OWEN H. LEWIS: SCI-FI GIVES ME A CLEAN SLATE TO START OVER AGAIN
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Owen H. Lewis recently published his debut novel The Mark of Man. He dropped a real estate business in order to concentrate in writing. Let’s hear his story.
– What is your last book, The Mark of Man, about?
– The Mark of Man is a novel about a future where humanity’s cannon of accepted philosophies are challenged and our passive inertia is confronted.
The central premise concerns a mark on the wrist which indicates the date of death of the holder – contrary to previous tales; this is posited as a genetic anomaly. So the race is not a simple chase and pursuit tale from evil overlords with a reliance on the familiar clichés and tenets, but one that concerns the whole of humankind and compels everybody (including the reader) to try to find an answer to this ticking doomsday clock.
The book races along as a first rate adventure yarn with the protagonist counting down the days he has left, whilst trying to come to terms with losing the love of his life. Fate however seems intent on throwing them back together.
The discovery of another Earth like planet gives hope for a solution to ‘The Mark’ and an expedition is mounted. The subsequent settlement is explored in remarkable detail. Political layers are exposed and the society revealed carries real depth, as our characters become intertwined in some of the darker corners of this new world and the secrets it holds.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– Initially it was three short stories that I’d been developing for quite some time. However following an extremely vivid dream, where I woke up believing I was truly in the environment of The Mark of Man, I had finally found my premise with which to link the three together and therefore was able to embark on my triptych. The result is a thrilling ride which provides a window into mankind’s soul, whilst casting a glance on our constant internal struggle with science vs. religion and nature vs. technology.
– What was the biggest challenge during the writing process?
– Ensuring that there is a beating heart to the story – that it never waivers nor meanders. When you construct such a web of deception and hidden truths, it sometimes gets hard to keep control of your characters. Once I felt satisfied that this was so, my ultimate focus was to leave the reader enlightened by their journey, as if they were either one of the two main protagonists. I believe that The Mark of Man meets these targets and pushes us on further – I would like to think that the readers will agree…
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
– Hansel Laurence is an artist and a deep thinker, who is placed in a dystopian future not far from our own. So in principal, yes, he is similar to me – given that his lifestyle, background and environment are somewhat similar to my own ideas and experiences. I guess, through all the training in creative writing that I’ve received over the years, its far better for a writer to stick with what he knows rather than write a diatribe about something unfamiliar!
However I would like to point out that The Mark of Man is a philosophical romance, more than anything else, and just because most of the world is clamouring for the next vampire saga or Game of Thrones clone, I’m of the conviction that the world is now ready for a more intelligent and challenging story. Science fiction shouldn’t just be about shiny spaceships or flesh eating aliens, it should challenge and create discussion; perhaps even arguments.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– The entire process took me two years to the day. I started writing the treatment to The Mark of Man on September 10th 2012 and I had my first launch on September 10th 2014.
The treatment took me three months to create the story arcs, develop the characters and then create the alternative timeline. It took another eleven months to get the entire story down in raw form.
It took me six months to find a publisher and then another three months to get it out there, for all to see. In its original state there were more than 200,000 words, of which I kept only 116,000 after the final (publisher) edit.
– Who are you?
– I had my heart set on a career in the creative arts from an early age and, after gaining a degree in English Literature in 1998, I broke into film and television. At first I worked in London, then Madrid and finally settled in Los Angeles with my own production company.
However, outside pressures eventually forced me to adopt a more conformist career path and I moved into real estate investment. After gaining a Masters from Cass Business School, I moved to The City and what followed was a relatively meteoric rise through the ranks, where I secured a directorship within a FTSE 250 company, before eventually setting up my own International Real Estate Business in 2008.
However I truly became jaded with the environment in which I worked – the global recession was a major contributing factor. At this crossroads I once more turned to my first love – writing – this time I had a profound, thoughtful and challenging story to tell.
– What are your writing habits?
– I’m meticulous and also a creature of habit. Therefore I follow a structure that has been with me for time immemorial. Since my time at school, university and at work, I have always had a lot going on in my daily life, so I write outside of 9am-5pm.
I try to write 1000 words a day, 5 days a week. I usually allow for 6 hrs a day to put these words down. Anything else will come to me later on, overnight. Having a young family prevents me from doing any more during the weeks and at most weekends, however as the story develops and I get more intricately involved, I find it hard to detach myself – to the detriment of my wife and children!
I’d like to add though, that The Mark of Man isn’t necessarily a sci-fi – in time it might be considered as the first of a long line of anti sci-fi’s – so when using such a paradigm, I’d suggest that you must firstly forget the environment whilst you shape the story, then set up the premise based on your own views and experiences – then you insert the techno babble.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book and do you plan another one?
– When is an artist ever satisfied? Joking apart, I’m happy with the reception that The Mark of Man has received so far. Reviews and soundbites from readers have been along the lines of: #seems like an experienced author, #good story, #well worth reading, #wordsmith of skill, #a powerful ride, #genuinely challenges our thinking…
What’s more, during August 2014, I momentarily reached the dizzy heights of #No 3 in the Metaphysical & Visionary charts on Amazon.
This is the 1st part of triptych, in that I have another two stories to tell, which are in principal unconnected. They will take a look at the human condition but perhaps from another stand point, whilst being set in a similar paradigm. I am currently writing the treatment to The Dark of Man as we speak.
– What are you doing to promote, by the best possible way, your book?
– I get support from my publisher and, contrary to my formerly naïve view of the marketplace, I have had to become quite the modern author with accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Shelfari, Facebook, Linkedin and Google, to name but a few.
I’ve recently learnt that the writing of a novel maybe one small thing but the promotion is something entirely different and far more challenging – something that has to be done regularly and comprehensively.
– You wrote the script for two short movies. How does writing a novel or short story compare with writing a movie script?
– I definitely approached them in the same way at first, given my background, however as time went by, I couldn’t maintain those methods – the character development and environment were integral to the plot and so out went the action sequences, unnamed characters and frivolous conversations.
Being serious for a minute, I would suggest that they are entirely different skills where neither can be seen as harder or more complex than the other. David Benioff springs to mind, as someone who bridges these two disciplines.
That being said The Mark of Man is ripe for adaptation into a film or TV series.
– What was the reason behind your decision to get out from a successful real estate business in order to concentrate on your writings?
– Through a love of literature and film – I studied English Literature at university and then worked in TV & Film afterwards, until family life took over and I felt compelled to move into real estate investment. However one’s interests and skills never leave them and with almost another 20 years living a varied existence, one would hope that I have acquired enough life experience to be a social commentator.
– Why Sci-Fi?
– It’s a hot topic right now in both literature and film. I guess, as we all broaden our horizons through our use of technology, we re-educate ourselves and therefore reach the point where it is acceptable to question our own beliefs and convictions; those that were formed before the advent of the web.
It provided me with a blank canvass to posit my theories and ideals, without necessarily hurting anyone in particular. It gives me a clean slate to start over again; with our culture, our systems and the environment. I can challenge the reader without alienating them and I can keep them guessing because there are no rules.
Check out more about Owen at his web page
Take a look at his book
The mark of a man