Wednesday, August 19, 2015

WRITER 2 WRITER: An interview with Nicholas Ahlhelm

The name of this blog is WRITING FROM HOME, because one of the toughest things you can ever attempt to pull off is writing while in the same space you live in and share with family. While that sounds kind of whiny, the truth of the matter is, most of us author types are not in the position where we can afford to go out and find some hidden little garret just to write in, so many of us work with family life's big and little interruptions going on all around us. A small number of folks seem to thrive amidst chaos, but for many of us, writing requires a lot of concentration in periods of peace and solitude. For those who have small children at home (or in my case visiting grandchildren and noisy adults who live with me), that's a tall order. Then stir in a day job or other responsibilities and writing often becomes an exercise in futility. Yet somehow, some way, we always seem to get the work done. Writers, after all, must write or we go into an acrimonious funk and become impossible to live with; prone to getting into all sorts of mischief.

Enter Nicholas Ahlhelm; writer, editor, publisher, fan, and family man—much of it juggled all at the same time. This is an ambitious fellow with clear cut goals and straightforward ideas, willing to roll up his sleeves and get down and dirty to make it all happen. He's got his eye on the future, with projects planned and support systems in place for them, yet his outlook is realistic and practical. Nick knows what he likes, and since that's what he writes, he's pretty darn sure you'll like it too. I think he's absolutely correct in that, but don't just take my word for it. Read the interview, and then check out his books and his upcoming projects, and maybe send him a simoleon or three so that things will continue rolling along. Keep a writer writing, and he won't have time to get himself in trouble elsewhere. 

Just saying...

An interview with author
Nicholas Ahlhelm

  • Welcome Nick! Please tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

I am a writer of heroic and super powered fiction. I live in Eastern Iowa with my wife and two loud children. They like to interrupt me a lot when I’m putting pen to paper (or more accurately, finger to computer keyboard) on my novels and short stories. I’ve been published by my own Metahuman Press, Airship 27, Pro Se Press and have an upcoming short story in an anthology from Flinch Books. I write a mix of straight up super-stories such as Lightweight and Quadrant as well as tales featuring classic pulp and comic heroes like Airboy, the Green Lama and Thunder Jim Wade. 

  • Now I know you've functioned also as editor and publisher as well as author. Can you give us some background on that as well? How does being on both sides of the desk affect the writing you do today?

I am the publisher of Metahuman Press. It exists as a vehicle for publishing my own novels as well as various anthologies I think the world wants or needs, whether they know it or not. In addition to my own novels like Lightweight: Senior Year, A Dangerous Place to Live and Epsilon, we also have anthologies such as the Modern Gods series (where mythological beings find themselves in the present day), Horror Heroes (where classic monster tropes are re-imagined as superheroes) and even Presidential Pulp (featuring secret adventures of United States Presidents.)

  • I'm sure you're a regular reader, because most writers start out that way. What sort of stuff do you enjoy reading? Anything you just can't tolerate?

I’ve read pretty much every genre at this point in my life. Most of my writing these days is various pieces of super powered fiction both from mainstream publishers or my friends at the Pen and Cape Society. I probably read more nonfiction these days however, as it always seems like I have a new piece of research to do, especially as I craft a bunch of historical works, such as my “The Second Life of DB Cooper” short stories. (The first can be found in The Good Fight 2: Villains from the aforementioned Pen and Cape Society.)

I am currently working my way through the first Veronica Mars novel, the Daniel Bryan autobiography Yes! and the Domino Lady anthology from Airship 27. I like to keep a couple of things going at any given time, both in reading and writing. 

  • A lot of us author types have other creative outlets and pursuits. If you weren't writing (or editing, or whatever) today, what else might you be doing?

I suspect I would be promoting independent professional wrestling events. Without the need to keep Metahuman Press out of the red, I could definitely see my investments going to the squared circle. I am a huge follower of professional wrestling as it is a great venue for the hero/villain dynamic that is so important to my own writing. At one point I considered getting trained, but I’m in my late 30s now and have had neck surgery, so booking and promoting would probably be the smart move for me. I am still a regular viewer and discuss pro wrestling at my blog The Wrestling Weekday.  

  • Finding time for writing when you have family and other responsibilities can be daunting. Yet you seem to get quite a bit done. How do you manage to juggle so many responsibilities and still finish projects and hit deadlines to get things into print?

It depends on the day, the week or the month. Right now I’m doing a bit more because I’ve been stuck at home recovering from neck surgery. When I’m also working full time during the days, I tend to eke out thirty minutes or an hour where I can find it. On a good day, I can get about a thousand to two thousand words written in that time. Editing is much trickier, which is why Metahuman Press anthologies have been in a holding pattern for a bit. That log block is loosening now and I hope to announce some upcoming books in the near future. 

  • So what's new on the agenda with you Nick? I understand you have a Kickstarter promotion going, and I'm sure people will want to hear about that as well as anything else you have out there.

The big news right now is the LIGHTWEIGHT: BEYOND Kickstarter currently running from now until September 4th. Lightweight is my ongoing superhero series and I would like to fund the next three volumes so that I can continue to receive amazing covers from the wonderfully talented Brent Sprecher. The success of the Kickstarter will determine how many Lightweight books I will focus on a year. 

Backers can pre-order the November release Lightweight: Beyond in paperback or ebook form. They can also get copies of the two previous volumes as well. I went in as affordable as I could make it with a $5 ebook copy, a $10 collection of all three current ebooks, a $15 print copy of Lightweight: Beyond and a really great $25 deal to get all three books in print. Higher levels include t-shirts, reader names used in future stories, public appearances and even the ability to create a future villain for an appearance in a Lightweight tale. 

Stretch goals will unlock up to three more books in the series: two more volumes that will complete the second year of Lightweight as well as an anthology of short stories by other authors set in Lightweight’s home town of Federation, filling in gaps in his first year as a hero. With enough backers we can unlock all three, but that depends on folks checking it out and putting a bit of money behind it.

  • Anything else you'd like to share with us?

To keep up with me, folks can check out my own blog, where I talk about influences, characters I love, share some great art and photographs and of course keep everyone informed about my writing and other projects. 

My next couple releases will be a new edition in the Quadrant series of short stories, a new DB Cooper tale for the Legends of New Pulp anthology from Airship 27 that I’m wrapping up right now, and of course, Lightweight: Beyond!

Nick, thanks so much for spending some time with my audience. We wish you well with your current project.

And speaking of that project readers, if you can help Nick out with his  LIGHTWEIGHT: BEYOND Kickstarter funding, please do so. He's got some really fun thank you gifts for those who can contribute.

Nick's author page on Amazon can be found HERE.

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