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Advice from IR Approved Author Will Bowron: “Get out of your own way.”

VIGILANT received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Will Bowron.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

VIGILANT is the first book of The Hudson Saga series and was published in June 2022.

What’s the book’s first line?

HAMINGTON – A woman was fatally shot in the head outside her East Hamington home Thursday night.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

In a city where masked vigilantes enacting their own form of justice is common and accepted, a reporter pursues the man who started the vigilante movement. In the process, he becomes entangled in a strange world of violence that includes an exile of society fighting to survive, a cop with her own definition of the rules she’s supposed to enforce, and a homeless vigilante trying to make her community a safer place.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

Ever since I was a child I’ve been a huge fan of comic books and all the standard action adventure movies and stories that live within that realm. However, I’ve always wondered why we’re so entertained by make believe violence but it’s typically abhorred and condemned in reality. I wanted VIGILANT to take the violence and behaviors of the comic book realm and see how characters grounded in realty would would react to them. Would they be embraced? Despised? A bit of both? In that vein, VIGILANT takes some thematic inspiration from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen, Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’s Marvels, and the film Boondock Saints, as well as from the numerous, well-documented real-life vigilantes who decide they want to put on costumes and hunt criminals in the night.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

If you’re interested in the deconstruction of the humanity of super heroes, as well as the “whiz, pow, bang, smash” elements, VIGILANT is for you. This is a story written to be enjoyed as two primary vehicles – an entertaining speculative crime thriller about characters and storylines from different modes of life colliding & a novel about the impact of addiction, social biases, and violence on peoples’ lives. It was extremely important to me that the story not “jump the shark” from realism into fantasy so readers could conceptualize that in a few leaps and bounds of society we could wind up living in an environment similar to those in the pages.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character?  Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

Taylor Gardner is arguably the main character of VIGILANT, even though there are three other primary narrators. He’s the everyman of the story when we meet him, not quite swept into the world of vigilantism that everyone else in the story has, despite his life being permanently altered by it. However, as time goes on, life and the decisions of others have an impact on him and force him to re-evaluate his hard and fast stance on some of the themes the book touches on. The only thing about Taylor that really stays constant is his determination and focus. Whether that’s a positive or a negative is up for the reader to decide.

I don’t love qualifying my “fan-casting” or describing characters more than the story requires. I’m a firm believer that in a story like this, it’s my job to create the scaffolding and for the reader to dress it up however they imagine it. I don’t want to tell a reader how to make that image in their mind by saying that a character is of a certain race or background because it can disconnect the reader from their connection with the story.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I started writing stories when I was in first grade. There’s a box of books written and illustrated on construction paper pages, laminated and ring bound, somewhere in my parents’ attic. Eventually I started creating my own longer-form stories and characters. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from Rhodes College and writing has been my primary creative outlet ever since.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

VIGILANT is my first published novel. I have folders upon folders of short stories, drafts, beginnings of novels, and research, but The Hudson Saga, with VIGILANT as the first entry, was the first long-form narrative I felt worthy of seeing the light of day.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

My family owns the Alabama-based coffee and tea company, Red Diamond. I manage the B2B division of the company.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

It depends on the season of life. Right now, my wife and I are preparing for the birth of our second child, so there’s a little less writing being done. As I draft the second and third books of the Hudson Saga, I try to hit 5,000 words per week, mostly done between the hours of 4.30am – 6.30am. When there’s more stability and fewer life-changing events going on, I shoot for closer to 10,000 words per week.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?

The best part of being indie is the flexibility to write what you want to write. I don’t have to worry about an agent telling me that my story doesn’t fit into the boxes publishers are trying to check off. I don’t have to be concerned with the calculations of market viability that the James Pattersons and Stephen Kings put into the stratosphere. If I wanted to write a story about a topic no publisher deems worthy of value, then it’s my quality of writing that determines if the book does well. There’s no finger pointing that there isn’t enough of some type of content or too much of others. The reader is the final decider and the final critic about what’s worthy in the market.

The worst part is the mud. The fact that you’re simultaneously supporting and competing against every other indie author who has ever decided they have a story to tell. Everyone is trying to get out of the mud the same way you are and wanting to make sure their stories are read and loved by their readers. Being able to stand out amongst the sea of other indie authors and gain traction in that mud is by far the hardest part of being an indie.

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

Get out of your own way. Don’t get distracted by making sure every word and sentence you put on the page is perfect. Your first draft is going to be terrible. I don’t care how good of a writer you are, your prose is not going to be ready for public consumption. That’s just not how our minds work. We don’t write at the same speed a reader reads, so the tone, the language, all of it is going to come out rough the first go around. But when you’re done with the first draft, you’ve smashed and molded the rough edges of a story out of the marble block of your mind and put in the work to make the general form of the sculpture you’re going to create. From there, the editing and chiseling away of what you’ve first put on paper slowly but surely becomes the full final product you’ve always envisioned. It’s the details that make your story stand out, but you can’t craft the details until the foundation is firm.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?

It would depend on the story. If I felt like I had something that was commercially viable in a way that would involve film rights or book tours or some other realm of the industry outside of my knowledge, I’d like to be in partnership with a traditional house who also has skin in the game for my book doing well. That’s not easy though. Just like I said every indie author is trying to get out of the mud to get seen by readers, a traditional publishing house is the platform that elevates you above that mud. And everyone wants to get on that platform.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

I love telling stories. I’m more interested in entertaining someone and having them think or argue with themselves about what they read than any sort of fame or fortune that might come with being a successful author.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

This is an absurdly cliche answer, but David Foster Wallace is incredible. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed  Infinite Jest, but I certainly appreciated the artistry behind it and admire the complexity and detail that was involved with it. I think what Mark Z. Danielewski wrote in House of Leaves is the most entertaining piece of post-modern literature I’ve ever read and I still find myself wanting to get literally lost in its pages. Repeatedly winding my way back to a loop where I get stuck facing a minotaur in a footnote is nothing less than literary genius. I wrote my senior thesis comparing the use of the Hero’s Journey literary structure in William Faulkner’s short story “The Bear” to Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. Both of those authors are American treasures in my opinion.

Which book do you wish you could have written?

Vicious by V.E. Schwab is out and out one of the coolest books I’ve read in a while. It doesn’t hurt that it’s similar to VIGILANT, but unapologetically dives into the deep end of sci-fi/fantasy. Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow was far and away my favorite read of 2022.

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