Bluewood interviews David Bowman, Director
Bluewood Publishing: Hi there, welcome to Bluewood. Tell us a little about yourself. What part of the world do you live in? Tell us about your background?
David: I went a conventional route early on, studying for a business degree followed by a career in software development and then IT management, married and had two children. Things went pear-shaped when both my wife and daughter were struck by, different, life-threatening diseases resulting in me giving up work to look after them. My daughter recovered, and has since presented us with two wonderful grandchildren, but I am still my wife's carer. I started as an author, and then decided I could do better than my then publisher, and stepped up, having worked for them as an acquisitions editor, copy editor, cover designer and general dogsbody!
Bluewood: Who are your favorite authors?
David: Probably the hardest question to answer, so this is the same as for the author interview. I spent my formative years reading my way through the local library, at eight books a week. I had nightmares as a child about Triffids and was regularly chastised by my parents for picking a book up to read in the middle of the night. Torches under bed clothes work wonders – for my father’s generation it had been candles, and that thought terrifies me. I read my first Frederick Forsyth in one evening, and got into trouble in my English class for reading the whole of To Kill a Mocking Bird over a weekend when the homework was supposed to be just the first two chapters. I read everything I could find from the masters of science-fiction, Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Cherriyh, Niven and Pornelle before graduating to Herbert, Harrison and later Eddings, Brin, Hamilton and Bova. At the same time I read and reread Clancy and Turtledove. I’ll happily cross over into Crime and read Stephen Booth or Ian Rankin, and the list goes on and on. I’ll even admit to reading Stephanie Meyer, PC Cast and Kate Walker.
Bluewood: What is your genre and what attracts you to that genre?
David: I like most genres, but if anything, horror would come bottom of my list. Science fiction was my first love, but urban fantasy and a good romance story aren’t far behind.
Bluewood: The question you are probably always asked – are you an author too?
David: I ought to plead the fifth, but I’ve already confessed to being one, so yes. I write alternative History under my own name, science Fiction under the pen name A.F. Allen, and Romance under the name Marion Davids.
Bluewood: Does the way you personally look at life reflect in your editing style?
David: Not really. Above all I want a good story.
Bluewood: What is your biggest bugbear in a manuscript?
David: Point of view. I absolutely detest head-hopping in a manuscript. Once the author starts head-hopping the manuscript is going to have to be just about perfect in terms of story, and the other technical issues if it’s not going to find itself on the reject pile.
Bluewood: What do you find is the biggest fault of a new writer when you’re editing their manuscript?
David: Understanding the publishing process. This process takes time, we have a team of people to keep busy, so we have to work with lead times, and since you can’t be certain how long a manuscript is going to take at each particular phase – it’s nothing like a manufacturing process, or a supermarket checkout, you have to queue books so it always takes longer than a new writer expects.
Bluewood: Tell us about a comment you made in your edits that elicited an unexpected reaction?
David: Working for another publisher (prior to forming Bluewood), I was editing a murder mystery, set on an RAF Vulcan bomber (for those that don’t know, they were Britain’s aerial nuclear deterrence force at the time, beautiful delta wing aircraft). One of the big “set piece” scenes involved them carrying out a mock low level attack on the USS Nimitz on exercise in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately this was 2 years before the ship was launched, let alone commissioned. That resulted in a heated exchange with the author (who had based the incident on his own experience). The publisher eventually stepped in and overruled my edit, only for the author to turn round, and apologise – he’d flown that actual mission four years later than he'd set it in the book.
On another occasion I queried if an author should be using a real pop song in a fantasy story – simply because it was a way of dating the story, so wasn’t a good idea. The author was very acerbic in her response – it happened to be her favorite song, and she’d bet her husband a personal prize if she got it into the published book. She lost, I never did hear about the payout.
Bluewood: Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
David: With my business partner, running a bigger, better, Bluewood. And still writing. This is not a job from which you retire.
Thanks so much for chatting with us, David!