A few months ago I had the opportunity to read a fast-paced political thriller, Death of Secrets, by Bowen Greenwood. (Read my review HERE.) When Bowen contacted me about reading his second book, Life of Secrets, I agreed and then thought, what about an interview too? If you are like me, you find the motivations and processes of an author’s life fascinating. So here is the interview Bowen agreed to. Make sure you check out the blurb about Life of Secrets at the end. I am halfway through; it’s another adrenaline-laced read.
By The Book — Many authors say that they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?
Bowen Greenwood — I would have to give the same report as those other authors. My mother loves to tell stories of me bringing her the latest “chapters” of my books when I was a little boy. But there are two distinct points that mark my “becoming” a writer. The first was as I left college. My career plan of serving in the military wasn’t going to come off, and as I cast about for what else I could do, the fact that I loved to write showed me the best answer. I tried for the next six years or so to find a home with an agent or publisher, and it never quite worked out. The second major transition point was last fall. To honestly describe it, I can only say that the lord brought person after person into my life who talked about writing, who wrote themselves, or who encouraged me to write, until finally it was obvious that I was being led to give it another shot.
BTB — Was there a special someone, such as a teacher, parent, or other relative, who encouraged you to pursue writing.
Bowen — My mother’s encouragement has to figure prominently. She wasn’t the only person, but she was by far the most persistent in encouraging my enjoyment of storytelling.
Bowen — When I decided to take up writing again in the fall of 2013, it was clear to me that this was a project God put me on. All of my old writing reflected my old value system. I knew that what I would put out into the world for the public would have to instead reflect what I had learned since then. I never even considered publishing anything that didn’t reflect who I am now. And that means it’s going to point at God in some way or another.
BTB — What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing schedule?
Bowen — Basically, I try to write from when I get home from work until I start to nod off at night.
By The Book — Life of Secrets is your second political thriller. Why do you like to write in this particular genre?
Bowen — In my day job I work in politics, and lived in DC for a while. There was a time when I used to try to write about FBI agents, or Secret Service Agents, but that was a world I knew nothing about. Everything I wrote was basically third hand fiction, repeating stuff I’d read in other people’s novels. When I switched to writing about politicians and reporters, I feel that my books got much more authentic.
BTB — What types of research did you do in preparing to write this novel?
Bowen — I never intended it as research for this novel, but I started a martial arts class at about the same time I returned to writing, and that paid off dramatically in descriptions of the fight scenes. Likewise, shooting is a hobby of mine, and that shows up clearly in the gunplay. I have a friend who’s way more into shooting than I am, which made it easy to find out answers to “Could a subsonic .22 bullet break glass?” “What kind of pistol are federal law enforcement agents issued?” and other questions like that.
BTB — How real-life are the political intrigue and conspiracies that you feature in your novels?
Bowen — The main character in Life of Secrets, Alyssa Chambers, is a “plumber,” or a person who specializes in attempting to gain illegal advantage for one political campaign for office, and against another. The historic description is real — “plumber” is really a term used to describe some of the men who committed the Watergate break in. However, no one I know has ever met a real world “plumber.” I kind of doubt they’re real any more. Everyone likes to engage in daydreams or conspiracy theories where someone like Alyssa is out there, manipulating elections behind the scenes. But I have never encountered anything like it. The real world equivalent is someone who does “opposition research,” which is the term for finding out a candidate’s baggage. But they do it all through Lexisnexis, public records searches, and ordinary boring means. I don’t think anyone breaks into offices and plants bugs anymore.
BTB — What do you want your readers to take away with them after finishing Life of Secrets?
Bowen — This is hard to answer, because I don’t want to give away the ending. The conclusion of this novel is really important to me. It is meant to speak out on behalf of forgiveness and mercy. Throughout the book, characters make choices — some right, some wrong. The end of the novel centers on one big choice. I hope people find that encouraging.
BTB — Readers are always curious as to what a writer is working on or just what is next to be published. Can you give us a glimpse of current works in progress?
Bowen — And I think writers are always happy to be asked! I have two books in progress right now, which gets a little confusing. I just tend to sit down at the computer and see what’s coming out that day. One is the third book in the Secrets series. (Perhaps I should say Series of Secrets, to keep with the naming convention?) Alyssa ends Life of Secrets in a situation from which she will need to get out — that’s not a cliffhanger, just a very emphatic transition from one stage of life to another — and one of the other characters has a Senate campaign to run. My plan is to mix those two things together and see what comes out. I’m toying around with the title Traffic in Secrets, but am not firmly sold on it yet. I have a second novel in progress which is something completely different. I have to resist the temptation to go into too much detail, but the short version is this: It’s a Christian superhero story. I’m thinking of calling it Sons of Thunder.
BTB — What would you like to share about your personal life?
Bowen — When I’ not writing, I love the outdoors. Hiking, backpacking, camping, etc. Discovering the independent fiction community has been an absolute delight to me. The book bloggers, writers, and readers are very welcoming and helpful.
BTB — Thank you so much for sharing with the readers of my blog.
Bowen — Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in this. I really appreciate it.
A double life. A secret from her past. Betrayal from every side. Alyssa Chambers is rich and privileged by birth, but a criminal by choice. She steals secrets from the powerful and influential, and sells them to whoever pays — and they pay very well. But when someone assassinates a Presidential candidate in an office Alyssa just robbed, she’s framed for the murder and everything goes up in smoke. Now she’s running for her life, hunted and alone. The last man she can trust is the one she can’t stop betraying. To survive, clear her name, and uncover the assassin, she must face the truth about her past, the truth about her family, and the truth about her Life of Secrets.
(Thanks to Bowen Greenwood for a review copy of this book.)
To purchase this book, click on the image below. The Kindle version is just 99 cents!