Interview with Nathaniel Stewart

Where are you from?
I am from Maryland. I was born in Washington DC, but I grew up and lived in Clinton, Maryland until I was eighteen. Then after moving around the state a bit, my family finally settled in Waldorf, Maryland, and that is where they are currently based.
What inspired you to write your first book?
“The Last Alignment: Cry of the Scorpions” actually served as my senior thesis. My professor set the assignment for me to write a children’s book, so I started out writing something within that realm. But as I was writing, I found that I wasn’t enjoying it at all. I wasn’t excited about it and it felt more like homework than a display of creativity and talent. So without seeking permission from my professor first, I completely shifted gears and he got quite the surprise when I plopped the first draft of TLA:CotS down on his desk. At first I think he was shocked because he was expecting a kids book and got something that was very much young adult, and after a few days of fearing that he was going to hate it and make me go back to the original assignment, he surprised me and allowed me to go forward with it which inspired me and sparked the drive and desire to finally bring the series out of my head and into existence.

I came up with the idea for The Last Alignment Series when I was fifteen. Over the years I basically gathered information, came up with characters, plot points, concepts, etc., and after I decided that I wasn’t going to write a children’s book, I thought, “Why not?” I had enough information, I had enough of an outline and I had the plans, so why not finally start writing the story that’s been in the back of my mind for years now? It was awesome how it all came together in the end, and I’m grateful that I went with my gut and did what I wanted to do. I’m also grateful that my professor permitted me that freedom.
How did you come up with the title of your series?
As I mentioned before, I came up with the idea for The Last Alignment when I was fifteen, and I’m twenty-three now. In all that time I didn’t have a title though I came up with a fair few (some good, some not so good). Nothing stuck out or grabbed me, so I left it alone and just continued putting everything together. It wasn’t until I started writing the first chapter that there was a line that stuck out to me that one of my characters said, and it clicked. That’s how I chose “The Last Alignment” as the title for my series.
How much of your book is realistic?
I categorize my book as Young Adult/Fantasy, but I definitely wanted to make a point. For me, I think the realism comes from my characters. The way that they act, their personalities, and the things that they say and do is all extremely comparable to real life and real people. My characters are relatable in their thinking, in their expressions, and I think that a multitude of people can read my work and say, “Oh, I know someone that acts just like that,” or even find a bit of themselves. When I started writing the series, one of the goals was to have the fantasy bits be fantastical and to have the parts that didn’t involve anything supernatural to be lifelike and genuine, and I believe that is something that was accomplished.
Are there messages in your work that you want readers to grasp?
It was never my intention to have a bunch of themes and messages in my work; the goal was simply to entertain and produce the best story possible. But given the type of tale that I am telling, even I have gone back and read and picked up on things that I didn’t even know were there. Some say that you can tell a lot about an author just by reading their work, and I must say that I am surprised how certain things bled their way into my story. Perception is everything, and everyone perceives differently. Some things will be crystal clear and others quite opaque, but at the end of it all I hope that readers are able to be transported and get lost in my story. I think that’s all I necessarily want. Anything else is unintentional, but messages and motifs are still present and it will be interesting to see what is picked up on and what isn’t.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Other than the dry spell that every writer encounters, I think the main challenge for me is staying true to myself and my voice. I’m young, so in the beginning of this process I had doubts as to whether I had enough experience or developed my craft enough to where I had my own voice and style as an author. There are writers who don’t find themselves until much later in life, and while I know that as I go along and live life my writing style is going to evolve and change, I was very worried that my work would come across as me trying to emulate or sound like authors that I admire. But I trusted myself, I wrote what I wanted to write, said what I wanted to say, and I believe that my book is very much me and no one else.
What was the hardest part about writing "The Last Alignment: Cry of the Scorpions?"
The hardest part about writing my book was getting over the obstacle that is my own mind. This is my debut novel, so I stressed over everything from my use of certain language, to characters, to certain events, but this is where trusting yourself comes in to play. If you are afraid to take risks and express yourself as purely as you can, then that is when you mask yourself and your talent to try and fit in to something, and I didn’t want to do that. You only get one first impression and I let that get to me and pressure me at one point, but I got over it and knew that the best way for me to get through writing TLA:CotS was to allow my mind to flow and not have a filter.
How did you develop as a writer?
Writing is how I developed as a writer. The more you do it the better you get. Not only did I write on my own, but I also wrote with other people. A huge vehicle for me as far as my development has been online literary RPG (role playing) communities where you come up with characters and then you post from their point of view with other writers and their characters, and then you all work together to tell a story. I think it’s a fun way to sharpen your skills and practice your craft without realizing what you’re doing. It definitely helped me to figure out how to put myself into different mindsets in order to accurately and consistently portray characters, which was a priceless lesson learned.
Is there a specific time of day where you feel you write better?
Oddly enough, I do believe that I write better in the early morning hours, and by that I mean at three or four in the morning. There is just something about that time that really gets my mind going, and so if I’m running low on inspiration during the day I just wait, and that almost always works.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I’m not writing I enjoy reading (surprise), hiking, rock climbing, swimming, yoga, kayaking, camping, bowling, going to the movies, traveling, hanging out with friends, and all sorts of stuff. I’m definitely more of an outdoorsman, though.
What are you working on next?
At the moment, much of my focus has been devoted to the second installment of "The Last Alignment" series which is close to completion. There are a few short stories that I'm working on to accompany it as well just as "The Possession of Sarah Allis" accompanied "Cry of the Scorpions." I'm excited to release it and I can’t wait for readers to delve deeper into all the different aspects of this world that I’ve created.
Published 2014-03-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Possession of Mark Lyerly
Price: Free! Words: 3,900. Language: English. Published: August 27, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Fantasy » Dark
Mark Lyerly is at his lowest point. Unable to cope with his teen daughter’s death and the stress of the aftermath of her horrific and calamitous deed, he is ready to end his suffering. However, after two strangers mysteriously show up in his living room, he learns that he will indeed die, but not by his own hand or terms.
The Last Alignment: Evanescent Veils (Book 2)
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 107,410. Language: English. Published: November 19, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Fantasy » Dark
While Hudson, Androse, Zander, Natalye, and Awbrey are still reeling from the calamitous events that took place at Vancent E. Redding High School, Hektor is left with no choice but to start their training even before they come into their full powers as Wielders.
The Possession of Sarah Allis
Price: Free! Words: 3,950. Language: American English. Published: October 24, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
(5.00 from 1 review)
Sarah Allis had completed her duties as a den-mother for the day, but before she could make her way home she encounters a mysterious woman by the name of Lilait. Lilait has plans for Sarah, and an evening that started off sweetly ends in the unthinkable.
The Last Alignment: Cry of the Scorpions (Book 1)
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until Sep. 27!) Words: 60,610. Language: American English. Published: July 31, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
(5.00 from 1 review)
Hektor had been dead for fourteen years, and he believed that all the chaos that existed had died with him. And now, he has returned, and while he doesn’t know how he's found his way back to the land of the living, he recognizes that the situation is far more dangerous and hostile than before.