On Tuesday afternoon, St. John’s lawyer and budding author Andrew Marc Rowe is sitting on a bench at Bannerman Park.
He wears a brown baseball hat and appears engrossed in Kurt Vonnegut’s “The Last Interview and Other Conversations,” but places it aside for a moment to talk about his own book — “The Yoga of Strength.”
“This is where things turned around,” the 33-year-old says, referring to Bannerman Park.
“It was almost like a new beginning here.”
He looks out over the park through his tinted sunglasses.
Several squealing children run past while Rowe recalls his own childhood.
“I did not think a lot of myself. I had very little self-esteem, very little self-confidence.”
He recalls how for a while he “hated” himself because he’d “never have the courage to do anything.”
“Cowardice — it really does eat away at you because it’s easy to think that the world is stacked against you.”
Rowe calls the main character in “The Yoga of Strength” a “horrific coward” at the start of the novel, but “life forces him to make a choice eventually.”
His debut novel is part fantasy, part mythology, and part “frolicking adventure” as he calls it, but throughout are the lessons of his own journey that home in on courage, forgiveness, and charity — all lessons he processed while strolling through this park.
Both Rowe’s love of nature and writing are a part of what he calls “chasing awe.” He says he chased that “ineffable” feeling for years.
Then, a series of significant events changed the way he lived — and subsequently, the way he wrote.
After reuniting with the woman who became his wife — someone who he finally mustered up enough courage to talk to at a party — and having a child, he was ready to experience new things that he’d always wanted to try.
Simple things, like volunteering at a soup kitchen — something he always wanted to do but was too afraid simply because it was a new situation.
He recalls cutting turnip for the soup and experiencing a happiness in that busy place — a feeling he’d always sought.
“I went home that night and I started writing.”
Rowe finished a book, albeit one he calls “very bad,” but bit by bit he realized he had the courage to write — it wasn’t the insurmountable task he once thought.
Finally, after five years of writing work “that will never see the light of day” he finished “The Yoga of Strength.”
“As a huge critic of my own work for the longest time, I read the prologue that I had written and I was like, ‘Wow, this is actually pretty good,’” he laughs.
The experience of making soup at the Jimmy Pratt Memorial Outreach Centre so moved him that he’s donating three per cent of any personal profits to the organization.
“That (experience) took a lot of courage for me because it was a brand-new experience. The old me would have let that stop him… But you practice courage enough and eventually it becomes a habit. That’s kind of what ‘The Yoga of Strength’ is.”
“This book is kind of my story but it’s everybody’s story,” he says. “At the base of it is this idea of coming to know yourself.”
Having come full circle, Rowe is on a publishing mission for the digital age.
He’s using Publishizer, which is in many ways like Kickstarter for the literary world.
His goal for the month of August is to sell 750 preorders of the book, which will ensure he has the most number of publishing options offered by the company.
At press time, he has 175 preorders and four interested publishers.
“It’s kind of like a blitz now,” he says, of his one-month campaign to spread the word about preordering the book with posters downtown and promotions at local events.
People can read a sample of the first few chapters on his website at www.andrewmarcrowe.com. The link to Publishizer can be found there as well.
Rowe’s hope is that “The Yoga of Strength” will “make other people’s lives better” in the same way that writing it did for him.