Please tell us a little about yourself. I’m going to write in third person, because I’m working on something third person right now and it’s hard for me to switch gears (or I’m just ashamed of my pretentiousness). Nicolas Wilson lives on the rainy end of the west coast with a wife, a dog, and two cats. He writes more than he reads, but has been known to collect comics, quirky pulp-fiction masterpieces, and outdated or bizarre cultural references.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. Nic tends to dabble, though you can find some common threads if you’ve got an entire afternoon to devote to the task. His first novel involved a dystopic near-future scenario, in the genre often pretentiously referred to as speculative fiction, but is as often as not what people ashamed of their predilections for sci fi call their sci fi. Nic’s second novel, Dag, is a quirky near-future science fiction adventure, though he would probably argue that it’s less sci fi or spec fic than it is a normal, literary fiction that just happens to have some artificially advanced genetic engineering thrown in because it’s amusing. Nic’s third novel is like Star Trek, but raunchier, and not limited to aliens that can be built from people in silly costumes. Nic’s fourth novel is a dark urban fantasy, as a group of magicians fights off a challenge to their authority. Nic’s fifth novel is a dark spin through the mind of a sociopath building his career. Some might say Nic’s writing is schizophrenic. They might be right. But the overall consciousness is Nic’s, and is similar from genre to genre. So maybe Nic’s the schizophrenic one. Discussing his work in third person probably isn’t helping his case any, is it?
Where can readers find your book? Visit his website for links to available retailers, or check his author profile on Smashwords or Amazon. The website also has a metric fertilizer load of short stories from the days before Nic was too pretentious to write anything shorter than a novella (or a response to an interview question).
You can also follow along through goodreads, facebook, and twitter.
How long have you been writing and what, if anything, made you choose the genre in which you write?Nic’s always been easily distracted. He practices writing in as many genres, and characters as he can. His stuff covers a pretty full spectrum, from literary fiction and introspective vignettes about love, to dystopias examining political and social issues usually too taboo for polite discussion with relatives over tea. He started seriously writing and posting short stories weekly around seven years ago, and wrote for an arts magazine called Dangerous Ink. He got a lot more practice shaping concepts and characters than many noobie writers do, especially now with the rush to e-publish everything as soon as possible, regardless of its merit. And being a journalist- you learn to listen to people, to shape conversations, and all of that is incredibly useful in writing natural, quirky, and convincing dialogue.
Who or what are your inspirations/influences? Okay, the pretention of trying to write about myself in the third person has overwhelmed me; I’m going back to first (may my current project forgive me). I’ve accumulated quite a few influences over the years, but there’s a few that have really stuck with me, for various reasons. I grew up with comics, so I’ll always have an overreaching fondness for Garth Ennis. He’s got a nack for painting a fascinating, beautiful and effed up rendition of the world, and populating it with interesting and real feeling people. And his work has a soul, too; I always feel like there’s a passion behind it, even if there isn’t always a particular end it’s pushing towards.
Outside of comics, though, I was very heavily influenced by E.A. Poe, and Hunter Thompson, in my youth. Poe echoed the dark corners in my head, and was the reason I didn’t want to be an “author”, growing up. For all of his talent, he died alone, in the gutter, suffering from mental illness and possibly drug addiction, and it’s hard to imagine his professional success balancing his personal woe (as a note, Edgar Allen Woe would be an interseting title for something). Thompson, through, for all his problems… his energy connected with me. For him, it wasn’t about only about the story. He got what I think a lot of journalists today don’t, that there’s a bigger thing happening beyond the telling of any one event, and that that context is the difference between a sad story about a man kicking a puppy, and a heroic story about a man pulling a crippled dog from a burning building and smothering his still smoldering flesh with his own bare feet. Thompson understood that while the world is not black or white, there are villains in it, or at least people who will act like villains until their villainy is pointed out (and a few, like Nixon, who will just get butthurt about it).
There’s many others, though I have to admit I’m pretty under-read for a writer. I read very slowly, so it can take me just as much time to finish a novel as to write the first draft of a new one. It makes revising go very slowly. I think that’s why I take a lot of my storytelling cues from more easily digestible media, like comics and TV.
Can you name a positive experience from your writing and a negative one? I’ll do it in reverse order, because then it makes more narrative sense, plus it doesn’t end on a down note. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage about meeting your heroes. Well, as a journalist for an international arts magazine, I got to meet my fair few. One in particular, who I won’t name, walked out of an interview. Technically there wasn’t any walking, because it was conducted over email, but he read my questions and declined the interview. Now, this wasn’t my first interview; I’d had several published, a few at that point with higher profile folks than he was. But I loved the author at the time – probably was my favorite. And I put more effort into that single interview than in every one I’d conducted for the magazine up to that point. I included questions about every single project he was involved in, so that he could plug them all without having to tap dance or overwork himself. And he just walked away. And it completely ruined my ability to enjoy his work.
But positive’s easy. After the prior fiasco, one of my other interviews caught on, to the point where I was contacted personally to do an interview with Adam West – Batman himself. And I was terrified. I’d lost one hero, and I was worried. He seemed so cool. His biography was so down to Earth. On Family Guy he played a deranged version of himself. But what if… and then I met him and he was the sweetest man. Funny. Thoughtful. Inquisitive. I was completely prepared to just write off the whole journalism/talking to other human beings thing off as a lost cause. I guess what I’m saying was I needed a hero- so I was lucky that I was interviewing Batman.
With the rise of e-books do you still publish in print as well? Is this medium important and why? Well, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for print copies, just because it feels more tangible, but I’m a huge fan of the rise of e-books. It allows a greater diversity of content, more cheaply, and puts more control in the hands of the authors. I considered going the traditional-publishing route, but ultimately couldn’t get on board with the idea of limiting myself and my work by forcing it into the long production schedule, and being unable to explore the themes I chose, lest they be too controversial.
But ultimately, I think what excites me most about the medium is the immediacy, and the connection it allows with the audience. If I wanted to write something about the Boston attack, or perhaps less ambulance-chasingly terrorism as a whole, I could smack it together and as soon as it met my standards I could put it out for the world to read at whatever price point I thought made sense. As an example, I’m putting out slightly cleaned up versions of my older short stories as free downloads. Sure, they technically come with little previews of my for-pay work, but I’m thrilled that some of those earlier projects will get a wider audience; if some of them love what they read enough to buy something else, that’s cool, too, but it’s about having new avenues to try and reach out to readers.
Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? Sometimes, but I’m very finicky about it. I get easily distracted if my white noise isn’t familiar enough. I listen to the same bands I did in high school when I write, because I can’t focus on the songs, they just blur in the background. I also don’t write in coffee shops or waiting rooms. I’m oddly neurotic about people seeing my computer screen before something’s finished; I don’t even like my wife laying with her head on my shoulder while I work.
Books are important, why is this the case? What can a book provide that say a video game cannot? Well, I may be biased because I game more than I read.There’s a shared aspect to games that’s harder to come by in a book, seeing everyone around you jump and swear at the same horror monstrosity that just jumped up from the floor, even though you could SWEAR you just killed it. Books and games are completely different experiences, though, and offer completely different types of engagement.
There’s certain kinds of storytelling and nuance that can’t be executed in games, or even movies, for that matter. TV? With the right production and network, you can get a very subtle, moving story captured over the course of seasons, but not all(maybe even not many) networks or shows are into that. You don’t play a game because you care about the characters. You play for the experience, the visuals, the catharsis. A book engages on a deeper level, forcing you to care about the characters(or be aware that you don’t), and to examine the world around you a little differently.
Most games are not created with the full story in mind. You have to structure it to space out the action, get to new areas, pixel-hunt to unlock stuff. There’s really only a few games that attempt to pull a coherent story all the way through, and to provide a more human relationship with the characters. Dragon Age is a great one for the latter, once it gets going. Your followers bicker and banter, but all in the background, rather than as any kind of plot point for the story.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself?
I’m a product slave. That new flavor of Cookies-N-Cream M&Ms with sprinkles on top (why haven’t they made that yet?) or that limited-edition flavor of Diarrhea Doritos? Gotta try it once. Of course, it’s going to be disgusting, and if I do like it, I won’t be able to make it a regular part of my diet because it’s only available for a limited time, but I have to try it. We won’t discuss the Candy Corn Oreo debacle. I was watching for months, and tried several stores, and never did actually try them; my poor unsatisfied taste buds.
Honestly, I don’t think I’m that interesting- that’s why I write fiction and not any kind of memoir. My mom would tell you stories about my first sarcastic quips. My wife likes to torment me with sentences that have been long since excised from drafts in a sing-song voice whenever my head gets too big, my first awkward sex scene being her favorite. I think my wife hates me, and just hasn’t quite figured that out, yet.