- Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I do most of my writing in the morning, but after a shower. I get up just after 5 am and get an early start at the day. It energizes me, and gets my brain and body going. I find that by doing this, I can go to my day job and be extremely productive. If I’m on a push, or am doing NaNoWriMo (writing 50K words in a month) I’ll write right after work as well, before dinner. I am not a late-night writer.
- What is your writing Kryptonite?
I don’t get writers block. I have very specific projects, and for the most part they are outlined, at least as bullet points, with the tighter plot in my head. I made writing part of my daily routine last summer, and when you do that, you get trained to need that time. But if I have to choose something, I’ll say golfing. In the summer I love to go golfing once or twice a week, and that can end up taking out some desk time.
- Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
My novels are all currently under my real name, but I do have a series coming out late this year that will be using a pen name. It’s a collaborative project, and it works out better that way.
- What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I’ve been lucky enough to make a really close-knit group of author friends that I talk to on a daily basis. Without them I wouldn’t be the same writer today. I also interact with a wide net of amazing indie science fiction authors. Being able to bounce ideas off them, whether its marketing or cover ideas is priceless. They are all virtual friends, but I’m heading to a 20bookstoVegas event this November where I’m going to meet a bunch of them.
- Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I’ve written two stand alone’s so far. Sleepy Grove is a supernatural thriller about a woman who works at a cemetery and see spirits. It was a great experience but I don’t think it will see the light of day. Red Creek is out May 18th, and is a hometown horror. It may be my best novel to date (according to me) and I had such a great time writing it.
That leads to what I’ve done with my Sci-Fi series, The Survivors. It starts with The Event, and so far it’s a three book series with the first two out, and book three out May 29th.
They say splitting genres isn’t ideal, but I have so many stories to tell, that I will break conventions to get them out there if necessary.
- What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Covers and editing. A book needs professional editing, and when I was publishing my first Explorations anthology, I found the artist many of the top selling SF authors were using and had him custom make the cover. I’ve used him for nearly all of my Woodbridge books, and all 4 of my own novels. Tom Edwards is amazing!
- What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I was a reader from a young age. My mom claims to have taught me to read when I was 3, and I loved to read. I remember winning the book award in grade one, which was basically a construction paper bird travelling around the room on a scale of books read. I still have little stories from grade 3-4 I wrote.
- What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I read a lot of books, mostly fantasy and science fiction. I also have read a ton of indie stuff, so I could name far too many that are under-appreciated.
- As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I’d be a duck. Calm on the surface, but flailing around under the water.
- How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have Sleepy Grove sitting there, and me and my writing partner are working on a 3 book series to release this fall. Book one is done, and I’m currently writing book 2.
- What does literary success look like to you?
I’ve never wanted to write that masterpiece high school students read in a hundred years. I want to write books people can enjoy, and move on to the next one. My first book only came out two months ago, and I still have a best-seller tag on Amazon, so I’ve already surpassed any life-time goals on that front.
- What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Depends on the project. I use google maps a lot, and to be honest, I try to write what I know. You’ll see a lot of New York in my writing, and that’s because I’ve been there on vacation four times, and love the place. I find that life experience is the best research for writing you can find.
- How many hours a day/week do you write?
I write almost every day of the week, and would say I spend at least 20 hours on book stuff a week. (Plus the time thinking about it…)
- How do you select the names of your characters?
Some of the names are nuggets for people I know, and some are random. I try to fit a name with the vibe of the character or location. Not a lot of science to it for me.
- What was your hardest scene to write?
I’ve written some heavy scenes. The Event has a particularly emotional one. The main character’s wife died a few years before the book, and I have a few flashbacks of them together at the start of the book, which are relevant to the plot of the series. Here’s an excerpt:
Janine was in bed sleeping soundly when I stepped into the room. The hot soup cup was burning my hands, and I just stood there with the pain. I felt like I needed the distraction, like the burning would make my other pain go away somehow. Even though we were in our own house, the smell of the hospital still stuck in my nostrils, and I wasn’t sure if the chemical scent would ever be gone.
It was time, and Janine demanded to come home for the end. How could I deny that beautiful woman’s wishes when she was so small and frail, her life slipping away in hours and minutes instead of decades and years like someone her age should have left?
I put the soup down, sat at the foot of the bed, and just watched her breathe. The sounds lulled me, and I felt my own eyes getting droopy. I lay down and curled up beside my wife like I always did when we went to bed. Even if it was too warm, I needed to feel her body next to mine to fall asleep. I’d become dependent on her in so many ways, and I had no idea what I was going to do when she was gone. As I closed my eyes, I thought about dying and wondered if we would be together in some sort of afterlife if I ended my own life when she was gone. My last thoughts were of a bottle of whiskey and a vial of pills before sleep took over my exhausted body.
I woke to her touch. A soft kiss on my lips; her hair cascading down on my face. I cried and felt shame in my pain. She was the one dying and I was the one crying about it like a baby constantly. The worst part was, it seemed like she was okay with having a husband who couldn’t stop blubbering.
“Janny, I love you so much. I’m so sorry this happened,” I blurted between sobs.
She looked me in the eyes, and for the first time in weeks, I saw her own eyes well up. A single tear fell slowly and splashed on my cheek. It mingled with my own, and somehow, I felt better for it.
- Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
I love science fiction, and always have. It was natural for me to write there. I also have a long-time love of horror, and needed to write in that genre too. My main focus will be in Sci-fi now that I’ve found success there, but hope to still do some passion projects.
- How long have you been writing?
I used to dabble, but really only for the last 4 years. I started to write, and the floodgates opened up inside me. There was no turning back.
- What inspires you?
A lot of things. The outdoors, trees, green grass, the smell of autumn, the energy of a big city…so many things inspire my thought process, and I take them all and use it in my writing.
- How do you find or make time to write?
Routine. I get up early to do it. No excuses.
- What projects are you working on at the present?
I’m working on my final final final proof read of Red Creek, and about to send New World (Survivors book 3) to my formatter.
- What do your plans for future projects include?
I’m going to be releasing a 3 book pen name series this fall, as well as book 4 of The Survivors. From there, I have many plans for 2019!
- Share a link to your author website.
You can follow along at www.nathanhystad.com I haven’t been around it to blog much lately, but you can follow my newsletter from there, and see what I’m up to. I also run www.scifiexplorations.com with some friends where we promote the best indie authors and their deals and new releases. Follow along there for some amazing promotions.
Nathan Hystad is an author from outside of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He lives there with his wife, dog and piles of books. He runs Woodbridge Press, and is the series editor and creator of the Explorations series of anthologies.