Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A cheese grater, Arkansas, and getting out of the way: An Interview with Nelson Mays, author of A Prelude to Closure

I recently had the chance to interview Nelson Mays who published his first novel 'A Prelude to Closure' earlier this year. If you haven't gotten the chance to check it out, click the link and grab it! You can also follow Nelson on Goodreads

Nelson is a thoughtful guy with a lot of insight and I hope I picked his brain enough for you. Enjoy!

What inspired you to write your first book? 
Well to tell you the truth I really don’t know. I have always loved murder mysteries and horror and I was at a point last year that I really got into reading and I was reading a novel or two a week. I kept thinking to myself that that I can write a story that people would enjoy. So one day I pulled up my Microsoft word and started typing.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t think I have a particular style per se. I wrote A Prelude to Closure, in first person because I wanted the reader to follow the life of my protagonist. I wanted the reader to see what happened and why he turned out the way he did. You know in most books and movies you get the back plot of the killer through the voices of the detectives and the people trying to catch the bad guy. Which is fine, but I wanted the reader to get to know the real person and see what possibly could have drove him to do the things he did.

How did you come up with the title?
I probably messed up on the title. It’s not very catchy. But if you read it, the reader will see why the title is the way it is. The word Prelude: by definition means- a preliminary to an action, event, condition, or work of broader scope and higher importance. When the reader is reading and going through this journey with “Mr. Naismith” they get to see what happens to him (I call that the condition or event) in his past. Then when he realizes what has happened and he so desperately needs his closure on the issue, the reader watches (reads) how “Mr. Naismith” goes about his events (work of broader scope and higher importance) that lead him to change into the person I believe he was made to be.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
Sure. If you’re a bad guy doing bad things to people and you think you got away with it or getting away with it. You are wrong. They remember. Just will they act on it like “Mr. Naismith”?

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I have a couple of favorite writers. Gregory Funaro, author of The Sculptor and The Impaler. Grant Jerkins, author of A Very Simple Crime and At the End of the Road. Dan Wells, author of, I am not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster and I Don’t Want to Kill You. I would highly recommend all of those books.

What book are you reading now? 
I’m actually reading a paranormal book called Poltergeist by Kat Richardson. I picked it up one day in the bookstore and read the back cover and thought it would be interesting. So far I’m only on chapter 11, but I think it’s going to be a really good book. I just realized that it is the second book of the series, so I’ll have to go back and read the first.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
 The authors that I stated above: Gregory, Grant and Dan. I’m not exactly sure how old they are in the industry, but I do know for a fact that I will buy every book they publish. I just really like the way they write.

What are your current projects?
 If you’ve read A Prelude to Closure, then you know what happens at the end. I’ve had many text and calls from my friends asking me what happens. I just laugh and say “What do you think happens?”  I think they are demanding a follow up novel, so they can find their own closure. Lol. I have actually started writing the follow up and I kind of got stuck in a rut. I know what’s going to happen, but I want to get there in a realistic way and not just put something out there to put something out there.

  Who was your biggest supporter outside of family members?
  Mitchell Lane Cook, author of Z1N1: The Zombie Pandemic. I actually was trying to figure out the publishing side of everything and I was looking through the list of published books by the publisher that I went with and I found this book called Z1N1. I read about the author and come to find out he lived like 15 minutes from me in Bentonville. I contacted him through Goodreads and asked him if we could meet up and chat about the process and we have been friends ever since.

Do you see writing as a career? 
I would absolutely love for writing to be my career. I have a full time job now that takes most of my time and energy, but if I ever get a chance to have a following enough to write full time, you better believe I’ll take that chance.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No I don’t think so. I liked the way it turned out. I actually had a totally different plot when I sat down to start writing, but about half way through, I set back and let the character of “Mr. Naismith” take over and tell me what was going to happen. 

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?  
You know I really don’t. I remember writing a couple of short stories in junior high, but then life gets in the way and the next thing you know your married and 35 years old. I guess you could say that last year I made a bucket list of the things I wanted to do before I got to old and writing a book was one of them.
Can you share a little of your current work with us? 
Lol, no. I’m just kidding. I’m doing the follow up to A Prelude to Closure, but I don’t want to give it any of it away. Let’s just say that his journey for “Mr. Naismith’s” closure is not over.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 
Just getting out of your own head and trying to make things work. Just sit back and write. I promise it will start to pour out.

Who designed the covers?
 I actually designed the cover. My sister Terra is a great photographer and she came over to my house one Saturday with my wife and Mitchell Cook and we made up some fake blood. I got all dresses up in the painters’ suit and gloves and grabbed the cheese grater out of our kitchen drawer. We went out to the garage were I had set up a white backdrop and they started throwing this blood all over me. Terra had me turning around a couple of times trying to find that perfect shot and the one I picked out was awesome. If you take a close look at the cover you can see actual blood droplets coming off the grater. I thought she caught that picture really well.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I just wanted to try and stay real as possible and not have any silly thing happen to where the reader would be like “that’s bull crap, that wouldn’t happen”
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Be nice to people because you don’t know who you are really dealing with. Lol
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I can give you the same advice that I was given by Gregory Funaro. Just write. He told me to just write it down. Get the story on paper, and then go back and clean it up and make tweaks where needed.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
I hope that you give my book a shot. I don’t think you will be disappointed. Also, as of June 1st, 2012 through December 31st, 2012 I am giving 50% of all royalties of the Kindle, Nook and e-Book version of A Prelude to Closure to the Make it Right Foundation.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
I did do a little research on the psychology serial killers for the book, but not too much because I still wanted to make it real. I wanted the reader to feel like they were watching a movie play out in their head. As if they were a fly on the wall of Dr. Cochran’s room when “Mr. Naismith” was in session. The logistics side of going through Northwest Arkansas and the Fort Smith area, I didn’t have to do research for that. I grew up there driving those streets for 19 years. I could just see the streets in my head and the buildings that were around. Now I didn’t go back and see if those building were still there or not. It really didn’t matter. I knew they were they at one time.

That wrapped up the interview with Nelson. Great local author with a debut novel that is doing really well. Be sure to check the links for the other authors as well. Nelson is currently working on his second book and "getting out of the way". I agree with him completely. A moment comes when you're writing where you have a decision to make. Do you fit your story in the nice tidy box you designed it with or do you sit back and let your characters tell the story they want to tell? I found it much more fun to let Lane, Mayson, and Coldon run roughshod over things than trying to make them do what i wanted them to do. 

I hope you readers like the, ahem, wisdom Nelson spread to all of us. 

Now go and read more books!

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