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Nick Fowler Writes for the Unhappy, Afflicted and Hopeless

Photo courtesy of Nick Fowler

As the only child of a U.S. Army Sargent, Nick Fowler was born in Munich and grew up around the globe. At the age of two and a half Nick had a transformative experience which he related in a recent interview: "I saw Michael Jackson on television and was from then on obsessed. I cried when I saw him perform ‘ABC.’ It was a mixture of envy and adoration. I wanted to be like him, to show off and get attention on stage. I knew then I wanted to do that. To perform."

Fowler saw in Jackson something for which he himself longed — the ability to get attention. "I thought fame would be a kind of replacement for family," he conceded. "But it's really just famine. The kingdom is within."

Fowler was always immersed in music. "I studied music from when I was little, singing and guitar and piano lessons and music theory from grade school to college."

His goal was to become a famous writer and musician. "I wanted to escape to the big city — eros and anonymity," he confessed.

At the age of 22 he met Gregg Wattenberg, "a musician whom I knew instantly would succeed in the music business." Gregg recruited Fowler for his band, later named Tonto Tonto.

Fowler also became a journalist after he graduated Cornell, interviewing the hard rock and metal musicians he admired including Ian Astbury of The Cult, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ronnie James Dio, Ray Gillen, Pantera, Ace Frehley, Yngwie Malmsteen, Soundgarden and Faith No More. But he quickly realized "they were just human. A lot of the other acts were part of the hair band bubble that would burst when authentic rockers like Guns N' Roses, Janes Addiction and Nirvana changed everything."

His budding career as a musician began to impact his attitude toward the artists he was covering. "As I became better at singing and playing guitar from being in Tonto Tonto, I became increasingly envious of and impatient with the musicians I was interviewing. I was an arrogant little prick, and my boss was growing weary of my bratty entitlement. I used to take beauty naps under my desk. After a year and ten months of working as a hard rock journalist, I landed the fabled Holy Grail: the major label record deal."

Fowler's work in the music industry also inspired him to become an author. He talked about the inspiration for his first book A Thing (or Two) About Curtis and Camilla, "I was young and naive and smitten with a gorgeous but emotionally-unavailable name-dropper in the music business, an ice queen who worked for a powerful music attorney, to whom she refused to pass along my music. But I don’t blame her or anyone. Our reality is a reflection of ourselves. She eventually broke up with me for some rich guy with a family in real estate. So, I tried to see the humor in this and wrote this novel in sardonic tribute to this girl who broke me. Tragicomic. Getting the book published and reviewed was great revenge against the girl. I also got the satisfaction of lampooning the music business."

He followed up his roman a clef with the novel My Virtuous Sister, which he described as "a story cycle of abuse and redemption that debuts missing 20-year-old Welsh émigré Peddie Smout, famous as a rock star at the end of the last millennium. Among the post-9/11 rubble, her younger brother and soulmate Nate arrives in holiday-season Manhattan in search of his sister. By piecing-together the ragged index cards of the makeshift diary he recovers from the Grand Central locker in which Peddie had secreted it, Nate unfolds the story of previous New Year’s Eve 1999 and the brief fame of songstress Cordelia Peddie Smout. Ultimately, we learn her dark secret. A textbook Borderline Personality case, who after seducing everyone in the music business only to lose her record deal (if gain a heroin habit), finds salvation in the form of Alcoholics Anonymous. Or, rather, its star member, Teddy D., at whose ‘sober’ New Year’s Eve soiree the reader encounters not a few surprises."

Fowler acknowledged that in retrospect he was working through some of his own personal demons in writing the book. "This novel was a way to make sense of physical and emotional abuse. Writing the book was part of my transformation from a victim to a powerful being who creates my own reality. Part of my ascension. I appear in the guise of a 20-year-old female Welsh singer, Peddie Smout."

Fowler noted that the novel's themes include, "child abuse, Oedipal/Electral conflict, the commercialization of art via the star-making machinery, the social alienation of the artist, and the sexual objectification, abuse and exploitation of females in Western society, specifically, America, still drowning in Puritanical poisons. Other leitmotifs include perceived reality, Catholic guilt and penance, reincarnation, expiation and karma." Fowler hopes this book helps others who have struggled. "Above all, I wrote this story for anyone who's endured abuse, for the still sick and suffering — for the unhappy, the afflicted and the hopeless." The author also wants to share what he's learned about his craft with his writing students through “I've learned a lot of tricks and want to show them to aspiring writers — prove to them by carefully examining the cannon that there's not some fairy dust one gets anointed with that allows one to be a writer,” he explained. "It's just a matter of patience and persistence and positivity. Discipline in learning and applying craft and not listening to the envious haters who'll inevitably tell us we can't. There's no magic. There's no such thing as talent. Making art is hard work like anything else. It's allowing one's self to do one's dharma, one's divine work.” To learn more about Nick Fowler, his current releases and his work on the forthcoming first installment of the quantum fiction trilogy The Lullabiss Saga written with longtime collaborator Arthur Lynn, please visit his website.

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