Friday's Drive-by: Jason Nahrung

Jason Nahrung is the other half of an Aussie spec-fic writing duo – the other half is Kirstyn McDermott. I’d love to say that, as a duo, they dress up at night and fight crime, but it would be (a) a little too personal, and (b) untrue. Realistically, they’re more likely to be fomenting some form of awe-inspiring, jaw-droppingly brilliant apocalyptic fiction. He is also the possessor of one of the most beautiful covers in the world, for The Darkness Within.

 He is working on more writing … meanwhile seek out his short fiction, which includes but is not limited to: Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn appeared in Jack Dann’s Dreaming Again, The Refuge in Fantastic Journey, and Pain Threshold reprinted in Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror 2007. I admire him both as a writer and as someone who knows Thoth is the God of Writers.

1. I know a story’s done when …
Argh! Pragmatically, a story’s done when it’s on the shelf (and I do like them on the shelf – in a digital age, I’m still bound by the attraction of the artefact). Years of newspaper work have inured me to the concept of letting a piece go when it hits deadline. But the neurotic me – the writer, I guess – always wants to make improvements. The darn things might be finished, but they’re never done. I live in hope of reaching The End and being able to say, yup, nailed it.

2. What are your writing fetishes, i.e. what can’t you write without?
My writing must-have is coffee. I think it’s more the ritual than the caffeine – sadly, my system is so saturated that the drink really doesn’t seem to offer any physiological effects other than a warm feeling as it goes down. Coffee eases me into the zone and provides breaks between scenes. I like to have music playing in the background when I write – something unobtrusive to set the mood – and I prefer the environment to be reasonably quiet and calm, but once the words are downloading, all that extraneous matter tends to fade away. When I finally do pop my head up, it can come as quite a shock to find the world has changed. There might even be a centimetre or two of cold coffee in the mug. On a more practical level, I need a keyboard, preferably a full-sized one with big backspace and shift keys, especially if I’m editing (my handwriting sucks). I like a hardcopy dictionary and thesaurus at hand. And I take a little comfort from having a figurine of Thoth on the desk, even if only because he’s got a bigger nose than mine.

3. Who’s your favourite fictional character?
I’ve been a big fan of Dracula ever since I read Stoker’s story in high school. The Gothic elements of the book hit a chord with me that’s still resonating, and the vampire himself is such a mighty villain. He’s strong, clever, mysterious, and his motivations are clear. He’s driven, outnumbered and anachronistic – he evokes a degree of sympathy as he does what he’s compelled to do. It’s hard to think of many other characters who throw such large, and enduring, shadows across the page. Batman is another; the parallels between the two are obvious, the line between villain and hero delightfully grey.

4. I hate being a writer when …
I hate being a writer when the story doesn’t work. Cool characters – check. Pretty scene – check. But what the hell does it all mean? Worse still, is when there is no story. I hear about a wicked anthology being put together and I’ve got nothing – nothing. I hate that. A writer, I tell myself, should be able to grab a theme and run with it – voila! Story on demand. If only. The blank page is a lonely place to die.

5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or danishes?
Donuts. Keep ’em simple, maybe add some nuts if they’re covered in icing or chocolate. 

He doth blog here.

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