Monday, September 28, 2020

Nathan Makaryk

Nathan Makaryk is the author of Nottingham, and a theater owner, playwright, director and actor, living in southern California. None of these pay very well, so he also has a real job teaching audio systems networking software to people who have no idea he's also a novelist and theater guy. He likes dogs and scotch because of course he does.

Makaryk's new novel is Lionhearts (the second installment in the Nottingham series).

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I think most people are familiar with King Richard the Lionheart, but the plural Lionhearts opens it up to a bit of intrigue. Just like I’ve done with many Robin Hood tropes in the previous book, this book deconstructs the trope of King Richard swooping in to save the day, and takes a hard look at what it takes for a person to call themselves a “Lionheart.” It’s also a hopeful and uplifting word … and then halfway through the book, an entirely new definition comes into play which hopefully changes the reader’s take on what the title actually means.

What's in a name?

Well, many of my character names are dictated by Robin Hood folklore or by history, so sometimes my job is just to create nicknames to distract you from the fact that almost everyone in Medieval England was named “William”! Other than that, I’m a fan of shortening archaic medieval names to something more accessible: I have a fussy, educated man named Quillen who goes by Quill, and an enraged, grieving father named Beneger, who goes by Ben. I think short names or nicknames help a modern reader feel a bit more personally connected to each character, and I prefer them to historically accurate names like “Æthelred.”

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

He’d simply be shocked that it exists at all! I grew up loving books but I always assumed you had to dedicate your life to “becoming a writer” to get published. It wasn’t until a friend of mine published a book that I realized, “Wait, we’re allowed to do that?” Don’t get me wrong, it still took years of hard work – but it’s possible to accomplish it “on the side” without going to some theoretical Writer University to get your Official Writer Degree.

 Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Oh I’ve never changed either. I can’t fathom writing a book if I don’t have a specific story I want to tell, and that means knowing exactly where it starts, how it ends, and each of the critical tentpole events in between. I’m definitely not a “pantser”, who feels it out as they go. For me, it’s only the connective tissue that ever changes: finding stronger ways to get from point A to point B, or adding obstacles to raise the stakes. Frankly, the idea of “alternate endings” in movies drives me crazy: if the plot and recurring themes aren’t all driving towards a specific, poignant conclusion, then what was the point in telling the story?

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I think every author puts pieces of themselves into the main characters, even if it’s something small. For me, most of my characters are fairly analytical, and make their decisions based on logic rather than those pesky emotion things. In fact, I’ve found the best way to send the plot off the rails is to let a character react emotionally instead of rationally, which introduces all the twists and turns you need to make obstacles for your characters.

 What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

I get most of my inspiration from things I hate, so it would be ungentlemanly of me to list them here. Particularly in movies, when I see plot holes or unrealistic twists, it just sets my mind churning on how to improve that story and what the ramifications would be if the storytellers actually abided by their own rules. That’s why I like to deconstruct tropes and stereotypes in stories like Robin Hood, and build a new version that’s familiar but far more realistic.
Visit Nathan Makaryk's website.

The Page 69 Test: Lionhearts.

My Book, The Movie: Lionhearts.

--Marshal Zeringue