Have you been writing for a long time?
I have been writing for many years but mostly non-fiction. As a teenager and early twenties, I wrote poems, song lyrics, and short-stories but I didn’t keep these first attempts. After that, I became fully engaged with a science career, writing many scientific papers and never had time to pursue writing of fiction.
What inspired you to start a writing career?
Several years ago, after some frustrations with my science career, my wife encouraged me to start writing fiction again, and “to take time to something for myself”. With her incredible support and inspiration, I began researching ideas for a book that became the Oceanlight series. Writing non-fiction in the form of scientific papers is a very constrained practice, and I had no idea if I could write fiction. But fiction seemed to spring out of me, and many drafts later, I’m happy with the result.
Is “At The Sharp End of Lightning” your first book? If not, can you tell us about your first book?
It is my debut fiction novel, but I wrote the second book in the series ‘The Gathering Places” at the same time. Originally, I conceived both as one both, but there seemed a natural divide between both when I worked on drafts with my editors back in the fall of 2014. So I worked on both in parallel, but only published the first book early in 2015. I’ve picked up the second book again in the last few weeks, and I’m currently fine-tuning the galley proofs of the e-book and print versions of the book.
I have also published a collection of short-stories “The Fall of Icarus (The Elevator, the Fall of Icarus, and The Girl) earlier this year. The genre is literary fiction, with a twist of fantasy within.
Why did you choose magical realism / fantasy as genre to write in?
The Oceanlight series is a blend of magical realism, epic fantasy, science fiction that also touches on real issues of ocean ecology, climate change and Celtic history. I know that sounds a real mash-up but I wanted to weave in all of these elements into the stories of “At the Sharp End of Lighting” and its sequels. I have many literary influences including the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Isabel Allende, and Ben Okri, as well as the writings of George Orwell, Graham Greene, Mervyn Peake, Simone de Beauvoir, Anthony Burgess, Haruki Marukami, Salman Rushdie, Phillip Pullman, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, Yann Martel, George Mackay Brown, amongst many. The paintings by Frida Kahlo are also a source of inspiration for me. She overcame tremendous pain and surgeries to paint and for me, her amazing character and strength flows out of her self-portraiture.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Persevere! Persevere! Persevere! I wrote primarily for myself, and not for a current trend in literature. I wrote because I had to, and this book was the first story to come out in a formed way. It does take a huge amount of time and effort to write and publish…so you have to write for yourself, not for anyone else.
I’ve been very lucky to have people I trust read the book and several fantastic editors. You have to be prepared to edit and rewrite so many drafts.
I am also continually learning about fiction, and I strive to improve my craft of writing.
Do you have any works in progress you’d like to tell us about?
I wish I had time to write more fiction at the moment. I have a couple of novellas that are in draft form but they need lots of work. Both are not really focused on magical realism/fantasy but rather I find myself drawn to literary fiction as a genre at present.
Thank you so much for allowing me to answer questions for your readers.
About The Book
Author: Nicholas Bates
Genre: Epic Fantasy / Magical Realism
AT THE SHARP END OF LIGHTNING. The interwoven fantastical tale of family, of loss and sacrifice, of unexpected gifts and coping with disability and new abilities set against the backdrop of climate change occurring across parallel worlds. In Oceanlight, Yalara Narika, a winged Sea Sprite, searches for her lover over immense seas only to find catastrophe and realization that her world is in turmoil. Meanwhile in the safe suburban normality of North Wales, Einion Morgan Alban, a restless youth afflicted by a disease of the blood, is nearly murdered by a man in a white suit. Yalara and Einion must discover the causes of their near-deaths and their as yet unrevealed connections as they both face upheaval to their lives and their worlds. Book One of the OCEANLIGHT series.
NR Bates was born in London, grew up in Wales, and lived in Canada and Bermuda. He shares his life with his wife and his house with seven cats, one dog and the subtropical wildlife of lizards, wolf spiders and ant colonies that seek out a better life indoors. He is an oceanographer and scientist, and has published more than one hundred and thirty scientific papers on ocean chemistry, climate change and ocean acidification. He is a Senior Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Professor of Ocean Biogeochemistry at the University of Southampton, UK. His novels focus on epic fantasy and magic realism, and inspired by his deep love of the ocean and environmental sciences. He has also recently published a small book of short-stories set in Paris, entitled “The Fall of Icarus (The Elevator, The Fall of Icarus, and The Girl)”.