Interview: Nathan Balyeat

We continue our interviews from Keen Edge of Valor with the FNG, Nathan Balyeat. He was one of our four finalists for the FantaSci contest, so clearly I really enjoyed his story, especially the twist at the end.

This is, by the way, his first published story, and it better darn well not be his last.

Nathan Balyeat

  1. Why are you here? This includes influences, favorite creators, steps along the way, and dreams down the road.

I’ve always wanted to be an author, but in a classic act of self-sabotage over many years, I have been my own worst enemy. I’ve had a legitimate hesitancy to put words on a page because there’s no way that it would ever be as good as the authors that I love.

But over the years, I’ve spent time with the authors that I love, and they’ve been nothing but encouraging about doing it. Their consistent advice?  Just do it.

So, I did. Special thanks to Chuck Gannon, Kevin Ikenberry, Jason Cordova, Mike Massa and you, Rob, for the encouragement.

I could list a dozen favorite authors and have a different reason for why they are my favorite, but I’m honestly over the moon to be in the same anthology as one of them, Glen Cook

Right now, I’m focusing most of my writing efforts on a science fiction novel and series inspired by the life of William Marshal.  I do plan on continuing to do short stories set in the Five Kingdoms and the world of the Fellblade as well.

  1. Describe your great Lab of Creation? This includes where you work, what do you listen to (if anything), things you have to have in your work environment, and stuff you’ve tried that haven’t worked.

The biggest challenge to productivity for me if finding somewhere to write that isn’t my desk at home. I have an amazing setup, but I find there’s too many things demanding my attention and that I’m not able to easily switch my mental state from those things to the world in my head.

My best productivity is done with a cup of coffee and noise canceling headphones running a random playlist. There’s a handful of songs I have reserved for writing certain scenes, but telling you what they are might spoil a future surprise.

  1. What are your superpowers? This includes things you like your creations, specific techniques you do well, and some favorite successes.

I’m not sure that I’ve leveled up enough as a writer yet to have a specific style or something that I can claim that I do well.

I have spent my life studying history and got my degree in it, so I’d like to hope that I’m able to bring some of that to life without subjecting my readers to infodumps and walls of text.

  1. What will Lex Luthor use to defeat you? This includes challenges you’ve faced that frustrated you, learning experiences, techniques for overcoming creative challenges, things you’d have done differently, and advice for new writers.

As I mentioned before, I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to writing. There’s always this little voice that says “it’s too much work,” or “you’ll never be good enough.”

There’s an epic saga I’d like to tell at some point, and I’ve spent decades convincing myself that I’m not skilled enough to tell that story. I’m convinced that I’m right on that front.

So, I compromised with myself and am writing a another saga that’s not quite as epic first. I have a brute force approach to productivity right now where it’s a matter of just sitting down to do it.

Lightning Round
    • Actor/Actress You’d Like to Play Any Character You’ve Created: Charlie Cox would make a fantastic protagonist… might be taking some inspiration from him for another project.
    • Favorite Muppet? In my (very small) World of Tanks clan, I’m Sam the Eagle for being so serious. Really though, it’s Gonzo’s chickens.  Poor birds…
    • Favorite Musical Performer We’ve Never Heard Of?  Jain. She’s a French singer/performer, singing in heavily accented English, who spent a lot of time living in Africa.  She has a unique style, with catchy beats and upbeat lyrics and themes.
    • Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall? There’s a few weeks in the fall in the Midwest that are just about perfect.  You can keep the winters though.
    • Favorite Superhero? It has been Daredevil since I was a little kid.
    • Best Game Ever? The one that you’re playing with your friends.
    • Favorite 1970s TV show? M*A*S*H
    • Nathan's Support Squad
      Nathan’s Support Squad

      Do You Have Pets? (provide pictures if you want) I have three, large, healthy weight cats.  Hannibal (Grey and almost 20lbs), his littermate Murdock (orange and fluffy at 15lbs), and the new kid, Peanut that I rescued at 8 weeks old from a diner parking lot last year after two weeks of trying.  He’s trending to be around 18lbs, but is still growing.

    • Favorite Weird Color? French Blue
    • Best Present You’ve Ever Received? A set of carbon steel skillets.
    • Favorite Sports Team? Sadly, I’m a masochist here and continue to cheer for the Detroit Lions.
    • What Cartoon Character Are You? I identify the most with Frye from Futurama.
    • Your Wrestler Name? Bad Grammar
    • Your Signature Wrestling Move? The Plot Twist
    • What Do You Secretly Plot? The same thing we do every night, Pinky, to try and take over the world.
    • How Will You Conquer the World? By accident.
    • Best Thing From the 60s/70s/80s/90s? (pick your preferred decade) mp3s from the late 90s started making a lot of music that was out of print available again.  Those cassette tapes that I lost as a kid could be found once more online.  Now I can fit more songs than I can listen to in a year on a drive that fits in the palm of my hand.
    • Favorite Historical Period? Principate Rome, but I’m using 12th century England as an inspiration for my current project.
    • Person In History (Living or Dead) You Want To Hang Out With? William Marshal.  Coincidentally, from 12th century England.
    • Steak Temperature? Medium Rare
    • Favorite Chip Dip?  I don’t always dip my chips, but when I do they are corn chips and it is guacamole.
    • Beverage(s) of Choice? Coffee is kind of a requirement to stay functional and creative anymore, but for relaxation a well made rye old fashioned does the trick.
    • What Actor or Actress Should Portray You in Your Biopic? Nobody should be subjected to that script.
    • What Question Should I Add to the Lightning Round?  Favorite Dad Joke… mine is: “Why do seagulls fly over the sea?” Answer: “Because if they flew over the bay, they’d be bagels.”

Tell me again where we can find your stuff?

  • Keen Edge of Valor is my first published work. I have a very small, and temporary, blog at https://heavyweighsin.wordpress.com/.
  • You can also find me on the new Mythology Press Discord.

And where can we find you?

My 2022 convention plans include attending FantaSci in March and LibertyCon in June.  Let me know if there’s a good convention elsewhere I should attend.

Do you have a creator biography?

Nathan is a US Marine Corps veteran who is currently a project manager by day, historian by education, and writer because the voices in his head have become too loud to keep locked up anymore.  He currently lives in Michigan where he is working on more stories to share, including a science fiction series inspired by the life of William Marshal.

* * * * *

Just so there’s no confusion, if Nathan doesn’t come through with a fantasy adaptation of William the Marshal’s life, I’m gonna…

Well, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. Can’t kick him in the shins, he’s meaner and tougher than I am. Can’t insult him online, he’s my Pathfinder Gamemaster and I like my character. Can’t not offer him beverages, not in my nature, and besides, he’s actually a skilled mixologist so that wouldn’t be much of a hit.

But still, I wants it…

 

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