02 May 2006

Author Answers with Nick Sagan

This week's author in the spotlight is Nick Sagan. If the name Sagan seems familiar, it's because he's the son of astronomer Carl Sagan.

Nick Sagan has written screenplays, teleplays, computer games, a few episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager and is also a novelist. He's the author of Idlewild and Edenborn and his latest book Everfree hits stores on May 18. For more on Sagan, check out his website or his blog. There is an excerpt from Everfree on the website.

Where do you do most of your writing?
With the laptop, I'm capable of working just about anywhere. I'm sure I get most of the writing done within the home, but there are times when a change of scenery really helps.

While you write, do you do anything else?
I listen to music constantly. Satellite radio can stream through the laptop, which makes the writing process a little less lonely. Some writers find that music distracts them, but I find I often do my best writing with a song playing in the background. Especially one that speaks to the theme or subtext of what I'm writing at the time.

Why did you decide to be a writer?
At sixteen, I discovered videos of "The Prisoner," a strange and wonderful show from the 1960s. I'd never heard of it before, but from the first episode I was hooked. It was the first time I realized that stories can go beyond entertainment. Here was a show that while being wildly enjoyable on its surface, the deeper I looked the more I found. It operated on a variety of levels--social, ethical, even religious. I knew that was what I wanted to do. I found my way to film school and became a screenwriter, wrote screenplays and television episodes for many years, and three books have followed.

What author(s) inspire you?
Too many to list. Here's a few: Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Carroll, Chuck Palahniuk, Raymond Carver, Flannery O'Connor, Jack Womack, Susan Cooper, Stephen Baxter, John Scalzi, Carl Sagan.

How long did you have to work on writing until your first book was accepted for publication?
My first novel, "Idlewild," took me about nine months to write. After finishing, I was very fortunate: multiple agencies wanted it, and the one I went with sold it in about a month.

What made you keep working until it was done?
Curiosity. When I started writing it, I wasn't sure what it was. At first I thought it might be a screenplay, but it was coming to me as a book. I'd never written a novel before, but I liked how it was coming together, and I had to get to the very end to see what I had.

How did you feel when you first saw your name on the cover of a book?
Fairly amazed. It's also how I feel when I see my credit on a television screen. I have a disconnect where emotionally it seems that whatever I write exists only in the form I originally wrote it. So my latest novel, "Everfree," is to my sensibilities just a word processing file--it's a weird but deeply flattering feeling to see the finished project after it's been edited, typeset, printed, given a beautiful cover, etc.

If you actually had to live the life of one of the characters in your book(s), who would it be and why?
Well, the trilogy I've written (Idlewild, Edenborn, Everfree) follows humanity's last desperate efforts when confronted with a deadly pandemic. It's a story of survival, but as I tend to take my characters to hell and back I'm not sure I'd want to live any of their lives. If I had to pick one, I'd choose the protagonist, Gabriel "Halloween" Hall. He goes through enormous turmoil, but manages to stay true to himself the entire time. That counts for a lot in my book.

All the best,

Nick Sagan

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