Ask the Author: Dion Crowe

I spoke to the lovely Dion Crowe about his writing process.

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Dion J. Crowe is a writer who dabbles in all genres and has a unique approach to storytelling. His first book, In Dark Times, is available as a paperback at Lulu.com and as an ebook at Amazon.com. In Dark Times is an anthology that deals with characters experiencing some form of mental struggle, and how each of them attempts to find the light at the end of the tunnel.

Crowe has given talks to various mental health organisations and has been featured in a number of mental health promotional materials. His work has been published in Scope, and he has been a long time member of The Fellowship of Australian Writers Queensland.

Having grown up as an artist, Crowe had no original plans to become a writer, but was captured by the epic nature of Raymond E Feist’s story telling in his final year of high school.

It inspired me to start experimenting with writing. I tried writing a few fantasy stories but couldn’t quite hit the mark. Then I started reading the fantasy author, David Gemmell. His book, ‘The Chronicles of Druss the Legend’ is one I read again and again. The main reason I liked Gemmell is his heroes are flawed and very human. I liked the emotion he weaved into characters such as, ‘Druss’. It started leading me into writing stories centered around emotions. Then I read, ‘Fight Club’ by Chuck Palahniuk. I found I was already writing to his style and I liked the way he constructed sentences. So I experimented with telling a story the way he did while keeping Feist’s grandness and Gemmell’s emotion driven characters.

With all those influences in mind, Crowe wrote a short story called Unrelenting Sorrow, which features in In Dark Times.

It tells of a man who tries to commit suicide but gets it wrong and ends up on life support. The story got a powerful response that saw me sent to a psychologist as people thought it was about me. Being told in first person didn’t help me either! In a strange way the strong response was an indicator that I had finally hit the mark in my story telling. That one short story was the birth of, ‘In Dark Times’. The book is heavy in content and centers around characters with realistic human emotion. The authors influences from Feist, Gemmell and Chuck all helped shaped the landscape of my writing. I’m happy with the end result.

 As an artist, some of his ideas come as visuals in his mind, which he can use to construct a story around.

But, with ‘In Dark Times’, the short stories were created more from an emotional level. I would choose a random social topic that would spark in mind. I’d then begin to immerse myself in the characters thought process and reactions to a situation. It’s a process I call, ‘Method Writing’ similar to ‘Method Acting’, where you experience what the characters experience. Being stories based on emotions there’s no emphasis on the begin, middle and end structure. It’s get in, express the emotion and get out. Most of my characters don’t even have names but you still feel you know them on a personal level. The fictional social topics are told in a non-judgmental way. Instead they are more self-reflecting or a demonstration on how to think differently. It’s not my intention to shove a social topic down someone’s throat. But the emotional content from the short stories will at least let you feel what the characters feel.

 As Crowe is still learning and adapting his own writing, he finds it hard to give tips to others.

How I think can be different to how other people think. Two of the tips I can give though is one: be true to yourself when you write, and two: don’t judge yourself harshly.

When I started writing I was my own worse critic and even writing a simple paragraph was enough to send me off on a whirlwind of self-criticism. I do believe everyone should try writing once in their life even if you don’t intend on getting it published or shown. The creative process shouldn’t be forced, but should be enjoyed and most of all to have fun with it. Even if you only write two paragraphs that you’re happy with, then at least you’ve exercised that creative part of your brain. People live in a fast paced world now days and are very stressed. Creative writing can be like a form of meditation that makes you stop and think inwardly on yourself. But don’t put the pressure on yourself to be the next big author! Start out having fun with your writing and write only for yourself. If other people like it then you might be onto something.

Being the author of an anthology, Crowe found it hard to get published, before going down the self-publishing route.

For me to be an unknown and to have an anthology as my first book, I didn’t stand much of a chance with a mainstream publisher. I chose self-publishing in the end as it gave me an avenue to release my work and promote it how I liked. However, ‘In Dark Times’ was picked up by the ebook publisher, ‘Really Blue Books’, which are unfortunately no longer around.

If I had known that anthologies would be hard to get published by a mainstream publisher, I probably would have worked on something larger and more acceptable. So if you’re writing an anthology for your first book then that could be something to keep in mind. Know what publishers want and what they publish. But if you prefer having the freedom to publish what you like when you like, and have creative control then self-publishing might be for you. Personally I prefer self-publishing. The internet now days gives you all the tools to release and promote your book the same way a mainstream publisher would.

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In Dark Times will be available for free on Amazon from the 23rd of March for a week. Crowe is keen to hear your thoughts, so do support indie authors by grabbing a copy and writing a review.

With ‘In Dark Times’ I have already done the promotion trail way before the ebook was released. The anthology is also available as a paperback on the self-publishing website Lulu.com. With the paperback I’ve been in newspapers, magazines and given talks at major mental health events, so it’s already been promoted heavily.

I’ll also be promoting it on my blog page dionjcroweblog.com with my unique Slog format – a blog read as a Sound Log. As far as a book tour? Not sure yet. There’s a few avenues to explore but I’ll wait and see how the ebook goes.

Crowe will be releasing a lot of content this year.

A week after the free release of ‘In Dark Times’ there will be another anthology released in the form of an ebook on Amazon, called ‘Clouds Part Hearts Shine’. ‘Clouds Part Hearts Shine’ is a lighter and more humorous anthology than ‘In Dark Times’. It’s all about people overcoming adversity to find love. The short stories still keep to that emotional level but you’ll find yourself chuckling at the characters antics.

Originally released under the title, ‘Just Short Me!’ that I deleted due to reasons I can’t remember (though it still annoyingly haunts Amazon though not available for sale). ‘Clouds Part Heart Shines’ will be released with the same short stories but with an added hilarious short story to set it apart. There was a high demand from fans to release it again as they enjoyed it a lot.

There are way more books planned. There is one last anthology that I consider is some of my best writing. I’m really excited by it as it’s something new and ground-breaking. After that I have a novel trilogy planned and started. Once that’s done I’m struggling to choose which idea to write next as there’s too many of them. Like I said, I can’t turn the ideas off!

He’s currently reading Raymond E. Feist’s Magicians End.

I’m really enjoying it but I keep getting distracted by my own projects. My wife is more the reader and can devour a book in a matter of weeks. I tend not to read a lot as I like to develop my own style of writing. Though I keep being told by everyone that’s not a good idea and to get back to reading. I was never one to stick to standards of writing or genres. I get distracted by shiny objects too easily!

To download the brilliant In Dark Times, click here. It will be available for free for a week from today (23/03/15).

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