Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester welcomes Errick A. Nunnally, author, artist, and all around interesting person to our blog spotlight! Errick has short stories published in Doorways to Extra Time, Wicked Seasons, Inner Demons Out and more. He also has a comic collection Lost in Translation. His debut novel, Blood for the Sun, is set for release from Spence City in 2014.
Welcome, Errick! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?
I’ve been crafting stories since I was about ten years old. Without any guidance or examples during my life, I didn’t honestly begin pursuing my passion until several years ago. It was difficult righting the ship after making decisions that put me in a professional design career. All-in-all, I think I just enjoy creating stuff.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from Blood for the Sun?
I write about what I find entertaining and what I like most are sci-fi or horror thrillers, stories that can get your blood pumping that aren’t afraid of violence or gore. Since I’m a big fan of the modern paranormal tales, my book fits solidly into that category. There’s paranormal mystery, guns, fights, explosions, bloodletting, magic, shapeshifters, vampires, and more in my book. Also, I believe that there should be more diversity in genre work and I tend to write in the environments that I’m most familiar with. So you’re going to get characters of different ethnic backgrounds as well as gender. I’m not a huge fan of paranormal erotica, so although there is love and sex in my writing, it’s no the focus of the plot.
What kind of research went into writing this book? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
Big question! Looking into Native American and African American history on the North American continent was the biggest eye-opener. As much as I’ve enjoyed learning about history, it’s not something that’s very popular in the United States in general. Especially where it pertains to ethnic minority groups. There’s a few things I learned about coal mining in Canada that certainly didn’t make it into the book and some Mayan history that didn’t need to be included.
The touchiest research pertained to Native Americans. Waaaaay back in the late nineties, in art school, when I conceived the characters in my book, only Alexander, Ana and her sire/grandsire existed. They got their start as a three-page comic I painted for a school publication. The more I thought about the main character, Alexander—he’s a mix of African American and aboriginal—the more I wanted to know about the aborigines of America. There was a Wompanoag organization near the school, so I visited the place and received a cold reception for showing up. I couldn’t satisfactorily explain why I wanted to learn more or something. It was a circular conversation and an uncomfortable moment. What I took away from it was the enduring bitterness of at least this particular person from the grindstone of American history. Being a black guy from a poor neighborhood, I understood both the reasoning and the irony of the situation. It was something I would eventually infuse my main character with. Especially since he’s been alive since the late 1800s. I started to ask myself, “what would someone’s perspective on the historical ethnic tensions in the Americas be like, how would that mold their personality?” Eventually I settled on a group that had been prominent in the Saskatchewan province of Canada down into the northern part of midwestern America where Alexander’s mother would be from. His father was an escaped slave who had to take the hard route out of Louisianna, up the Mississippi to Canada.
What was the inspiration for Blood for the Sun? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
The inspiration to write the story came three ways: 1) comic artwork I’ve always loved, 2) somewhere between Nancy A. Collins’s Sonja Blue series and Laurell K. Hamilton’s early work with Anita Blake, 3) my wife’s encouragement. I had to write, write, write, and rewrite several times to get the book to a place I was happy with. After a few drafts on my own, I took a couple of writing courses with the Cambridge Center for Adult Education to work with other writers experienced and otherwise. Then I wrote it all over again, every time honing the characters and the plot, and reading, reading, reading.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
The Latina/Latino characters Maria and Barros. The latter is Mexican and more peripheral, but the former, Maria, is far more prominent and Puerto Rican. Growing up in Boston, there were a multitude of ethnicities around. As diverse as that might seem, everyone kept to their own neighborhoods. As much as I was able to experience these other people, there were precious few personal relationships. As a result, almost everyone can seem ridiculously foreign to me. While writing Maria, I didn’t need or want to wallow much in her ethnic background so much as I wanted to write a good female character. Still, I have to tread carefully with her cultural background.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
The excitement of an underworld and human beings infused with otherworldly energies. There seem to be two kinds of stories in this genre: ones that have a ball with action and ones that have a ball with sex. Mine is in the former and there’s plenty in between. It’s definitely an escapist genre, everyone reading this stuff probably has paranormal fantasies of one sort or another!
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Find time to write whenever you can. Find or create a writing group of peers who are honest enough to look critically at your writing. Put yourself out there and attend local writing/publishing events. The rest will fall into place.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
Definitely a sequel. And another after that. And another. I have several plots I want to execute and I need to travel to get ‘em right! For the second book, Alexander wraps up his time in Boston. Book three should see him in New Orleans for a terrifying time.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
I’m studying Krav Maga and Muay Thai kickboxing—something I’ve wanted to do for years. I should have my black belt sometime in the first few months of 2014. It’s an exhausting commitment on top of my work as a graphic designer and keeping up with my writing. God forbid if I should start illustrating again.
What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?
That I’m harmless. Usually.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
Silence! When there’s music playing, I can’t help but listen to it—especially if there are lyrics. My kids are super-distracting, I’m always a little paranoid and listening out for danger!
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
Expect the unexpected. Sometimes your work is accepted and sometimes it’s not. The chances that it’s personal are negligible unless you’re a raging asshole everywhere you go.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)—though they should totally check here first!)
The Amazon and Barnes & Noble web sites are the Alpha and Omega for all things book. Currently. I have an author page on Amazon (amazon.com/author/erricknunnally). Of course, there also is my publisher’s (Spence City/Spencer Hill Press) web site. I’d love to see more in brick and mortar book stores; we need that kind of commerce on the ground.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
My web site (erricknunnally.squarespace.com) and Twitter feed (@erricknunnally) are the best ways to stay abreast of my particular brand of idiocy. Really, I’m not that hard to locate on the Internet; no bizarre nicknames for me!
Thank you very much for joining us on the Author Spotlight, Errick!!