Author: Nicholas Fillmore
Publisher: iambic Books
Genre: Memoir / True Crime
About the Book:
When twenty-something post-grad Nick Fillmore discovers the zine he’s been recruited to edit is a front for drug profits, he begins a dangerous flirtation with an international heroin smuggling operation and in a matter of months finds himself on a fast ride he doesn’t know how to get off of.
After a bag goes missing in an airport transit lounge he is summoned to West Africa to take a voodoo oath with Nigerian mafia. Bound to drug boss Alhaji, he returns to Europe to put the job right, but in Chicago O’Hare customs agents “blitz” the plane and a courier is arrested.
Thus begins a harried yearlong effort to elude the Feds, prison and a looming existential dead end…. Smuggler relates the real events behind OITNB.
1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?
I had a pretty “normal” childhood: house in the suburbs, mother and father, two sisters. I was the first in my family to go to college, but that sort of culture shock was mitigated by four years in prep school. I remember writing strange, quasi-spiritual stories in the fifth grade. I was kind of wild about David Carradine’s character in Kung Fu. And seemed to persevere on variations of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol … which kind of perplexed Mr. Choiniere, who was good enough to bite his tongue. “Thanks, Bob!”
In high school I began to experiment with some florid prose, though I was really into History more than English, and recall more than a few K.I.S.S. comments on my papers. It wasn’t until sophomore year in college that I changed majors to English. A good part of that, I think, was that that was real life. You read a Raymond Carver story with Jim Crenner and discussed it like adults: alcohol, infidelity, depression, whatever; whereas political philosophy and the like, while, intriguing, seemed a million miles away. There seemed to be a clear path one might take to becoming a writer, rather than say a politician. Senior year Prof. David Weiss turned me onto Charlie Simic’s poetry, who I would wind up studying with in graduate school.
2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?
I’m a total night owl. I don’t think anything happens until after everyone’s in bed and the moon is riding.
3: Where do your ideas come from?
That depends on what I’m writing. Smuggler is memoir. While I originally started fooling with screenplay, the thought of fictionalizing my experience seemed like so much extra work. The real work was selecting and of course analyzing events that were already fairly dramatic.
I’m working on something new called Sins of Our Fathers, which attempts to piece together real events in our family history and to reimagine what might have happened in those interstices where, say, my grandfather was off drinking after work. Maybe you’d call that personal historical fiction. It’s kind of tricky but, again, why should one make up new names for everyone and begin taking lots of liberties? Maybe a little of my poetry training comes in here: the desire to make art out of the available materials of one’s experience, like that W.C. Williams poem about a paper bag blowing down the street.
4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?
No. (Though of course you do know when you’re writing from real life where the story ends, I don’t know where I’ll end it.) Screenwriters will tell you that you need to know your ending before you can write the beginning, all the set-ups and foreshadowing. I’ve found a lot of that stuff happens unconsciously; those are the golden moments when you really get into the writing and you recognize suddenly how events connect to one another. Or might. For instance, both of my grandfathers were amateur boxers, (though my father didn’t know his biological father). The idea that they might have fought kind of hit me right in the face. (I still haven’t written that scene and am not sure how I’ll manage it, but it informs the writing; in Sins my grandfather is always shadowboxing, soliloquizing, and stalking this nemesis).
5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?
Yeah, memoir. A desire to make sense of things. To work with personal material without asbestos gloves.
6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?
Oh, dear. Who’s tragic-comic? A young Tim Roth, maybe.
7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I’ll read like a madman and then take time off. Let me say that the writers who directly influenced Smuggler are, in no particular order: Camus, Babel, Nabokov, Orwell, Richard Wright, Martin Amis, and Raymond Chandler. Of course you read writers for different reasons; you read Faulkner differently than Richard Yates. Back when I was a poet I loved Stevens and Frost equally, despite their very different temperaments. (Frost was reputed to have called Stevens’ work “bric-a-brac.”)
8: What book/s are you reading at present?
Chandler, The Long Goodbye again, for fun, and Joan Didion, The White Album. (I’m afraid I’m not a very adventurous reader; there’s just so much canonical work to read. I admire these writers who’ll tell you about some obscure work by an aboriginal writer. But there’s may be an inherent danger in reading one’s contemporaries, I’m not sure.
9: What is your favourite book and why?
Probably Conrad’s Heart of Darkness … because I have a heart of darkness.
10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?
Read, write and find a job that doesn’t drain you creatively and physically.
11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?
I do a lot on Facebook. Also, that’s a question that I’m currently trying to figure out!
About the Author:
Nicholas Fillmore is a poet, publisher, journalist and professor of English. He lives on windward Oahu with his wife, daughter and dachshunds.
He attended the graduate writing program at University of New Hampshire, was a finalist for the Juniper Prize in poetry and co-founded and publishedSQUiD magazine in Provincetown, MA.
Fillmore is currently at work on Sins of Our Fathers, a family romance. He is a reporter for Courthouse News Service, lecturer in English at Hawaii Pacific University and publisher of iambic Books.
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