Author Q&A: Nick Antosca (The Obese)

Nick Antosca with cutout of Stephen KingNick Antosca is the author of The Obese, Midnight Picnic (winner of a 2009 Shirley Jackson Award) and Fires.  He’s written for n+1, The Paris Review, Hustler, Nerve, and some other places.  He also writes for the MTV show Teen Wolf.  He was born in New Orleans.

In what way do you think literature has the ability to change the way people live their lives?

The best is when you start narrating your own life in the voice of a book in which you’ve recently lost yourself. Which is to say I guess literature can cause you to look at your life through different lenses.

What was the last book you gave as a present?

Probably A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter.  (That’s not counting books I gave away because I didn’t like them.)

What is the best sentence you’ve ever written?

I have no idea.

What’s the best sentence you’ve ever read?

I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s by Nabokov or Salter.  I don’t think this is the one I’d choose to answer your question even if I were going to choose just one, but “Nothing is safe except for an hour” came to mind.  That’s from Salter, I think a story in the collection Dusk.

Describe your writing routine.

It depends what I’m writing.  Here’s a generic description though: Turn off the internet and activate the program “Freedom” which actively blocks the internet.  Then open a Word document and stare at it for a while.  Make an outline, or consult if it already exists.  Begin to write, straying a little from the outline.  Get to 500 or 1000 words, get excited, get lost, eventually get burnt out.  Go make eggs.

Do you ever listen to music when you write? If so what’s on your ideal playlist?

I don’t, not that much.  Sometimes I listen to the soundtrack from “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” if I’m writing something that suits its haunting mood.  That might be the best film score I’ve ever heard–ever.  Sometimes if what I’m writing has a faster pace, I’ll listen to Pet Shop Boys’ “It’s A Sin.”  I’ll also listen to the soundtrack of “The Fountain” and the soundtrack to “Tron: Legacy.”  Great soundtracks.

Which inspires your writing more: beauty or controversy?

Neither.  Conflict inspires it.  (Not me fighting with someone else, but me imagining two characters in conflict or a character in conflict with some thing.)  Beauty doesn’t inspire me to write much, because what are you going to write.  “It was beautiful.”  How many different ways can you describe beauty?  The desire to create a beautifully crafted story is something, I guess.  But that’s a different kind of beauty.  At that point, we’re just talking about ambition.

Best bookstore you’ve ever been to?

Rare Science Fiction.  It’s in Santa Monica (I live in West Hollywood) and it’s awesome.  I was there just the other day.  Here’s a picture of me there.  And Wonder Book in Frederick, Maryland, because I used to go there when I was a kid.

What historical literary destination would you most like to visit?

Anywhere Nabokov lived.  Anywhere James Salter wrote about in There & Then.

Is Facebook good for you?

No.

What about Amazon?

I don’t know, but I definitely use Amazon all the time.  Say what you want, but it’s fucking convenient, it’s cheap, and I can get any book I want FAST.

Do you own an e-reader?

No, but I’m sure I will eventually.  I’m not an early adopter when it comes to technology.  I have a Blackberry.

Which will last longer: cable TV or the printed word?

I don’t know.  I don’t think one will outlast the other.  I write books and I write for cable TV.  I was on the writing staff of the next season of MTV’s Teen Wolf.  I like them both.  I read a lot of books and I watch a lot of TV (hey, it’s my job).  Right now I regularly watch Luck, Justified, The Walking Dead, Spartacus, I Just Want My Pants Back and some others.

What non-literary profession would you find most compelling to pursue?

Wealthy recluse.  Medical guinea pig.  You know, I really can’t imagine what else I’d like to do.  I had a day job for almost five years, at a financial firm in New York.  It sucked.

What is one of your vices?

The internet. Baths. Heroin.

What is one of your prejudices?

I don’t like dancing. It should be banned. Banned!

Favorite books of the past few years?

Recently I loved You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik, The Devils of Loudoun by Aldous Huxley (republished), Towelhead and The Brutal Language of Love by Alicia Erian, Last Night by James Salter, House of Holes by Nicholson Baker, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis, Feed by MT Anderson… I don’t know, a lot of these aren’t even recent, I just read them in the last few years.

Favorite word?

Verb.

Read more from Nick Antosca:

Nick Antosca’s blog

“Mammals” (a short story)

“Amphibian” (a short story)

The Obese
by Nick Antosca
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