Friday, December 30, 2016

Author Spotlight ~ Nicholas Belardes

Author Spotlight

Nicholas Belardes

About the Author:

Nicholas Belardes writes fiction, essays and poetry. A ghostwriter for popular fiction, his debut essay collection is Ranting Out Loud: Life, Pop Culture & How We Sometimes Don’t Get Along. His work has appeared in Carve Magazine, Pithead Chapel, the Acentos Review, the Island Review, Memoir Journal, 826 Seattle’s What to Read in the Rain, Barrelhouse, Mission at Tenth, the Nervous Breakdown, Latino Rebels, the Weeklings, and others. He illustrated the New York Times best-selling novel West of Here, and is the author of the first original twitterature, Small Places, which has been talked about in the U.K. Guardian, Telegraph, Reuters, Christian Science Monitor, Wired, The Bohemian, and more. He’s contributed to CNN and other news sites, and once talked about red-haired witches on Coast to Coast A.M. with George Noory.

Nicholas currently lives in San Luis Obispo, California with his partner, writer Jane Hawley. Interviews and other requests: He tweets from @nickbelardes.

Social Media Links:

About the Book:

In his debut essay collection, Nicholas Belardes uses today’s pop culture and self-deprecating humor as a filter for discussing personal stories of family, writing, gender, art, and race. He dives into the Harry Potter play and discusses his cursed childhood home. He tells coming-of-age tales of Dungeons & Dragons and blames Stranger Things for jogging those hilarious memories. In great detail he describes how working for a cheesy Las Vegas animation company meant everything to a relationship with his dad. And he presents an unpopular artistic argument for how Tyrion Lannister of Game of Thrones may have ruined his life as a writer (not really). He gives you Star Wars and its weird connections to the Catcher in the Rye (as well as artistic expectations in education). In an essay about race he presents virtual universes, cowboy images of his racist dad, and odd choices of identity in Ready Player One. He even provides a layman’s guide for how to introduce someone to Star Trek while at the same time telling us that what we mimic might not be good for us. He also discusses miscommunication in the world in relation to writing the first original Twitter novel, Small Places. And finally, he describes how American numbness negatively affects the world of art. Belardes presents a side of our humanity working in tandem with pop culture. It isn’t always pretty, though it is hopeful, sometimes funny, and full of promise.


“Ranting Out Loud is binge-worthy essay reading. As immersed in pop culture as I am as a critic and entertainment journalist, I know that understanding personal bias is everything. Whether discussing Tyrion Lannister or Harry Potter, Californian Belardes digs deep into his own twisted psyche to deep read the pop culture that oozes around us, finding depths in the shallows, and shallows in the depths.” —Thelma Adams, author of The Last Woman Standing, Playdate, and frequent contributor to the New York Observer and Variety.

“A refreshingly honest love-hate letter to pop culture. Nicholas Belardes doesn’t try to pretend that our tech and media obsessions can either be reduced to guilty pleasures or influential icons of our time. Instead, with sharp and brutal introspection, he delves into what the shows, movies, novels, politics and tweets that consume him say about him, and causes us to do the same.” —Natalia Sylvester, author of Chasing the Sun

“David Foster Wallace meets Hunter S. Thompson in this ode to the triumphs and defeats of pop culture. Belardes might be the most informed, intelligent and hilariously iconoclastic guide we’ll ever have to help us bridge the digital divide. Who else dares talk about Dostoevsky in the same breath as Winona Ryder? In Belardes’s nimble mental meanderings, we find Rilke alongside Sam the Mattress Man, Knossos alongside Las Vegas. Even as he is telling us everything we always wanted to know about Holden Caulfield and Luke Skywalker but were afraid to ask, Belardes’s underlying message becomes increasingly clear: art has been dumbed down, artifice is everywhere, and we no longer know what “real” is. “We. Can’t. Feel.” Belardes says, but he’s no misanthrope, and in these essays, we find ourselves in the astute and tender company of someone who loves the world.” —Kim Barnes, author of In the Kingdom of Men

“Nicholas Belardes has incisively given the world a stellar debut collection of essays.” —Caroline Leavitt, NYT best-selling author of Cruel Beautiful World, This is Tomorrow, and Pictures of You

“. . . reads like a love letter to pop culture—I couldn’t get enough. Belardes’ essays are addictive: you finish one and can’t wait to start the next. The snappy, fast-paced writing uses pop culture as a lens to look at everything—family, writing, jobs, gender, and ultimately what it means to be human. I binged on this book like it was a new season of Game of Thrones.” —Lara Zielin, author of  The Waiting Sky and The Implosion of Aggie Winchester

“Many of my favorite books are actually rants. On the Road was Kerouac’s expression of being “mad to live.” Lord of the Rings was an elegantly elven diatribe against the tree-killing machines of war and industry, along with being the best-ever take-down of Nazis. Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem is a gorgeous screed of Sixties counterculture. I could go on and that is part of the point—they DO go on and thank god for that because all ideas can’t be expressed in 140 characters. Nicholas Belardes rants with the best of them and Didion better watch her back because he, too, has culture in his crosshairs. Belardes writes with a sharp eye and an even sharper pen. Covering cinema, pop obsessions, history and the not so United States, he is an articulate witness to the strange, stubborn and intractable truths of our time.” —Brenda Knight, author of Women of the Beat Generation

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Author Interview:

  1. Describe a typical writing day. Are you a morning, afternoon, or night-owl writer?

Many mornings I meander to Kreuzberg Coffee Company in San Luis Obispo, California where I hide in the darkest corner, type, sip coffee, and nibble a blueberry muffin.

  1. Can you tell us about your current work-in-progress?

I have a few. One is a graphic narrative short about the time I went to the vigil of Richard Chavez (He designed the flag of the UFW). I sometimes send these types of comics to journals. Another is short fiction about a mysterious amusement park map that a kid finds. I’ve been working with an agent writing sample chapters for a Middle Grade novel about a tunnel collapse. Lastly, I’m in final revisions for a 750-page literary fantasy novel. I was deeply inspired by some of the structural techniques in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (among other noteworthy novels).

  1. What inspires you when you’re writing?

Lights at the ends of tunnels. I can see them even when they’re years away. Other times, as in my essay collection, Ranting Out Loud: Life, Pop Culture & How We Sometimes Don’t Get Along, inward lights—those that interconnect between me and the outside world. In the case of that book it was pop culture colliding with memories.

  1. What’s your favorite item on your writing desk?

I’ve become unnervingly attached to ethereal things that make up digital clouds. Mostly that means stories and essays that have become my friends. They need my attention. Without them I’m lost in every way.

  1. What’s your favorite genre and why?

Literary and fantasy, and the beautiful combination they sometimes make.

  1. Any advice you have for a blossoming author?

Study. Read. Never stop writing. Listen. Find really smart, successful writers who will look at your words. Listen to them when they have advice. Realize you need to grow.

  1. When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I walk up a nearby mountain, or down through the city. Some days I wander along beach trails. The rest is family time. I never get enough of that.

  1. What or who inspired you to become a writer?

I wasn’t struck by lightning while walking through a dark meadow or anything like that . . . Writing is the only work I care about other than doing a good job when washing the dishes. It calls for a mind-numbing thoroughness.

  1. How long have you been writing? How long as a published writer?

Twenty years ago my first story was published. I began reinventing myself three years ago. My craft has gone through a lot of recent development. Ranting Out Loud is a testament to the hard work I’ve been putting in.

Just for fun:

  1. Do you have any pets?

I really really want a dog.

  1. Who’s your favorite musician/band?

RVRBOY. Their debut single is my mantra: Oh, and it’s my son’s band.

  1. What’s your favorite vacation spot?

Lately I’ve been attracted to the deserts of Arizona.

  1. Do you like coffee or tea?


  1. Did you go to college? If so, what was your major?

Graduate school in history though I’m known to crash fiction courses.

  1. Are you a full-time writer or do you also work in another field? If so, what field?


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