Author Interview: Nathan Squiers Talks About His New Book Death Metal

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About Death Metal: Life was good and the future was bright for up-and-coming heavy metal band, Bloodtones. With a steadily-growing fan-base, the five members looked forward to a promising career in the music industry.

And then things went to hell.

Soon after a strange sighting, the Bloodtones’ lead singer, Bekka, finds herself capable of the impossible and in mortal danger from otherworldly forces that catch even the non-human members of the band off guard.

With their rock-solid future rapidly crumbling before their eyes, the Bloodtones find themselves struggling for not only their music… but their very lives.

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An Interview With Nathan Squires:

1. When did you decide to become a writer?

~To tell the truth, there was never an EXACT moment that I decided to actively pursue writing. As far back as I can remember I have been telling stories of some sort or another–often depicting “overly” intricate story-lines with my action figures and stuffed animals. In school, when everybody was writing about their Summer vacations or what they’d done over the previous weekend, I was begging with my teachers to let me write creative stories in the hopes of entertaining my classmates rather than boring them to death (though at that time I preferred writing about talking cats).

As time progressed, my desire to entertain both myself and others with my story-telling evolved into more of a hobby than a form of play.

If I had to name a period of time where I began to fancy myself an avid-enough writer to actively chase it as a career I’d have to say it was somewhere between leaving high school and entering college. At that time, I was trying to come to grips with a somewhat difficult past and I decided to vent my anxieties through my first book. After that I was hooked on the process.

2. How long have you been writing?

~I’d say I’ve been actively writing for ABOUT eight years (give or take periods of laziness or excessive manic episodes). I honestly approach the process as more of a “professional story-teller”, in which case I’d say I’ve been doing it my whole life.

3. What types of books are you reading?

~I’m actually an INCREDIBLY visual person when it comes to my entertainment; if I can’t 100% SEE what I’m reading, I easily lose interest. That being said, I typically bury myself in comic books and Japanese manga while experimenting loosely with different authors. When I finally find a writer that catches my fancy the comics are put away and I CONSUME everything that artist has until there’s nothing left.

Such authors (to date) include Rob Thurman and Nancy A. Collins (author of my favorite series, the Sunglasses After Dark saga).

4. What was your favorite part of writing your book? The hardest part?

~When I started writing Death Metal, I’d already written three manuscripts in a series. At that time, I’d decided that I needed a break from the story-line I’d invested nearly six years in and decided to “vacation” with a side-project.

I’ll come clean now and confess that I write, first and foremost, as a means of entertaining myself and creating stories and characters that I’d PERSONALLY love to read about. In that aspect, creating the characters and developing their personas was an incredible thrill right off the bat. As the story was pieced together, though, I found a great deal of joy/aggravation in the process of juggling multiple characters and perspectives.

Before DM, my work had centered around a single character and–for the most part–his personal conflicts with his own emotions and the rest of the world. Taking on a project with five VERY different characters turned out to be a pleasure AND a daunting chore.

What truly separated Death Metal from my past work and made it a true challenge was the decision to include lyrics to the band’s songs in the book. Now, telling a story is VERY different then writing poetry, and, in turn, writing poetry is VERY different from writing songs. When it came time to begin creating the lyrics for the piece, I found myself often staring at a blinking cursor on an empty computer screen for long periods of time before anything remotely decent touched the page. Even now I can say that I’ve developed a newfound respect for lyricists who write songs for a living; the process is, to say the least, a chore.

I know it sounds sort of bizarre to say it like that, but my FAVORITE part of writing the piece WAS, at the same time, the hardest part. If at any moment in your writing you’re not entertained by your own struggles, then you’ve taken on a project that’s too simple for you.

5. Tell us what it’s about.

~The overall piece tells about a heavy metal band, the Bloodtones, and how their growing music career comes to a screeching halt when otherworldly forces come into play.

In the very beginning, the band’s lead singer, Bekka, sees a group of–for lack of a better word–“demons” appearing before her during a performance and is soon after possessed by the “pod”.

As the story unfolds, the band (consisting of a pair of humans, a werewolf, a magician, and a vampire) discover that their singer is now capable of inhuman feats that put even the non-human members to shame. While her possession is not a direct inconvenience, the five soon find that “the other side” wants what is theirs back, and they’re willing to do ANYTHING to get them.

With their lives on the line, the Bloodtones are forced to set aside their music to try and figure out how to save their singer and friend.

In many ways the piece is a supernatural mystery: how do you overcome a challenge that is infinite and unrelenting?

To sum it all up: Death Metal is a supernatural “Behind the Music”.

6. What are you working on now?

~I’m a hyperactive glutton for punishment when it comes to my work and, at any given moment, I’m usually juggling multiple pieces/concepts.

At this moment I’m in the conceptualizing process for a second Death Metal piece, but I’ve also got book #4 of another vampire series waiting for me to finish it. In the background to these two books I’ve also got a slew of comic book scripts that I’m writing/developing (one of my comic series is awaiting an artist to pick up and illustrate the project crosses fingers).

7. What is your favorite part of being an author?

~My FAVORITE part of being an author is being able to stare blankly out the window for extended periods of time and still be able to assure others that I’m working.

But seriously. . .

Personally, I’m in love with being able to invent worlds and characters and then follow them throughout their journey. Writing is a sort of gamble: you throw a bunch of dice down on the table and then see if you can make it all fit together in an entertaining way. When you’re lucky, the character(s) take on a life of their own and they carry you along for the ride. In that aspect, my favorite part of being an author is having a front-row seat as the events unfold.

However, writing (like any art) is about SHARING the experience with others. In the end, after I’m done being entertained by my own work, there’s a certain euphoric, childishly giddy and all-too-stressful moment where you unveil the piece to others.

I have to imagine that it’s sort of like being a basketball player who just made a last-second shot from the three-point line and the ball’s still in the air. You’re aching to see the shot sink, but at the same time the audience is on the edge of their own seats. And when that ball finally drops into the net, you KNOW that you did the job right.

So. . . I’m hard-pressed to identify a FAVORITE part of writing; I can only say that it is, in its entirety, an incredibly rewarding hobby/career.

8. What do you do in your free time?

~My free time is divided (though not necessarily evenly) between enjoying the story-telling of others, being a devoted lover, and (when I’m not writing) writing.

Yea. . . you read that last part right.

My fiancée and I are nerdy kids at heart, and when I’m NOT creating stories she and I often create our own characters and roleplay. I know it sounds like something I should’ve outgrown by now, but I’m an addict when it comes to escaping reality and there is, in my opinion, no better way than inventing characters and pitting them against other people’s creations.

9. If you could give a piece of advice to your readers on anything, what would it be?

~Pure and simple: you’ve been blessed with a working mind and a unique consciousness; do not–DO NOT!–let it go to waste and never, EVER let the rest of the world make you feel like anything less than a gift to the universe.
And, as always, hunt down and consume every shred of happiness like a blood-thirsty creature of darkness!

10.  If you could give advice to new writers, what would it be?

~Listen to your heart, turn off your mind, and never let yourself stop.
A writer’s passion is their greatest gift, and their doubt is their greatest weakness. If you feel that it’s worth it to tell a story, then you’re probably right. At some point in the process, though, it’s almost guaranteed that you will feel yourself begin to question your own abilities.

Do not allow that part of you to deter you!

If you’re passionate about writing, then you owe it to yourself to write and you owe it to your future readers to finish the product.

Also remember: writing is a TIME-CONSUMING process! If you haven’t finished a piece in five minutes, this IS NOT a sign of failure. Follow through and see it to the end; I promise it’ll be worth it.

Interview Questions From Fans:

From Barbara Irving: if you could be any fictional character who would you pick and why?

~Oh, wow! Uhhhhhhh. . .


Well, I suppose that all depends on my mood at any given moment.
I am a vampire enthusiast, a lover of romance/lust, and a fan of the dark and deranged. I am also an admirer of heroics AS WELL as villainy.

With this in mind–and I’m not sure if I’m breaking some sort of gender-bending rule here–I’d have to say that the character I’d love to trade places with would be vampire-cum-vampire hunter, Sonja Blue.

Though Sonja is a female and I’m, well. . . not; the lead character from the Sunglasses After Dark series IS me in a supernatural nutshell.

If we’re looking for a same-sex identity-swap, I’d have to say that the main character of the Nightlife series, Cal, is my guy. Though NOT a vampire, the half-monster protagonist of Rob Thurman’s Nightlife series IS a kindred spirit.

I don’t know. . . I’m siding BIG TIME with Sonja here (perhaps we can imagine an alternate universe where there’s a male counterpart. . . *imagines the sheer awesomeness*)

From Carrie Humphrey: When sitting down to write a novel, whether it be a vampire one or something different, what’s the first step you take? Outline? Blurb out ideas? Just write and see where it takes you?

~At risk of sounding corny, novels are like people; each conception is unique.
For the most part, however, when I decide that I’m going to write a piece it begins with the concept–usually a single word or, at most, a sentence that will ultimately drive the piece. From there, I focus on my character(s); deciding on their nature and creating their image.

Once I’ve got a rough idea of the WHO, I begin a first-step outline (usually a page in length) that is a more elaborate version of the aforementioned concept (this time shaped around my recently developed characters). This allows me to “see” the story from beginning to end (just to be sure that it works as a basic A-to-B story-line).

If and when I’m satisfied with everything at this point, I flesh out the character until they’re ready to take on the challenge I’ve decided to torture them with and then I do an in-depth outline (these are usually somewhere between 15-30 pages and can take me a week-or-two to map out). The outline is done on a chapter-by-chapter basis, each chapter being given a combination of quotes, scenes, ideas, questions, and “what if”s. While it may seem tedious and even pointless, I have a hard time approaching a project without this basic map to guide me (it also allows me to “edit” the story as a whole without risking months-upon-months of work).

I’ll be honest and say that this method has more recently been applied (probably the past three-or-four years), which means that any piece written before that time was approached with a “hit the ground running” mindset; and while I do not regret those pieces or how they’ve turned out, I do believe I could have saved a great deal of time if I’d have had my outlines at that time.

(Note – I’ll admit that I’m a poster-child for ADD, so all my methods/techniques are the product of me fighting my own “Oh look, a shiny toy” tendencies)

From Sarah Lynne Brenzott: How much Vampire reading had you done before you began as an author? Do you think the vampires that you got to know in literature aided you as developed both your plots and characters in your own writing?


Want to know a secret? I was TERRIFIED of vampires as a little boy. I will come out and admit that I had my mother, on a nightly basis, checking my closet for the pale-skinned, fanged monsters that could sink their inhuman canines into my tender flesh and steal away my humanity.

Ready for another secret? I IMMERSE myself in what I fear!

Result: as far back as I can remember I have read, watched, researched, and all-out pursued any and all things vampire.

Characters–vampire or not–are a product of the artist’s imagination, so while I’ve enjoyed their creations I’ve never gone so far as to use their creations to motivate my own. While I’ll admit that I read A LOT of vampire fiction in my time, it was the lore that was the biggest inspiration for me. The readings that have made the BIGGEST impact in my work have been those that were more “fact” and less fiction.

Do I feel that other vampire characters have motivated me personally in my work: not really. If anything, the vampires in other writers’ works have entertained me and motivated me to create my own iconic characters.
(Trade secret: vampires are easy to make; a memorable character is the true challenge)

Rose E. Barrett: With all the “Vampire legends” and whatnot already out there(i.e wooden stake, burn in the sun, immortal) how do you keep your characters original?

~My approach from the beginning has been to create a piece of vampire fiction that was both unique to my own mythology AS WELL AS entertaining to fans of the genre. Before I wrote word #1 of my first book I spent nearly seven months developing a mythology that I have since used in ALL of my work.

This mythology is built upon a MASSIVE foundation of “how would this work in the REAL world?” and then put together using slightly modified well-known traits. For example: vampires in my universe do not explode in sunlight, but it IS incredibly toxic and, if exposed for too long, potentially lethal.

Also, there are more than ONE species of vampire in my world as well as different types of each species (I believe that those BORN a vampire should have noticeably different traits than those who are MADE).

The same logic/approach has been applied to other creatures of myth (werewolves, witches, etc. . .)

Because I’d developed the “rules” of these creatures BEFORE I started the project(s), any characters I’ve since made have been a process of fleshing out a pre-built “skeleton”.

If you’re going to write fiction, it’s my strong belief that the WHAT should come before the WHO (once you know the biology/traits that drives a species, it’s easier to create character traits around them)

Debbie Wright: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

~Open your eyes and write down EVERYTHING!!

Your powers of observation are going to be the fuel that drives your work; details that others may view as “simple” or “pointless” can be the spice that adds that perfect kick to a project.

Also, treat moments of “failure” and opportunities to better future work. If you spend half-a-year writing a piece that ends up going nowhere and you’re forced to delete the whole piece and start from scratch, don’t view it as “six wasted months”, but rather view it as a good chunk of time spent illustrating what you DON’T want in your work.

There’s always two ways to look at a situation: the good and the bad. If every time something goes against your plans you only see the bad, then you’re ignoring an equal amount of potential motivation.

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