INTERVIEW WITH NICK LATORRE
The books shown on the left are by Nick LaTorre. Click on the cover to order.
This interview was conducted by Lisa Brown-Gilbert on January 22, 2020.
Nick LaTorre has graciously agreed to be interviewed by me, and I hope you all like reading this interview as much as I enjoyed interviewing him. Without any further ado, let's get on to the questions!
Lisa: What set you on your path as a writer, initially?
Nick LaTorre: Since I was a young boy, I’ve had a great deal of admiration for writers, actors, and movie directors. Along with that, I’ve always enjoyed making stuff up, and writing stories is a relatively consequence-free outlet for making stuff up. Like anybody else who wants to be a writer at a young age I made a couple of attempts at writing a novel in my teens, which I quit early on in the process because I didn’t have the discipline, but even though I had trouble with finishing projects, I was always writing more and more.
Lisa: Is there a specific genre that you prefer?
Most of what I read these days is non-fiction. When I read fiction though, it is usually either literary fiction (the high-brow stuff) or I like to read out-there comedies. Joe’s Odyssey obviously fits under the out-there comedy mantle.
Lisa: How do you measure literary success?
Nick LaTorre: The thing I judge Joe’s Odyssey by is whether or not it came out as the finished product I wanted it to be, and I think it did come out the way I wanted it too, and so I’m pleased. However, in the future I hope to write something which is viewed as having literary merit in the way that something by somebody like Walker Percy is viewed as having literary merit.
Lisa: Joe’s Odyssey is such a different take on the college road trip genre. How did you come up with the premise for the book?
Nick LaTorre: This story actually came out of Homer’s The Odyssey, which is why the word odyssey is in the title. When I was in high school reading The Odyssey, me and a couple of my friends would laugh about how preposterous the plotline of the story was, and so I wanted to do something like that where a group of people travel around by boat going from location to location and getting into wacky adventures. I actually do not view it as a college road trip story. The college characters came along because I wanted there to be people to keep Joe company the whole way through, and respond to Joe’s plans as a collective, much like the choruses in Ancient Greek plays. However, I guess it is a part of that genre to spite me.
Lisa: Lovable loser Joe is such an intriguing character. Is he or any of your other characters based on anyone you know in real life?
Nick LaTorre: A lot of characters I’ve written over the years are based on either specific people I know or are composites of multiple people. Elements of Joe are based on people I’ve known, but at the same time I intended for him to be my version of Homer Simpson, or Peter Griffin, or Bender from Futurama, etc. By this I mean my take on a character who is reckless, not too bright, and not bound by rules which people are bound to in reality.
Lisa: How much time did you devote to writing Joe’s Odyssey?
Nick LaTorre: I started writing it in early 2014. After I had written a couple of chapters I put it aside, occasionally coming back to it to add and delete scenes. In May 2019, I put my mind to finish it, and that’s when the real heavy lifting really got started. I finished a full draft by the end of June, then put it aside and did a series of revisions, finishing it in October 2019.
Lisa: What challenges did you encounter while writing Joe’s Odyssey?
Nick LaTorre: On occasion, I would have trouble coming up with a scene to serve as a bridge between two other scenes, but that rarely caused me trouble for an extended period of time. The other challenge would be that some days I just did not want to write a single word, however if you’re going to write a book, that’s the kind of thing you need to blow right past and just do the work. That was part of the point of Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art.”
Lisa: While hindsight is 2020, looking back is there anything that you would have written differently or changed within the narrative of your book?
Nick LaTorre: There are some additional things I would have added to scenes, and perhaps I would have added a scene or two. There’s nothing I would take away though.
Lisa: What advice would you give to other writers looking to publish?
Nick LaTorre: Keep writing, keep polishing, seek outside opinions, and don't give up.
Lisa: Do you have any future projects in the works?
Nick LaTorre: I have a lot of projects in the works. I have a draft of another book dealing with the Schmorde characters, I have a draft of a book about an ant-war protestor in the sixties, and I have a draft of a book about a young woman who runs into a series of disastrous situations after moving to a new city. I also have a whole bunch of screenplays, which are in various stages of composition and revision. I stay busy!
Lisa: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview with me. I wish you much success with Joe's Odyssey!
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