Lots of people assume that all writers are English or arts majors. But this month’s Clark Writer of the Month is actually a Physics major who writes 300 words for his novel each day. He chats with Laura Barker about the inspiration for his novel, the struggles of writer’s block, and the fantasy genre. Read more below!
LB: So, tell me about the book that you’re writing.
NF: Well, I’ve attempted to write a couple of different books. I try to stay in the genre of science fiction/fantasy, and that hasn’t worked out for me in the past couple years. But the biggest part of a novel I’ve written was about a city where it’s legally required to wear a mask.
LB: Where did you get the inspiration for that?
NF: A bit of it came from Carnival, that whole celebration where people wear masks to celebrate gods and demons. Also Halloween. On a night like Halloween, you have this whole ambiguity of not knowing who people are, it’s this whole extra layer to people. Everyone is always wearing a mask everyday, but on Halloween when people are wearing actual masks, they become a little bit more themselves, I think.
LB: How far are you into that book?
NF: I wrote about three quarters of it, and I haven’t written in it for a couple months because I got kind of tired with it.
LB: It’s hard when you get to the roadblock where you don’t know what to do next.
NF: I really like starting projects. Those first 10,000 words are awesome.
LB: That’s the fun part!
NF: And then it’s like “Ugh, I have to actually develop these characters, I just can’t introduce new characters to solve these problems.” That’s the difficult part.
LB: You told me earlier you write about 300 words a day. How do you get that done when you’re also a student, a Residential Advisor, and working your new job in the Physics department?
NF: I can probably write a decent 300 words in about ten minutes to a half an hour. I tend to do that at night.
LB: Is that your best time for writing?
NF: No, but it’s when I have free time. During the day, it’s mostly class and work.
LB: So, you’re a Physics major, and most writers I know tend to major in English or the arts. Do you think your major influences your writing at all?
NF: Actually, I was originally planning on being an English major. I went to school in upstate New York before transferring to Clark. I went there intending to be an English major. I took a physics course, because I really liked physics in high school, and the professor there, Ted Allen, was an amazing professor. He really inspired me and peaked my interest in physics. I continued on that path, and here I am.
LB: Did you ever consider doing a minor in English?
NF: I was planning on double majoring, but that turned out to be much too much for me. The way I thought about it was that I can’t be a physicist and have an English degree, but I can be a writer with a physics degree. I can do both because I’m passionate about writing, regardless of what profession I’m in.
LB: Who are your favorite writers?
NF: I really love Neil Gaiman. I’ve read all his books, all his short stories. Also Kurt Vonnegut. I wish I had more time for reading.
LB: I have one more question: Game of Thrones. What are your thoughts on it?
NF: I love the books. I read all the books, and only watched up to season five of the show because I didn’t want spoilers. But George R.R. Martin took like six years for new books to come out, so I decided to watch ahead and it was tremendous. But I really liked the books, even though they dragged in parts. It’s like reading Lord of the Rings, because you have to take time to understand the lore. It’s a commitment.
LB: The books had a ton of description. Did you like that or feel more bogged down by it?
NF: I like the description, I like understanding the world, but I also believe in ‘less is more.’ I think that you should give them just enough to let the reader create their own universe.