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An Interview with Author Nicholas Crowder

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I’m a 24-year-old writer. I was born in Tallahassee, FL, but soon transplanted to southern Missouri when I was 11. I have since moved to the Kansas City area and live with my family, which includes my wife, my mom, my grandma, and my younger siblings.

I have been writing and creating since I was a small child. Since I first discovered my passion for storytelling I have cracked out countless unpublished short stories and half-finished novels as well as many, many poems. I have previously won awards in high school for my writing and had a poem published by Eber & Wein Publishing.

My current novel will be the first I finish. My upcoming plans for the future include going back to school for political science and joining the ROTC program so that I may commission as a U.S. Army Officer. All of this will serve my lifelong passions and goals in some respect: starting a family of my own and becoming a full-time fiction writer.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

The inspiration for my current project came from two sources: I’ve had a burning desire to create a dark fantasy/suspense story for some time that focuses on trauma and its pain amid a supernatural backdrop; I had a dream in which the story title and main character appeared to me in vivid fashion. Since that dream about three months ago I’ve been writing almost every day to bring that character and the rest of the roster’s story to conclusion.

Tell us the story of your book’s current title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

As I mentioned before, it came from an intensely vivid dream. Originally I saw it actually as a Netflix show title of all things—The Spectral Harleth. I then tinkered with the name a little and realized I liked ‘heart’ more than ‘harleth’ and that it made more sense (considering ‘harleth’ sounds like some Shakespearean mnemonic device). So, it was relatively easy to find my title and it was actually one of the first things that came to me.

Describe your dream book cover.

My dream book cover would be a minimalist design that captures the essence of my story. The primary fixture would be a scarlet heart with the main character’s pallid hands dancing around the edges of said heart. In the margins there would be twisting tree branches to signify the importance of the forested hills that much of the story’s inciting incidents take place in. The title would be placed at the bottom and my name below.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

“Danse Macabre” – Camille Saint-Saëns

“Me and the Devil” – Soap&Skin

“Oro mo Bhaidin” – Mary O’Hara

“Ivory Tower” – Philip Ayers

“The Imitation Game” – Alexandre Desplat

“Debaser” – Pixies

“One Last Breath” – Creed

“This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven” – Pixies

“Tattoo’d Lady” – Rory Gallagher

“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Deadman’s Gun” – Christian Larsson

What books are you reading (for research or comfort) as you continue the writing process?

Books that I have been reading include:

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

The Thief of Always by Clive Barker

The Books of Blood by Clive Barker

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

As well as various and countless non-fiction pieces including Missouri state resources for wildlife/flora information. So too have I been looking into historical documentation of early Southeast Missouri’s settler history and civil war history—and Kansas City’s history.

I have had to put down my fiction reading for the time being because I wanted to avoid being influenced too much.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have previously worked as a retail associate, a key holder/manager for a dollar store, a fast food dish washer, and an agricultural worker shift lead. I currently work as a tech support representative at a call center. Something readers might now know about me is that I have an intense and burning passion for history. I am also working on a fantasy series.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

The single biggest thing that made me want to write is that undeniable, nagging urge in the depths of my soul—the burning coals of having something to say that refuse to go out until tomorrow I’ve translated them into text. Some previously mentioned writers and others remain massive influences. People like George RR Martin, Tolkien, Barker, King, Steinbeck, McCarthy, Jackson, and so many more. Movies, music, and video games are three other mediums that have influenced me greatly. I see them as being inherently linked to writing and vice versa. My late father instilled in me the seed of having a love for reading and storytelling so I have him to thank above all.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I generally like to write where there is sunshine and quiet. Here lately I have found, oddly enough, that my workplace provides a wonderful environment to write. It’s structured and I have to sit up straight while having no choice but to sit where I am. So there’s no procrastination or going to play games or anything like that. When I’m not taking calls I’m typing away and have found myself making great progress this way. But usually I’d prefer somewhere secluded and garbed with a natural environment.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Listening to music is my biggest ritual. It sinks me into the ambiance of the story like nothing else and helps me find characters by rooting them to certain songs or genres. Oh, and drinking coffee.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

One thing I hope readers take away from reading my book is that trauma can be healed and we are not shackled to the pain of our past; we can move forward and heal. My perfect reader is anyone who has pain in their heart and regrets. As well as anyone who is interested in exciting action, brutal horror, emotional revelation, and tragic but hopeful storytelling.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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