Drop and Give me 20! 20 Hard Questions for Hard Writers
Alright, we’re breaking from the norm here (it’s anarchy up in here!). I’d like to introduce Edd Sowder! Co-owner, publisher, editor, and VP at Burning Willows Press.
Pre-Question - So, who are you?
I am the flunky that runs Burning Willow Press. Most of the authors there know to call on me and I will get it done…if I remember we spoke about it, that is. Additionally, I am the Executive Vice President, controlling interests partner, spokesman, public speaker, panel giving, convention going, all around everywhere person who loves his job at BWP even though I do not always know what I am doing. I was born in the Detroit area of Michigan and am a country boy at heart with a family farm in Tennessee. I am a father, a husband, a semi-writer, a less than perfect person and partial robot. I am well educated and see myself as remotely intelligent. I am an overachiever and a Virgo. My eyes are blue, hair is brown, I am a multitasker and work well under pressure…. Did I get the job? Can we speak about benefits and salary yet? I need a few days off every week to run my other jobs.
1. Softball question for you: Why did you want to become a Publisher?
The Cliff’s Notes are easy. My wife said I was going to be one. The long version is most of my family and friends know I am an amputee. Left lower leg is missing. Longer story, another time. But I was recovering from that surgery in the hospital and Kindra (CEO/President of BWP/Author extraordinaire with BWP, Vamptasy, and CHBB) came to me and said she wanted to start her own publishing company. I thought sure when I get back on my proverbial feet, I will help bankroll it and help with consultation and business advice…thinking about three months later. Well, no, she meant right now. So, the very next week, I was a publisher. That was October 2014.
2. What is your biggest failure?
Well, if BWP does not make it, that will be my biggest. So far, my biggest to date was not being a better father to my son. Or to all the kids I kind of adopted as he was growing up. He, as well as the others, will tell you differently but I always feel like I was not good enough when he was younger. That I could have done more or something. Otherwise, not caring enough for someone I cared for when it mattered and now they are no longer with us. I failed there and it will haunt me for the rest of my life.
3. What was the worst lie you ever told?
I am a writer. Telling lies is kind of what we do, isn’t it? Seriously, I think back to my high school days now and remember all the bullshit I used to say to get away with stuff. Wow, I was horrible. Glad, I finally grew up…a little.
4. Editing, Publishing, Art... you are a fountain of creativity! What was the hardest project you’ve worked on?
Building a brand called Burning Willow Press is by far my hardest but also my most rewarding. I am very passionate about what I do. Some days are better than others but I can honestly say, I do it as a labor of love.
5. How would your friends describe you? And what about your worst enemy?
My friends most likely will say I am a dick, asshole, mean, honest, jerk. All at the same time. They are friends, right? They will also tell you that I am always there to lend an ear and advice to them if I can. That I will bend over backwards to make them feel important. I am generous when I have a chance to be. My enemies will say the same but they will add words like, “nothing without me”, “Cannot ever do anything right”, “Loser,” or “Does not pay what he owes.” Which all my staff will tell you if I owe them, I pay them. I will make sure my authors get what they earned. And I try to give a few extras to them when I can as well.
6. What is your creative Kryptonite?
Most likely, my phone. I can work with distractions. I can work with music or the TV playing in the background. I cannot work if I have seventy phone calls to make or take or if I am responding to Private messenger on FB all day. Not that I mind but that is why I have not written much in the last two years. I must cater to my authors and that is more important to me than my own needs, or desires.
7. What popular movie/book/music which others adore, do you secretly despise?
Movie: V for Vendetta. Sorry, never liked it. I just could not get into it. Not my style I suppose. I do understand it but I did not get all the hype, that one or the Babadook. Which was the most boring supposed horror movie I can say I ever watched.
Book: Probably not a good idea for a publisher to say which ones he hated even if it is a bad one. I will pass on that one. Regardless of what I stated about the above-mentioned movies, I am sure the books were most likely tons better.
Music: Nirvana. Jesus Christ man, Kurt Cobain had zero talent and was being paid millions for it. Anyone who thinks Courtney Love was intelligent enough to pull of killing him, well, fall off the planet now. She was just as much a junkie then as she is now. Additionally, Fall Out Boy. Thirty Seconds to Mars, One Direction, Lady Gaga. I will give this section a thought though, “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga is done a helluva lot better by Halestorm than by her. Props to Lizzy Hale for giving it the much-needed rawness it needed. Additionally, when I say Lady Gaga is trying to be this decades Madonna, you should not dispute that. It is true. Madonna not only paved the way, she chewed it up and spit it out for Spears, Gaga, Shakira, Aguilera and others like them.
8. What is the worst criticism you ever received? How did it make you feel?
A family member told me once that I would never make it in my chosen profession at the time. I then got so far into the field that I took my awards to her office and threw them on her desk and walked out. At the time, I was a mechanic, ASE certified, L1 Master tech and the service manager of a very profitable repair facility. I did it just to prove them wrong. I still do daily in everything I do, as well.
9. If you could have one “do-over” in your life, what would it be?
As in doing it right this time around? Honestly, I have a degree in physics and part of that carries a weight in quantum mechanics where we got to study theories such as string theory in which the movie, “Mr. Destiny” was derived partially from. In this movie, there is a scene outside a bar, where the lead character must decide and he is then explained that if he decides one way, it affects all the outcomes from then on. So, if I went back and never moved from Georgia and stayed there and did what the right thing would have been at the time instead of taking the road less travelled, I would not be where I am today or married to Kindra, or have my son, or my business. So, the answer would have to be…nothing. I am happy with where my future is heading. I control my destiny, nothing else does.
10. What was the last movie/book which made you cry?
In all actuality, I can only think of one movie that makes me cry every time I watch it. Seven Pounds, starring Will Smith. I have something very much in common with the persona he is portraying. I am a transplant recipient who did not think he deserved it when he got it. Kidney and pancreas, Dec 2007.
The book I most recently cried while reading was one of our own. “We Will Gain Our Fury” by Nicole Thorn and Sarah Hall. I really felt compassion for the one main character, Kezia. She has such a hard time dealing with her past and I feel that she deserves my love as well as the love she desires from her would-be boyfriend in the story. It is a mythological series with demi-gods and seers, also a hint of fantasy in today’s realm. Well worth the read. Check it out.
11. Which creative trope are you the sickest of...and possibly caught yourself doing?
I tend to be wordy when I write. This is apparent by the length of my answers. I feel I must explain things to the letter of the question. At one time, I was studying to be a teacher and they tend to be wordy in explanations. I find myself in my writing going back and trying to make things more concise if it is to be read by others. Not so in interviews though. Sorry guys!
12. Do you have any scars (mental or physical)? Which one(s) is/are your most memorable?
Both. The physical ones remind me of the pain and the fact that I made it through whatever was trying to kill me at that moment. Mental scars, I hide well enough to keep others from noticing them right off. But they are there. The physical ones, are easily seen. Let’s just say I lived a rough life and leave it at that…
13. Have you ever been in a fight/punched in the face? How did/would you react?
When I was a teenager, I kickboxed for competition. It is safe to say I have been punched and kicked in the face. Most of my opponents did not walk out of the ring. Today, I react much differently. My wife tells everyone I do not have a flight reflex. I only have a fight. So, when I am presented with dangerous situations, I become dangerous too. Do not let the missing leg fool you. I can still hold my own. I guess Kindra would know as she has multiple degrees in psychology. I kind of wonder if she has ever psychoanalyzed me…hmmm.
14. What’s the most difficult thing about being married to a writer?
Easy. Time for us alone when she is on a deadline. But we make it work. I am running her company with her and I tend to spend a tremendous amount of time working right behind her as she is typing, so am I. We do what we must. I do get to meet a lot of interesting individuals due to the invites to conventions and panels and book signings. We have a great working relationship outside the office as well as inside it. When it gets to a point that we need time together, we let each other know. Then make plans.
15. What do you find the most rewarding about conventions/appearances? And, what do you HATE about them?
I never go to a convention for a profit. On the contrary, we usually only go with the intention to meet people. Networking is the most rewarding aspect of going to conventions. I usually meet a bunch of great people, become fast friends with them and make long term goals with connections we have made. On the other side, a convention that is poorly run will make for a bad experience too. We went to one that was not ADA compliant. I am missing a leg. Kind of hard for me to carry in supplies on day two when I must park in vendor parking, a quarter of a mile away. Overall, we make it work. I am not a stranger to hard work nor am I one to allow a pissy attitude of someone else get me in an uproar for too long. I will try to remedy it and find a solution first.
16. Which of the characters you’ve published do you most empathize with? Which character do you least empathize with? Why?
This is a loaded question, you know that, right? Okay I will give a couple of examples here. Mark Reefe’s, “Road to Jericho” has a character named Finn in which I felt needed a break and a good stiff drink by the end of the first journey he took. I have already told you I had an extreme love for Kezia in “We Will Gain Our Fury” by Nicole Thorn and Sarah Hall. Additionally, we have a story coming out by TJ Weeks called, “Obsessed with the Kill: Abdul Uncut” that I empathized with the main character, Allison, quite a bit. Her trials and tribulations she had to endure were horrible and unhuman. Also, R’hale in the upcoming novel by Charles Lee Mullenix titled, “The Future is Built on Ashes” is a strong character who will only take enough crap from others until he has no choice left. I can certainly attest to being much like him. Honestly, every published book we have, I have a character, or two, I feel like I need to empathize with. The one character recently that I have read that I feel no remorse for at all is Victor Van Danz in Kerry Alan Denney’s December 3rd release of, “A Mighty Rolling Thunder.” That guy is beyond terrible. Additionally, Abdul Ahab in TJ Weeks’ release as well. I would say, Simone in David Owain Hughes’, “Wind Up Toy” but I loved his twisted mind, not that I empathized with him, he was severely misunderstood, and neglected as a child so he has his reasons, it was more sympathy than empathy I think. But again, that Abdul, is just sadistically, brutal.
17. You mentioned to me, you’ve written/created some interesting ideas which have not been published. Would you like to share one of those ideas?
For a while I have been toying with the idea of a mysterious energy felt under the basement of an abandoned mansion where a lawyer killed his wife and four children nearly 100 years ago. That is one idea I have in development. Another idea I have been playing with a bit is a romance novel in which I was writing while in my second year of college. It has an air of mystery to it and will make a good thriller if I can pull it out and get started on it. I have a dual book of Poetry nearly ready to publish if I can ever get it finished and subbed out called “Mirrors.” I also have a short story idea of sorts that I am working on where our main character awakens in a well. Another idea I have is more X-men meets Repo Men, where it is discovered that a certain genome allows certain individuals to replicate replacement organs if they are surgically removed or otherwise, immediately. Of course, the US government wants control over these people. I will leave it there. As the speculation can grow fast on it.
18. My wife is a freelance editor on the side (only reason my own work isn’t a bigger bucket of crap). And, while she works, I’ve heard her grumble a time or two about a project she is editing. What do you find most and least rewarding, about editing? Follow up, has anyone ever been adamant against your edits?
I will explain this in the best way I can. It was explained to me once by a friend who is an actor as to why a book is always better than the movie. In the movie, the Director must take the image he sees and create a marketable idea for the masses. In which he will then cut it up, edit it, remove scenes, and use HIS imagination to make it profitable to the masses and producers. An editor is the same way in a sense. We edit out the over used words, the sentences that make no sense and the scenes that are redundant or not necessary…even find the plot holes in the story or the misinformation. So yes, I have grumbled a time or two over an edit I was working on. There was one time I spoke aloud to nobody and sounded like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction. “English, Do You Speak It!?!” The most rewarding part of this is that I have a hand in making the story better, more refined, flow better. The least rewarding is that we are unsung heroes of the publishing world. We should know rules that some writers do not seem to understand. We should try to make it work in a way that they did not envision and we take the brunt of the criticism if the copy uploaded was not edited correctly when authors should make damned sure it is ready for print by going through it themselves as well before it goes back to the printer or publisher after edits. Some do, others do not and we get the blame for it. Have I ever had a writer tell me no? You had better believe it. I had to take a long hard look at a story once that I could not get the author to even consider revising and eventually had to let them out of the contract. The idea was sound, but the story needed edits badly. It happens.
19. While visiting a museum, you are looking at a particular painting which has entranced you. Something about it...you just can’t stop looking at. Without warning, you are sucked into the painting itself! You are now in the shadow realm, one which looks through the portals of mirrors and paintings into the real world. Try as you might, you are stuck. Behind you, the denizens of the shadow realm are moving about, curious about the living, warm, delicious mortal who has entered their domain. You can have one weapon of your choice, three books and one luxury item...what do you take?
First thing I do is kiss my ass goodbye. One weapon, I would think that a flashlight would be in order with unlimited battery power. But for a weapon, I am going with something equally as ancient as these creatures, some kind of a very old knife or sword. Reason why, is that if it was forged then, it will kill them too. Three books, hmmm…that one is tough. My guess is that I will not have much time to read but in the event that I do, “Dante’s Inferno” Since I am clearly in the middle of the circles of hell now, I think the “Old Testament” would be the best bet to bring down some old school God Wrath on these bastards, and will likely, may need, “Malleus Maleficarum” in which I will need some serious witchcraft to get out of this one alive. My luxury item would be, Sam and Dean Winchester. Why? Hell nothing kills them so it would be awesome to have them with me on this excursion, too.
20. What would you like fans and potential fans to know about you as a person?
I am not always an asshole. I must be pushed to be that person. If I seem short with you, it is likely not your fault. My tones do not always reflect my inner thoughts and I am working on that. I give way too many second chances. There is an end to my rope too. Just like everyone else. Oh, and this one is for Lynn and Mikey. I am not a machine. Daniel, I am a cyborg.
Thank you for interviewing me Michael. I enjoyed the questions and hope that we can do it again sometime.
My please Edd! If you would like to know more about Edd check out his contact information below!
On Facebook: Edd Sowder
On Twitter: @EddSowder, @Burning_willow
On Instagram: @EddSowder, @bwpllc