So happy to have Nathan Everett stopping by the blog today! I met Nathan back in May during Armchair BEA and am so glad he was able to stop by the blog and give us a guest post. One of my favorite things to know about authors is what goes on in their head when they write! Well, Nathan gives us a little insight as to what drives him in his writing. For more from Nathan and to follow his tour, be sure to visit Nathan’s Blog! OH!! Be sure to also take a few moments and wish him a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 😀 Super special that he was able to spend his birthday with us here at Cici’s Theories (virtually anyway)!
And now I will turn the blog over to Nathan…
Readers have asked me several times “How much of that story is true?” The question comes in a variety of different flavors, but I’ve discovered that it doesn’t usually mean “Are the historical facts accurate?” More often it means, “Did you really do that?”
I was amused when a friend of my sister-in-law confessed on the phone to her the other day. She was in the process of reading For Blood or Money. “I can’t read the sex scene,” she confessed. “I know him!” My sex scenes, though intimate, are not explicit. She wasn’t embarrassed by the sex, but by the idea that I was telling something that I had done.
A classmate from 1968 said that she’d had difficulty reading the same book because she couldn’t separate it from her knowledge that I’d written it. A sprinkling of names and references from our high school years hadn’t helped!
Another person who read an early draft said, “I know this is you.”
How much of that story is true?
Like most writers, I put a lot of my own experience into what I write. The words have to come from somewhere. I was sitting in a health club lobby waiting for my wife to come out when a little girl about four years old kept staring at me, approaching, and then backing away. Her finger occasionally pointed toward me as though of its own volition. Then she would draw it back protectively, as though I might bite it. I finally realized she was looking at the picture on my sweatshirt. It was a very stylized drawing of a greyhound (of which I own two). I finally engaged her, telling that it was a big and very fast dog and asked if she liked dogs. She responded simply, “I thought it was a dragon.” A key part of my hapless dragonslayer in the fantasy Steven George & The Dragon was born. Steven mistakes a duck, a bag of melons, a tinker’s cart, a dwarf, a company of knights, and a thief for a dragon.
Elements of my life slip into my writing without my ever realizing they are there. But are they me?
I’d have to say, “Not really.” It is more how I learned to think of the world. Usually, there is a grain of my experience, reading, conversations, or relationships that will function as a launching point for a scene. I wrote an occult fantasy many years ago that has yet to see print, titled “The Props Master.” When I was in college, my theatre troupe was invited to perform our production of Hamlet in England for three weeks one summer. The settings of the college campus and the locations in England that we visited and performed—even clever lines and banter that was tossed around among the cast—was prevalent in the manuscript. But the actual experience merely provided a structure for the story about a coven of contemporary witches gathering together to forge a ritual tool at a stone circle in Britain using the college tour as cover. We were a pretty tame bunch of teens for 1970. We had our share of potheads, but to my knowledge, there was no Wiccan circle traveling amongst us.
The old adage for writers is to write what you know. I don’t think that means that I should always write about desktop publishing or mobile communications—two subjects that I know about professionally. It means that we make our stories real by drawing on our own experiences and letting them enrich the purely fictional plots and characters we develop.
If you have ever had the experience of thinking to yourself, what I should have done was…, then you have the basis for a story. Often, I find that is what I write. What I did was boring, predictable, and mundane. What I should have done was exciting, surprising, and exotic. When I was in my 30s I actually started writing a story I called, “Life as I Would Have Lived It—a Pseudo-autobiography.” In that story, I took mundane events that happened every day and rewrote history so that it turned out way better than reality. In the rewritten history, I was a good student to whom learning was easy. I was successful, rich, popular, and all the things that I dreamed of being at the time.
Was it real? The situations were certainly based on things that were real, but the stories were pure fantasy!
So, when you are tempted to believe that I’m a talented metal-smith and member of a secret society of alchemists like Keith Drucker in The Gutenberg Rubric, put that thought aside. I show up in the book more in the way Keith handles pain in the hospital or how he does computer-based research than in his occupation, relationship with his girlfriend, or knowledge of ancient manuscripts.
My life informs my work, but my work does not copy my life.
Thanks again Nathan, for stopping by and giving us a little look inside your head!
A little about Nathan Everett
Nathan has been involved in the publishing industry as an author, publisher, trainer, and technologist for over 30 years. He was an early adopter of desktop publishing technology and traveled the country as one of the first authorized trainers for Aldus PageMaker while publishing magazines and trade journals in Minneapolis.
While training hundreds of graphic artists on computer technology, Nathan also trained “non-professionals” in a broad range of printing concepts, including typography, design, color, and print history. Over the years he became fascinated with the mysteries surrounding Johannes Gutenberg and began collecting stories as he visited historic sites like The Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany. From this grew the story of the search for Gutenberg’s secret project.
Nathan did not remain stuck in the ink and paper world, however. As electronic publishing continued to advance, he worked on the technology, filing seven patents in the area of typography and on-screen layout. He has continued to consult in that industry since his retirement from Microsoft in 2009. But his love for traditional printing arts has continued and he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Seattle Center for Book Arts.
Nathan estimates that he has written many novels, some which are in both print and electronic forms. His first book, For Blood or Money, was published by Long Tale Press in 2008. He published an on-line novel, Willow Mills, IN, in 2004 as an experiment in Web-based publishing. His young adult fantasy novel Steven George & The Dragon was released in 2011. Nathan is an active supporter of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and the National Novel Writing Month.
Nathan lives with his wife, daughter, and two rescued greyhounds in the Pacific Northwest. He only writes when it’s raining.