In today's interview, we speak with one half of the brilliant writing partnership, Finn Nilsen Projects, Ryan Lowe, about his upcoming WEbook release, 'Camp 417: Prequel to Outpost Season One'. Like all of our titles, 'Camp 417' was developed right here on WEbook, and Ryan worked tirelessly with his writing partner Tom (and of course his fellow WEbook friends and authors) on the book.
The Brothers Finn?
Finnean Nilsen Projects (AKA FinNilPro, or The Brothers Finn), are the authors of the soon to be released, Camp 417, prequel to the episodic literary series, Outpost. The fantastically talented duo are currently hard at work on various projects, spanning a multitude of genres; they have also produced three novels and one novella, and somewhere in between all this, they found the time to be crowned two-time winners of the WEbook monthly challenges. Phew!
WEbook: Hi Ryan! To start, could you tell us what brought you back to WEbook?
Ryan Lowe: Lots of things, where do I start? I have always been a firm believer that WEbook is the future of publishing, but what really pulled me back in was the community. It's the only place on the internet where you have, and can benefit from, the kind of interaction and mutual respect that you find here on WEbook. But, it's also the kind of place I look forward to visiting. Most author sites make you feel like you owe them something. The members treat new members with a disdain bordering on contempt. That's just not the case on WEbook, here we're all equal in our lust for the growth of the site and our writing.
WB: As a returning member, what message would you give to those who are considering returning to WEbook?
RL: WEbook's different now. But, it's also the same. The best parts that we all love, they're still here: the community, the creativity, the rivalries, and of course, the friendships. It all flows together to make WEbook into such a uniquely personal experience. Those parts that made us leave? They're gone. The absentee management; the constantly changing dictates; the T&C's that had Writer Beware up in arms from day one; the fees, oh, and the spam… #$%@*&%$€!!! Sorry, I was having flashback… Thankfully, that's all gone now and we, the members, have the kind of management that I more than trust, I honestly respect them.
WB: Thanks Ryan! Maybe you could tell us a bit about what your favourite parts of using WEbook as a member are?
RL: Personally, I love to read the Challenge submissions where the commentators talk about the comments being as entertaining as the submissions. Or, as happened to me recently, when you've written something not up to par - and you know it - someone will be there to say, "You're better than this". It's like having an infinite number of big brothers to keep you in line, mentor you and celebrate your achievements. While, at the same time making sure that you can recognize your mistakes, without being unkind. Yes, we all know that having a big brother really sucks at times, but in the long run it's worth it (please never tell my brother I said that…)
WB: Sure, nobody will ever find out you said that, Ryan… Um, moving on. You've always been a very vocal member on WEbook, how do you feel the interaction you receive from the community affects your writing, your experience here, and the experiences of the other members on WEbook?
RL: How does it affect other users? I hope positively...? The beauty of WEbook is that it's all about the writing, about the people who write and their individual personalities. I hope that I can help people to develop their writing, just as others on the site have helped me to do the same. In everything, I see a story. Usually an awesome one. The stories I write on the site, and the stories I read, are what keeps me going as an author - and WEbook itself is one hell of a great story to be a character in.
WB: How do you think that WEbook has helped you and other members develop as writers and authors?
RL: The people that we've been able to meet on WEbook, the stories that we've told each other and the experiences that those stories have given all of us - this is what's helped us truly develop. But what makes it truly inspiring, and into a story of its own, is that all of us here on WEbook are going to find our own way to write, in our own ways. We will discover our voices, both personal and as writers - whether this is through provocative forum posts, kick-ass Challenge submissions, high ratings on PageToFame, or developing a following via the Projects - but the thing is, we do this together. As equals.
WB: But how does that make WEbook different from other writing communities?
RL: Because, we actually care about the writing here. We don't say, "I've just rated your story five stars! Can you do the same for mine?" Not calling anyone out or anything, but it's real here. We don't care about popularity, we're not here to make ourselves feel important, we care about good writing. Period. And, at the end of the day, that's really the only thing that truly matters. That's why we're here. That's why people stay.
WB: It's so fantastic that we have such passionate members like you championing WEbook Ryan, but now, let's redirect the focus to champion you and your book! Tell us about Camp 417.
RL: For starters, it's epic. It's a complete re-imagining of the zombie legend, as well as the final days of World War II. Let me set the scene for you: It's Austria, 1945. The world is raging with a war unlike any ever seen before. In the middle of the carnage is a small band of American paratroopers, nowhere near where they should be, but now they're the first to meet the plague that will annihilate the world. Unless they can stop it…
WB: Wow! That's goose-bump inducing stuff! How do you and your brother approach writing collaboratively? Do you switch off chapters, each concentrate on different aspects of the plot, characterization, ect...?
RL: Well, for starters, I do all the hard work. Just wanted to get that out there to start. But we actually both do all of it. We don't switch off and I write one chapter or scene and he writes another. We're brothers, so we think alike, but there is also a large age disparity, which means while we fundamentally see the worlds we create the same way, we're two very different people. We discuss it at length in the Creator Commentary portion of Camp 417, but we generally work it like this: Tom or I will have an idea. We run through the possibilities in hours long meetings. The nice thing is that we feed off of each other. So once we've brainstormed it into reality, we'll each read it several times, changing things and highlighting them for each other. In the end, when I believe it's the best book it can be, and Tom's done the same, we know we're good, and that it's equal parts both our vision. It's a blast, honestly, and I couldn't think of anyone I could be luckier to work with.
WB: One quick last question: How did you feel when you found out that WEbook was going to publish your book?
RL: That's tough to describe. I had imagined WEbook publishing authors years ago, and I always believed that WEbook was the future. But, to know that it was actually happening… hesitant. I know that's probably not the answer you were expecting, but that's the truth. There are so many people offering publishing deals now, most of which are not worth the paper they're written on. But when I began interacting with the staff, the creative directors, artists and publishing professionals, it became obvious to me that they respect their authors and plan on becoming profitable by selling books, not broken dreams. Now, ask me how I felt when I saw my cover…
WB: How did you feel?
RL: It was somewhat surreal. It was hard to believe that the artist they teamed us up with was actually who he claimed to be. But when the artwork came back… wow. And then I got to speak with the ebook staff - and not just the intern either. The actual person in charge of the design and how we could make my very specific vision come to life, and it was a doozy, trust me. I felt humbled as we went through the process. The fact that honest, thorough and personal attention was paid to me, my brother, our concerns, our vision and of course, our book… You won't find that anywhere else - and believe me, I've searched!
WB: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us Ryan, we'd like to wish you all the best of luck for the release of Camp 417, and also yo thank you for your tireless dedication to WEbook.
Below is an excerpt from 'Camp 417' - soon to be released and available exclusively in the WEbook store...
Doctor Keith Manning touched the butt of his cigarette to his lips, pulled hard on it, drawing the smoke deep into his lungs. Savoring it. Then let it out through his nose, enjoying the feel as it rolled around him like a cloud moving around a mountain. The day bright and clear. The pale winter sun shining down eerily, like a photo taken with the shutter open too wide.
“Dad,” Peter said, “I thought you said you were cutting back.”
The old doctor grunted. “I’m ninety years old,” he said, “if I wanna smoke, I’ll damn sure smoke as much as I want.”
Behind them, the house was alive with the sounds of children playing and fighting, the low hum of conversation from the living room, and the smells of baking from the kitchen. The party in full swing. Keith ignoring it. He had stopped feeling the day was worth celebrating after the first sixty. Now, at ninety, they were a chore.
“That’s it!” a woman screeched from inside. “Out, all of you!”
The screen door burst open and a stream of children surged out. Fifteen in all, ranging from knee high to nearly full-grown. As they streamed past, each said, “Hi Grandpa.”
He nodded and laughed, patting them on their heads when he could reach. They fanned out on the lawn. The older ones heading off to chat in low voices, exchanging secrets so explosive no adult could be permitted to hear.
“It’s a fine family you built, Old Man,” Peter told him.
“I had help,” Keith said and smiled again as he heard his wife’s voice from the kitchen. He imagined her in there, sitting heavily in her favorite chair, overseeing the proceedings with the watchful eye of a boot camp sergeant.
Frankie, barely seven, thin from his latest growth spurt, ran up to them and rattled off in the machine gun speech of excited children the world over: “Grandpa, Grandpa, we’re playing War!” He gave the name an announcer-type emphasis. “You were in a war, weren’t you? Dad said you were in World War Two. He called it the ‘Big One.’ Did you ever kill anyone, Grandpa? Didja?”
“Your Great Grandpa was a medic,” Peter explained. “He saved people, he didn’t kill them.”
Then he rose, touching Keith’s hand as he did, and crossed around his father. Took the boy by the shoulders and guided him into the house.
“And he doesn’t like to talk about it,” he whispered to his grandson as they passed into the house. “Let’s go check on that cake.”
Keith rolled the question over in his mind, memories probing the edges of his consciousness. Fighting to be heard, to be experienced again in their full intensity. Memories of violence, the kind very few men had ever known. Violence and rage and horror so white hot—even decades later—the potency never lessened. The fear never left. The nightmare never fully awoken from.
Did you kill anyone in the war?
“No one who didn’t ask me to,” he answered, but no one was listening.
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