It’s MuseItUp Publishing Monday, and I’m continuing with my mystery theme for the entire month of September. Today’s guest is Nathaniel Tower, and he’ll be talking about his new book A Reason to Kill.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I just want to say thank you for having me. I’ll be revealing a lot about myself throughout the interview, so I’ll save that for now.
What is the title of your most recent novel, and can you tell us a little bit about it?
My most recent novel, and my first, is A Reason to Kill. It’s a psychological murder mystery that focuses both on the serial killer and the lead detective trying to capture him. The killer, nicknamed the Do-Good Killer, only kills people with past criminal records, and he really has everyone stumped. It’s a bit dark, but I had a blast writing it.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I’ve been writing on and off for 15 years, and I’ve been pretty dedicated to it for the last five years. The first book I finished was a novella, Hallways and Handguns, which will be released in 2012. I finished that in 2009, and then I finished A Reason to Kill shortly after. I also have a few short story collections in the works, and a few other novels that are creeping along slowly.
Do you have a day job/family/children, and how do you balance everything?
I am a high school English teacher and cross country and track coach. I’ve been married for four years and have a 5 month old daughter. I also edit the online literary magazine Bartleby Snopes. I guess I balance everything by not having any free time. I also consider myself a pretty efficient worker, but lately I’ve noticed that I haven’t been writing nearly enough. I think writers everywhere are nodding their heads in agreement. It’s difficult finding enough time in the day to edit, maintain blogs, facebook, twitter, organize tours, book signings and search out every other kind of promotion opportunity out there.
How did you choose the genre you write in, or did it choose you?
Most of my writing is short fiction in the absurdist vein. The novel is more of a mystery without those absurdist tendencies. I didn’t really choose it, at least not consciously. That’s just what flows out of my brain when I sit down to write.
Where do you get your ideas?
Just crazy things that pop into my head mostly. I might be on a walk or a drive and see a blade of grass and think to myself that I should write a story about that.
LOL. Okay, next question. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you while you were growing up?
Donald Barthelme and Kafka and Tim O’Brien and Flannery O’Connor are the authors that influenced me the most.
Have you ever experience writer’s block?
Many times. I have a very full folder on my computer of unfinished stories. Sometimes I get this great idea for a premise or a first line, but then nothing else comes out (or a lot of junk comes out), and I just give up after awhile and throw it into the junk folder.
Random Question #1: Light or dark chocolate?
Do you work from an outline, or do the characters dictate the plot (I’m a mix of both)?
I outline novels, but short stories are dictated by characters. And even in my novels, the characters sometimes change the outline for me. It becomes obvious at some point that they don’t want to or can’t do the things I originally wanted them to do, so the story has to change.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
All the time it took sending it out to what seemed like a thousand different places. Then when you finally get an offer you wonder if it’s the right offer. It’s very hard to pass up on a publication chance though.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I would do more research in the genre and do a better job promoting the book.
That’s great advice. As a hobby writer trying to turn professional, I’m now wishing I’d taken a serious look at what publishers wanted before I started my first novel. It certainly would have made finding it a home easier. But I didn’t know about researching genre and the publishing industry back then. Live and learn.
Do you have any tips for new authors marketing their first book?
Know how you are going to promote your novel.
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Nothing in the book is based on my real life, but there are a few things here that are drawn from real news stories. They are incorporated in small ways into the plot, and most people probably won’t notice them because they are very regional.
Random Question #3: Tea or coffee?
Neither. If I had to choose it would be tea. I’ve never had a cup of coffee in my life.
How did you come up with the title?
It just seemed to fit. Unfortunately, a couple other books with the same title were released just before my own.
What do you do when you are not writing?
Besides the plethora of obligations I listed above, I listen to music, exercise, spend time with my family. Nothing out of the ordinary really.
Last Random Question: Are you a dog person or a cat person? Or horse, bird or whatever else floats your boat. LOL.
I have no pets, but if I had to get one it would be a dog. Or a pot-bellied pig.
Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I’ve written some stories I love that haven’t been published. A few years back I wrote a story I was very proud of that was rejected about 30 times before someone finally took it.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write what you want to write and don’t worry about trying to fit in. There are plenty of markets out there, and you eventually will find the right one for your words.
If it was possible, would you ever want to meet your protagonist?
I don’t think so. He’s not very likeable.
In regards to a new project, do your new characters speak to you, or do they shout?
They are whispering right now. Or maybe they are shouting and I just can’t hear them over the crying baby.
Do you have a new book coming out soon? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
My next book, Hallways and Handguns, comes out in 2012. I also have a short story collection coming out in 2013. The collection has a bunch of my absurdist stories bundled together. Hallways and Handguns is another dark novel. It revolves around several characters in a high school. There’s a suicide, an overdose, a shooting, and all sorts of other tragedy.
Wow. Sounds interested.
Thank you for letting me interview you on my blog today.