Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interview with author Nathaniel Tower

Today, my guest is author, Nathaniel Tower.  His novel, A Reason to Kill, has just been released from MuseItUp Publishing.

AUTHOR: Nathaniel Tower
BOOK TITLE: A Reason to Kill

1.     Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why? I like to focus on short fiction, primarily in the absurdist vein. My imagination is quite wild, as is probably the case with most authors. I've written stories about a guy whose hands were made of oats (which was named a Notable Story in 2009), a story about a woman who falls in love with a blade of grass, a story about a mother and father who give birth to a boot. I know, it all sounds crazy, but there's deeper meaning to all of it if you are willing to look for it. My current novel is nothing like any of the above though. It's quite a bit more serious on the surface level. 

2.     Tell me about your current book which you are promoting. My current novel, A Reason to Kill, isn't your basic serial killer novel. It's a psychological thriller that focuses both on the criminal's mind and the detective's journey. It explores the motives behind all actions, not just behind the good ones. By alternating between the Do-Good Killer and Detective Geminer, the book weaves together the two characters in a way that may surprise some readers.

How long have you been writing? On and off for 10 years, but very seriously for the last 5. I tend to focus on short fiction, but the novel has always been an intriguing monster.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process? I never outline short stories. Novels and novellas might have a little bit of an outline, but mainly I start with a character or situation and let whatever happens happen. Once I get a basic outline of the characters, they tend to tell the story themselves. Really I just like to write and write and write until I get to an end. Then I go back and edit and change things a thousand times until I'm happy with the results. Lately I've been reading everything out loud after I write it. If I get stuck somewhere for a long time, that piece of writing usual goes in a junk folder. That folder is very full.

What comes first: the plot or the characters? Always the characters. They create the plot.  

What was the hardest part of writing your book? Getting the point of view right. Initially it was all third person, but then, with the help of my editor, I switched the chapters that focused on the serial killer to first person. That required major changes in both the wording and the content. I think this was a great change to make, but it was tough to pull off.

7.     Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you? I didn't do a whole lot of research for this one. Most of the research centered around little facts or on details about crime scenes and investigations. Between the writing, submitting, and editing stages, it took over 3 years to see A Reason to Kill to completion. 

      What are some of the challenges in your writing process? I often find that I am too wordy. I want to over-explain things, to give too many details, to repeat myself. Then when I go back to edit, I think "This is really a good idea, but it doesn't fit." Then I have to try to find a way to make that idea fit. I have a hard time sacrificing those good ideas that probably should be saved for another work.
      Describe your writing space. Really I can write anywhere. Most of it is at the computer, but I will jot down stuff any time I think of it. I don't need quiet. In fact, I pretty much always have music playing while I write. 

       What do you like to do when you’re not writing? My wife and I just had a daughter, so that's been the biggest time commitment lately. It's quite the challenge, but those little smiles sure make everything worth it. Other than that, I enjoy collecting records, listening to music, reading, running, and editing the online literary magazine Bartleby Snopes.
      What books or authors have influenced your writing? Donald Barthelme is probably my biggest influence, at least when it comes to short fiction. I don't try to copy anyone's style, but his use of experimentalism and absurdism showed me many new possibilities in what I could write. 

            What do you see for the future of publishing and e-books? I personally don't own an e-book reader, but I spend a ton of time reading short fiction on the internet. When it comes to longer works, I am a physical book type of guy. I don't think the physical book will ever go away completely, but e-books will dominate in the near future. One of the great things about e-books is that they allow even more authors to get exposure. Print books are so limiting because of all the costs associated. A lot of great novels never see the light of day because of that. 

What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for release? Right now my only novel out is A Reason to Kill. I have about 100 short stories published in print or online in various venues. I am working on some short fiction collections. I also have several novel ideas, but I haven't really started hammering one of them out yet. Just some outline and a few pages or chapters scattered here and there. My first novella, Hallways and Handguns, is due out with MuseItUp next year.
            What is your marketing plan? Hopefully sell a lot of copies. I'm doing all the usual promotional strategies: press releases, twitter, facebook, spamming people's emails, blogs, etc. Just trying to get the title out there. I've sent it out to quite a few reviewers, and I'm giving away 15 review copies on The Library Thing.  

1     What advice would you give a new writer just starting out? Find your own voice and write the genre you want to write. Don't try to be another author, and don't write something just to satisfy someone else.

1     Where can people learn more about you and your work? The best way to learn about me is through my fiction. On my website I have links to many of my published stories. Here it is: www.bartlebysnopes.com/ntower.htm. Although none of these stories are about me, you can always find at least a tiny bit of the author in a piece of fiction. Sometimes it is very difficult to find, and sometimes the thing about the author is the exact opposite of what the story presents. 

What about a short synopsis?
Young hotshot Detective Geminer became a police officer to put away scum like the man who killed his father. His latest case, the Do-Good Killer, chooses his victims based on prior criminal records and thinks their history of crime is justification for his murders. As the isolated Geminer attempts to capture the elusive criminal, cope with the loss of his father, and find normal human relationships, he questions his own motives behind being a police officer and begins to learn that he and his enemy have quite a bit in common.


  1. The book sounds wonderful, Nathaniel. Best wishes for much success.

  2. Penny, thank you for having me on your blog. It was a joy to do the interview.

  3. Nathaniel, it was my pleasure. You can still encourage people to stop by. Just use this link: http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com/2011/07/interview-with-author-nathaniel-tower.html

  4. Interesting interview. It was nice to meet Nathaniel. I'll have to check out some of his work.

  5. Susanne, as always good to hear from you.