# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
I’m Londoner Marc Nash, I’ve been writing fiction for 20 years now (and stage plays for the 10 years previous to that). I have had 5 novels published and 5 collections of flash fiction. My sixth novel “Stories We Tell Our Children” is published July 2021. My work would probably be described as literary fiction, though on the more experimental wing of that label.
# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
While there are events and incidents from my life in each of the books, I like to write characters as far removed from me as possible, since as I write to meet them away from myself, this process of genuine discovery I trust will be replicated for the reader too. But having said all that, I honestly believe all fiction writing is inevitably autobiographical, as it is not possible to write outside of your own consciousness. Even if you use a story somebody else told you, or something you read or researched, the very fact that it struck you as significant enough to not only file away in your memory, but then to use it in your writing, makes it part of your experience, even though not one you lived yourself. When I write characters removed from me, I am usually exploring the parts of myself that come less to light in daily life and which these characters share with me.
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
I have always sought to write simply as a way of expressing myself and exploring questions I have about life and human existence. It is less an inspiration and more of a constant, nagging urge. I could not give up writing even if I wanted to do something else, as the ideas would creep back in, usually at night and keep me awake tugging at my elbow. I think writers are by nature curious people, who may not accept the surface realities they see around them, but look to question and investigate them.
# How do you deal with creative block?
I am very fortunate to not suffer from it. This is mainly because I can never catch up with the material I have to write. Currently I have one novella completed, a novel about halfway complete, a collection of short stories about 80% complete, a novel in its early stages and an autofictional work just at the notes stage. If I hit a block in one, I simply move on to the next, so that I am never ground down into inactivity. I recognise that many writers are not so fortunate.
# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
I think not doing enough work on your material, so that the book is not universal enough for readers, but remains purely subjective and personal to the author. Personally I don’t have a particular reader in mind when I write any book, but I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong if you do.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
It’s unusual for authors to have any significant say in cover art, but I was fortunate that my idea for the cover of “Stories We Tell Our Children” was the one the publishers went for. I like covers in which the title and author name are somehow part of the artwork. My debut novel “A,B&E” has the title spelled out on engraved signet rings on a fist and the author name spelled out in spilled red nail vanish, which encompassed the main features of the female protagonist. As for titles, my only advice is not to stress about them. They can come at any point in the writing. The whole work my stem from the title, or you may not get it until you’ve virtually finished writing the book. I don’t think it really matters when it comes, but by the time you’ve written the whole story out, you would have a good idea of what the significant elements of that story are and that should enable you to come up with a title.
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
Not everyone is going to like your book. With the stylistic risks I take that is raised a degree. I have a mindset that each individual reader is always right, if the book doesn’t work for a particular reader, I have failed them, not the other way around. When my fifth novel was shortlisted for the Not The Booker Prize, a previous shortlisted writer told me to enjoy the ride in the online comments section but to resist responding to any comment good or bad. It was good advice.
# How has your creation process improved over time?
I’ve better grasped what I want to explore in my novels and also exactly what stylistic and linguistic approaches each individual novel calls for. I’ve also changed how I write, when I used to just blitz- write a first draft over about 4-6 weeks, now I just write in small quick bursts. This wasn’t a conscious decision, just how my process has evolved. I also guess that the more books you complete, the more confident you can be at solving any future issues in a book or even creative block itself, since you can tell yourself you’ve been there before and got past it, so there’s no reason why you can’t do so again.
# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
Only that the book and its ideas always change from what you imagined at the outset of writing it. This is a fact of your discovery as an author and understanding your own work better. For example in one novel the first part was written in Yorkshire dialect, but part 2 was all set online and I suddenly realised people don’t type in dialect and I had to consider the relationship of spoken to written speech.
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers?
Do you balance the two and how? I always start out wanting to explore an issue or question and then the writing process becomes a series of artistic, intellectual and linguistic challenges in pursuit of answering the central question. Once the majority of those have been resolved, then the book is pretty much finished and only then the process of wondering how best to pitch it to readers and all the ensuing marketing begins for me. It is always in that order, I write the book that I need to write and only when it’s finished do I try and figure out how to connect it with readers.
# What role do emotions play in creativity?
That’s a big question, a very big question! I’m going to flip it slightly. Fiction is not fact, and though readers can derive (hopefully) insights they can apply to their lives or life in general, it is not a direct one-to-one correlation. The only ‘truth’ a fiction book can impart is the emotion is that aroused in the reader. Therefore emotion has to form a huge part of writing a book, because that is the primary value you are after as an author. But you want to do it without resorting to tricks or easy strategies for prompting emotion. You want to arouse profound, genuine emotional responses.
# Do you have any creativity tricks?
Writing weekly flash fiction was always a good way for me to exercise my writing muscle in between novels, while also allowing me a space to experiment with different forms of fiction. Flash fiction was frequently prompted by something I had seen from a bus, or on a walk, or an image on film or TV, which helps makes you more observant when there are higher stakes attached to observation, in that you might get a story out of it. From that I also developed the ability to determine whether any particular material was enough for a full novel, a short story or a flash fiction, without having to go through writing a good chunk of it only to discover it wasn’t viable over that length.
# What are your plans for future books?
To complete all the ones I mentioned above that are in progress!
# Tell us some quirky facts about yourself
I coached my twin sons’ youth football team and one year we won the FA Fair Play Award for the entire league! I am in the lowest 5% of the country for spatial awareness perception: careers advice, ‘don’t become an engineer’. Mind you, they didn’t advise me to become an author either.