Interview with Nathaniel Kressen

What's the story behind your latest book?
My wife and I got engaged while taking a road trip around the U.S., staying in national parks. One of the parks we passed through was Craters of the Moon in Idaho, which really stuck with me. It's just black volcanic soil, rock formations that lead to nowhere. It's desolate and it's beautiful. It's a completely different world. Years later, when I realized I was writing a novel set in that pocket of the country, my wife and I returned there to live out of a campervan for a week. On average, we saw four shooting stars a night. We heard silence. Dahlia Cassandra is rooted in the details of that world. The novel never would have happened without that initial glimpse.
What is your writing process?
I'm pretty analog, I still have a flip phone. To that effect, I write everything by hand first in a notebook -- or occasionally on a ripped-up paper bag. Then I transcribe everything into a word doc, revising as I go without necessarily thinking about it. Then I'll print out the pages, read them over, cross out huge sections and write them by hand again. I'll go through that cycle over and over again until the rhythms start to feel right and I stop changing words. If I start obsessing over a comma, I know I'm done. At a low estimate, I'd guess that every sentence in Dahlia Cassandra was written by hand at least four times.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, I'm an emotional mess. It's better for my wife, my dog, my cats, my friends, and generally everybody else in Brooklyn if I'm actively pursuing the next big project.
Describe your desk
My desk is whatever surface in my Brooklyn apartment is currently unoccupied by cats. Typically, the cats arrive within minutes. I'm still confused as to how I've written two novels.
What do you read for pleasure?
Slim volumes of experimental lit and poetry. Helps to jog my head loose.
Who are your favorite authors?
I'm a fan of craft, truth, momentum, and guts. Books that are stripped bare of pretense and try something completely new. To that effect, there have been writers in every genre have touched & inspired me. Among the established greats are Rudolph Wurlitzer, Sam Shepard, & Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Some incredible indie authors on the upswing are Dallas Athent, Melissa Hunter Gurney, and my colleagues in the Greenpoint Writers Group. Read some of their stuff at greenpointwritersgroup.org -- they'll be household names before long.
What are your favorite books, and why?
Nog by Rudolph Wurltizer -- So outlandish and unexpected, it taught me what a novel could be.
One Hundred Years of Solitude -- Full of magic and sexy as all hell. A perfectly made piece of literature.
How do you approach cover design?
I married my illustrator, the incredibly talented Jessie T. Kressen. I'd recommend every author do the same.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Book marketing is a funny thing, I'm not convinced even the big publishing houses have it figured out. With my books Concrete Fever and Dahlia Cassandra, the sales have come not from any huge push online or print, but rather because my wife and I focused at the outset on creating a physical art object that would draw the attention of readers in a bookshop. The cover looks good, the paper stock feels good, and we priced it low compared to other paperbacks. Marketing is usually geared around a book's release, and that timeframe is relatively short. It's more important to invest time and funds in creating a book that will continue to generate sales on its own merits long after its release.
How has community played a part in your writing?
Community is huge for me, as I think it must be for most writers. It's important to have colleagues facing the same struggles, experiencing the same setbacks and triumphs. We're all searching in the dark without a compass, and it's tremendously important to have eyes on your work to help you reach that destination. For my part, I facilitate the Greenpoint Writers Group -- the resident writing collective of WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn. Anyone interested in how the group operates can visit greenpointwritersgroup.org. I also curate a reading series called The Loaded Canon at Brooklyn Oenology, which combines raw unpublished work with high-end wine & cocktail pairings. It's important to keep things fun.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
A penchant for going the DIY route when traditional paths take too long.
Published 2016-10-18.
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Books by This Author

Dahlia Cassandra
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 66,090. Language: English. Published: October 18, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
A pair of teenage siblings are abandoned on an Idaho farm where nothing will grow. The arrival of two strangers awakens new thoughts and desires, leading to an unthinkable act of passion that sends the pair spiraling apart. From the author of Concrete Fever comes a haunting, heartfelt novel about faith, fantasy, and the emptiness that resides within all of us and the things we do to fill it.
Concrete Fever
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 51,190. Language: English. Published: January 22, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Literature » Literary
On the night he decides to jump off his Upper West Side rooftop, a prep school teen encounters a lost girl dancing on the ledge. They split cigarettes, spill secrets, and hatch an unexpected plan: to play out a romantic relationship over the course of one night, and discover whether magic can truly exist. “A Manic Must-Read About Love and Loss” – Literary Man