I approached Nathan Long for an interview as I was reading Swords of Waar (review here).  The book itself is hilarious, which I hope you have read the review for.  Nathan is not just funny in his books, he is also quite funny to talk to. 

He offered to have a chat with me for this, which I only declined due to being in different countries.  I still I think it would be a really interesting conversation.  You have been warned, reader!  So have you, Nathan.  I’m reckoning I just may have to take you up on that offer for a chat.

Without further ado, the creator of Jane Carter, Mr Nathan Long.

What genre would you like to write that you haven’t yet?

I’ve thought about writing mystery or historical fiction, both of which I like a lot, and both of which I find difficult for different reasons. Mystery is hard because figuring out what happened and how the detective figures out who did it is weird reverse plotting that I find hard to wrap my head around. Historical fiction is difficult because I’m a lazy slob and don’t want to do any research.

Who (dead or alive) would you like to collaborate with?

Hmmm. Good question, and I could probably make a long list. Let’s see. I would love to write a TV series with Joss Whedon or David Simon or Stephen Moffat. I would love to write a script for George Miller, Walter Hill or Peter Jackson. I would love to have worked with Richard Lester. I would love to write comics that were illustrated by Mark Schultz, or Frank Cho, or Mike Mignola. I would love to write scripts for Mark Dacascos, Dolph Lundgren, Jackie Chan, Michael Jai White, Tilda Swinton, Michelle Yeoh… Okay, I’ll stop.

I actually have some interesting real-life collaborations coming up, but I can’t talk about them yet, though I’m eager to share.

Do you listen to music while you write?  If so, what inspires you the most?

I change it up a lot. If I’m writing fantasy, I like to listen to big, lush soundtracks, like LoTR or Conan. If I’m writing action I sometimes listen to trance or drum and bass. I never listen to anything with words. Too distracting.

Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?

Stories come to me in fragments, a cool character, an interesting situation, a clever hook, then I use a traditional three act structure to expand them into full plots. That structure helps me figure out the high points and low points, as well as pacing and continuity.

When you start a new story, do you have a title for it?  Does that trigger the story?

Sometimes the title comes first. Sometimes it comes last. It’s never the same thing twice.

Do you see the future of fantasy and science fiction as bright?  If so, which authors are driving it?

I have to admit that I’m not all that well read when it comes to current fantasy, and with sci-fi, not at all. That being said, I have a few current authors who I read religiously, among them, Howard Andrew Jones, author of the Dabir and Asim series, Paul Kearny, author of the Macht series, and the grand old man of contemporary fantasy, Tim Powers, who I worship as a god.

Are movies of books ruining the book?

If a book is good, it will remain good no matter how bad the movie is that is made of it. There have been good adaptations of books and bad adaptations of books. I try to take them on a case by case basis.

Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?

I’m afraid I don’t know enough about this to give a useful answer. I hope not.

Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors? How do you choose which ones to read?

I have old favorites whose books I read as soon as they come out, but whether an author is established or not has never been a consideration. I read books that interest me. I don’t care how new the author is.

What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?

I like all the trappings of it – swords, costumes, magic, heroism. To me, science fiction is the fiction of the head, while fantasy is the fiction of the heart. I don’t read fantasy to explore big ideas about science or the future or economic theory, I read it to explore small ideas about culture and class and relationships and morality.

Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to? How much impact can they have on the whole story?

I’ve always had two or three close friends who read my stuff and give me notes, and now I have an agent who does that too. Mostly their comments don’t change the big picture, but they are extremely helpful in catching plot mistakes, inconsistencies in character and mistakes in continuity.

Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?

I don’t, but sometimes my publishers do. When I write for Black Library they generally want their books to be between 100,000 and 120,000 words.

Do you have a target each day?

I try to write at least 2000 words a day.

Do you write constantly or have breaks between books?

I usually take a little break, though I’ll probably be writing something in that break, it just won’t be a book. A comic, a short story, a screenplay, etc.

Do you have characters running around your head?  Do they dictate events and their histories to you?

Characters occasionally pop into my head, but more often I come up with them when I need them, as I’m putting together the plot of the book.

After so many books, how do you keep them unique?

I don’t generally have a problem keeping plots unique, but sometimes I really struggle coming up with an action scene I haven’t done before, and I know I have certain words and bits of dialog that I’ve used more than once.

What is your biggest (self-imposed) time waster?

Facebook! Curse its name.

Do you remember the first time you saw your book in a shop?

Hmmm. Strange. I don’t actually remember which store it was. I’m afraid I have a pretty rotten memory. I remember I was thrilled, though.

Do you read other people’s writing?

Not sure what you mean. I read books all the time. Or do you mean people I know? Sometimes, but not often. If I read every manuscript that people have asked me to read, I would never get any of my own writing done. I do occasionally read things my good friends have written, but they have to be very good friends. Honest opinions can ruin a less than steadfast relationship.

Will you read mine?

Sorry, I can’t. See above.

Nathan’s website is www.sabrepunk.com .  It has details about his upcoming book, Swords of Waar, which is coming out November 6th and lots of other goodies.

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