Can you believe it's the middle of May already?
Neither can I.
Still, let's get the week started with a bang! Today I have Nathan Wall, and he's unlike any author I've had on here before. Read on to find out why!
Star Trek or Star Wars?
As I write this on May the 4th, I can say, with full-confidence, Star Trek is 100% better than Star Wars.
DCU or MCU?
Considering the state of affairs at Warner Brothers, the MCU has to be considered the far superior product. They had a plan. They stuck to it. They had a few bombs, but they didn’t waiver. Not every movie can be as good as the Dark Knight trilogy, but they went with their vision and were the first to deliver a product not thought possible. The fact that WB didn’t try harder to put Batman and Superman on screen together in the early 2000s is a shame. They ended up coming off like a Johnny come lately instead of delivering something that would have destroyed Box Office records had it come out opposite X-2 and Toby’s Spiderman.
Favorite hangover recovery recipe?
Sleep and greasy food. Then mimosas.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 6-10. I would play action figures with my brother, and I would develop the plot and the action. I remember writing a Grand Tourismo story whenever the first game came out. That was lost on some computer way back when. At one point, I had 60 pages of a completely original story when I was in middle school. Wrote that on a computer that is now completely lost. If I were my parents, I’d be kicking myself in the head reading this, realizing all the stuff I let go by not backing it up! When I was in high school, I wrote a 16-episode Epic in pen. I still have that. It’s hilarious and hilariously bad. I’ve since done a better job of keeping up with my mental concoctions.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Sometimes, the ideas come in dreams. Then I do a little research and throw the worlds together. My most recent endeavor, a Kindle Vella serial called “The Adventures of Rascal Boy and Marionette” is based on nighttime stories I tell my kids. Obviously, the kids are aged up and the content is a little more mature to capture that adult audience, but the gist is there.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like taking my kids to their activities and planning our family trips. I’m really big into travel hacking. I like to plan epic vacations for little to no money. Last year, I got 5 tickets in Delta one from DFW to LHR for less than $40 in taxes. We had two rooms in a $ 500-a-night hotel right on Trafalgar Square for no money. We took a sleeper train from London to Edinburgh for no money. In all, we did 10 nights and spent maybe $200 on our travels and stays. When you spend hardly anything to get to where you’re going, you have more money to spend on a memorable vacation. In 2021, I took 8 people to Greece. We stayed in 4 and 5-star hotels, including an all-inclusive resort. I paid $150 in taxes on the flights. Everything else was paid for by points. So, we booked a private catamaran ride in Mykonos that included food and drinks for $1,000 because we didn’t spend anything on flights and hotels. My kids still talk about that. This year, we’re doing Turkey and Switzerland.
What does your family think of your writing?
They’re very supportive. What’s really cool is my oldest is 13 and she’s now reading some of the things I’ve written. She gets really into it. My wife gets to know all the endings. She’s my number-one sounding board. My parents have been integral in my Vella getting Top Faved status. Still, the best reviews are the ones I get from people I don’t know. As a writer, you tend to only believe negative feedback unless it comes from a 100% neutral source.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve published 3 books. I’ve written 2 or 3 others. I also have a Kindle Vella that is ongoing. I don’t know which is my favorite, but I recently gave my cousin’s reading group a bunch of copies of my book “Evolution of Angels” which was published in 2014, and it’s amazing how some of the social commentaries became more relevant over the past few years. That was really cool to see.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
First, stop posting all your plots and character hangups in Facebook groups. It’s weird. Make your story your own. Second, stop starting so many new WIPs. Ellen Brock says the reason writers abandon stories and start new ones is that they’re not good enough writers to work through issues in their current WIPs. Third, if you have a great idea, write it out in a plain telling format. Make it blunt. Write exactly what happens in your mind as though you’re recounting a crime to the police. This way, you won’t forget it, you can go back later and make it beautiful, and you can change the details of the scene because you’ll have a renewed perspective on it.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do not hear from readers much. They typically say good things.
What do you think makes a good story?
If the character has something to lose, and along the journey, you care about that, then you have a good story.
A great premise doesn’t make a story. You can have awesome prose, an intricate plot, and well-rounded characters with unique voices, but if the stakes aren’t present, or if the reader doesn’t really care, then the story will fall flat.
A character with a sad background or rough circumstances doesn’t make a compelling protagonist. No one cares if they’re poor, identify as a banana when really they’re a kiwi, or if their parents are dead. Boohoo. Kids in Africa mine the cobalt for your Tesla. Kids in South America work in Lithium fields. Slave labor makes Lebron’s shoes. Why should we care about a made-up character just because he lives under the stairs of his aunt and uncle’s house? If that’s as deep as Harry Potter went, it wouldn’t have made it past book one.
You could make an amazing story about a venture capitalist who strips struggling businesses down to spare parts for profit, laying off thousands of people who have to go live in squalor, if you give them something to lose and you care about that outcome. That outcome could be a change of heart, or they get whatever comeuppance you were hoping for, or maybe they don’t get any repercussions at all because things stick them worse than Teflon. No one said the ending has to be the one you were cheering for. It just has to be earned, and you need to be invested in it.
American Psycho is one of the best stories. I was fully invested in Bateman’s stakes. That doesn’t mean I would want to get dinner with a psychopathic killer and make him my best friend.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
The gatekeepers choose their pet projects based on social boxes ticked rather than the story itself. Go look at Twitter and what stories they’re wanting. They’re not asking for Thrillers with a twist ending or fantasy with deep world-building. They want to tick boxes. It’s more about the superficial attributes of the characters and the authors rather than the story or personality of the protagonist.
Holden Caulfield wouldn’t get published today because he doesn’t tick the right boxes, and people think his character is toxic. But that’s the point. It’s not a celebration of Caulfield’s superficial attributes or his personality that makes the story compelling, it’s the admonishment by the reader of the way he acts that sparks a reaction, and not something that says “feel sorry for Pat because he’s trapped in a she” or “this person bad because he’s on the wrong side of history because I told you so.” It’s an art that’s been lost, and it’s because the gatekeepers are looking to tick social boxes.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. The mark of a good writer is when the reader can’t tell which day a particular passage was created.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Yes. I’ve considered writing Romance under a woman’s name so that I can get more of that desperate housewife market that seems to fuel the indie market.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Never try and deliver what the readers want simply because you’ll never make everyone happy. Be original and write what comes naturally to you. The best story is a finished story.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Yes. Nonfiction is a thing. I don’t want Dale Carnegie to be emotional when writing about winning friends and influencing people.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
Each book should have a self-contained arch that finishes. This goes back to “what makes a story great.” Each Harry Potter book obviously builds on what came before it, but there’s a clear arch and stakes specific to each school year.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It made me take more time. There’s more to hammering out the story and hitting publish. It needs to be refined. It’s also not as simple as hitting publish and watching the success happen. A network needs to be built. Momentum needs to be gained. A plan needs to be hatched. The first focus needs to be on a clean, crisp, well-told story. Obviously. But there’s more that comes with it. I wasn’t prepared the first go around.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Downloading a free copy of Grammarly. Even the copy editors and proofreaders missed shit. For an indie author, Grammarly was just as good as anyone from Fiverr I would be $300 bucks to edit my work.
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
This is a great question. Readers aren’t savvy, even if they’re really really really smart in their everyday life, but they don’t like being treated like they’re dumb. There is no balance, even if you do things intentionally. For instance, I wrote a part where a character was referring to Sisyphus, but he was talking about Atlas. The point was the POV character was getting it wrong because he was young, and it was humorous to those who got it, and the fact he knew about those mythological figures at all should’ve been enough to show the kid has some sort of rounded education. But too many BETA readers got caught up in pointing out that I was dumb, and that Atlas held up the world, that I just completely redid the scene. The character ends up referring to Sisphus as “Sissy pants”. It’s a different kind of humorous.
Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?
Self-published. The advantage of being self-published is that I can actually get my story in front of other people. What good is a story that goes unread? I don’t tick the superficial boxes that gatekeepers on Twitter are looking for. And if I were to write in those categories, I would be accused of appropriating cultures or an inauthentic voice. It’s all stupid nowadays.
What is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything?
The ultimate question of life is “Why are we here?” If this life is all we have (and its not), then how do we live with that in mind? Does that give more weight to making sure others don’t suffer and have their one go around worthwhile? Or does that alleviate any obligation to our fellow man?
The reason we’re here is that God thought all the pain and misery we would put Him and others through was worth it in order to have a relationship with those who would respond to his calls to be reconciled.
God created man and woman, gave them a commission, and blessed them. The commission is our why for being here.
What does literary success look like to you?
Cliches suck, but I’m going to use one. At the end of the day, my writing is a form of time travel. After I’m long gone, my words will remain. My great great grandkids will be able to open my books and read words that were born in my head. I’m talking to them. That’s kind of cool. I don’t have anything like that from my ancestors. How cool is it for the descendants of Mark Twain to pick up Huckleberry Fin and go “I’m related to the dude who wrote this?”
What’s the best way to market your books?
Definitely not Facebook ads. I ran a few of those and just ended up getting likes and clicks from people with friends lists maxed out with porn accounts. Facebook tags, reading groups, Twitter hashtags, has proven the most successful to me. If anyone else has any tips, I’m all ears.
What do you have coming next?
Right now, I have a Top-Faved Kindle Vella series called “The Adventures of Rascal Boy and Marionette.” It’s in the middle of season 1. I have the first season broken in 5 Phases. Phase 2 is in full swing and will end on June 30th. Phase 3 will pick up the first Monday in July. 2 Episodes come out every week.
After that, I have another Kindle Vella series I will publish. A one-off Novella based on Rascal Boy and Marionette, and I plan on finishing the next 3 books in my Evolution of Angels series. Each one of those books is connected but separate at the time. They each take place at the exact same time with different casts. Think of it like the MCU.
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