An interview with Nathaniel Sewell, author of Fishing for Light.
Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?
My professional background comes from the world of medical malpractice insurance and just cold, hard business. I have always loved to write. I have written most of my prose, or poems to only share with my wife. She is my best critique because she is fearless, and she is brutally honest with me. She told me to take the craft of writing seriously; she thought I had a hidden talent.
What got you into writing?
Pure instinct, I try to listen to my instincts, about people, and situations. I quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson as an inspiration for Fishing for Light, ‘Trust instinct to the end, though you can give no reason.’ It sums up why I even attempt to write.
What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?
As to Fishing for Light, the first particle for the story comes from staring at Salvador Dali’s masterworks, The Ecumenical Council, The Hallucinogenic Toreador, and the Clocks. If a novel is obvious to me, I stop reading. So, I prefer satire, and allowing characters to represent a deeper meaning. I wondered about myself and if I was aware of the social, economic and political swirl going on around me.
Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?
I have two equal favorite characters from Fishing for Light. Pedro, an Indian, a Sikh, he is world famous hair stylist, Christopher Clayton’s salon assistant. Chris called him, Pedro, because he cannot pronounce his real name. And Charlene, a married, father of two, and lottery winner who decided to change his sex after his wife decided she preferred women over men.
What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?
As you might imagine, I have several scenes that I hope readers enjoy. The scene where Professor Quan and Captain Lovins steal the Hope Diamond, the scene just after Eddie saved the day for four fictionalized professional golfers standing next to a tall transgender named, Charlene. And toward the end, how can I not love salon assistant, Pedro?
What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?
I love the creative process. I think taking odd subjects, and placing them together in normal situations creates the fertile ground for self-discovery. What would person A, say or do standing next to person B?
How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?
I do not ‘wing it’, ever. I think a reader can sense a writer being manipulative or not being authentic. I think if you are going to write, be raw and truthful. I try to write every day, by either working on a manuscript, or adding to my author blog. The ‘what’ that I write about comes from a lot of listening, observing and thought. I do not like to make fun of another human being, but I do like to write odd scenes, or add blog posts that entertain. I have a strong belief in respecting the reader. The single best writing process idea I have ever read, or heard comes from John Irving. I have a great deal of respect for him. I doubt he’ll ever read anything I ever wrote, but I think he is brilliant. In part, from Fishing for Light, I created a character, Charlene, as homage to him. Charlene, used to be Charles, but after his wife decided she preferred women over men, the married, father of two, and lottery winner, who only sought to be with the love of his life, decided to change his sex from a male to a female. But the single best writing process idea I use comes from John Irving, he said he writes the last sentence to his novels, first, and writes toward that sentence. I use that idea every day, if I know the ending; it makes the beginning a lot easier.
What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?
Satire allows me to go poking into the deep dark places in my mind and pluck out ideas and issues that I might shy away from in normal literature.
Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?
Ray Bradbury’s novel, Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes; Kurt Vonnegut’s, Jailbird; Ernest Hemmingway’s, Death in the Afternoon; and of course, John Irving’s, The World According to Garp.
Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?
I was surprised I published my first novel, Bobby’s Socks. The novel is about child sexual abuse and the Epi genetic link to suicide. I decided if I can take the heat for that novel, I am not going to be afraid to write what I think.
Thanks for stopping by!