Saturday, December 12, 2009

Five Minutes with Nick Tramdack

My interest in Nick Tramdack precedes the surprising discovery of his having been born in the same hospital as I. It's more just an older writer taking an interest in the work of an up-and-comer, peeling back the layers to see what makes him tick.

Born, Cleveland, Ohio, University Hospital
University of Chicago, English, 2007
Currently living in Wicker Park, Chicago

Ennyman: What is the name of your novel and what’s it about?

Nick: My novel is called "The Cursorial". Its main character is called Harkness. He's a professional follower, a master of tracking people through the complex streets of Glavebrook, the capital of the Empire. But when he's fooled into making an enemy of the unbeatable superhero, the Gray Thane, he's the one who has to flee. In order to survive, Harkness gambles on an alliance with Messier, a practitioner of coincidence magic and self-styled 'mastermind'. But when it turns out that Harkness and the Thane share a past, the cursorial will have to face the only thing he fears more than the hero's magic sword - his own sins.

Ennyman: It sounds fascinating. When did you become interested in writing and how did you learn had a knack for it?

Nick: I never "became interested" in writing - I just wrote. I never "had a knack" for writing, either. I just tried different techniques and found out that some worked better than others. I had scenes in my head - immature, embarrassing fantasies I wanted to prepare for myself. As I put these onto paper, something changed. Even if what I wrote wasn't what I'd intended, the process of it made me happy. I enjoyed writing for its own sake. I started taking notes on it. Then I resolved to organize my life around it.

Ennyman: What’s the hardest part of creating something like this from nothing?

Nick: I suppose that, philosophically, there's no reason we couldn't create things "from nothing." I could coin a word - klowryu, for instance (utterly meaningless keystrokes), then call it a noun, and roll dice to determine its attributes. That exercise in random generation might be interesting for 10 seconds. After that, not so much. When we write fiction, it looks like we invent a world. If only that were the case! In fact, it's a con, and the unglamorous secret is that everything we create is determined by our previous experiences of emotions and ideas... and, by extension, determined by the material conditions of our society. In fiction, nothing is ever "created from nothing." It is only transformed.

Ennyman: Anyone who produces creative work like this has to make sacrifices. What would you have been doing had you not been writing your novel?

Nick: If I had not been writing my novel I would be having a great time at the bar and spending all my spare moments (glancing into the restroom mirror, flipping a coaster on its edge) wondering what the hell I was doing with my life.

Ennyman: Do you have a favorite writer or writers?

Nick: My favorite writer is M. John Harrison. I can't think of anyone who wields more control over English prose. Check out this passage from 'Light', p.124: "Kearney stared around him, uncertain for a moment where he was. Light will transform anything: a plastic drinking glass full of mineral water, the hairs on the back of your hand, the wing of an airliner thirty thousand feet above the Atlantic. All these things can be redeemed and become for a time essentially themselves." Look, I mean look at that!

How does he do it? Could we come up with rules to shoehorn us into writing that well? ...The answer is no. "I thought we were supposed to avoid adverbs," one splutters. "Oh yeah, and isn't 'essentially' just the ugly cousin of 'basically'?" It's better to just keep reading, in awe.

Ennyman: I have those same feelings when I encounter an awesome passage while reading great work. Any prospects on the publishing side of this project? What have you done so far to get attention for your book?

Nick: I have started querying agents for my novel. So far I have received 4 rejection slips. I am writing some short stories now and with a little luck I can get them published. Then it will become easier to sell the book. And if it doesn't sell, I'll have at least sold something. The important thing is to keep at it.

Ennyman: Thanks for your time. Good luck finding that agent. I know there are a lot of people eager to read the book.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi. who are you ? and what do you know about parallel universes?