It’s been a while since I’ve profiled an urban fantasy title on here, plus the author agreed to subject himself to my interview process! Should be a fun time all the way around.
Title: Ink Calls to Ink
Author: Nathan Crowder
Published: July 23rd, 2015
Publisher: Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Content Warning: PG-13 Violence
Franklin the Steadfast Soldier saw first hand what the cold indifference of modern London does to a Fictional Personae–a Fict. Refugees from their respective texts, scratching out a meager existence, the Ficts’ only comfort is the weekly Book Fair.
When a determined Knight of the Round Table hires him to find a missing king, Franklin starts to believe a better world could be possible. But the Knight works for the Host of Heaven, and Medea and Judas warn Franklin: One man’s heaven is not heaven for all. There is no place for misfits and villains in this new world order, their crimes are pre-ordained, written into the very fabric of their being.
To protect their city from a holy war, Franklin and his friends must stop the Once and Future King and an army of angels. Will they find the courage to write their own stories, or will they die slaves to their text and the ink in their blood?
SJ:Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?
NC: I’m a stickler for outlining. While I do allow myself some freewriting on a new project, I always have to break down and outline the whole dang thing or I go off the rails pretty quickly. I’m also addicted to those little Field Notes notebooks. I always have a few on me with a handful of pens so I can jot down any ideas that come to me. Many of those work their way into the project du jour or into future projects. (I just did an inventory of my field bag—ten notebooks, six pens, so I’m ready for anything.)
SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?
NC: I have set days and times when I write. I show up, sit down, and get cracking. I don’t have time to wait for a muse. Sadly, I have no shortage of ideas. Often, the challenge is seeing what idea have legs to go the distance. I write them all down, and most of them go into what I call the “Mental Junk Drawer” where they tumble and spark off other ideas until a strong novel idea is born. And I believe my muse looks like whoever is making my coffee at that moment.
SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?
NC: I try not to play favorites, but I have this short story, a little New Orleans flood ghost story called “None Left Behind” which is my absolute favorite story in the world to read aloud. As for novels, Ink Calls to Ink is the best thing I’ve ever written—yet.
SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?
NC: I’d take out the priest of Cthulhu, pick up his ceremonial dagger, and then challenge the great old ones themselves. I can’t even stick to one genre when I’m writing one genre.
(Note from SJ: Best answer to this question ever.)
SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?
NC: ”Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a novel.” Trust me. Go anywhere in the world and it comes out that you’re a writer and you’ll get that question. It’s nice that they’re trying to connect, I guess. But my answer is always the same. “Then you should write it.”
SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?
NC: Probably the cross-country underground cycle racing mystery Ride Like the Devil because I like road travel. If it were a loved one, probably my novel Cobalt City Blues because it’s fairly hopeful and I’d want them to be happy. Plus, superheroes. But an enemy other than the ones I’ve already written into my stories? Oh heck, I’d put them in “Bethlehem Grove” because the deer men cultists are one of the most unsettling things I’ve ever written.
SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?
NC: Nothing in life is guaranteed except death. If there’s a secret, it would be to keep writing what you want to write. The readers might find you and they might not. But at least you’ll be happy with your own stories.
SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?
NC: Writing sucks. It’s hard. It’s work. It’s like doing homework every day after work for the rest of your life. But having written is the best feeling in the world if you’re willing to put in the time.
SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.
NC: At the end of the day, most people read to be entertained. And if they open themselves up to that, there are all kinds of opportunities to challenge their perspective of the world. It’s why I’m such an advocate for diverse books. If we see novels with characters who are different then us, it’s easier to see, understand, and accept people whose life experience might be different than ours.
SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?
NC: Compassion. I don’t know if that will happen, but we sure as heck can do with a little more compassion. And I think it’s a quality that shines through my better, more optimistic work.
SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!
NC: I’m actually writing something that might be labeled literary fiction right now, which is kind of weird for me. It’s a novel about a group of ordinary people in a neighborhood going through gentrification who are facing the loss of their watering hole, the Local. Rather than give in, they decide to dig in for a fight they can’t possibly win. It’s going well. I hope to have it finished later this year.
Thanks for the time and your answers, Nathan! I love the thoughtful responses to these questions, and now I really want to dig into your work!
Nathan Crowder is a writer of long fantasy and short horror with a love of pop culture and working-class heroes. He currently lives in the Bohemian wilds of Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood where he blogs about writing, film, and fringe candy, and is known to haunt the local coffee houses, comic shop, dives, and karaoke stages. Nathan lives alone with his cat, Shiva, who is currently managing his career in exchange for fresh kibble.
He has appeared in several anthologies including That Ain’t Right: Historic Accounts of the Miskatonic Valley, Coins of Chaos, and Cthulhurotica.