A “Good Morning” Talk

Questioner: Good morning, Mr. Nello.

[Early morning today. Hertfordshre, England. Photo by me, 2018.]

Nello: Good morning. Wow, that was surprisingly civil. But I suppose it won’t last…

Q: What do you mean? I’m quite civil.

N: No, I mean me.

Q: [Looks to camera.] It has been some time since Mr. Nello was interviewed… lightheartedly by HIMSELF. [Looks back to Mr. Nello.] I know tomorrow is the third anniversary of your mother’s death. You feel up to this?

N: Of course. My mother enjoyed a good laugh. She had a wicked sense of humor.

Q: So, we will carry on then. Is your chair comfortable?

N: It’s fine. Believe me, if she’d ever known I was interviewing myself on the net, she’d never let me forget it. Hey, as I’ve told you before, you do know that if Marjorie Paillon from France 24 were doing this interview with me, there would at least be wine on the set.

[Photo by me, 2018.]

Q: I know. But wine? It’s not even 9am!

N: What do you call that?

Q: It’s water. Try some. It’s better for you.

N: Says who? You? You can be such an American. I’ve written novels. What have you done? Okay, if there isn’t gonna be wine, how about a coffee?

Q: That’s fine.

N: By the way, how’s my obnoxious, smug author act going? More convincing than it was?

[Photo by me, 2018.]

Q: Not really. Hold it. Where the heck did you get that mug?

N: Over in France.

Q: Yeh, of course. Why did I even bother asking?

N: It’s not my fault if you don’t get out enough.

Q: I get out enough. Your books…

N: Oh, a few weeks ago, CNN’s Hala Gorani “liked” an Instagram comment of mine…

Q: Wow, I like her.

N: She’s a superb reporter.

Q: [Sigh] Okay, we agree on that. Now, let’s just get here quicker, please. To your three novel compilation that will be out shortly.

N: [Ahem] It will make a great Christmas gift. 🙂

[The Three Novels in One Volume. Paperback only.]

Q: Incidentally, if you would have finished your new novel by now, you’d have had a new one out for this Christmas.

N: I couldn’t.

Q: Why not? Blogging? Instagram?

N: No. I needed a break after Conventions: The Garden At Paris. If you actually had read it…

[Photo by me, 2018.]

Q: Uh, well…

N: …and if you had finished it, you would understand why I needed a year or so to clear my head. It was my first writing slow down in over five years. I wanted carefully to consider the next book.

Q: Readers are always looking for the new…

N: Don’t you think I know that? But authors of serious fiction can’t just roll them out to order for the holiday season. I’m not Sears… oh, wait, that may not have been the best comparison.

Q: Well, some authors do…

N: Yeh, if they’re writing tripe. Or aren’t really trying something new. Or they’ve got grad students or ghost writers.

Q: Ouch.

[Atlantic Lives, on Amazon Kindle.]

N: I don’t really expect many actually to buy the compilation in paperback. I’m realistic. The original three books are far less expensive on Kindle and on other e-book platforms. I’m thinking I may autograph compilation copies. Ya can’t autograph a Kindle. I haven’t worked it all out just yet. My uncle used to autograph books, but I never really have. My signature isn’t worth anything…

Q: But if you ever become really famous, it will be.

N: So then in not having done it often, my signature will be worth all the more to someone then someday. No? I should probably be dead by then anyway. My uncle was legit famous while living. You know, he appeared on Oprah – more than once. And on Phil Donahue… but no one really remembers Donahue. Crazy liberal. And I’m here with you…

Q: …Yeh, another crazy liberal, me. To the compilation again. Nothing supernatural in them? No “wonder women?” No people in bear skins waving swords and seeking magic rings in foggy mountains in some place that sounds vaguely Scandinavian that’s actually filmed in Belfast?

N: Well, no. But they do have Frenchwomen.

Q: Hmm, I don’t know I’d call them supernatural…

N: You ever dated one?

Q: Uh, to someone unfamiliar with the novels, the actual storyline…

N: …I also tried to write the books as deliberately “readable.” I wanted them to be serious but also page turners, and also to be accessible for non-native English speakers. I think they have a rhythm. Reading, to me, is rhythmic. I’m not a poet. It’s not music I know, and I’m not Sinatra, but I try to write with a bounce. A cadence. I try imperceptibly to coax a reader on. I know if I’m reading and I feel bogged down, that’ll lose me as a reader.

Q: You’re losing me there a little. The story?

N: Oh, don’t tell me you have a Twitter-level attention span now too? What we artists have to put up with these days. I was getting here! I based the tale on family and college and post-college experiences. The story is meant to be about students and travel and adulthood suddenly hitting. I’ve learned in the last couple of years since I wrote them that they may fall into some new reading category that comes after Young Adult. It’s apparently something called New Adult? Meaning protagonists of up to about age 30 or so. Someone actually came up with that idea. Thomas Jefferson wrote the American Declaration of Independence at age 33. Think about that for a second. Was he a “new adult?” [Shrug.] Hey, that’s the 21st century publishing biz. I finally can say: “I’m in a category! That shelf! New Adult! Yay!”

Q: They do seem readable novels, and the characters certainly aren’t mostly kids or teens. And you do seem to like short paragraphs. Unlike your interviews. Geez, sometimes you do so go on. Take a breath…

N: Look, I may go on here in writing because I’m not very good at public relations. I’m fundamentally more an introvert. I prefer to communicate by writing and not, say, by telephone, which is a “classic” introvert tendency. I’m actually rather shy. I’ve taught “100 student” poli sci lectures of 18-21 year olds, but I can’t imagine ever doing a “book reading” of mine in, say, a bookstore. But on here, writing, I can relax and talk about my books and related things and reach many more people than I ever could in meeting them in bookstores.

Q: Have you thought about audio books? They are becoming big.

N: I’ve considered it. But I would never subject you to my reading aloud for 400-500 pages. Dear God. No one deserves that. Not even you.

Q: People listen to books in cars and on trains now. And on their phones…

N: I’ve thought about using others voices perhaps someday. People who have trained voices. But I don’t believe audio books are actually “reading.” In case you haven’t noticed, it’s not reading. It’s listening. It’s essentially radio.

Q: So next you are…

[New tentative cover for Tomorrow The Grace. Click to expand.]

N: …Yes, I’m working on a new novel of the late 18th century. You have no idea how complex writing an historical novel like Conventions, or this latest, is. I spent ages yesterday just trying to write a few paragraphs that include dialogue with “Admiral Nelson.” It should be out in 2019.

Q: Well, we’re pleased to hear that.

N: So there will be a new book next year. Now, lay off me, please. There always needs to be a “What’s Next.” Some new product. No one takes time to savor anything anymore.

Q: That coffee looks pretty good.

N: It is.

Q: [Looks to camera.] Have a good day, all of you reading this, wherever you are in the world. 🙂