Interview with Author Nikolas Robinson

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

I’m no good at talking about myself…I always hate this part of anything…filling out a profile on a social network site or anything else. I can’t help but wonder why anyone would care to hear about me…I find myself to be really quite boring. If I have direction, I can manage to talk about myself, so I think I’d prefer to just answer direct questions and see where those lead me…good lord, I hope that I don’t end up making a total ass of myself.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

I don’t know…I’ve been reading since I knew the alphabet…and I actually started writing little illustrated stories back in 1st or 2nd grade…I actually recently rediscovered some of those insipid stories not altogether that long ago in a box of photographs and newspaper clippings that my mother passed my way. If I’m being totally honest, I feel like it was always what I was meant to be doing…the only thing that ever really made me feel complete…and somewhere along the way, in my 20’s, I lost sight of that…and lost my drive…my motivation…my mojo…whatever the hell you want to call it.

Thankfully I extracted my cranium from my anus and started writing again…and with greater focus than I had before.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Honestly, I think the biggest hurdle would be in obtaining representation of a literary agent. I made half-assed attempts to query agents with my first novel as I was approaching what I (stupidly, mind you) considered to be the final draft…and though I even happened to receive some rejections that included small amounts of praise for the sample material that was submitted along with the query letter, I did only meet with rejection.

The problem is in saturation, I think…literary agents and publishers receive so many queries and manuscripts on a daily basis that they simply can’t take the time necessary to really fall in love with someone’s material. And some of us aren’t altogether too good when it actually comes to hooking someone or adequately promoting the work. It’s hopelessly naïve, and I’m aware of that fact, to believe that the work should speak for itself (in writing and in everything else)…but I can’t get past that childish perspective for myself. I’m not equipped to shamelessly promote myself…I can’t properly cobble together treatments and summaries of what I’ve written…I already wrote the whole damn novel.

It’s that whole process between completion and sale that I think, at least personally, has to be the worst struggle…well, that and the fact that literacy isn’t exactly a high priority these days.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

Well, since self-publishing was decided upon as my outlet for my first novel, I decided to cobble together a collection of various poetry and the like that I had accumulated over a handful of years and use that as a way to test out the process of formatting and assembling a work for digital publication through Amazon’s Kindle store. Thus we end up with A Wreck In Progress: Assorted Poetry.

A few months later I felt like I had adequately formatted and self-edited my first complete novel, Unspoken. Of course, it isn’t perfect, being without the benefit of having a real editor and whatnot. I do believe that it turned out fairly well, all things considered, especially for a first novel. As imperfect as it might be, the final product is still something that I am proud of.

At present those are my only two completed works, but I do have plenty of additional material that is working its way through the ridiculous, convoluted pipe that is my creative process.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

I actually have entertained the thought of revisiting the protagonist from Unspoken in short fiction at some point, seeing where he is and how his situation might have changed for the worse (since I sincerely can’t even conceive of how his situation might have improved).

Bec: Rain drops or snowflakes?

Rain drops are preferable…snowflakes are what I get.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

I have a couple of short stories that I’m polishing up for submission to a couple of different anthologies.

There’s a particular short story that I’m in the process of expanding to somewhere between novella and novel-length because it feels too skeletal to me in the current state.

In addition to the smaller scale material, there are four novels that I have in progress (in varying states of completion), and I’d like to pretend that I know which will be finished first, but there is a lot of fluctuation involved and I literally have no idea.

Of those four novels in progress, two are horror (zombie-related, though totally unrelated and coming at the theme from totally different directions), one is a sort of postmodern urban fantasy, and the other is a sort of horror/science fiction oriented project.

I would more than likely be finished with one or more of these projects were it not for having my children to take care of as well as needing to continue working a full-time job in healthcare (though said job does provide me with adequate downtime with which I am frequently able to get more writing out of the way).

The kids are some of my biggest supporters though, and I couldn’t be luckier, I don’t think…and I’m just glad that I can provide them with at least a half-assed example of someone who refuses to quit and continues to pursue their dreams…even when failure is a real possibility.

On top of the actual writing, I occasionally entertain the thought of working on music again, though that rarely ever grows beyond an embryonic state, which is too bad, because I have matured as a musician a great deal since my previous project was dismantled. Maybe someday I will actually begin recording again, who knows?

I’m including a link to the artist profile for my old material on last.fm though, just in case anyone is interested in seeing just how much of a goth kid I was back in the day.

(http://www.last.fm/music/Alter%20Noctvm…Alter%20Idem?ac=Alter Noctvm)

Bec: If you could create a planet for the human race to live on, what would it be like?

I don’t know…but I would want to name it Bob, like in Titan A.E. I suppose, if I am being honest, I would make it a nightmare of an environment, something terribly inhospitable where human survival is concerned…I think that the best we’re capable of being tends to arise from that sort of thing…what was it that Hitler said about privation being our strength? Wait…paraphrasing Hitler probably isn’t the best thing…well, it’s said already, and even a total nutcase like that man could say things that make sense. I hope that I haven’t offended anyone.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

I don’t know…I like rich, deep shades of blue, green, red, and purple…how’s that for a specific answer? I guess that I have a problem committing.

Bec: What’s your favorite animal? Why?

I want a lemur…I don’t know if that makes it my favorite animal, but I want one…almost desperately. I also want a wallaby. I think that I just want something that jumps and hops around absurdly…I have no idea.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

There is no binary, yes/no answer to this question for me, and it seems like a larger issue than just music. There are a number of times when I need the television on or music playing simply for the purpose of providing background noise. Occasionally I can only seem to write if I happen to go so far as to remove myself to a location where ample background noise exists independent of my producing it.

With respect to music itself though, there is one particular thing that I have in progress for which I have put together a playlist on my iPod and within iTunes so as to listen to specific tracks that seem to set the right tone for what I’m working on…songs with a particular theme, sound, or more nebulous quality to them which suits the material in question…maybe sort of a soundtrack to the movie taking place in my mind.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

I have what qualifies as almost an obsession with hard-science fiction, which is probably what I read more than any other genre. Beyond that I happen to very much love horror, fantasy (urban and epic), postmodern literature, and (strange as it might seem) westerns.

Bec: If you could make up a game show for television, what would it be like?

I would like to see something incorporating masturbation…violence…and viscous fluids of an unknown nature…not separately, but used in conjunction with one another. There would be questions, obscure questions without any right/wrong answers…and the host would arbitrarily determine whether the provided answers were valid based upon whatever biases they happen to exhibit…maybe they happen to find the particular contestant attractive in some way or they dislike the sound of their voice? That seems like a fun game show to me…where there’s really no way of knowing whether you have won or lost until you are informed of the outcome. I’d like an atmosphere of tension that borders on terror…maybe go so far as to have the contestants pulled off the street after signing a waiver for something else entirely…but with small print that allows for them to be pulled into the game show without any warning…draw from that pool of people who are so desperate to experience their 15 minutes that they will sign anything if they think it might get them onto television somehow?

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

My initial impulse is to be a smartass and claim that any profession that I participate in would be a lonely one by default…but not really, not writing…I have plenty of company all the time (fictional or not). There are always my children and other loved ones in the picture as well, even when I desperately strive to find isolation.

Bec: If you could have any super power you wanted for a week, what would it be?

I don’t want a super power per se…but, if you’ve seen the movie Limitless, well…that is what I want…I want that drug more than I’ve probably ever wanted anything…what I wouldn’t give to have even a year of my life with that sort of preternatural clarity and focus.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Being essentially a beginning writer myself, at least as far as making a career of it is concerned, I really don’t feel like I am in much of a position to offer advice or anything of the sort. I can say, without any hesitation, that they shouldn’t do what I did, which is to essentially cut off that aspect of my life and stop writing altogether for a number of years. I regret that more than damn near anything…and I have plenty to regret.

Bec: Giraffe or elephant?

Elephants never forget…but I am 6’ 4”, so maybe giraffe is more appropriate? Hell, I don’t know…you decide!

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

I wish that someone had told me that I was more than likely wasting my time and setting myself up for almost inevitable failure…not for any real reason, just because.

Bec: Reptile or fuzzy critter?

Since all I happen to have are fuzzy critters, I’ll have to go with that option.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friends is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

I don’t know how much it aids in growth as a writer…but it is nice to be able to discuss the topic with other people who have been where I am (even if they were there a long time ago and have long since established something more of themselves)…to just talk with people with the same passion is actually quite nice, even if the nuts and bolts of writing isn’t part of the dialogue.

Bec: Pen or pencil?

Pen

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Dune by Frank Herbert would have to be my favorite book for a number of reasons…the exploration of human potential to a totally fantastic degree…the assumption that humanity would still be around so far down the road, spread out through the galaxy and thriving while still suffering from the same ludicrous and petty power struggles that we presently experience…there’s a sort of optimism in Herbert’s work that I always loved.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Alastair Reynolds, a physicist and hard-science fiction writer. The man has a skill when it comes to extrapolation and speculation that is unparalleled in my opinion, and the scope of his writing is almost awe inspiring to me.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

I could probably manage to get my hands(?) on a VD that I could share? I don’t imagine that you, or anyone else reading this, would be even remotely interested in something like that though.

Seriously though, I just want to thank you for the opportunity to be put on the spot and forced to think about these questions in such a way as to force me to put answers together…as incoherent and ridiculous as some of those answers might actually have been.

 

©Rebecca Besser & Nikolas Robinson, 2012. All rights reserved.

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