podcast magazine.

Q: Is there a deal pending for “South Coast” to make it to print?

Lowell: Yes. Ridan has agreed to publish both South Coast and it’s sequel, Cape Grace. The timelines stretch into 2013 at the moment so I’m not sure what might happen between now and then.

Q: Will there be more “Shaman’s Tales” following up on “South Coast” and will we be seeing more of Otto Krug?

Lowell: Yes. I’m writing Cape Grace now. That is intended to bridge the gap between South Coast and Half Share. As for any more beyond that? I don’t know yet. It seems to me there might be room at the end of Cape Grace for a closing story about the south coast shamans.

Q: I know you certainly have more projects in progress, so I guess the question is this: now that the “Share” series is complete, what is your next great thrust? Are you planning more series or some stand-alones?

Lowell: Cape Grace is in the works now. The next two volumes of the Tanyth Fairport adventures are in line after that. I hope to put out a few more novellas under the Novel Nibble brand and carry the story of Odin’s Outpost forward. Then there’s the next series of Ishmael Wang adventures. We haven’t really explored that universe very much. Ishmael has been introduced to a side of the Confederated Planets that he’s *known* exists but never actually considered what that means. Now he’s in a place where he needs to consider ideas like “who do the Galactic Marines fight?” and “What exactly does the TIC investigate?” and “How can a person be operating as a spacer when they’re a known criminal?”

My goal is to put out two or three books a year in audio and we’ll self-publish some, put some up for Ridan, and just keep pumping out content as long as people want to listen or read it.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add before we conclude?

Lowell: Thanks to everybody who’s listened or read, commented or tweeted or sent me email. I never expected such a wide-ranging response to stories where “nothing happens.”

And thanks for having me here, Keith.

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