Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Nicolas Wilson Interview

I ran into Nicolas Wilson just the other day in my search for new authors. Nic is a speculative fiction/thriller/Sci-Fi writer and was kind enough to give an interview! Here is how that went...

First off, tell us a little bit about you~I've been writing for half my life. In that time I worked as a journalist for a couple of years, which I recently collected into an ebook, free on Smashwords. I started seriously publishing last summer, and my first two novels are out, along with a handful of short story collections. I've got six more novels in various stages of editing.

Tell us about your books/What genre do you consider your books?I tend to dabble, and mix genres. The two most consistent threads are probably science fiction and thrillers. I'll detail the projects that are out, now, and the one that should be out in the next couple of months.

Dag is a thriller mixing in elements of genetic engineering, following a low-level government employee caught up in a series of strange events that start to unravel a military-industrial conspiracy, and filling in her adoptive family of misfits, with mutants.

Whores is a speculative fiction story about women's rights. It's a bit like the Handmaid's Tale meets 1984, but with a proactive cast of heroes that are essentially terrorists, and act accordingly.

Nexus follows the crew of a generational arc ship, the second of its kind, send out amongst the cosmos to secure interplanetary mining rights. It's a bit like if the Enterprise's voyage was sponsored by Halliburton, and focuses on how the crew react to their company's ethical lapses (hint: it involves laser gun battles).

When did you start writing?I started writing back in middle school. I fell in with a literary crowd, and we started writing stories basically in the round. One person would add a sentence to carry the story forward. We had terrible ground rules, so as often as not I'd spend my sentence trying to undo the damage of the last to make the story somewhat coherent, after someone tried to completely nuke it.

  Why do you write? That is an excellent question. I could be flip and say, “Because real work is hard,” but that would be disingenuous, since I've always had to have a day job. I think it's because I'm compelled. Part of it is that I'm a shy person, in person, so I don't express myself often, and even when I do, I do it inarticulately. So I think I'm pent up, with a lot I'd like to say.

What would be your choice for a superpower?Easy, particularly for a comic nerd like myself. Superspeed. It seems like I've never got enough time. As an example, I've got one novel written for every five I've outlined in detail. And I'm still working through editing a backlog of novels. I've cut back my writing schedule until I get the novels I have written published.

Who is your favorite author? That's tough. Amy Hempel has probably the prettiest prose I've ever read. Elmore Leonard writes some of the most complicated plots with some of the wittiest dialog. But I think I have to go with Hunter S. Thompson. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is still my desert island book.

What are you reading now? The Dragonbone Chair. My wife insists that I read it before I start my own fantasy story, which I'm shooting for starting early next year and publishing in regular, possibly quarterly novellas.

Who is your favorite character to write?Pawn, from the Necromancer's Gambit (one of those as-yet unpublished drafts). He's definitely the story's butt-monkey, and he's a racist, sexist, bigoted mess of a human being- so you don't feel too bad when he gets kicked around. But he's a bit like a puppy- repeatedly kicked, and he's got some bite to him, and I think a human, relatable core, despite how frequently horrible he is.

Do you have a writing process?
I tend to outline a lot. And because of my hectic schedule, my outlines battle it out like reality TV show contestants, until the sluttiest story is left standing when the next hole opens up. I still write and publish stories sequentially on my blog, but these days I usually write in binges. As an example, I just wrote my first erotic novella, which I'm still mulling whether or not I'll ever publish. It's 25 pages and I wrote it over the Memorial Day weekend. The rest of the process is about editing, I do a draft, and pass it to my wife, who is also my editor- and the cruelest, most ruthless editor I've ever had, bar none (and I love her for it. Remember that, honey, when you're proofreading this!)- until we start passing back and forth drafts with almost no changes in them. That's when we know we're rearranging the deck furniture. The editing process sounds pretty quaint, there, but it represents 80% of my writing time- so it's easily the most substantial part.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author? Stick with it. Writing is hard. And the editing is even harder. And odds are really terrible that you'll ever be able to make it into a career.

But if you love it? It's worth it. It's worth it if you only ever reach a few hundred readers. Hell. For me it was worth it when I was publishing first drafts of everything on my blog. And now, it's infinitely more gratifying getting positive feedback from the community.

But if you want that feedback- put in the work. The difference between a decent draft and a good one is thorough and ruthless editing- which you can't do alone. If you find a good editor, marry them. It'll save you a fortune later. But know that you should be your own harshest critic. You're the only one who can murder your darlings- and knowing which ones to cull is the toughest part about writing- but it will also make your story better.

What inspired you to pursue writing?I don't know if anything did. Poe inspired me to get a day job, because pursuing writing turned an already miserable life into a tragedy.

But I guess if I had to pick I'd say Hunter S. Thompson. His work really showed me that good writing- and good journalism- could have a point of view, and a soul, without abandoning its principles. It didn't have to be a gutless, view-pointless blob like a lot of modern entertainment and news is. And it's not even like I think Thompson changed anything- but it's pushing for what's right- and that's important to me.

What are your favorite TV shows/Movies to watch in between writing?I watch TV and movies for the writerly aspects. I love a good plot. But because I can write it off on my intellectual taxes as research, I especially gravitate towards strongly written dialog. Deadwood's dialog is wonderful, and vile.

But as for things I watch for myself? We just finished binging on the latest season of Arrested Development. I can't believe the way they end it- and with the movie probably a year or more away, too. Argh.

And I'm so incredibly thrilled Community is back for another season- and with Dan Harmon back in charge of the ship. That's my two favorite showrunners back helming their very singular and personal projects. I'm kind of not used to this much good news, entertainment wise.

I'm a little sad Futurama got canceled a second time- though I'm fairly optimistic at this point that it'll end up someplace else.

What are your current projects?My current projects:

I'm working on Nexus for publication sometime in the next couple of months.

I've got another couple short story collections which will be out in the next month, exclusively on Amazon.

And in the next couple of weeks I'm going to tackle Old Glory, a novella about a grandson tasked with retrieving the family's Confederate battle flag for his dying grandmother.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?Thanks. I'm still new enough to this that I'm humbled that anyone would want to read an interview, or that people would read my work. So thanks. If you want to get a taste of my work, you can try my website: play around in the archives, or grab one of the short story collections. My first one, Ghost Dust, is free everywhere, including Amazon.

Quick Fire:
Cats or dogs?Cats, generally. I have both, and love both. But with dogs I always feel like they want more love and attention than I give them. With cats it's the inverse.

Coffee or tea?Hmm... energy drink or a Coke are my preference. Green tea. Unless we're talking Frappuccino, and then Starbucks wins.

Favorite food?Potatoes. I love pizza, and burgers, which are certainly sexier. But over the last week I've eaten something like ten potatoes- and have another dozen cooked upstairs after the first batch didn't quite sate the craving. And just thinking about them, fried up with Italian or Mexican seasonings- I'm going to have to wrap this up to have breakfast.

Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream?Chocolate ice cream. White cake.

What are 3 things you never leave home without?My memory card, with backups of most of my writing. My laptop- most of the time I think I might have a second to get in the sneaky bit of writing. My PSP, to listen to music on, or have some TV on in the background, or for games, too.

Laptop or desktop?I prefer my laptop for most things. I'm typing this from bed. But anything more intensive- games, graphics, video- it's all about the desktop.

Who are 3 famous people you would to hang out with?Journalism taught me that meeting your heroes can be rough. That having been said, Adam West was damned amazing. So Adam West is a lock- he's just such a genuine and generous human being. I don't know that I could answer the other two. But it would have to be people who have that same quality, who remember their life before they were famous, and are gracious and kind. Bruce Campbell was kind of a pill in the written interview we did, but I met him once at a book signing, and he seemed exactly like that, like he loved and appreciated his fans to an almost masochistic degree. So I guess I'd say Bruce, too- with some minor trepidation. And I guess the only person who could round out those two would be Sam Raimi- who would be fascinating to spend time with- and as a bonus his presence would mean I wouldn't be the nerdiest guy there.

TV or Movies?TV. Movies have to simplify their characters, and rely on cliche and archetypes to outline ideas rather than explore them. TV has time to develop characters and ideas, and is far closer to novels- and far closer to real life.


Please join me and the other amazingly talented authors over @ Skulldust Circle where we have formed a Writer's Circle that must be seen--a collection of brilliant, up & coming independently published speculative fiction authors with much to give both now and in the future!


See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

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