AWD's September Author Spotlight - Nathan Squiers

Saturday, September 01, 2012 0 Comments A+ a-

A Writer's Dream is ecstatic to return with some new voices and books to bring to you via our author spotlights!

This month we're spotlighting a very inspiring author Nathan Squiers who popped by to chat about his works including his newest release 'Curtain Call' and his writing inspirations.

 From his bio:
The bacon-loving force of paranormal calamity, Nathan Squiers (The Literary Dark Prince), is a resident of upstate New York where he lives with his loving fiancé and fellow author/unholy force of literary madness, Megan J. Parker, and two creatures that have chosen to disguise themselves as cats. Living day-by-day on a steady diet of body modification, excessively loud music, and high, potentially-lethal doses of caffeine, he often escapes reality by submerging himself in movie marathons, through stacks of novels and comics/manga, and (of course) losing himself in his own writing.

Learn more about The Literary Dark Prince and his writing adventures in the realms of novels/novellas, short stories, and comic books as well as formally joining The Legion and chatting with fellow readers at www.nathansquiers.com

On with the q's!

AWF: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
NS: It's hard to say exactly WHEN the decision was made. My entire life I've enjoyed depicting stories (before I could write I would enact detailed scenes with my action figures). In Elementary school, when everyone was asked to write about their summer vacation, I begged my teacher to write a piece of fiction instead, and the resulting short story was a classroom favorite. For a while I wanted to be a filmmaker--writing and directing movies--but a lot of the process was more mechanics and less magic than I felt a connection to. At that point I'd been dabbling in writing in some form or another for 8 years (I was about 15 at that time) and I'd decided that writing was the best outlet for my desire to tell stories. After the momentum picked up about 3 years later, I realized that the magic in writing (the ability to use ONLY words to depict an intimate sequence of events in a reader's mind) was exactly what I'd craved (so I suppose you'd say I was 18, but by that point it was more of an acceptance of a fact than a decision).

AWD: How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?
NS: At face-value, I'd say my work is a supernatural/paranormal occult-thriller (but I've also been pegged with urban fantasy, horror, paranormal psycho-drama, and supernatural action/adventure). Truthfully, a lot of what I write takes in elements of a lot of genres--horror, mystery, paranormal thriller, fantasy, and a slew of others (even philosophy and psychology to work an element of "self-help" into the mix that allows for character growth & development)--to create something that I feel will entertain and enlighten readers. Other's take the metaphorical route and say that I write social parodies (albeit morbid and saturated in vampires). The best way to describe my style is "cinematic" and similar to movies like "Blade" and "Underworld" and "The Matrix".

AWD: What motivated you to start writing in this genre?
NS: To be honest, I've always been obsessed with vampires and other such monsters and using them in stories just made sense for me. I grew up reading comics and watching anime and horror movies and playing video games like Devil May Cry, so the supernatural and over-the-top, superhuman fight sequences (the types of fights that level city blocks) and elements of horror and gore just sort of added fuel to the literary fire.

AWD: Who would you say has influenced you the most?
NS: A lot of my style is fueled more by films and anime and comics, so I've been influenced by directors like Guillermo del Torro and his stunning use of visuals and creating mood through setting and Christopher Nolan for his technique in taking fantastic and otherwise unrealistic scenarios and making them into something so easily associated with reality. Key players in the comic book industry have also helped to inspire me; people like Alan Moore (writer of the Watchmen graphic novel) for his ability to stream random sequences that magically tie together in the end and Frank Miller (writer and illustrator of the Sin City series) for his use of dialogue and ability to tell MORE of a story with LESS details, as well as Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith (writer and illustrator of 30 Days of Night) for their brilliant approach to the raw potential chaos behind the vampire lore and how deep a community like that can go.

AWD: That's pretty cool. Those directors and writers have definitely made waves in their respective genres and have inspired many imaginations who've enjoyed their work (yours truly as well)! Do you have a particular favorite work from each director/artist?

NS: While I'm sure everyone and their grandmothers saw this one coming, I'd have to say that Blade II is a personal favorite from del Torro (if nothing else his approach towards lighting a scene was an inspiration for using similar techniques to put a chapter/scene in a certain tone/mood by using certain types of language). A lot of what makes him so inspiring is how he takes something inherently simple to look at, but has so many complex elements that build that visual into EXACTLY what he wanted the audience to see (using sparks and electric discharge as a means of conveying violence without any other violent elements). Movies like Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth are good examples of del Torro's affinity for visuals and effects so that they highlight rather than make the films what they are, and from this I've honed my style to use vivid descriptions and details to scenes, while not defining the writing, help the reader to delve that much deeper into the piece.

What draws me to Nolan--aside from the movies in general--is the intimacy he shows towards mechanics and science behind what is ultimately make-believe. Because of this, movies like Inception, where he's applied concepts of mathematics and algorithms to define dreams-within-dreams and how time would play out when shifting about therein. Also, because of my love of comics, how he approached his Batman trilogy and brought Gotham and The Dark Knight into the real world rather than trying to convince the audience to follow into a city that, before that, had always been depicted in very unbelievable ways. Things like this allow an audience to say "Wow! I can actually SEE how Batman could exist in our world!" and, in doing so, gets them to invest THAT much more in the story. For me, I don't like having to convince an audience that the world I'm escorting them through is something they can relate to, because I've brought the vampires and therions and other creatures to THEIR city. By doing this, Xander Stryker standing on the side of a city skyscraper can become Xander Stryker standing on THE city skyscraper that the reader's uncle works at (or something of that nature).


AWD: What are your main concerns as a writer?
NS: The basic two: (1) have I properly and effectively utilized the English language and the organic flow of words to convey both the visual and emotional elements that I'm trying to deliver to the reader and (2) will this entertain and/or provide insight/perspective to one's own life?

AWD: How have your personal experiences influenced the direction of your writing?
NS: Like many, I didn't have a happy or healthy upbringing and a great deal of the pain I dealt with instilled me with a great deal of insight and perspective (both biased and educated) to the human condition. As a teenager, I was self-destructive and suicidal and the project that would later become "Crimson Shadow: Noir" (book #1 of the series) started off as a short story that would have served as a creative suicide letter. I'd never enjoyed writing about myself, so I decided to depict my pain through Xander and his nightly ritual (after a great deal of rewriting & editing this short story became the first chapter of the book). Despite the initial purposes, I was entranced with the character I'd created and wanted to write more of his story, and, in doing so, gave him a reason to NOT want to die (and, ironically enough, gave me a reason to stop my own self-destructive tendencies). I've since then mellowed out a great deal, and people who know me would say I'm a (for the most part) happy, friendly, and (*le-gasp*) funny guy. However, when I settle in to write, my mind always shifts back to the grit and chaos and pain because being able to express those thoughts and emotions and share them with the world (to show others who feel the same that they're not alone) helps to relieve me of those feelings for when I'm not writing. One of my biggest pet peeves about society has always been how the masses will do ANYTHING to avoid the ugly truth of a situation (people will deny or ignore warning signs of abuse or neglect or harassment) simply because they don't want to be brought down by the ugly truth that you don't need vampires and werewolves and other mythological killers for there to be monsters in the world. What they try to hide in a dark corner I shine the spotlight on and force them to acknowledge that murder, abuse, rape, and acts of hatred and bigotry are EVERYWHERE, and that, even standing beside blood-suckers and flesh-eaters, there will never be a monster as brutal as mankind.

AWD: Do you think you've achieved this with your current work?
NS: More-or-less. My #1 goal has always and will always be to entertain the reader (any life-lessons or morals that come from it are certainly nice, but that's just icing on the cake). For "Crimson Shadow: Noir", I think that so many people can read Xander's story and see themselves or their friends who have had similar situations (sadly, abuse is not as rare as it should be) and, though set in a world of monsters, the truth is that it's all very real and horrible and it DOES impact people in much the same way Xander was impacted by his own history.

With "Curtain Call: A Death Metal Novel", I wanted to convey a literal and metaphorical approach to music. In a band, each musician contributes an element that adds-up to the song that's heard by the audience, so I wanted to translate that sense of contribution to a greater degree. While this doesn't reflect in quite the same way as Crimson Shadow,  I think the message still works as a social metaphor that everybody has a crucial role to play.



AWD: What will your next book be about?
NS: With "Noir" and "Curtain Call" now released, the next book scheduled to debut is the second installment in the Crimson Shadow series, "Sins of the Father". The first book of the series was very much about the series' protagonist, Xander Stryker, coming to grips with who he was and what it meant for him as well as getting him "up to speed" and dealing with his and his late mother's history (what a comic reader would call the origin story). In book #2, I really wanted to shift from a story of development to what that development MEANS. In the beginning of SotF, Xander has fallen comfortably into his role and has fully developed all of his skills/abilities as a vampiric warrior. At this point, the depression and self-loathing from book #1 has disappeared, and, with this new perspective, Xander finds more than just company with his magically-inclined lifelong friend, Estella. I'd always intended for Xander and Estella to be together romantically, but it seemed unfair and unrealistic to have a person who hates themself to have the capacity to love another person (plus, wanting to blow your brains out is sort of a turn off for most ladies). A few of my Kindle shorts that are currently debuting biweekly begin to set the stage for this romance (as well as giving foresight of other things to come), and this shift in their relationship will bring new elements into how their roles play out. Just as book #1 focused a great deal on Xander's mother and his human heritage, book #2 will focus on Xander's father and his vampiric heritage. This history will begin to reveal some truths that will shift how people perceive the first book and put Xander against an antagonizing force with a personal vendetta and a shocking plan.


AWD: What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?
A: When "Noir" was in the early stages of editing (beta testing and revising and whatnot) a buddy of mine pointed out that, aside from the action/adventure element, the story of a suicidal teen finding strength and reason to persevere could serve to help others. At first I took it as a simple compliment--after all, it wasn't even an actual book, so harboring dreams of how it would be received by an audience seemed a tad farfetched when so much had to be done first--but, sure enough, a short time after the book's release through Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing, I was contacted by a reader who thanked me. Apparently, for this person, the character of Xander struck a very powerful cord in their heart, and the story ultimately motivated them to stop their own self-destructive/suicidal activities and seek the help they needed to get better. For me, there's no greater honor than knowing my efforts to entertain and enlighten worked, but this message truly blew me away. While I'd hoped that the story and the charity work through To Write Love On Her Arms (an anti-suicide & self-harm movement) would be helpful, I'd never imagined that it would have THAT great of an impact on somebody. I do look forward to a long and fruitful writing career and hope that I can continue to entertain and inspire, but, knowing that somebody out there is alive and striving to achieve their own happiness because of something I wrote, there isn't really much more I can hope to achieve other than continuing to make readers happy.

AWD: Any last words for your readers and visitors?

NS: I feel that it's an incredible honor that people are willing to take a chance with me and my work to entertain them. For me, the readers have always been more than "fans" (to be honest, I HATE that word), and so I and a group of friends and some of my earlier readers decided to call any who considered themselves an enthusiast of my work as a part of "The Legion".

Having said this, I'd love any and all to join me, The Literary Dark Prince, and the others of The Legion in a brutal literary movement of gnarly proportions! Feel free to "Like" The Legion on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Legion-of-Nathan-Squiers/329543403767153 and formally join The Legion on the forum page on my website at http://www.nathansquiers.com.



Check out Nathan's books and more information about him on the web!
http://www.nathansquiers.com - Personal Author Website
http://www.goodreads.com/Literary_Dark_Prince - Goodreads
https://www.facebook.com/Nathan.Squiers?ref=hl - FB author page
https://www.facebook.com/CrimsonShadow.Legacy?ref=hl - FB Crimson Shadow page
https://www.facebook.com/DeathMetal.NovelSeries?ref=hl - FB Death Metal page
https://twitter.com/Lit_Dark_Prince - Twitter
http://www.myspace.com/visceral_vices - MySpace