Thursday, 5 January 2017

Interview with Nicholas Nash

My guest today is Nicholas Nash, the author of The Girl At The Bar, which I spotlighted last month.

Hi Nicholas, thank you for joining me today.
Would you like to kick off by telling us a little bit about yourself?
I live in New York City with my family. I work in the finance profession in the city. Writing has been a hobby of mine for a long time. I’ve been in New York City for over a decade now and I love every moment of it. That said, I travel to across the country for work and enjoy the different places, food and people everywhere I go.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I have always enjoyed reading thrillers and whodunit mystery books a lot. There were a couple of recent books and authors that influenced me to write this book. Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train was an interesting read in this genre, though I would’ve enjoyed the book if it had more characters in there. At some point, I was pretty sure I knew who the killer was and I had guessed correctly. Another influence has been the movie The Usual Suspects. If you read the book, you will see what I mean.

I also immensely enjoyed Andy Weir’s The Martian. When I found out that Andy was a first time writer but wrote about what he knew best, I was really inspired to follow in his footsteps and write about topics that I knew quite a bit about – cutting edge research for cancer.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
The most enjoyable thing about writing is weaving together interesting facts, life experiences and research on topics, each of which can be disparate, into a seamless story. I also enjoy interacting with readers, learning what they like, what they dislike and hearing from them.

What gets your creative juices flowing?
Reading a good book or books during the period of writing is very important for me. That keeps me inspired to write well. I also enjoy writing my book in different places. For example, during the summer, I take my laptop and pack some ice cream, yogurt and drinks and sit in a crowded park in New York City and write my book. You’d be surprised how much that helps with writing.

I also consume a lot of coffee when I’m writing to keep me alert and stimulated. I love coffee. You’ll notice a large number of references to coffee in The Girl At The Bar.

Walk us through a day in the life of Nicholas Nash
I write mostly on weekends. I start the weekend a bit slow after a grinding week of work or travel. I enjoy a good breakfast or head out for brunch to one of the many great eateries in New York City. I featured one such place that I frequent often, The Cookshop in Chelsea, in The Girl At The Bar.

I start writing early in the afternoon on Saturday and keep writing for as many hours as I can. I take a pause in the evening, spend time with my family and hit the gym typically for 30 to 45 minutes. Once I am back, I freshen up, grab some tea or coffee and continue writing till I can.

I more or less follow the same routine on Sundays, except I’ll go for a run in the evening. I run along the Hudson River next to the West Side Highway in New York City. I even put that as a setting in my book!

What inspired The Girl At The Bar?
I started writing The Girl At The Bar as a pantser, figuring out the story as I went along. After the first few chapters, I started plotting out the characters and story line.

I’ve always found the field of cancer research very interesting. There are so many new developments that the average person is not aware of. The biotech industry is enjoying its golden age in terms of finding modalities to cure cancer. I wanted to highlight some of that in my book while adding a human story around it.

I also enjoy reading mysteries a lot and hence decided to write one – one that I would enjoy reading. Blend all these elements and what do you get? A mystery thriller set in the backdrop of cancer research.

Did you use your personal experiences in your writing?
Yes, I do, a lot of it. I was attending a music concert by an indie band from New Zealand a few years ago in New York City and I met someone at the bar at the Bowery Ballroom and struck up a conversation there. The beginning of the book is similar where Ragnar meets the beautiful and talented Rebecca Chase at a bar. The title, THE GIRL AT THE BAR, is meant to signify the first meeting that sets into motion all the events in the book.

Tell us about the cover and how it came about.
My publisher at Fireflies Publishing helped a lot with the cover design. We came up with the idea together and used the help of a graphic designer to implement the idea. We worked with the designer and went through over ten rounds of changes before we settled on the final cover.

The cover is meant to reflect elements of the story – the disappearance of Rebecca Chase (hence the beautiful girl’s face fading away), cancer research (all the cancer cells in the background) and a sinister feeling (the bright red color for the cover).

For those of us who are thinking of reading your book, could you tell us what to expect?
If you enjoy reading thrillers such as The Girl on the Train (which I enjoyed a lot), I think you will enjoy this book. It is not similar, as I did not intend to copy Paula Hawkins. But what I did want to do was create a mystery thriller that keeps the reader wanting for more.

I wish I’d known … when I was younger. (fill in the blank)
I wish I’d known that I had it in me to write a book from start to finish when I was younger.

Here’s another take on it though.

I wish I’d known supermodel Helena Christensen when I was younger. :)

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Cooking. Maybe a cookbook should be next on my list.

What is your biggest fear?
Choosing the right topic to write a book about. The idea may sound great but when you sit to write it down, you don’t know till much later whether readers will enjoy reading this or not.

What is your favourite book?
I love reading books that have a large number of interesting characters and a large sprawling plot. There are a couple of books that stand out for me and meet these criteria.

The first one is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I first read this book as a young teenager and was taken aback at the length of the book and the sheer number of characters in the book with its various interwoven plots and sub-plots. I read the book again when I was a bit older. Even though its been over fifteen years since I last read this book, I still remember several characters distinctly and that says a lot about the book.

My second favorite book is the Pulitzer Prize winning The Prize by Daniel Yergin. The book traces the history of the oil and gas industry from the very first oil well ever drilled through the 1980s. The book describes several interesting historical figures in a great amount of detail. Each of these characters is treated as humans with a great amount of detail going into describing their actions and motives. An ambitious book, one that still fascinates me to this day.

There are a couple of multi-character movies that I really wish were books instead include Reservoir Dogs and The Usual Suspects. Could you imagine the book treatment of these movies?

What did you do this summer?
I visited Montreal and Quebec for the first time with my family this summer. Both the places are fantastic! We will definitely be going there again.

How did you celebrate last Halloween?
I took my family for a Halloween party close to my place. My kids dressed up as their favorite movie characters. The party was set up at a school like one giant haunted house. The kids absolutely loved it.

If you could invent a new flavour of ice cream, what would it be?
Jalapeno flavored maybe! Pretty sure that’s the only flavor that’s not an ice cream currently. I also like spicy food!

Who is your favourite actor of your own gender?
Tough to name one, but an actor I currently like whose career is still evolving and he takes on increasingly interesting roles I Michael Fassbender. I enjoyed watching my in Prometheus and am looking forward to in the next Alien move – Alien: Covenant

What gifts did you receive on your last birthday?
I love solving puzzles so my wife got me Einstein's Puzzle Universe: "Relatively" Difficult Riddles & Conundrums Inspired by the Great Scientist by Tim Dedopulos, which I am enjoying a lot!

Thank you for spending this time with us, Nicholas. Good luck with your book.

Nicholas can be reached at

Nicholas Nash's Website is currently under construction and will be ready soon:

Nicholas is holding a giveaway for everyone who pre-orders The Girl at the Bar

Pre-order from Amazon, Kobo and B&N

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