Snapshots: Iain Rowan interviewed

What are you working on now?
Right now, a new short story for the Penny Dreadnought series that I’m involved in. PD’s a collaborative project which is proving to be a lot of fun, working with my fellow Abominable Gentlemen, three great writers (James EveringtonAlan Ryker and Aaron Polson), and putting out a collection with a weird fiction story from each of us every month or so. This short story is something that’s been knocking around in my head for a little while, prompted by a description of nineteenth-century polar exploration: the air was so cold that when people spoke the condensation in their breath froze and fell around them in tinkling shards of ice. In my story, someone believes that he can learn the language written in this landscape of frozen words, but finds out that it is maybe something that is better unread.

There also won’t be a week that goes past this year without me adding a short story to my project  52 Songs, 52 Stories. Simple idea really, I pick a song each week, and then write a short story that it inspires in some way.

Also chewing around novel ideas.

Nowhere to Go by Iain RowanWhat have you recently finished?
Proofing the print version of  Nowhere To Go, my crime collection [editor’s note: just as this interview was completed, Nowhere To Go was shortlisted for Spinetingler magazine’s Best Short Story Collection award]. Another piece of weird fiction, ‘The Singing’, which will be appearing in  Supernatural Tales in 2013. This morning I’ve written this week’s story for 52 Songs, this one inspired by the song Grey Ship by EMA.

What’s recently or soon out?
This last week has seen the biggest release to date, for me:  One of Us is my debut crime novel, and I’m thrilled to see it published.

In short story action, apart from the regular slot at 52 Songs, my story ‘The Edge of the Map’ has just been published in Supernatural Tales.

Crime fiction is nothing if it’s not authentic. What kind of research did you have to do in order to write One of Us?
I have a terrible confession to make – I’m not one for lots of research. That’s OK though, because by and large I don’t write the kinds of books that needs lots of research. I hope One of Us feels authentic, but if it does that’s because most of my research is people, and what they do and think and say.

You write in a variety of genres, but crime and suspense is where you’ve probably had most success. Do you have plans for more crime fiction in the near future?
One of Us by Iain RowanFor sure. I write what I enjoy reading, and I write what I enjoy writing. So there will be more crime fiction, and more weird fiction, and if something else takes my fancy then more of that too. I suppose that’s one of the advantages of not being tied in to a contract which says: more of the same please.

Describe your typical writing day.
I wish I could. The trouble is, there is no typical writing day, because it’s a question of fitting it in as and when I can, in whatever free time I get.

What would you draw attention to from your back-list?

You might want to check out Nowhere To Go, my collection of short crime fiction. It includes the short story that I couldn’t let go. Eventually it grew into a novel: One of Us.

Which other authors or books do you think deserve a plug?
My colleagues in the Abominable Gentlemen as mentioned above are all excellent writers, and well worth checking out.

And to plug a book:  Off the Record is an anthology from a great collection of writers (disclaimer: and me), with all profits going to child literacy charities in the UK and US.

If you were to offer one snippet of writing advice what would it be?
Talking about writing thinking about writing writing about writing is not writing.

So… the easy one: what’s the future of publishing? How will writers be making a living and publishing in five or ten years?
What will readers be reading?I think there will be a mixed economy. Still publishing houses, though they may be rather different in form, doing different kinds of things. Still writers doing things for themselves. The best of those getting picked up by the publishing houses – sometimes. I read something recently written by Hugh Howey, a self-published writer who has been selling a huge number of copies of his sf stories. He was approached by a traditional publishing company, who offered him a deal that would have seen him have to pull all his books (currently selling about eleventy billion a day) from Amazon, see nothing published by them until January 2013, give up more rights, and get less money. Probably to their surprise, he turned them down. Publishers will have to think creatively about what they offer, and what the relationship and partnership between them and the writer looks like. I’m pretty sure that in many cases, it won’t look just as it does now.


Born in 1967, Iain Rowan began writing in 2002. Since then, he has had over thirty short stories published in a variety of genres. Some of those are collected in  Nowhere To Go (short crime fiction) and  Ice Age (stories of the strange and the chilling).

One of Us One of Us, based on a crime short story of Iain’s, was shortlisted for the Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger award, and has just been published in print and ebook  by infinity plus.

In 2012, Iain embarked on a project called  52 Songs, 52 Stories, in which he committed to write a short story every week of the year, each inspired by a song. He is also part of the Abominable Gentlemen, the publishing collective behind the monthly Penny Dreadnought.

For more information on Iain and his writing, please visit

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About Keith Brooke and infinity plus

Keith Brooke is a writer of crime fiction, science fiction, fantasy and other strange stuff, and editor and reviewer of same. He is also the publisher at infinity plus, an independent imprint publishing books by leading genre fiction authors. View all posts by Keith Brooke and infinity plus

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