The unique synopsis and premise of “Over The Rainbow” instantly attracted me to this book…and luckily Brian Rowe agreed to answer a few questions for the blog. If you haven’t heard of Rowe’s OVER THE RAINBOW, check it out on Goodreads and then stick around for the interview.
Please welcome Brian Rowe to Parajunkee’s View.
Book Name: Over the Rainbow
Release Date: 08/06/2013
Genre: Gay YA Fantasy, Young Adult
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a young adult author living in Reno, Nevada. I have written the Happy Birthday to Me and Grisly High trilogies. Over the Rainbow is my newest novel.
In your own words, tell us a little bit about your book?
Over the Rainbow, a book that incorporates a love story, loads of action, the rapture, dinosaurs, and The Wizard of Oz, started with one simple idea. What if a gay teenaged girl escaped from her bigoted father by packing herself into a large box and mailing herself across the country, all the way to her true love? This nugget of an idea stuck with me for a few years, and I’d always been meaning to explore it. It wasn’t until I told the concept to Shaunta Grimes (author of Viral Nation) in January 2012 that I started getting more excited about turning it into a book.
Shaunta was so enthused about the project that she started working with me on it almost every day in spring 2012, allowing me to toss ideas off her. She helped me conclude that putting her on an airplane would be more interesting than her just getting packed away in a mailing box. And she also helped me with the apocalyptic elements of the scary new world I introduce in the book. I’ll never forget the look on her face when I told her I wanted to incorporate dinosaurs into the plot. The book was already getting a little crazy, and then I made it even more nutso by introducing the living, breathing dinos. I really wanted to be the first author to mix an LGBT coming-of-age story with a Jurassic Park-like action adventure. Lo and behold, Over the Rainbow was born.
Can you tell us about the characters in your book? Who is your favorite?
When I decided I wanted Over the Rainbow to touch on many aspects of The Wizard of Oz, I decided I wanted to have her meet three new people on her journey. And it was important for me to have Frankie, Mr. Balm, and Elle be totally different from each other, in the way they looked, in their personality, in their backgrounds, everything. I thought it was important for Zippy to meet someone her age that she could identify with (Frankie, who is also gay). Then I wanted the second person to be the kind of father figure she’s never had before (Mr. Balm, who is in his sixties). And then it made sense for the third person, someone who lacks courage, to be a lot younger than Zippy, to be a child she would want to take care of (Ellie, an African-American girl who is seven). I love all four of these characters, and hope to write more about them someday. Of course, Zippy is my favorite!
What makes your book different from other books out there in the same genre?
I want to write young adult novels where the main character just happens to be gay, not young adult novels that are all just about how the main character is gay. Why not allow the main character of a major fantasy franchise be a homosexual? Over the Rainbow is at the heart a romance between two girls who never know if they will ever find each other, but it’s also a rip-roaring action adventure, the kind geared for boys, that just so happens to have a lesbian protagonist at the forefront. Should this element make the action scenes any less enjoyable for male teenage readers? There are car chases, wild nightmares, a duel to the death with a velociraptor on the top of a moving vehicle. I want readers to see Zippy as a bad-ass, not as a gay bad-ass. And I especially want young lesbian readers to find a character on the page that they can truly call their own.
What led to you going “indie”?
Over the Rainbow marks my ninth self-published novel. I love the control I have over my work in self-publishing, and no book I’ve ever written has needed as much control as Over the Rainbow. This is a book that incorporates science fiction, fantasy, action adventure, and coming of age; it’s a book that deals with lesbianism, the rapture, The Wizard of Oz, and dinosaurs. I queried agents with this book between August 2012 and March 2013, and even those who liked it said that the book would never see the light of day without some of the creative elements being toned down a little, or eliminated completely. One agent, for example, told me I should cut out the dinosaurs. I knew from the beginning Over the Rainbow was going to be a difficult book to sell to agents and publishers, and in the end, I decided it was best with this one, probably more than any book I’ve written, to ultimately go the self-publishing route.
Is Writing your full time profession?
I write every day, but I also work as a videographer, substitute teacher, and tutor. This August I also start work as a TA at the University of Nevada, Reno, in the English department.
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?
When I write a first draft of a novel, I stick to a very strict schedule of 2,000 to 2,500 words, every single day, until the manuscript is done. I finished my twelfth book in mid-July, and never, not once, have I deviated from this schedule. I also like to revise slowly, usually a chapter a day, and just read the chapter over and over again. I like to ensure every scene, and every sentence, is the best it can be.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
My favorite author is Stephen King, who still influences me and who I still learn from every single day. I read his book On Writing at least once a year, and I try to read one of his books every few months as well. I also love Robert McCammon, David Levithan, Alex Sanchez, John Green, Lois Lowry, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, and Scott Smith.
What are you reading now?
Right now I am reading the final book in Alex Sanchez’s Rainbow trilogy, Rainbow Road. I have loved all three of these gay young adult novels, and they have inspired me in my writing for my two upcoming books.
What advice can you give to struggling writers?
Write every day. Find any nugget of time, and just write. Don’t wait for the inspiration to come. Don’t just talk to your friends about how you’d love to write a novel someday. Just sit down, and do it. And you’ll get better every time.
Thank you so much Brian! And I agree with you…keep the dinosaurs!Find out more about Brian Rowe and Over the Rainbow here:
Amazon Goodreads Author Web Twitter
Brian Rowe is a writing fiend, book devotee, film fanatic, and constant dreamer. He’s written ten novels, dozens of short stories, five feature-length screenplays, and hundreds of film articles and essays. He is currently pursuing his MA in English-Writing at the University of Nevada, Reno, and is hard at work on his next novel.
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