Name: Nathaniel Tower
Where are you from: I was born in St. Louis, Missouri and spent about 31 years there before moving to Minneapolis.
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc: My wife and I have been married for 6 years, and we have a daughter who turns three in March.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
NT: My first collection of short fiction, Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands was just released by Martian Lit. The collection features 24 surreal tales about the married life. It is available now in print and e-book.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
NT: I began on a dark and stormy night a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. I had a crazy idea and wanted to put it on paper.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
NT: When I received my first acceptance. Looking back on it, I’m not sure I was really a writer yet.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
NT: I wish I could remember.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
NT: It varies, but my general writing style is surreal realism with a touch of absurdism and a little dash of “what the hell” to give it a little extra bite.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
NT: The characters gave me the idea. Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands just seemed to capture their spirit.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
That our lives are far more interesting than we think they are.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
NT: It’s all realistic. And none of it is realistic.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
NT: Things I’ve overheard about the husband/wife relationship played a big part. That and fear. The relationship I have with my own wife isn’t this “nag the fool” sort of thing like most of the stories in the book.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
NT: The short story collections of O’Connor, Nabokov, Barthelme, and Kafa have had the biggest impact on me.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
NT: Donald Barthelme, although he would be ashamed to admit it.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
NT: I’m venturing into nonfiction right now. I am currently reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Next I plan to read What Happened Here by Bonnie ZoBell. My to-read list seems to grow exponentially every day.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
NT: Absolutely. I’ve been really trying to dig into the new writers lately. Ben Tanzer, Susan Tepper, and Douglas Hackle all really get me going.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
NT: I have a serial novel at JukePop Serials called Misty Me and Me. It’s sort of a porn adventure book. It’s a bit risqué at times, but not too smutty. I also have a novel that I desperately need to revise.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
NT: The Flash Factory at Zoetrope. And dozens of other writers in the online community.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
NT: For some, yes. For me, not right now. But maybe someday.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
NT: I’m very happy with how it turned out. There are always things that can be better, but I don’t want to dive too far into those. Once I start uncovering regret, than I won’t like the book at all anymore.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
NT: My current passion for writing originated about 8 years ago with the desire to craft the perfect first line. I haven’t written it yet. But I have a great second line.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
NT: Definitely. I’ve included an excerpt from “The Abortion Party” below. It’s one of the stories from Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands. Some people say it’s the seminal work of the collection. But maybe that is just supposed to be a play on words.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
NT: Finding the time to do it.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
NT: Donald Barthelme. He had the ability to do anything with language and form without seeming cheap or just another experimentalist.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
NT: I occasionally get up from the computer to flip over a record.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
NT: The cover for Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands was designed by Christopher Coffey. Julian Darius from Martian Lit (the publisher) handpicked him to do the cover.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
NT: Picking the right stories and the right order for the collection. I had to make sure it didn’t come across as misogynistic. It’s a tricky topic to write about.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
NT: I learned a lot from writing this book, both in terms of craft and in terms of learning about myself. I think the most important thing I learned was how interesting life can be.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
NT: Write what feels right to you.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
NT: Thank you for your support. Everything else is said in the pages of my books.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
NT: I wish I could remember that far back.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
NT: Juggling, listening to records, running (and joggling, which is juggling and running at the same time)
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
NT: Does anyone not have a blog or website? Mine is nathanieltower.wordpress.com
Excerpt from “The Abortion Party”
Jared had to look at the invitation three times before he understood what it said. Even then, he wasn’t quite sure he believed it. He brought it to his wife Deborah and asked what she thought.
“What the hell is a ‘Pregnancy Termination party’?” he asked her.
“Oh, did we get Sherry’s invite today?” Deborah responded, reaching out in anticipation.
“Is this like an abortion shower or something?”
“Sounds a little crude when you put it that way,” she said. “It’s just a way of celebrating the reversal of an accident. Not everyone wants a kid, you know.”
“You aren’t seriously planning on attending this, are you?”
“Of course. She’s my friend.”
“What do you bring for a gift? A bent coat hanger?”
Deborah gave an icy stare. “She’s not a barbarian. It’s not like this is some back alley procedure. This is a growing trend. If people can celebrate being pregnant, why can’t they celebrate not being pregnant?”
“So do you bring a gift?” Jared asked.
“Of course. It is a party. She’s registered at Bed, Bath and Beyond.”
Jared glanced at the invitation again. “Do they have a specific registry for this kind of thing?”
“Don’t be so dense. You can register for anything. Besides, you’re being rude. She just wants to celebrate with her friends.”
He looked up from the postcard. “Do I have to go?”
“Your name’s on the invitation, isn’t it?”
“So is this a couple’s shower?”
“Well, they’re both not having a baby, right?”
Jared shook his head and tossed the invitation on the table. “I’m opposed to the whole idea.”
“It’s her body,” Deborah defended her friend.
“That’s not what I mean.” Jared threw his hands up. “You know I’m a fairly open-minded guy. But we’re talking about celebrating nothing. We’re not having a baby either right now, and you don’t see us having a party for it. This is just a cheap ploy for gifts.”