Saturday, 2 June 2012

Nathan Christensen author interview

Today I have Nathan Christensen author of Cedardale Court for an interview.

About Nathan
Nathan Lee Christensen is a husband, father, and long lost Oregonian, currently living on a cliff overlooking the Pacific in the bay area. He was born and raised in the wilds of the Willamette Valley, and hopes to someday find his way back home again.

His neo-gothic murder mysteries are bits of broken reality with as much truth between their lies, laughter between tears, and life between deaths as possible. And, though there may be better ways to portray rainbows than jumping up the ass of a thunder cloud, the author fully acknowledges his inability to do one without the other. Any references to his background or tastes in fiction would be largely incomplete without mentioning a few childhood picture books or 80’s television programs, so, suffice to say, he’s a happily swirled up mix of all the tasteless, classless impropriety the world has to offer.

Despite his shortcomings, he strives to deliver heart and courage in every tale he tells, is resigned to produce a new one every October 7th for as long as the good Lord keeps him able, and finds, as a stay at home dad, this sort of thing is as good a way to rub shoulders with adults as any

Find Nathan

Nathan's Book

1. Did you always want to be a writer, if no what did you want to do, if yes why?
Goodness gracious. Are we counting when I was 7 and wanted to be a firefighter? Or 15 and wanted to be Garth Brooks? Or when I was 20 and wanted to be a firefighter again? Sometimes this whole “write honestly and present myself as honestly as possible” shtick I cling to is just a huge pain in the ass…
I just sighed so loud my wife asked me if I was okay. “I’m fine,” I groaned. “Just contemplating doing something stupid.”
Here’s my something stupid. I can’t remember the password to the email account I used to set this up, so I can’t take it down, and, as far as I know, it will exist forever in all its embarrassing glory:

Laugh all you want, especially at the profile picture, but, if you’re really asking, and I’m really telling, that’s what I thought I wanted to be, more than a fireman at least. But, when I found out I was going to be a father, I sold all my guitars and haven’t wanted to rush into a burning building or any part of the musician’s life since. In that first year though, I got pretty bored with all the down time a newborn brings to the table. I wrote Cedardale Court in the wee hours of the morning, while she refused to go to sleep or have conversations with me.

2. How long did it take to go from Cedardale Court being an idea to an actual book?
I wrote up to chapter 10 before I printed it off and tried to read it. It was awful. Like high school rough draft awful. I shrugged my shoulders, emailed a copy of it to myself so I could laugh about it later, and erased it from my hard drive. Life went on, we moved a couple times, my daughter got a little older, and after a year and a half of staying home with her, I really started needing something to do that didn’t involve Curious George or Dora the Explorer. So I reluctantly pulled Cedardale Court back off the shelf, deleted everything but chapters 1-3, and started over. That second time through, I really started to enjoy what I was doing, took it more seriously, and eventually fell in love with the process and the storytelling. All in all, it took less than a year of actual work, but almost 3 if you include my dilly dallying.

3. Did you have any favourite characters to write when writing Cedardale Court?
Charlie, the cat. The last rewrite I did on Canner. Forever Henry and Chloe. Everyone in the book was special to me for some reason or another, at some time or another during the writing. Except the Coroner. Or the apple woman. But you have to hate some people. It’s only natural.

4. Was there anything that you wanted to add in the story that ended up edited out?
I wanted Birch to have a love interest, a woman he was struggling to keep happy while working the job, but it never made sense to the story, so it never made it in.

5. There is a lot of crime scene investigation in the book, how did you go about researching it all?
I find all that kind of stuff a little tedious. It has to happen, it’s all part of the story and largely how information is learned for the characters and conveyed to the reader, but it drags everything down. So I wrote the whole thing from the hip, finished the rough draft how I thought things would probably go, then started emailing people to see how ignorant and ridiculous I was. I got a ten page email back from an old friend of mine who is the undersheriff for Linn County in Oregon. Research first. Sheesh, it’ll save you time. He answered all my questions and straightened me out. There’s a blurb about search dogs, coyotes and mountain lions that’s almost entirely his influence. And a coroner friend across the country helped with all the science stuff. I tried to keep it to a minimum, but, thanks to both of those men, everything in Cedardale Court that’s supposed to be believable is more or less possible.

6. What new books have you got planned and do we get a sneak peak or is it all a secret?
I’ve never been good at talking about Cedardale Court. It’s a mystery. I write mysteries. So, considering talking about the next one, I’ll probably default to that stance. It’s hard to talk about works that are designed to be uncovered, investigated, and found out about. There are themes and things that I’ll do with every book, like the titles will all be street names, a character from the previous book will always cross over into the next one, but that’s about it. However, in regards to Vida Seca Lane, it’s important to know that it’s an entirely new story, not a sequel, with new characters and new problems for everyone to work through, including a murder or two.

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