Monday, January 30, 2012

Nathan Yocum author of The Zona

AUTHOR: Nathan L. Yocum
PUBLISHER: SpecLit Masters
Why don't you start with telling us a little about yourself? What genre do you write in and why?
            I’m a lot of things.  Or better put, I’m not content being any one thing for very long.  When I was a young child I had a list of things I wanted to do with my life; actor, lawyer, writer, teacher, comedian, archeologist.  My life has followed that path.  I was an actor in my teens, a lawyer in my twenties, I’m a teacher now.  The writing thing is new and I love the freshness of it.  Especially writing during a turning point in the industry (the e-publishing revolution to be precious).
            As to the question of what I write, I mostly write science fiction and noir.  I enjoy both of those genres, but I also know it’s only a matter of time before I try something new.                                                 
Tell me about your current book which you are promoting.
            The Zona is a post apocalyptic western.  Early reviews have compared it to a twisted up version of Sergio Leones “Man with No Name” trilogy.  I agree whole heartedly with this assessment.
How long have you been writing?
            I wrote the first draft of The Zona three years ago and shelved it.  I’ve always written stories, but I didn’t take it seriously or actively pursue a writing career until last March.
What got you interested in writing, and what inspired you to write your first book?
            The Zona exists in a post apocalyptic version of Arizona that is not far from the memories of Arizona I hold from childhood.  Everything there is hot, dry, and poisonous.  
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?

I’ll outline a little, but I don’t always adhere to it.  I do a lot more researching than outlining.
What comes first: the plot or the characters?
Definitely characters.  It’s their world, they dictate the plot.  To me, good writing comes from a meditative state where I’m watching the characters as images in my head, operating in a fully realized world.  In essence I become an observer.
Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?     
I love the character Terrence Wood.  Terrence Wood is me.  That said, I hate what I do to Terrence in this story.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Editing.  If your brain already knows the story, it isn’t going to focus on finding errors.  Self-editing is a herculean task.
Did your book require a lot of research? How long does it take to write a book for you?
Lots and lots of research.  I did extensive research on global warming, doomsday scenarios, bounty hunting, guns (modern and classic), desert survival, Christianity, etc., etc., etc.
What are some of the challenges in your writing process?

Editing.  Self-editing is a bear.  A big woolly bear.

Describe your writing space.
Cheap black desk in a small white room.  Generic thrift store art on the walls.  The room smells like stale booze and me.  I like my laptop, though.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I teach.  I run an SAT prep company.
What books or authors have influenced your writing?

I’ll go by authors: Cormac McCarthy, Kurt Vonnegut, Charles Bukowski, Stephen King, William Gibson
What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?           
            Print publishing will never die, but it’s value will be substantially reduced, like record players.  At some point, paper books will be more of an ascetic choice then anything else.  E-publishing will expand and grow in popularity.  Large publishers will panic at first, but the more innovative ones will redirect their resources and adjust.
What are your current books out right now and what are the books coming up for
            Of course there’s The Zona.  Also, I’m publishing a literary ezine, SpecLit Masters.  The idea behind the magazine is to adopt a classic master of speculative literature (the first issue is HP Lovecraft) and have modern writers create stories in that master’s style.
            I’m also featured in the upcoming Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road anthology.
What is your marketing plan?
            Sell books for money.  Use money to buy things.
What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?
             Finish your first draft before you even think of editing.  You can make a beautiful sculpture out of garbage, but not nothing.                                               
Where can people learn more about you and your work?


  1. Even better news...since the drafting of this interview The Zona has been picked up for official publication through Curiosity Quills Press.

    Here's the new news:

  2. Congratulations, Nathan. That is good news. Thanks for the update.