- Guest Author -
Let me introduce an interesting author - Nathan Squiers, who is a co-owner of Tiger Dynasty Publishing as well as a multi-award winning author of the fantasy/horror genre (usually centering on vampires & werewolves) as well as a body modification addict (piercings AND tattoos).
Welcome, Nathan ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I am an ancient and dark being that was reborn almost 28 years ago to a jackal mother within the crumbling walls of an abandoned church. Raised by a dark coven of witches and fed the blood of unbaptised virgins, I was gifted the dark pen of the abyss, Noch’Krovi, on my thirteenth year and told that I was to take up the mantle of The Literary Dark Emperor, an unholy and twisted being who’s scribed chaos and discord for the pleasure of others since the dawn of time. With every world I crush and every soul I shatter within my musings, I grow that much more powerful!
Really I’m just a horror-loving, pierced and tattooed fat guy living his dream of writing and entertaining gnarly folks who are awesome enough to let me into their lives. Simply put, I’m the product of an overactive imagination that was never told to “calm down” or “grow up”.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I suppose I’ve been interested in storytelling for as long as I’ve been alive (be it through drawing scenes with Crayons as a kind—I assure you my artwork hasn’t improved at all since then—or playing out imaginary battles with my action figures). As a child, I was a bookworm—often spending recess nestled in the corner of the schoolyard with a copy of Goosebumps or Animorphs while my peers played—and, as I grew, I developed a love for the superhuman scenarios in comic books and action movies. At that time I actually jumped back and forth between wanting to grow up to write comic books or be a filmmaker. However, no matter what my aspirations were, I always wound up being interested in WRITING the story, be it a shooting script, a comic script, or whatever else tickled my fancy. When I was in my early teens, I got into horror movies and novels (I’d snuck copies of Stephen King’s novels from my mom’s bookcase, though I’m sure she knew and didn’t tell me so) and developed a taste for the genre. Around that time, while suffering from the average teenaged angst and an above-average bout of depression and suicidal tendencies, I began jotting dark and demented tales. One particular piece—what would later become the first chapter of “Noir”, the first book in my Crimson Shadow series—was originally a “creative suicide letter”, but the I’d decided to make the tortured character, Xander Stryker, succeed and overcome where I felt I’d failed. While writing Xander’s story of strength and survival, I discovered my own strength and, by the time I’d finished writing that novel nearly ten years later, I’d decided that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
It really depends on the nature of the project. My novels and novellas—anything with a larger or more complex plot development—are usually outlined; the more intricate the piece the more detailed the outline I’ll write up. Short stories and comic book or film/TV scripts are done in a one-or-two sitting “burst” session where I get everything down, then, when I’ve got a piece from start-to-finish, I’ll chisel around any jagged points until I’m satisfied. My poetry tends to follow the same process as my short stories and scripts, but, for a set of lyrics I wrote for a novel featuring an up-and-coming heavy metal band that runs into supernatural troubles, I found the process more tolling and wound up doing a strange sort of lyrical spider-web outline. Like I said before: it all depends on the project.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Any number of things, I suppose. I mean, ever since I was young I’ve gotten a rush out of creating and sharing stories. Now I have the honor and the privilege to have an audience that spans the globe willing to let me and my work do what I love doing most: entertaining people. I really don’t think there’s any greater satisfaction than being able to do what you love most and make people happy in the process.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
This might sound strange, but I find the hardest part of being a writer is finishing a piece. I dedicate myself being very personal and immersive in my work (one of the most powerful lessons I’d learned in my studies was “If writing a piece doesn’t hurt on an emotional level, you’re doing something wrong,” and I took that lesson VERY seriously; I feel that if I’m to expect readers to invest in my stories then I owe it to them to saturate the proverbial pages in blood, sweat, and tears). Because of this, I’ve been known to have anxiety attacks and breakdowns while writing scenes that are a more personal (writing “Crimson Shadow: Noir” put me in the hospital 3-4 times a year for each of the ten years it took to write it, but I feel it was worth it because readers who have had a similar past can truly connect with the reality of the moments). An unexpected result of this immersive writing process, I’ve found, is what I call “literary post-partum depression”, where I’ll actually become deeply depressed for about a week upon finishing a piece because I feel lost without a current work in progress.
Like I said, it might sound strange (it certainly feels strange just describing it).
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I’d like to believe I was always a writer in some capacity or another (perhaps a poet or a playwright or a minstrel). However, I often find myself acting as a mentor or counsellor (both in aspects of writing as well as emotional and psychological moments of distress), and I’m an advocate of promoting strength in those who are suicidal or self-destructive (because of my own history). Because of this, I could’ve also been a teacher/professor or a shaman or medicine man… who knows. There’s also a strong possibility I was a rambling psychopath on the streets of France or even a deranged murderer…
Perhaps I was once Jack the Ripper.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
I’ve earned my fair share of awards and recognitions in my still young career. I was voted 2012’s Best Indie Author in an annual blog award, I ranked the within the top-10 authors of 2013 in an international reader & review group, one of my novels, “Curtain Call: A Death Metal Novel”, was the only piece to win two separate awards: 2012’s Best Paranormal-Thriller Novel and 2012’s Best Occult Novel. And while I view all of these as a tremendous honor and I’m truly humbled to have been awarded in each instance, I can’t reference them as being what I personally view as my greatest writing achievement. That honor has to go to a single reader (though I’ve been told since then that others had a similar response and I love all of them for coming to me, as well) who contacted me about a month-or-so after the initial release of the first book of the Crimson Shadow series. As I’d mentioned, that title was motivated by my self-destructive and suicidal tendencies at the time I was writing it, and, in much the same way writing the book changed my life, the reader confided in me that they, too, had been deeply depressed and suicidal. Apparently, they’d had a rather dedicated plan to end their life that they were dangerously close to acting upon, but, after reading “Noir”, decided to throw away their razorblades and seek treatment for their troubles.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly thankful to all the loyal readers, all the raving reviews, and all of the awards (and I’m most certainly hopeful I can continue to earn them), but I can’t really put any of those things on a mantle that towers over the fact that something that I wrote could—in ANY way, shape, or form—have aided in a troubled mind’s decision to hold onto hope and choose life over self-destruction.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
Finishing the Crimson Shadow series (still got books 4-7 to go and a bunch of short stories & side pieces tied to the series), co-authoring the third novel in the Scarlet Night trilogy (the first two books are by my fiancé & fellow author, Megan J. Parker, but she insisted that I have more of a hand in the conclusion to the trilogy), outlining and writing the second book of the Death Metal series (a rather animated reader told me that if there wasn’t a book 2 in the original one-shot novel they would kill me, and I’m rather fond of living now lol) as well as creating a musical album based on the novel’s band & songs. I’m also working on finding an illustrator(s) to breathe life into my original comic book & graphic novels series and get those out. After that’s all out, Megan and I are going to be co-writing a series that has ties to each of our respective series (we all write within the same universe, just with a different cast of characters & different focuses on genre ~ her work is more paranormal romance where mine is more psychological-thriller and horror, though the barriers are rapidly beginning to grow hazy).
To put it bluntly: I’m working on a lot lol.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Everything. Real life, real people, real stories, rumors, urban legends, history, timeless literature, poetry, music, movies, comics…
My favorite professor once told me that a writer’s material is only as good as their range, and I believe that, whether or not I’m writing anything, I should always be open to new material from any potential source.
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
I mentioned earlier that I write in horror & thriller genres, but I think that’s sort of putting a simple title to something that even I haven’t quite figured out. All of my work takes place in a dark urban fantasy setting—always existing in what can be seen as the real world; I want readers to genuinely feel like what they’re reading could take place right outside their homes—but there’s too many other elements at work to offer a simple answer. Some of my work is more horror themed, taking on very strong elements of terror and emotional collapse in much the same tone as Stephen King (one of my original literary idols), while others will be more action-driven and come off as more like something from a comic book or action film (many make the connection to movies like Blade or Underworld or certain Japanese animes like Hellsing or Trigun). One of the more prevalent themes that I work in is theories of humanity (though I rarely write anything that isn’t paranormal or supernatural), and I work very hard to create characters who struggle as much with a personal psychological conflict as much as whatever tangible antagonist they tend to be up against. I’m also, despite all my darkness and depravity, a hopeless romantic who feels that, in some way or another, every story is a love story. Though the first book of the Crimson Shadow series is pretty devoid of any sort of romance, I made this decision because the character was on a journey to overcome his own self-loathing, and I felt trying to turn that into a love story with another person would have been a poor choice (though I did plant the seed for a romance that blossoms in book #2, so to all the romance enthusiasts who pick up “Noir”: bear with me, there will be love lol).
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Don’t stop writing. If you’ve got a story to tell then there’s an audience waiting to hear it, and you owe it to them and yourself to tell it.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
Nope. Hell, I barely have a set sleeping schedule. My fiancé and I are pretty much nocturnal—though that can change at any moment if we have someplace to be during the day—and we tend to fit our writing on top of whatever else we’re doing. Either we’re cracking down on our individual pieces and doing nothing else or we’re dabbling while watching movies.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
The moments of self-discovery I come across. There will be moments while I’m writing when I’ll stop in mid-sentence and just think, “Wow! I didn’t know that about myself!”
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
Bloody hell… this question.
I guess I’d have to say that my FAVORITE author—and please realize that you’re pretty much asking the equivalent of “Which part of your body do you NOT want cut off?”—is Rob Thurman. Now, for starters, Rob is short for “Robyn” (yup, Rob’s a girl; found that out after I got in contact with her early in my aspirations for some writing advice ~ absolute sweetheart of an author, by the way), but she has a very powerful and unique voice for one of my favorite fictional male characters: Cal Leandros. Most authors, by and large, tend to work with protagonists who are the same gender as themselves, but Thurman’s Cal is the best-depicted snarky, horny, and quintessential young man (though he might not be entirely human) I have ever seen. Couple this with her strong ability to portray a vast cast of characters and a wonderful array of visuals. I’m always entertained by her stuff.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
It’s a tossup between two lines I’ve already mentioned: one reader who confessed my work made them give up their plans for suicide, and another who said they’d kill me if I didn’t write a sequel to one of my novels.
Choosing to live IS a powerful compliment, but I like to think that a part of that was for themselves, as well (I think it’s fair that they get credit for that decision). On the other hand, a reader who’s willing to kill an author if they don’t get more work… well, if that’s not a confession of enjoyment I don’t know what is lol
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
Can’t really say. Anything that’s said to me that’s productive—even if it’s a negative criticism that I feel I can use to grow from—I consider good comments, and anything else I don’t linger on long enough to remember. I’ve only got so much space to hold things in my head and it’s counterproductive to occupy it with anything that I can’t use to grow & better myself.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I love (as I’d mentioned) movies, comic books, anime/manga… pretty much anything that I can entertain myself with. I love to learn and research anything/everything that captures my interest. I love comedy (both telling and hearing jokes). I love tattoos and piercings (both getting them and seeing them; each and every inch of ink or piercing is a story in and of itself). I guess I could just sum it up by saying that I love loving life.
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
I did. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the first set of edits with the first round of publications (that would have been books #1 & #2 of the Crimson Shadow series—“Noir” and “Sins of the Father”—as well as “Curtain Call: A Death Metal” novel as well as a few of my short stories, all of which wound up having new errors added by the editing team that had handled them) that were put out through a publisher I’d originally signed with. However, after I made the decision to pull my pieces from that group and leave for the sake of my work I worked with a colleague, Kristina Gehring, whom I had the pleasure of meeting earlier in 2012. Miss Gehring is, by far, one of the greatest minds for literary editing I’ve ever met, and I was very happy with the outcome of working with her.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
For starters, this is me depicting a non-writing/“adventure day”, so pardon the total lack of work lol:
It’ll either be a Thursday or a Friday (in either case a day in which a movie I’ve been stoked about is debuting and I can catch a late-night showing). We (my fiancé and I) would probably get up around 2-3pm (like I said, we’re nocturnal and probably went to bed at 8-9am, anyway), and head out to get coffee and some breakfast/lunch. We’d probably hit up the comic shop to score a few issues of whatever’s new, then visit a record shop for a few new CDs. Heading further into our adventure, we’d stop at our piercer’s shop to either get some new jewelry or a new piercing (or, if funds are in our favour, get some fresh ink from the tattoo parlor upstairs). From there—no doubt famished from our recent bout of pain under the needle—we’d stop for dinner at our favorite sushi bar and then take some time to digest at a bookstore before it was time to catch our movie premiere. Then, when the outing has come to a close, we’d head home for some snuggle-time and a few horror movies on Netflix.
IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
My fiancé, because I’m a selfish jerk and I wouldn’t want to suffer on a desert island without dragging her into the misery, as well
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
Nothing. You don’t go to the zoo to talk to the animals.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
WHAT FIVE BOOKS WOULD YOU TAKE TO HEAVEN?
Who said I’m going to heaven?
In either case, I’d want a copy of “Sunglasses After Dark” by Nancy A. Collins, “Nightlife” by Rob Thurman, “Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King, the first graphic novel in the “30 Days of Night” series by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, and, for a little bit of “flavour”, the classic poem and divine comedy, “Dante’s Inferno”.
DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
Some more than others, I suppose. I tend to base all of my characters on some sort of hybrid of people I know who have traits that I feel will work for that character, but I try not to have any single character be identifiable as any single person in my life. For example, Xander Stryker of the Crimson Shadow series was written to be a great deal like me, but I also worked certain traits that I saw in others: old friends of mine, characters I’d seen in movies or TV, and a few people who I’d noticed having similar problems as me at that time.
DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
It has its moments, I suppose lol
DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
I have, but never for very long (my fiancé would sooner kill me than let me quit; I know because she’s told me exactly that).
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
I definitely can’t answer this one. It’s like asking a parent to choose their favorite child; can’t be done.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
I think a writer is successful when they legitimately feel secure in the role and get up every day feeling a swell of pride at having that role to fill. I think it’s also feeling the weight—not a burden, mind you, but definitely a weight—that there are readers eagerly anticipating your next work, and, in that regard, a successful writer is one who beckons to that call.
WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
That’s not my place to say at all. One of my favorite literary quotes is “No two readers ever experience the same book,” and I feel that it would be wrong for me to tell the world what they should experience from my work. If a reader doesn’t walk away from one of my pieces with AT LEAST the message I’d intended for that specific piece—not including any other personal “nuggets” they might get out of it—then I’d failed in that effort.
HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
I imagine a great deal, but I can’t speak personally. I’m close with a few gifted designers (including—but not limited to—my fiancé), and that offers me a certain freedom to hand off a completed manuscript to one of them and say “Here you are. Make this piece look good.”
WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
I can’t vouch for all authors (we all have our personal approach to ourselves and our work), but, for me, it’s really a matter of finally letting my true self show. I spent a lot of my life hiding myself, afraid of judgment and ridicule. But when one aspires to write for more than just themselves, eventually the public eye sort of becomes unavoidable. So I finally threw caution to the wind and stepped into the spotlight with the same philosophy I had for my books: there were going to be people who were displeased and I couldn’t run my life being afraid of what they thought. So I decided to be EXACTLY who I wanted to be: a vulgar, visceral, fun-loving, pierced-and-tattooed fat pervert with an overactive imagination and an addiction to entertaining others. As people came to know me they started identifying me in certain ways that stuck and my brand began to shape itself. I joked a great deal about bacon, and now I get pictures of the meat posted all over my wall (I’m still waiting for an endorsement deal from Oscar Mayer or something). Because of the nature of my writing and my natural tone—which others attribute to heavy metal icons and the like—I soon ended up with the early title of “The Literary Dark Prince” (later on, after leaving my first publisher and reestablishing myself, my colleagues suggested that the Prince take on a new throne and The Literary Dark Emperor was born). I like to represent a means of letting my audience feel a sense of freedom and be offered a chance to entertain their darker fantasies, because, let’s be honest, we all have them. My brand and my approach to marketing is all about feeling empowered and liberated from the forces of reality that sometimes make us feel weak; I think that everyone deserves to feel like their own superhero or their own dark creature of power and seduction. It’s who I’ve always been and, while I was afraid to show it at first, people really seem to enjoy it.
ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
My books ARE independent, yes, but they are (now) published through Tiger Dynasty Publishing (a small publishing press I and some colleagues co-founded after we left our original publisher).
DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Pseudo-demonic punk-rock Buddha.
WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
People who have the audacity to tell others how they should/should not live their lives.
WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
Hmm… I’m trying to remember the last actual book…
I just got done doing a signing/meet-and-greet at a local comic book shop earlier this month for Free Comic Book Day, and I left that encounter with A LOT of comic books that have been occupying my reading list ever since…
I’d recently finished re-reading George Orwell’s “1984”, which is a personal favorite. Before that, however, I was doing some editing work for my close friend and fellow author, Candy Crum. While I was working on these as an editor, I also liked to consider the process as a sort of “advanced screening” (if you will) and really enjoyed her work. The first piece I edited was a romance novel entitled “Lean on Me”, and, while it’s not my normal genre, it was a truly well-written and compelling piece. The other piece by Miss Crum was “The Eternal Gift”, which was more along the lines of my standard genre, and, again, I was thoroughly impressed. While I don’t want to sound biased because I was involved in the projects, I would definitely suggest both of those titles.
WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
If I can have my way, I’d like to end with: “… and it’s been worth every moment.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
I’m not one for wishing for more when things are already going pretty well. I guess I’d like to see things continue as they are and continue to meet and get the chance to entertain more people across the globe.
ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
More than anything else, I’d really just like to thank you, Clancy, for the chance to answer your questions and reach out to your followers. I know that it’s hard to choose when you’re looking for a new book or series or even a new author, so I’d like to also extend my sincerest thanks to all those out there reading who might offer me that chance. As a means of helping to get to know me and my work, I’m proud to say that book #1 of the Crimson Shadow series, “Noir”, is 100% free on Amazon (Kindle), B&N (Nook), SmashWords (miscellaneous), and the other digital platforms.
The URL will vary depending on your region, but the US link is http://www.amazon.com/Crimson-Shadow-Noir-Nathan-Squiers-ebook/dp/B00HFKJ6US/ (if you’re having any complications in your area just search “Nathan Squiers Noir”—make sure you spell the last name-IERS and not –IRES; that’s one of the most common problems people run into). This giveaway isn’t time-sensitive or exclusive; it’s available for free to anybody/everybody and will continue to be free J
I’ve always been hesitant to refer/allow my readers to be called “fans”, so I and my earliest readers decided to call those who follow me and my work members of The Legion of The Literary Dark Emperor. That being said, it’d be a true honor to have you—yes, you!—as a member of The Legion.
Many thanks, much love, and stay gnarly!
I can be stalked at the following sites:
Facebook author page- https://www.facebook.com/Nathan.Squiers
Facebook mythos/mythology page (shared with my fiance & fellow
My novels/novellas & collections can be found at the following:
"Curtain Call: A Death Metal Novel" (first book of the Death Metal series)- http://www.amazon.com/Curtain-Call-Death-Metal-Novel-ebook/dp/B00H17FTCE/
"Crimson Shadow: Noir" (book #1 of the Crimson Shadow series)- http://www.amazon.com/Crimson-Shadow-Noir-Nathan-Squiers-ebook/dp/B00HFKJ6US/
"Crimson Shadow: The Dirty Dozen" (a collection of shorts that takes place between books #1 & #2)- http://www.amazon.com/Dirty-Dozen-Crimson-Shadow-ebook/dp/B00HUIJCEK/
"Crimson Metal" (a Crimson Shadow/Death Metal crossover)- http://www.amazon.com/Crimson-Metal-Shadow-Death-ebook/dp/B00IGF37AG/
"Crimson Shadow: Sins of the Father" (book #2 of the Crimson Shadow series)- http://www.amazon.com/Crimson-Shadow-Father-Nathan-Squiers-ebook/dp/B00HXM37LW/
"Crimson Shadow: Forbidden Dance" (book #3 of the Crimson Shadow series)- http://www.amazon.com/Crimson-Shadow-Forbidden-Dance-Novel-ebook/dp/B00I38CXQK/
Clancy's comment: Many thanks, Nathan. Agree with you about self-learning. Writing is a very cathartic occupation. Keep going.
Think about this!