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BookLore Interview
Nick Sagan

1. Idlewild is an excellent debut novel. Did you just sit down and write it or has it been a while in the making?

Thanks! It spent a long time percolating in my head as I worked on other projects, but when I actually sat down to write it went rather quickly.

2. What books have influenced you?

Too many to count, but the ones I remember best tend to paint the world as a place full of wonderful and terrible secrets. Susan Cooper's "The Dark is Rising" series, Roger Zelazny's "Amber" series, books of Greek, Norse and Egyptian mythology, the stories of H.P. Lovecraft.

3. Idlewild is a mixture of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Techno Thriller and good old Whodunit, leaving the reader guessing to the end… which Genre would you class as your favourite?

That's a nice compliment and if you looked at my bookcase, you'd see selections from each of those genres along with no small amount of horror and hard boiled detective fiction. Of them all, I probably skew most toward dark fantasy, but I'll happily read anything that engages and surprises me.

4. Although the basic ideas in Idlewild are not new the mixture is brought together very well. What was your main influence?

Well, I’d been thinking about the nature of education in the future. And I’d been daydreaming about mythology, drawing up a new pantheon of gods. Somewhere along the way, I started making connections between kinds of gods and cliques from school. A jock and a god of war? A “brain” and a goddess of wisdom? A goth and a god of death? Out of that student-deity fusion came my characters. Before I knew it, I was writing.

5. What is your favourite colour?

It's a tie between orange and black. Not terribly surprising for an author who nicknamed his protagonist "Halloween."

6. Are you a sports fan?

I'm an NBA fan. If I had height and/or game, I might have pursued a career in basketball. Since I have neither, it's a writer's life for me.

7. What five items would you put in a time capsule to be opened in a thousand years?

Why, do you think anyone's going to be here in a thousand years? Okay, assuming that someone will... you know, I once had an application for prep school that asked this very same question. Back then I listed Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," but I can't remember what else. Today, I think I'd preserve the starting line-up of the 1996 Chicago Bulls. I can't imagine any problems a thousand years from now that a good triangle offence can't fix.

8. Many people read while listening to music. What would you say would go well with Idlewild?

I'd try playing some futro-classical industrial neck beat for the first 200 pages, and then a bit of dirty trance-national blues garage for the rest. Or maybe William Hung's rendition of "She Bangs." Just kidding. Anything dark, rebellious and angsty is a good match for Idlewild, so I'd recommend grunge, post-grunge, industrial, anything along those lines. Which isn't to say you couldn't enjoy it just as much with, say, Mozart or the Rolling Stones.

9. Which film should win ‘Best Picture’ at the Oscars this year?

I don't know about "should win" because I haven't seen all the films. But as a longtime Tolkien fan, I was happy to see "Return of the King" take it.

10. What is your favourite film?

Oh, I don't want to have to choose. Here are ten to randomly throw a dart at:

A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Goodfellas (1990)
Kumonosu jô (1957)
Le Loctaire (1976)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Sid and Nancy (1986)
The Long Goodbye (1973)
The Servant (1963)
Time Bandits (1981)

11. Have you read any of the crossover children’s fiction such as J K Rowling (Harry Potter) and Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials)?

I haven't yet had the pleasure. Both have been recommended to me, and I'm particularly eager to start The Pullman series.

12. If you were to participate in ‘Book Crossing’ which title would you leave and where would you leave it?

I'd take copies of "The War Between the Pitiful Teachers and the Splendid Kids" by Stanley Kiesel and leave them anywhere impressionable minds could find them.

13. What do you think of the renewed interest in space exploration (the planned missions to The Moon and Mars)?

I'm not so sure what we can get from going back to the Moon, but I think a manned mission to Mars could be terrific, not only for what we could learn, but as a way to unite and inspire people all around the world. It's high time for this; we've been stuck in low-Earth orbit for far too long.

14. Who is your style icon?

You mean, who do I think is the coolest cat in the room? Among SF writers: Neil Gaiman. In general: Larry Fishburne.

15. Which piece of art would you most like to see?

I'd like to read the first novel written by a true artificial intelligence. Just a matter of time until that happens, and I want to see if it plays out anything like Roald Dahl's "Great Automatic Grammatizator" or Fritz Leiber's "The Silver Eggheads."

16. Can photography be described as art?

Absolutely. I defy anyone to say Diane Arbus wasn't a wonderfully talented artist. Or Sebastiao Salgado. Both have done such powerful work.

17. What is your favourite way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

Answering questionnaires! Failing that, I'd like to be feverishly writing something I'm passionate about, and if not that then just spending time with friends and family.

18. Which would you rather own, a Ferrari or an original Shakespeare folio?

That's a hard choice because honestly I don't think I'd want to own either. With the Ferrari I'd be too tempted to open it up on the highway and I'd probably get myself into an accident, and the Shakespeare folio would just torture me because I'd want to read it but I wouldn't want to risk damaging it by turning the pages.

19. What is your favourite food?

Spicy Thai lemongrass soup.

20. What is your preferred movie-viewing snack food?

Nestlé Sno*Caps® when I was younger, but these days I usually just sneak a thermos of coffee into the theatre.

21. How do you write? Straight to computer or sketched ideas with pen and paper?

Both, because when I'm blocked with the one, I sometimes get unblocked by trying the other. And I try to always carry a recorder with me, so if a thought hits me when I don't have paper or keyboard with me, I can preserve it before it flies out of my head never to return. It's a habit I picked up from watching my dad work on his books; he never went anywhere without a recorder.

22. Do you have plans for further novels?


23. If so will you do a follow up to Idlewild or something new?

I'm just finishing a sequel to Idlewild by the name of Edenborn. It's coming out in the fall. Together, they're the first two books in a trilogy. When the third book's done, I'll take a breather to figure out what I want to do next.

To finish this exhaustive list of questions and complete your detailed psychological profile please confirm your favourite actress.

Two of the best performances I've ever seen: Émilie Dequenne in "Rosetta" and Ellen Burstyn in "Requiem for a Dream." But favourite actress overall? Let's go with Nicole Kidman. Between "The Hours," "The Others" and "To Die For" she's pretty tough to beat.

by Chrissi and Nigel - 3rd March 2004

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