I’m currently collaborating with several great authors on a project in aid of the Santa Paula ‘No Kill’ Animal Rescue Center. Each of us has contributed a work to this up-coming anthology and all proceeds will go directly to the shelter.
I’m proud to be involved not only as a dog owner and animal lover, but because I will be published along some extremely fine talent, like the gentleman I’m featuring today: Nathan Squiers, or – as we call him: The Literary Dark Emperor.
Nathan Squiers rocks. I’ve come across his work in a review group and was astonished by the character depth and passion in his books. He is a standup guy and a good friend. Here is an interview with him, so judge for yourself:
Welcome back Nathan, please explain to my readers who don’t remember you what type of fiction do you write and why?
I wish there was a more technical answer to this question, but the truth is I write the sort of fiction that I’d want to read. I’m a lover of horror and action and underdog tales, and I’ve always been attracted to stories with a focus on character growth and development and chemistry with other characters. All of that sort of rolls into what I write: a fusion of horror and action and gothic romance that’s psychologically driven. I suppose it fits well enough into the “urban fantasy” genre, but I sometimes feel like it begins to teeter into other realms.
Tell us about the concept behind your books. How did you get the idea?
I, like many others, have struggled with depression and anxiety my entire life. For the Crimson Shadow series more than any other, the concept was always tackling various personal conflicts: thoughts of suicide, anger, paranoia, etc. Granted these aren’t the ONLY conflict or themes present in the books, but, like in real life, people with those thoughts have to stack those problems on top of their ongoing issues, and a lot of the time they make those ongoing issues all the more tolling to get through. I like to think that readers like to see more than just typical external conflicts, and I try to weave some realism into the fantasy so they have a more complex story to enjoy.
Are you a dog / animal person?
I like dogs, I suppose. I don’t have one (though the missus and I are hoping to get one once we’re in a bigger home). However, I’ve always been more of a cat person, and though I certainly look forward to adopting a dog I don’t see that changing in the future.
Tell us about one of your main characters. What makes them special?
I think Xander Stryker, the main character of the Crimson Shadow series, is one of those rare examples of a character who’s undeniably strong and powerful, but never slips out of the realm of being relatable to readers. Sure, he’s a vampire and, yes, he fights and kills other creatures on a regular basis, but while he’s forced to put this very confident and intimidating front for the sake of his “career,” he’s always sort of struggling to keep a grip on everything behind the scenes. So often in books and movies and such you have these characters who are badass to the point where everything seems to come easy to them—their love life, their social life, their jobs… everything!—and it always comes around to you either not believing it or wondering if everyone else’s day-to-day is so simple and clean that that’s how a “normal” life is portrayed. Xander accepts the life he’s found himself in, but being a leader and being the center of attention are new and uncomfortable roles for him, so while he copes with it all the readers can see that he’s not coming about it simply. It’s certainly a lot of growth for a character when you consider that he was a suicidal loner in the first novel.
I agree. I loved Xander. Are you like any of the characters (and how so)?
I think it’s safe to say there’s a bit of me in every character. Sometimes I see more of myself in the villains than the heroes. Everybody has those things that happen to them in their daily lives that drive them a little crazy—the guy that cuts you off on your morning commute, the loud group at the neighboring table in the restaurant, screaming kids, getting bumped rudely on the sidewalk, and all those sorts of dealings—that there’s a certain degree of liberation in just “freeing the beast” when I invent a villain. They can be crass and vulgar and violent and commit all the horrible, unspeakable acts that we all sort of fantasize about but never act on. Marilyn Manson one said that artists of all kinds use their work as a means of both exorcising AND exercising their inner demons, and I think that’s really the best way to describe how I put myself into my characters.
How violent are your novels?
Very. I won’t sugarcoat it past that. They’re about monsters in every sense of the word, both the non-human kind AND the human kind. There’s the over-the-top, super-powered violence that you’d expect in this sort of thing, but there’s also the very real, very ugly sort of violence that people inflict on one another all too frequently. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of real violence, but I feel like people turn away from subjects like rape and child abuse with a sneer so they can watch Hollywood shootouts and whatnot instead. And while the stylized, clearly fake violence certainly make things more dynamic and exciting, I hate that real problems—real monsters—are deemed taboo. My novels offer a healthy dose of both types of violence just to remind folks that it doesn’t take claws and fangs to be a monster.
Do you include humour?
I suppose there’s some. If there’s ever any comedy in my work it’s more organic to the situation. Maybe a character says something humorous in regards to what’s going on or circumstances cause something funny to happen, but since the stories and happenings are always rather serious and dark, it relies more on the nature of the characters to draw out any sort of comic relief. For example, in my novel ‘Curtain Call: A Death Metal Novel,’ the character Will (the lead band’s vampire drummer) was basically created to be the comic relief. In almost any circumstance, he’s going to say/do something that makes the reader laugh, but only because he’s so over-the-top and vulgar about everything. I’ve known a few people who used humor to deal with stress, so I based Will on them—the more intense a situation, the more “out there” his response is likely to be.
What makes you laugh?
The sort of stuff that I probably shouldn’t laugh at.
What would your friends say are your best and your oddest quality?
I’d say my best quality IS my oddest quality, and I’d love to tell you what that would be if somebody would be kind enough to tell me first :-p
What is your favourite book?
Unfair question. Refuse to answer.
Thanks Nathan. If you want to connect with Nathan here are some links:
Nathan Squiers (“The Literary Dark Emperor” and the author formally known as “Prince”) is a resident of Upstate New York. Living with his loving wife/fellow author, Megan J. Parker, and two incredibly demanding and out-of-control demon-cats, Nathan lives day-by-day on a steady diet of potentially lethal doses of caffeine and (of course) bacon. When not immersed in his writing, he often escapes reality through movie marathons, comics & anime, and gnarly tunes. While out-and-about, The Literary Dark Emperor can be found in the chair of a piercing studio/tattoo parlor, at the movies, or simply loving life with friends & loved ones.