Nick Arvin is the award-winning author of the novel Articles of War, named one of the Best Books of the Year by Esquire, and the story collection In the Electric Eden. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he also holds degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan and Stanford, and has worked in both automotive and forensic engineering.
His new novel is The Reconstructionist.
From a Q & A at his blog:
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?Visit Nick Arvin's website and blog.
I’ve always loved to read novels and stories, since I was little. And if for anyone who reads a lot, it’s natural to think about what you would do if you were creating your own stories. The question is whether or not you take the next step and actually try to put those ideas down on paper. Me, I was bored one summer in high school, so I sat down and wrote out a couple of stories. Never looked back.
How long does it take you to write a novel? Short story? (Do you outline?)
When I’m writing, my concern is with getting it right – the sentences, the characters, the plot, and everything else. It’s my opportunity to be a total control freak. I don’t worry too much about speed or quantity, and as a result it takes a long time. I have a novel, The Reconstructionist, [now available], and I spent about six years writing it. My previous novel, Articles of War, took about three years. A short story might take two or three months to get to a point where I think it’s halfway decent, but then over the next few years I will pull it out again to tweak it or rewrite it. I recently published a short story in a literary magazine, and it’s a story I worked on now and again over the last six or seven years. (The story is called “Location,” and it’s about Denver real estate, which is my wife’s field. It’s in a magazine named The Normal School.)
I don’t outline, because when I tried it in the past, but I didn’t find it very helpful. I needed to know where the story was going in my head, and it didn’t seem to make much of a difference whether or not I wrote it down on a piece of paper. But I may try it again the next time I start a novel, because even by my own standards The Reconstructionist seemed to take an awfully long time to write, and I wrote an awful lot of pages for it that didn’t end up in the book. It’d be nice to...[read on]