We feel so honored at River Ram Press to be working with Nicholas Trandahl. His style of writing is very rare to find these days and his fresh take on characters and descriptive language bring enjoyment to readers from all over the world. As a new addition to the River Ram Press family, we wanted to find out just what makes our newfound friend such a talented writer. So, we decided to interview him!
1) What event in your life inspired you to write?
There’s really no single event I remember that encouraged my need to write. I’ve been making my own stories for as long as I can remember! I know that I first started thinking about being an author professionally when I began to read novels for the first time. When I was ten or so, I started tearing through the thrillers of Michael Crichton before moving on to the poetry and stories of Edgar Allan Poe and the dense fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkien. It was around then when I started really developing an interest in the authors themselves (as people) as opposed to just the works that they would write. But it wasn’t until my mid-twenties in 2010, after I was done serving in the U.S. Army, that I began to pursue the idea of actually getting my poetry and fiction published.
2) Describe your writing style and how you came about developing it.
My writing style is very descriptive and character-focused. When I’m reading I crave the details. I know not everyone feels that way, but I adore it when an author paints a vivid picture in my mind of a protagonist, the weather, or a even something as simple as a tree. That’s not to say that I don’t love the minimalist realism and the truth inherent in the stories of legends like Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver. It’s the simplicity of those authors’ stories that really get their hooks in your heart and soul. But my own way of writing fiction is more heavily influenced for my love of poetry as well as the descriptive and delicate prose of writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, John Cheever, and Virginia Woolf. I yearn for my sentences to paint a very vivid picture and I yearn for my prose to be beautiful. That’s the intentions of my writing style in a nutshell, I suppose. I want to write beautifully.
3) How do you develop characters? Are they inspired by people you know or maybe people you would like to know?
I develop much of my characters and chunks of their dialogue from folks and conversations I experience in real life. Some are inspired by idealized versions of myself, my friends, my lover, my children, and total strangers. And some of my characters are chimeras consisting of several different people I’ve met or think up. I’ll also admit that I’m often inspired by the protagonists of the stories that I read. I love to create people in my fiction and force them to interact and observe. I need to know what they think about what they see and experience.
Another sort of odd notion that I have when developing my characters (and my stories in general) is that these characters exist in some realm in my mind or elsewhere, and they’re counting on me to spill them out on my paper. Without me, these characters wouldn’t get to exist. That little idea is sort of a trick that I’ve developed for myself. It motivates me to finish writing what I start and to write quickly. My characters are counting on me for their survival.
4) Your ideal place to sit and write consists of what important factors?
I carry a little writing journal and a pen wherever I go for writing verses of poetry and ideas and notes for my stories. But my primary spot for writing prose is at my writing desk at home. I keep it very organized and clean (I know, not very author-esque of me). I have a couple of my favorite paintings hanging around it and the drawer of my desk is filled with notes and papers. To write in the way that is perfection to me, I would prefer to have some soft ambient music playing (from instrumental musicians such as Endless Melancholy, Desolate Horizons, Qualia, and Dylan Rupe). I prefer to write in the quiet stillness of the morning and also late at night when the house is quiet again and I’m able to have a freshly-made cocktail in hand. I type all of my first drafts on my vintage 1950 Smith-Corona typewriter (a family heirloom from a great-grandmother that I never met), and I do my rewrites and edits on my laptop at my desk. It’s a system that seems to work the best for me. I’ve settled into quite the cozy routine when it comes to my writing.
5) Lastly, what are your personal goals as a writer? It can be within the next few months or over your lifetime.
My goals as a writer used to be to be able to do it professionally and I’ve succeeded in that. I have three novels published and a book of poetry published. And I get a royalty check from my books each month (a minuscule check but a check nonetheless). I’ve wanted to leave behind a legacy as a writer, and I think that I’m doing that. I suppose my next writing goal is for my literary fiction and poetry to be more successful than it is now. It’d be nice to be able to survive on my writing alone. Short stories are my passion and I’m trying to get my first collection of them published and on the shelves. So I suppose that that’s my most immediate goal. Also, I hope my short fiction on this blog (River Ram Press) is well-received.