Please welcome Nadine Darling
to The Qwillery as part of the 2015 Debut Author Challenge
Interviews. She Came From Beyond!
was published on October 13th by The Overlook Press.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?
Nadine: My goodness, thank you so much for having me! I've always written, for as long as could actually write. My mom was a big reader; my first trip out was a trip to the library. I remember she and my sister discussing books and there was such an importance there, and I was very drawn to that, to how consumed they were by books. I remember my mom telling us the ending to Stephen King's Pet Semetary, for instance. I must have been all of six. And I still remember the ending, not reading it, but the way she described it. I had my little fan-fiction down, too, in middle and high school. I'm glad it doesn't exist anymore but it was super earnest. My Lost Boys fan-fiction. Young Guns. And years and years of Backdraft fan-fiction. Of course we didn't call it fan fiction then, and there was no real means to share it. I just thought I was a nerd. And, I was, really.
TQ: Are you a plotter, pantser or hybrid?
Nadine: I just go. I sit, I put on my music, and I get the words on the paper. I'll go back later and clean it up, but I am a big advocate for just writing whatever it is in an almost stream of consciousness way.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Nadine: Time. I have a one year old, a two year old, a six year old and four stepkids aged 12-19. Which is probably why I write the way I do, as though something is chasing me. I don't have the luxury of meandering through it.
TQ: Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?
Nadine: Lorrie Moore, Amy Hempel, Myfanwy Collins.
TQ: Describe She Came from Beyond! in 140 characters or less.
Nadine: Oh, gosh. "Dumbass falls in love. Plus movies. Good times. Oregon."
TQ: Tell us something about She Came from Beyond! that is not found in the book description.
Nadine: I will tell you something very special about it. Its publication date is the two year anniversary of my mother's death from a brain tumor. My editor told me October, and I looked at all the Tuesdays in October, one of which was the 13th. I thought, hmmm. And of course that was the date. Of course.
TQ: What inspired you to write She Came from Beyond! ?
Nadine: I was a short story writer, and I was interested in writing a novel because I didn't know if I could do it. I was afraid it would be choppy and that it would have no flow, so I just sort of took it chapter by chapter. I was as surprised as anyone! I wanted to write about being a stepmother because it's so strange, it's such a strange role to play. My stepkids have a mother and a father who are completely present and loving, so that makes what I do a sort of a glorified babysitting, kind of. At least when they were babies. Now we're friends. The evolution of it is very mysterious and beautiful. My relationship with my stepkids is incredibly complex and rewarding.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for She Came from Beyond! ?
Nadine: Not much. I wrote about things that I know a lot about- Oregon, bad movies, being pregnant, mental illness, being in love. It flowed fairly naturally.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Nadine: The easiest was Easy, the main character! She was me, in a lot of ways, with all her flaws and anxieties and the way that the things in her life were always reminding her of vague references from movies or songs, or whatever. My sister, Kelly, and I we have a Simpsons quote for everything. Everything. And if I'm alone and I can't tell anyone about it- that's the absolute worst! The hardest character was Harrison's- Harrison is the male lead- wife, Joan, because she was super complex, a character unlike any I'd ever met. She was patched together from different people, like my dad and my dad's dad and even myself. She's really smart and funny but she has limitations, and yet she's really honest about those limitations. I never knew what she was going to do from chapter to chapter, and she's absolutely nothing like my husband's ex-wife, whom I adore.
TQ: Which question about She Came from Beyond! do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Nadine: Well, hmmmm. I guess I'd like someone to ask about the writing of it, the finding of an agent, and the selling of the book, so I could tell them not to worry about it. It's scary, right? Sometimes people talk to me as though I've walked on the moon when they talk about publishing, and it's not like that because, at least for me, it happened very gradually. And it should be fun. There is rejection, and that part of it can be discouraging, but I completely believe that it's within reach. It's the old cliche: attitude is everything.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from She Came from Beyond!.
Nadine: I can't, I'm so sorry. I'd love to, but I don't actually have a copy of the book with me, or even a galley! The lines that I like, though, are the ones that I forgot I'd wrote that make me laugh. Sometimes I can see a little swagger in a line and I like that because I know that when I wrote it, I wrote for myself and not for effect or whatever. I like the section I wrote about the fictional Oregon town where the story takes place, Troubadour. The town is a character, always broke, always lovable.
TQ: What's next?
Nadine: Top secret! No, not really. A trilogy. Very cool. More about Troubadour. Maybe some character overlapping. I like easter eggs. I want people to read the new books and then go back to SCFB! and say, "wait a minute...."
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Nadine: It has been my pleasure! Thank you, again!
She Came From Beyond!
The Overlook Press, October 13, 2015
Hardcover and eBook, 272 pages
A darkly comic debut novel, a hilariously told story of love, attachment, anxiety, and nerd culture.
Easy Hardwick has it made. At just about thirty, she’s got a tumbledown cottage in small-town Oregon and an uncomplicated acting gig as the space-babe eye candy on a sci-fi parody show. She spends her downtime online, bickering with fans and fellow culture vultures about film trivia and relishing her minor-but-satisfying celebrity.
Enter Harrison. What begins as a jocular online flirtation spills into a messy IRL affair, and Easy finds herself pregnant with twins and sharing her home with the love of her life…plus the teenage daughter, baby son, and slightly unhinged, soon-to-be-ex wife she kind of didn’t totally know he had.
Easy may play a space ditz in hot-pants on TV, but her voice is restlessly intelligent, negotiating the absurdities of a world lived onscreen and online and striving to make sense of heady problems: love affairs, ex-wives, teen girls, eating disorders, and whether cannibalistic flies count as zombies. Like the captive great white shark that sets Easy’s story in motion, Nadine Darling’s writing has got teeth. Her pointed, precise dialogue, empathetic insights, and live-wire observations elevate this novel from zany domestic drama to outlandish comic masterpiece. She Came From Beyond! is an audacious, fresh debut from a writer to watch.
Nadine Darling's short fiction has appeared in Night Train, Edifice Wrecked, Eyeshot, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Per Contra. She lives in Boston with her family.Website