Getting To Know You: Nathaniel Tower

Today I’m pleased to welcome author Nate Tower to my blog. I hope you all enjoy learning a little bit more about him and his work.

Vic x 

Welcome Nate, Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I live in the US with my wife and daughter. Our daughter is a little over 9 months old and crawling up a storm now. Insert clichés here about how she changed my life. Seriously, it’s been wonderful, even if I’ve ripped out some of my hair (she’s ripped some of it out too). Besides the family life, I teach high school English, edit a literary magazine (Bartleby Snopes) and write a lot of fiction. I have the typical hobbies of a writer in my free time (what free time?). My first novel, ‘A Reason to Kill’, came out in July last year, and my first novella, ‘Hallways and Handguns’, comes out this March.

What genres of writing do you focus on?

I consider myself an absurdist writer, which shouldn’t be confused with crazy stuff that just doesn’t make sense. It does make sense, especially on some metaphorical level that might be impossible to find sometimes. I just had a story accepted for publication about a woman who falls in love with a blade of grass, but that’s not really what it’s about. Sometimes it’s hard to write these absurd stories because you really have to think of something no-one else has thought of. There can’t be two stories in the world about a woman who falls in love with grass. Once it’s done, it’s over, even if you have something completely different to say about that woman and her blade of grass. But anyway, with absurdist writing you have to try to be completely original (which maybe no one is…maybe there are thousands of blade of grass stories that I just haven’t read); you can’t just write about a struggling relationship that takes place in a bar. But it could take place in a bar, and it could be a struggling relationship between two bar stools. Maybe I’ll write that. I don’t consider myself a one-trick pony when it comes to writing. My writing ranges from experimental to science fiction to literary to horror to humorous to whatever else is out there.

How did you get into writing?

I wrote a poem when I was seven or eight years old that was published in one of those anthologies that probably publishes every poem they get as long as you buy the book. But it wasn’t that thick, so maybe they didn’t publish everything, or maybe they didn’t sucker too many people into buying it. Here’s the poem (I’ll never forget it until I start to lose my mind and spiral into the craziness that happens to all absurdist writers):

When the leaves fall upon the ground
I shall hear a gentle sound.
When the wind does not blow
No further will they go.
Now the trees are empty and bare
Now the leaves are gone from there.
I shall rake them in piles and piles
Before it snows for miles and miles.

Brilliant, right? I didn’t do much with writing for a while after that, just messing around here and there with some novel ideas. I was going to be a great novelist, but aren’t we all? Then one day I was in a discussion with a co-worker about brilliant first lines, and I decided I could write one of those. Well, the first line wasn’t brilliant, but I haven’t stopped writing since. The first stories I wrote and finished that were published (but not the first two that I had published – I had to shop these around a lot, and I had no idea about the publishing business when I was doing this) were ‘176 Days Until Today’ and ‘One Cent Baby’. I had so much fun with them that I just couldn’t stop writing. I’ve been very serious about writing for the last 5 years, but I think I’ve always been a writer in some way.

Do you maintain a regular writing schedule?

I don’t really have any set writing schedule right now. It’s been a bit crazy lately because I’ve had tons of story ideas, and I have almost a hundred stories that I’ve started and intend to finish (and even more I’ve started with no plans to finish). My big problem right now is starting a story and then starting another story and then another and so on. Since I don’t have a schedule, I really just write when I get an idea and pound out as much of the story as I can at once. I’m not the best about editing my work (sometimes I send it out as soon as I finish the last line without even reading it over – and sometimes it gets published this way). Then again I have other stories that I have edited dozens of times (some of which haven’t been published). I try to do a little writing every day, but sometimes I am just dry of ideas. Unfortunately, most of my ideas seem to come at bedtime, so I either have to stay up late, sketch notes, or try to remember them in the morning (which I often do). My biggest writing times are winter and summer. During fall and spring I’m also coaching sports at school, so I really don’t have much time at all. Leaving the house at 6AM and getting home at 6PM isn’t conducive for a strong writing lifestyle, especially when I have a family and a literary magazine to tend to. I manage somehow though. Last year I had around 40 stories accepted for publication, plus my first novel.

Wow, that’s really impressive! Where do you get your ideas?

I guess I just think about everything that happened that day, especially the little things. Like the other day I was at Barnes and Noble and noticed this massive section of Paranormal Teen Romance. So now I’m writing a story about a guy who goes into the bookstore looking for a book for his daughter. I don’t know where it’s going to go, but surely/hopefully it will go somewhere exciting. Probably lots of silly banter between the dad and the bookstore employee (who is a huge fan of the genre). Since most of what I have been writing is absurd lately, I guess I just try to think of things that haven’t been thought of before, and most of the ideas come from something that happened. I believe the story I wrote called ‘The Oaten Hands’ (the one where the guy has hands made of oats and becomes a horse whisperer) was written a day I ate a granola bar on a walk and got some oats stuck on my hands. Other times I have no idea where I got the idea. A very active imagination maybe? Lately I’ve been getting tons of ideas, but that seems to be how it goes; my head just gets flooded and I can’t seem to finish anything. Speaking of which, I should probably try to finish something now.

What are your writing goals for 2012?

  1. Get one of my four children’s books published. Anyone know a      good agent?
  2. Submit an unpublished story to at least one publisher per day.
  3. Finish at least one short story per week.
  4. Finally get around to writing my second novel (loads of files of ideas and outlines have just been sitting around for several years).
  5. Market/publicize my novel and novella a little better (maybe a lot better).

Where can you be found online?

Goodreads, Facebook, Fictionaut, and of course at Bartleby Snopes. You can find a little list of my publications here:

Thank you for having me on your blog. I’ve enjoyed my time here.

You can download Nate’s book ‘A Reason to Kill’ here:

One response to “Getting To Know You: Nathaniel Tower

  1. Great interview and so love to find out more about you, Nate!! Thanks for sharing!! Congratulations on all your publications! You’re rocking it all over the map!

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