Interview With Author Nick Savage

My name is Nick Savage and I write contemporary literary fiction with elements of Fantasy in one series and Romance in the other.  I think the hardest thing to explain about both series is that they are not typical genre fiction. The fantasy series is not about vampires, werewolves, and such in a way that deals with broods, and clans, are viral contagions that transmit if bitten and blood is drunk. It’s not about silver bullets. Nor, the is other series’ romantic side about a knight in shining armor who saves some damsel in distress. I write characters who are flawed, slightly dysfunctional, and relatable. I try and write characters that are realistic as they can possibly be. It’s hard to explain a fantasy style series that isn’t really about vampires other legends but at the same time is the backdrop to the story. Sure, the characters are these things but it is not the driving force behind the books. The Nation is more about self-acceptance and finding out who you are in a world that shuns from those who are different. The Fairlane Series, on the other hand, is about a guy who happens upon the woman he left behind to make his dreams come true, only to find they still both carry some semblance of a torch for each other. While neither of the two are malicious or bad people, they are far from saints. Flawed, jaded, cynical, and lacking a little self-control are traits that set up for a dysfunctional relationship you’ll find yourself cheering for and vaguely familiar with. So, yeah, those are convoluted descriptions of The Nation series (Us Of Legendary Gods & So We Stay Hidden – more to come in that series) and The Fairlane Series (The Fairlane Incidents & The Fortunate Finn Fairlane – more to come in that series as well)

So We Stay Hidden (Book 2 The Nation Series)
Us Of Legendary Gods (Book 1 The Nation Series)
The Fairlane Incidents (Book 1 The Fairlane Series)
The Fortunate Finn Fairlane (Book 2 The Fairlane Series)

The real-life stories behind the books? That’s a loaded question. The Fairlane series is the easier of the two. So that’s where I’ll stick. But it’s still a long walk. I had always been a writer in various mediums (songs, poetry, screenplays, etc, etc) but life pulled me away for a long while. In 2016 my wife and I decided to move to Florida and after a very short time down here decided to make a huge chance. I closed the doors on a sole-proprietorship I was very unhappily running and turned my back on the last 15 or so years of what I had built. I knew I wanted to get back to writing. So I went out and purchased a bunch of those writing exercise books, and books on writing books. All that…stuff. Now, at this point, I had been working on the first book in The Nation for a while but no title, and nothing on paper yet. All planning and stuff. I didn’t want to start writing because I wanted to make sure I had something else first. I just had no clue as to what that would be. I was out to eat one night, reminiscing on everything that led me to where I was at that moment. Playing out the possibilities in my mind and the innumerable different outcomes that could have happened with each little decision. I saw someone that I thought I knew. I didn’t say anything to that person. I just looked a few more times (discreetly-not being a creeper or anything) and realized it was not who I thought. But the ideas in my head were already swirling. When I got back home, I started writing. I figured it would be a great exercise and possibly inspire something. That writing exercise ended up turning into The Fairlane Incidents. Yes, that’s the shorter of the two stories behind the two series.

As far as what inspires my creativity, I know the above sounds like it might answer that, but it goes so much deeper. It really stems from a need to tell stories that are not rooted in a romanticized fantasy that has no real-world attainability. I know that anyone who’s read Legendary Gods will be like, ‘Woah, vampires are attainable?’ Not what I mean. Books, shows, movies, etc. A lot of them paint these pictures of the everyman, but the everyman is either some actor trying to play the everyman while off-screen they have to eat a restrictive diet and spend hours in the gym, or are portrayed as such slackers that, while funny, is kind of a slap in the face of your average person. I strive to create something that is left of stereotypes (the funny, fat man, the bullying jock, the pretty mean girl) and if I do have a character that starts to fall into a stereotype I make sure there is enough back story to them that it makes sense and pulls them out of being just a functional character into a real person. Make sense? So, in the end, my creativity is drawn from wanting to create real people, because a book should be about the characters. The story is simply structure.

Creative block and how I deal with it. This will be the shortest answer. Video games, music, television, movies, working out, yoga. if all those fail, I sit back in front of my computer with a glass of absinthe and force myself to write junk until something good flows out.

I think some of the biggest mistakes writers make isn’t in the storytelling itself. Yes, a writer can have a bad story. Life is full of dull stories but even that is a subjective matter. What pulls me out of a novel faster than anything is bad voicing. If you have a book where all the characters sound the same, use the same vocabulary, all sound witty and charming, (not every person is witty and charming in real life so why should they be in books), the story comes across flat. One of the other things is writers who force their writing. Either in the language used. Like, they try too hard to stand out and create something different that it overshadows the story they are trying to tell. A story, no matter how sci-fi, fantasy, romantic, whatever should feel organic. Characters should do what they would do, not what the author wants them to do.

When it comes to picking a title and a cover it comes to options. Let’s start with titles. When I was writing Us Of Legendary Gods I went through about 20 different titles before finding the one I liked. A title shouldn’t be too on the nose, otherwise, every teen flick would just be called sex, drugs, and rock n roll. Can’t really get more on the nose than that. But the title should be related to the story without giving any of it away. Sounds obvious but it’s a more difficult task than some imagine. Even the second book in the series had like 10 different title options. Also,  the title shouldn’t be too generic. I don’t mean generic like brand x foods. I am currently reading a book that I thought had an original yet vaguely familiar title. Then I googled the title and there were around 40 other books with the exact same title. Kinda made me frown. But it is that simple internet search that saved So We Stay Hidden from having a drastically overused title. All of the same can be said about covers except don’t pay for 20 covers just to decide on one. That’s a lot of money. Work with a designer (if you don’t do your own ) who can understand your vision both in the book and what cloudy image is in your head for the cover. Get it done close to right the first time around so you make tweaks, not overhauls. 

The best way to deal with bad reviews is to understand that not everyone is going to like what you write. I know my writing is a bit niche. Even if it is not as niche as I think it is, it is still not a popcorn novel. They deal with real issues and not everyone wants to read that. Some people like escapism. Not everyone will understand or latch onto my author voice. It’s cool. Like, I love psychological thrillers and my wife doesn’t. I don’t sit there and berate her for her likes and dislikes. We say, ‘cool, no Silence of the Lambs tonight.’ The same is said for books. Now, if someone thinks my ability to tell a story is less than it should be or my writing, in general, is simply garbage, I will listen to what they say. As long as a person can give credible criticism, intelligent feedback that stays on topic and is based in objectiveness rather than subjectiveness that I can learn from that. But if someone bashes, say, The Fairlane series because they don’t like reading about sex scenes described with some visualness behind it and they clutch their pearls at my words, well that’s subjective. I won’t put you down for being sexually conservative but don’t belittle me for enjoying the reason you exist. (catch that?) In short, I am not done learning so I take situations like that as such.

Over time my creation process has honed itself. I used to write, then rewrite, over and over and over again. Making huge, sweeping changes as I changed plot points or added things. That is a horrible torturous way to write. Now, I’ve joined the notecard people. Lay it all out point by point, rearrange them as needed, adding in new cards as ideas strike, taking our old ones the ideas die off. The rest, the dialogue and scene descriptions is just details. 

I think the coolest thing about writing is what changes from my original intent. When I begin writing I have an idea of where and how the story will begin and end. But then the writing starts, characters are brought to life, and things change. So that story that I thought would end one way, with a nice happily ever after ends up with aliens blowing up the White House. No wait, that’s Independence Day. But seriously, when I started writing The Nation I had this idea in my mind for each character and how they will end their arcs. But in writing the second book a few things happened that with some characters and a new one got introduced that changed my whole outlook in the series. It made where it is going ten times better. And it might change from where it is at now. I think allowing the story to write itself is the coolest thing. Because I realize sometimes to make the story go where I want it to go is against how the character would act and handle the situation. So when characters are allowed to act appropriately, the story flows appropriately. I know that’s not hyper-specific but it’s what I got for ya.

When I write, I don’t really aim for either personal or reader satisfaction. Now, that’s not saying I don’t want people to enjoy the story. I very much want people to enjoy the story. But there is a story inside of my head. It’s not a hundred percent finished in my mind but when I get it onto paper it starts approaching that 100%. I write the story the way the story needs to be written. To me, writing isn’t about pleasing myself, this isn’t some self-gratification I do this for. It also isn’t about making sure my readers get what they are hoping for. Because you can’t please everyone all the time. To me, writing is about writing the story, wherever that takes it. And as long as the story satisfies itself and is complete, then I am happy having written it, even if it’s not where I thought the story was going to go.

Emotions play a huge role in creativity. I know when I am angry, frustrated, or whatever seemingly negative emotion I may feel, my writing tends to be more visceral, either in dialogue or action. if I am happy the characters tend to talk a lot more. I am a little crazy like that. I think emotions drive all writers to a certain degree and the more I let my emotions take the wheel, the more I let myself feel whatever I am feeling, the more organic the writing. it is very cathartic to write like that. 

As far as being creative, the only thing I can say is to be yourself. Don’t worry about what others think or what they might say about you. Don’t worry if it will make your mom or dad blush. Just write. Write a scene that might be uncomfortable to type those words. it’s very liberating. As long as you are not advocating anything immoral, go for it.  let your uninhibited self write. You can always go back to rewrite, spell check, and temper your writing later.

As far as future books, I have one left in The Fairlane series that I am writing now. I have more in The Nation, (how many I am not sure). And recently I wrote the dialogue for a graphic novel in conjunction is Stavros Giannopolous from The Atlas Moth based on their album Coma Noir. It is currently being illustrated. I am super stoked about that because the album is something that deeply resonates in me and I felt would make a great film noir style GN. When I approached him about collaborating on it he was just as excited as I was. So that was nice. Now we wait for our wonderful artist to bring it all to life.

I would give a few quirky facts about myself but ironically I do not like talking about myself, (said the wordiest person you’ve ever interviewed) I will leave you with a quote I tell people. ‘Don’t be verbose. But also don’t say in 50 words what could be said in 150.’

I hope this useful to you in some way. Thank you for reaching out to me and wondering what goes on inside my mind. I hope to do something like this again with you all. 

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