Bo Fowler’s books, including Scepticism Inc. and The Astrological Diary of God, have been conventionally published by the likes of Jonathan Cape and Bloomsbury USA. Reviewing Scepticism Inc., The Guardian said “if Nietzsche had written a novel, it would probably have some of the flavour of Bo Fowler’s ambitious debut”. Lately, though, he has ‘gone indie’. In this interview, he talks about his writing background, his reasons for self-publishing, and his plans for the future.
How would you describe metaphysical betting to someone who hasn’t tried it before? I don’t see a list of odds anywhere. Do you have rollovers and lucky dips? Scratchcards?
You can only make a metaphysical bet on something you can’t prove and never will be able to prove; thus there are no odds. Since you can never win the bet I get to keep the money. I don’t have rollovers but I sometimes do a two for one offer on my website.
What’s the first thing you ever remember writing?
A Science Fiction story when I was 7. The critics hated it.
You’ve said that one of your influences is Kurt Vonnegut. When I ask authors about their influences, Vonnegut is one of the most common answers. Why do you think he seems to have inspired so many people not only to read, but also to write?
He taught me that writing isn’t about using long words; that you can say something deep and meaningful in the guise of a joke. He also taught me that writing can be and should be fun, joyous even.
Kurt Vonnegut didn’t like semi-colons very much. Do you?
It is the best of punctuation; it is the worst of punctuation.
You describe yourself as “conventionally published but now going ebook indie”. Why did you decide to go indie?
I got bored of trying to fit my work into conventional publisher’s conceptual pigeonholes and being mishandled. I’m also a bit of a control freak and this way I’m in control of everything – that and my agent stopped returning my calls.
One aspect of going indie is that you have to do a lot of marketing for yourself. How enthusiastic are you about that?
Not very. I tweet a lot, aphorisms mostly and it’s very satisfying to get instant responses to your work. I also regularly put short stories on my blog. I tweet and blog because I enjoy it, apart from that I’m not good at self-promotion. (Hopefully this interview will help.)
Ebook technology now allows authors to embed videos, games, even (soon, apparently) smells into their books. Does that kind of thing interest you as an author and as a reader?
Sure. When I was about to E publish The Philosophy of Stars I said to myself I could add a picture on page 12 and I went out and took the picture and up loaded it and it’s there. So yes the technology is amazing but I haven’t really got my head around it yet. Recently a friend and I came up with the idea of the next kindle version injecting adrenaline into it’s reader as they near the climax of the story they’re reading…
You said that Nietzsche would have loved Twitter. Do you think he would have loved Facebook too?
No Nietzsche would have hated it; Kierkegaard, on the other hand, would have simply adored it.
While I was looking up some of your books just now, one of the first links I found on Google was to a pirated copy of Scepticism Inc. How much of a threat do you think book piracy has become?
Yeah, I heard about that. I guess I’m sort of flattered. He’s a big fan of my work apparently.
How do you write? Do you force yourself to write a certain number of words every day?
Writing is like sex; I use to do much more of it when I was younger, now its only once in a while when the wife lets me.
What are your plans for 2012? Do you have anything new coming out?
I’m going to e-publish the novel The Astrological Diary of God. I’m also working on a scientific romance novel set in San Francisco.
Finally, imagine you stumble into a stranger’s basement and you find a kid sitting at a desk. He’s got a great idea for a book and he’s convinced it’s going to make him millions. Do you have any advice for him before you stumble out?
I’d tell him to enjoy the ride and that there are three rules for writing great books; unfortunately no one knows what they are.
Bo Fowler’s books, including Scepticism Inc. and The Astrological Diary of God, are available from Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and other retailers. You can also visit his blog, try metaphysical betting, find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.