His works include Another Life, described as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ for the 21st Century’ and The Invisible College Trilogy, an apocalyptic dystopian conspiracy tale for young adults, described as ‘1984 Meets the Book of Revelation’. The trilogy comprises Book 1, They Do Things Differently Here, Book 2, Dust and Shadows, and Book 3, A Perilous Journey.
Owen was born in Southend-on-Sea at a time when children spent their days outdoors, creating imaginary worlds that formed the basis of their adventures and social interaction. He has used this experience to create worlds based on documented myths, with elements of dystopia, mystery and science fiction, highlighting the use and abuse of power and the conflicts associated with maintaining ethical values.
Owen spent many years as a director of a software company and as a business and IT consultant. The experience provided him with a background of selling ideas, envisaging change, producing scenarios of differing outcomes and developing pragmatic solutions. All useful qualities to apply to creative fiction.
He is now pursuing his passion as a full-time writer, with new adult and young adult ideas in development. He is a keen photographer, whose travels have provided inspiration for researching different cultures and mythologies.
Owen lives in Essex, close to the countryside that inspired his trilogy. He regularly appears on local radio and at literary events, including the Essex Book Festival.
I took a year to write my new, fourth novel, Another Life, a work of speculative fiction, conceived as a twenty-first-century version of It’s a Wonderful Life.
I then spent a further year finding a publisher, finally succeeding with two offers, on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
One of the themes of the book is the relationship between the Green Man and my protagonist. May Day, when the rebirth of the Green Man is celebrated, presented the ideal date for the launch. I was delighted when the Company of the Green Man agreed to list the book on their website and to publicise to their members.
II prepared a detailed and comprehensive marketing plan with my publisher. I ordered business cards and postcards and reworked my social media pages and website to focus on the new book. I contacted leading UK book bloggers, requested radio interviews and sent copies, requesting reviews, to newspapers and to magazines specialising in speculative fiction and commissioned advertisements on Facebook. I had identified several local book events and was booked to lead a discussion at the Essex Book Festival Local Authors Day.
All was going to plan until, five weeks before publication, the lockdown began.
Our plans began to slip away like a mudslide. The summer events were all cancelled, although my Essex Book Festival event went ahead before the remainder of the festival was abandoned. Bookshops were closed; I made an offer to local independent bookshops to provide signed copies and a virtual event. They shared my ‘support local authors and bookshops’ messages but, understandably, deferred other activities. When the lockdown ends, they are unlikely to want an author sitting at a table in their one-way social distancing system, like a Madame Tussauds installation. My BBC Essex programme was delayed: the presenter explained that his show had been reformatted because of the pandemic. Arts interviews slots were cut from three to one a day.
A major blow came on publication day.
After being listed on Amazon for several weeks, suddenly, the order button was no longer displayed. Purchasers of paperback copies were presented with a message stating they would be emailed when Amazon had a delivery date. My publisher discovered that paperbacks ordered from the UK are printed in the US and shipped to the UK. With social distancing rules introduced in warehouses, a backlog of orders had built up.
The problem was resolved within a week, but how many people, on launch day, will have found the book unavailable and would not return? The distribution problem was exacerbated by the collapse of one of the main UK book distributors.
All is not lost. I have received a number of good reviews, although I am yet to meet my target of thirty. I have a blog tour booked for the end of January 2021. Three independent Essex booksellers have agreed to stock Another Life (Maldon Books, Red Lion Books and the Wivenhoe Bookshop). My publisher continues to provide more assistance than I could have expected. We plan to relaunch in the spring when the eBook is released, or when conditions are conducive to success.
On a personal note, I had no difficulties with the first lockdown, other than the restrictions on overseas travel: I was too busy with marketing activities. When the Government announced the second lockdown, my first, uninvited, thought was ‘how will I get through this without a cat?’
I have lost two cats in the past eighteen months to illness. As a writer, whose partner lives two hours away, it was the death of the second, in early July, that brought home how much my daily life revolved around these little friends. I adore their needs and mischief and, in the case of the first, her occasional disappearances into the local countryside for several days before returning with a welcoming trill and sometimes a mouse.
As if by destiny, on the Monday after lockdown, my daughter asked me if I would take on a stray adopted by one of her colleagues. She had been found two months earlier frequenting a neighbour’s garden, twenty miles from her registered address. Despite being microchipped, the owners could not be contacted. Unfortunately, she had now grown so confident in her new home that her presence had become unbearable to two of the other resident cats, which had experienced bad times in their earlier lives.
We are now bonding into mutual dependency, sharing attention and affection and learning each other’s needs, in her case validated by constant purring and nuzzling. As a fiction writer, I can confirm that every author needs a cat for inspiration and companionship, in return for love and a forever home.
I have made good use of the time to read longer books, including William Dalrymple’s splendid ‘The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company’. I intend to begin learning Japanese; so far I have not progressed beyond buying some learning materials.
It is important to remember that there are many others who are far worse off. Neither I nor my family have experienced illness or worse and it has not been onerous to adapt. The lack of distractions leaves no excuses for not getting on with the next book.
Another Life by Owen W Knight is published by Burton Mayers Books at £8.99 paperback or £4.99 Kindle.
I have to confess, that when the news came that lockdown was inevitable, my thoughts turned not to my skills as an author of local history, but my cupboards, neglected shelves and the desperate need to make some sense of my small office and my so called filing in the desk drawer.
Now was the time to stop making excuses that I was busy researching and writing and actually do all those housewifely duties so long ignored. Writing however was not to be tided away like neatly folded jumpers, merely sidelined for a moment or two.
Fortunately for me, having only just started the rudiments of my next book, that is to consist mainly of photographs of our towns early years. With these pictorial memories already in my possession, I needed only to settle copyright. The said items belonging to the Essex Record Office at Chelmsford. I was able to combine my negations for permission and agree a price by email. Also access their vast historical information online, which kept me occupied for a considerable time. So the early days of the first lockdown saw my writing and cleaning activates sitting comfortably side by side.
Although the pull of the computer was slightly stronger than the need to pick up the duster. I was fortunate in that unlike my previous publications, that required going out to meet and interview those connected with my currant project, this book needed only the attention of myself, husband and friend Chris. Husband scanning and taking photographs for our surroundings today and Chris preparing the book for the printers, ( we of course could not meet in those early days) as being self published I have to present them with the finished item.
Having progressed as far as it was possible, due to life's currant restrictions I turned to my other favourite occupation, jigsaw puzzles. Prior to lockdown two a year was the norm but somehow with more time on my hands one a month became the average.. But the urge to put pen to paper so to speak, was never far away and I wrote two articles The first for "Write On" magazine, before lockdown available in library's now online, related the history of another deadly virus that had struck in the 1920's, Smallpox.
I was able to write from a more personal perspective as my mother, a northerner, had told me of watching as a child, hand carts taking the deceased from their homes , covered by a sheet, to be left at the outskirts of village as they were in isolation, for the bodies to be collected and taken for burial.
When she herself contracted the virus was taken to an isolation hospital miles from home. When writing the article it occurred to me how fortunate we are today with good communications via our mobile phones and computers. Our televisions updating us on events daily, almost as they happen, entertainment at our finger tips to help with boredom.
Food delivered , or in my case a grandson who did my weekly shop in Morrison's, claiming to be the youngest shopper in store.
My second article went to Family Tree Magazine and was accepted for publication., but heaven only knows when it will be published. The content for the second article, was to say the least a much happier subject than the first. Having written several books on our local area and the people who's families had played their part in its history, I discovered that using genealogy allowed me to build on the information that they gave. Often finding I was able to supple information on their ancestors and their lives.
For all my efforts to keep mind and body active during the last few difficult months, I have missed most the regular physical contact with my writing group. Hearing their news of competitions entered, articles accepted by magazines and their reading of another chapter of a planned novel. All of this gives you the writer a positive fibe and a desire to go home and make contact with your keyboard.
Next publication out late next year " A Town Remembered"
How did you manage with lockdown?
At first I hated it. I had so many writing events lined up for March. There were many with the Essex Book Festival, one of my favourite annual events, and there was the launch of Write Club, set up by Create98 for budding writers, and the awards event for the Elmbridge Literary Festival. But each day my emails told me of a new cancellation. They all went down like nine pins.
Did it fill you with despair as a writer or did it energize you?
After some angst, I saw a chance to save one of these. I suggested to the Write Club tutors that we go online. Writing classes adapt much better to Zoom and WhatsApp than, say, running clubs! The tutors embraced the idea enthusiastically. By meeting online, writers who might not have been able to make the journey to the studio have been able to join us virtually.
Did you explore or renew talents in that time?
Running! I used to sometimes do the Park Run at Hadleigh Country Park. My husband is a keen runner, so we began to do our own park runs, exploring the lanes and woods near our home. It’s been great to get out and to see the changing seasons. Now it’s a regular habit.
Being a writer, I am told it can be a solitary pursuit, did you embrace the situation, or did it stifle creativity?
Somewhere in the middle! The regular meet of Write Club, renamed Virtual Writing Group, or VWG, gave me discipline in my writing, and what I’d learned before in workshops but had struggled to put into practice all seemed to make more sense as a result. I put aside a manuscript that I’d stalled with, and started a new project, which I managed to draft in four months. That’s really good going for me.
In the coming year have you got a book that is in the process of being published or, hopefully, a book launch?
I’d like to get some more of my short stories into magazines in 2021. I’m working on a historical fantasy for children as well, but I want to publish traditionally, so the whole process would take a couple of years from acceptance. I’m determined to get it out there, though!
For more information about Virtual Writing Group, see the Create98 website.
To find out more about Lynden Wade’s writing, follow her on Instagram @lwadewrites, on Facebook as Lynden Wade writer, or check her website https://lyndenwadeauthor.weebly.com/
In actual fact I quite enjoyed the original Covid lockdown. The weather was beautiful and I could sit outside reading without feeling guilty. All my classes and friends’ meetings were cancelled and I had lots of time on my hands so the writing aspect of my life got pushed to one side. Who wanted to be stuck inside facing a computer when there was such nice weather outside? Now, of course, things are slightly different. The weather has changed and I feel more like writing once again. At the moment I am waiting for the printing of my last book, which is all about Foundlings and I have now got into researching my next book about newspapers which is proving very interesting.
About Pearl Bramble
Pearl Bramble was born and brought up in Lincolnshire. After working in South Africa and Australia she now lives in Essex with her husband. She has written various short stories and poems and, whilst working for a volunteer organization, produced a volunteers’ magazine.
Ghosts and Superstitions of the Theatre
What are the most popular superstitions in the theatre?
What are the most haunted London theatres?
What are the most haunted regional theatres?
What are the most haunted worldwide theatres?
What are the most popular ghost plays?