Name Nicholas Tanek
Where are you from – New Brunswick, NJ
A little about yourself. ie your education Family life etc
Nicholas Tanek: I grew up a New Jersey punk rock skater kid and then, became involved in the New York City rave scene during the 1990’s. As my life spiraled out of control with drugs, I actually graduated Rutgers University. My family? My family are very cool. They are loving and supportive people. I am somewhat the screw up in the family. I am very lucky to have them.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Nicholas Tanek: I just published my latest book, Chipped Black Nail Polish. This is a prequel to my first book, The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself. This new book is a coming of age tale of the very first love of my life. It takes place during the summer of 1989 in the New Jersey punk rock scene. It is a pretty wild tale and I tried to capture the spirit of both youth and punk rock. Kim was a very wild woman and had some major emotional issues. We had friends who were gay and one of them was black. Back in 1989, racism and homophobia were rampant. I address that too in the book. I’m proud of it. I like to think that Chipped Black Nail Polish moves quickly and leads into The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Nicholas Tanek: Ever since I was a kid, I would write. I love the art of film and I love television. I would actually make up my own Cable Guides with my own shows and films. I wrote three screenplays when I was 12 years old. They were horrible, but each was 80+ pages. As I grew up, my love of music led to doing interviews with artists and reviews of records. At 37, the love of my life died. Her name was Lynn. Instead of falling back into drug addiction, depression, and negative behavior, I wrote The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself. It was very therapeutic for me but it was also a tribute to her. After writing that book, I felt that Kim’s story should be told. So, I wrote Chipped Black Nail Polish.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Nicholas Tanek: I always considered myself a writer because I wrote. Still, it was not until the journalism and ghost writing jobs that I thought I was a true writer. I was getting paid… not much, but paid. Plus, I love music. I wrote about it. Then, I would get tons of free music. At the same time, my books were not written for money. Obviously, a book titled The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself is not meant to be a bestseller. The cover is not easy to market either. I wanted to do something different. So, The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself and Chipped Black Nail Polish were written for love.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Nicholas Tanek: The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself was written as a tribute to the love of my life, Lynn. She died at the age of 37. I knew her since I was in high school. I broke her heart after a summer romance that lasted for about a year. We were both writers. I would get published and she would not. My poems and stories were always for women, other women. She would cry and say stuff like, “Why doesn’t anyone write anything for me? Why am I not good enough?” So, I wrote a book for the girl who thought no one would write anything for her. She died right before Hurricane Sandy. I had no electricity so I had to use a generator to power my laptop. I just wrote and wrote and wrote.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Nicholas Tanek: Realism and honesty. My stories are true. I just change a name or two and label them fiction. I also feel that I have to be completely honest with the reader, especially about things that average people are too ashamed to admit. So, I started writing honestly about my drug use and my involvement in the BDSM fetish community. Once you do not care what people think of you, you will feel quite free.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Nicholas Tanek: The title of Chipped Black Nail Polish comes from the fact that Kim was a beautiful woman with a very wild post-punk rock style. She wore black nail polish all the time. As cool and as beautiful as she looked, I realized that she really was a fragile girl. Her nail polish was always chipped. So, I use that as a metaphor.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Nicholas Tanek: Life is short and you never know when someone will be out of your life. Love them… Love them honesty right now.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Nicholas Tanek: 100%. I just change a name or two and say, “It’s fiction.” Yeah, sure, fiction.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Nicholas Tanek: Both of my books are based on my life.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Nicholas Tanek: I love Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson. The Book of Peace by Richard Shannon. Of course, I grew up with books like Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger and Damien by Herman Hesse. I also liked the erotic Venus In Furs and The Story of O.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Nicholas Tanek: Confederacy of Dunces. I need a new one. I want to pick up Girl In A Band by Kim Gordon.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Nicholas Tanek: Lee Kaplan is a new author who is also from New Jersey. He wrote a funny book called Wise Words & Other Exaggerations. Andy Mascola wrote a book I did not read yet titled Who’s Afraid of Virgin Wolves. Both are FOTs (Friends of Tom), who are part of this community who love The Best Show with Tom Scharpling. (http://thebestshow.net) The Friends of Tom are magnificently creative and cool people.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Nicholas Tanek: Right now, I am promoting Chipped Black Nail Polish and working on my editor’s book.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Nicholas Tanek: Without a doubt, I would have to say The Coolest Street Team. My publicist Kim Gray runs it and they have been so supportive. I knew nothing about promoting books. All because I wrote a book, people read it and connected with it. Then, my street team came together. It was all done out of love and support of my work. Some authors have street teams and they run them in a very strict and business-like way. My street team is cool. They promote and support the book because they love and believe in the book. There are no sock accounts, no fake reviews, and no bullying. It all comes from a place of love. I think that’s the coolest thing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Nicholas Tanek: Sure! I would love to write for television and film. I can totally see Chipped Black Nail Polish being a film. It’s like “SLC Punk” meets a John Hughes film (“Sixteen Candles” or “Some Kind of Wonderful”)
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Nicholas Tanek: No. I am very proud of Chipped Black Nail Polish.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Nicholas Tanek: When I was a kid, I loved watching television and movies. I was never into sports. I was always into stories. I love telling stories. So, in my mind, I made up my own television network and pretended to have shows. Then, I used to pretend to be a director and writer.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Nicholas Tanek: The editing… but that’s fun if you have the right attitude and the right editor… which I do!
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Nicholas Tanek: I do not have a favorite author. It changes almost every day. I do like how Hunter S. Thompson would cover these events and always put himself inside the story. At the same time, all this insanity was happening around him. He made the reader feel like they were right there with him.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Nicholas Tanek: I should travel more to promote my books. It’s a shame the independent book stores seem to be dying out. Support your local independent book store!!!
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Nicholas Tanek: My editor, Melissa Blair designed the covers. She loves to draw, sketch, and paint. No offense to romance authors, but I am not some run of the mill romance author. Although my novels are love stories, they are not romance novels. So, we needed covers to reflect that my books are different.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Nicholas Tanek: Editing… but like I said, that can be fun. I guess, I would say dealing with the publisher and the corporate stuff like legal issues, copyright, Kindle formats, etc.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Nicholas Tanek: Write for love. Oh! The publishing industry is all about money. Do not write for money. Write for love.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Nicholas Tanek: Write. Just write. Even if you write 10 pages of garbage, you may get one perfect sentence. If you are not writing, you are not a writer. So, write. Also, please… for the love of everything cool in this world, please be original.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Nicholas Tanek: We are the new romantics! We write honest and real love stories. Come join us.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Nicholas Tanek: I think it may have been “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.” Dr. Suess was not a real doctor, but he was very wise and very trippy.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Nicholas Tanek: I giggle babble all the time. You don’t know what “giggle babble” means? Funny you should ask… even though you didn’t. I love comedy. So, I am constantly talking with friends, telling stories, listening to stories, and making fun of stuff. I call it “giggle babble” because we are constantly laughing while we talk. What makes me cry? Seeing the people I love in pain.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Nicholas Tanek: Hitler… so I can punch him in his dumb jerk face. Only kidding… but not really. Seriously? I guess it would be The Dalai Llama. He seems to be very wise and kind. I like to surround myself with people who are intelligent and kind. The Dalai Llama is the first one that comes to mind. As soon as I am done with this interview, the answer could change.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
Nicholas Tanek: “Dear Reader, this is the last sentence you will read by Nicholas Tanek.”
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
Nicholas Tanek: Film, TV, and comedy. I also like talking with other writers, comics, and musicians. Support indie artists!
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Nicholas Tanek: I can go on forever regarding this topic. The Best Show with Tom Scharpling. It’s not a TV show. It’s a podcast. http://thebestshow.net I cannot tell you how much I love it. Other podcasts I like are The Fogelnest Files, WTF with Marc Maron, How Was Your Week With Julie Klausner, and Doug Loves Movies.
Television shows include Ideal, The Wire, The Chris Gethard Show, The IT Crowd, Billy On The Street, @midnight, Frisky Dingo, any show with Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan), The Nightly Show with Larry Willmore, Archer, The Young Ones, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Tim & Eric Awesome Show Great Job!, Game of Thrones, The Daily Show, Snuff Box, Skins, Silicon Valley, Fargo, Maron, etc.
Films? I love so many films! The Godfather I and II, A Clockwork Orange, Trainspotting, Drugstore Cowboy, Martyrs, Style Wars, Highball, Mr. Jealousy, Baise-Moi, JFK, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Ed Wood, I Saw The Devil, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, Salo or 120 Days of Sodom, The Great Escape, Clifford, Freddy Got Fingered, Breaking The Waves, Nymphomaniac I & II, Antichrist, Full Metal Jacket, Irreversible, and the list goes on and on.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Nicholas Tanek: Foods? I love falafel, pizza, lobster, shrimp, and salmon. I also love Indian food. New Jersey has a large Indian population so, I was exposed to Indian food at a very young age. I do not eat beef or pork.
Colors? Love sees no color! I love the color black. I also love green and purple.
Music? Really? You want to go there. Okay! Here we go….Close Lobsters, Trisomie 21, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Pulp, The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, ex wife, Glazer, 2.3, Joy Division, New Order, Black Flag, The Wolfgang Press, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Gangstarr, Sean Price, The Roots, Withered Hand, Roxy Music, Superchunk, The Feelies, Yo La Tengo, Stereolab, The Orb, The Breeders, Pixies, Led Zeppelin, Otis Redding, Tiny Teeth, Elliot Smith, The Beautiful South, Momus, Cristina, MF Doom, Atmosphere, Beastie Boys, Stump, 7 Seconds, The Dandy Warhols, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Velvet Underground, The Both, Aimee Mann, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Sleater-Kinney, Television Personalities, The House of Love, Primal Scream, St. Etienne, The Verve, Severed Heads, Psychic TV, Ministry, Ride, Slowdive, Madlib, J Dilla, The Barry Gemso Experience, PAS/CAL, Deerhoof, The Music Lovers, Damian Rice, Mazzy Star, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Minor Threat, Fugazi, Kool Keith, The Smiths, The Jasmine Minks, Dead Can Dance, Lush, etc.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Nicholas Tanek: I would love to be on the radio. Maybe, I’ll start a podcast. I would like to be involved in television and movies too.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Nicholas Tanek: Check me out on https://www.facebook.com/nicholastanek
http://thecoolestway.com is under construction.
Follow me on Twitter at @NicholasTanek
CHIPPED BLACK NAIL POLISH
THE COOLEST WAY TO KILL YOURSELF