Today I have Nick Nolan, author of Black As Snow, on the blog today for an interview. Enjoy!
What initially made you want to recreate fairy tales?
As a boy I fell in love with the movie West Side Story for its storyline (and dancing) and then was astonished when my mother explained to me that it was the remake of Romeo and Juliet. I thought it was ingenious that someone could take a well-worn but great tale and transform it with modern settings and conflicts. So when I began writing my first novel Strings Attached about a gay teenager whose only wish is to be a ‘real man’, it was a short jump to include elements of Pinocchio, whose only wish was to be a ‘real boy’. My second novel Double Bound is a deconstruction of Jack and the Beanstalk, where Jeremy from Strings Attached runs into a ‘giant’ and gets kidnapped because of his family’s wealth (the golden egg) on a trip to Brazil. And now with Black as Snow the main character Sebastian Black traces the storyline of ‘Snow White,’ but not in ways anyone has seen before: Sebastian is the gorgeous messiah of a new religion, and when he flees home (and the evil queen – his mother) into the ‘wilderness’ he encounters seven people who have low social status (society’s ‘dwarfs’); these humble people change his life.
Which fairy tales were your absolute favorite growing up?
That’s a difficult question. My mother had a large hardcover book of fairy tales, some well-known and some very obscure. Many of these stories were creepy and dark, and I guess this stayed with me; there parents abandoning their kids in the forest, witches and wolves and trolls and animals that talked. What could be better to fire a child’s imagination? But I suppose I loved Snow White the most for its wild elements; beauty and treachery and wilderness and death and betrayal and redemption and love.
What types of differences do you create when re-telling these tales?
My novels weave everything that’s around us today (technology, sex, religion, the cult of celebrity, money, wealth and poverty) around skeletons of well-worn fables. For example, in Black as Snow there’s no actual poisoned apple; instead Sebastian’s mother—Kitty, the evil queen—installs a tracking device in her son’s iPhone (made by Apple). In addition Sebastian is bisexual—he’s not caught up in old ideas about sexuality being one way or the other. And I invent a new religion that celebrates the ‘green’ way of life, and I have people texting and blogging and swearing because the Bluetooth in their car doesn’t work. All these elements come together beautifully in the novel because these are elements we deal with every day. But what doesn’t change in my stories is the idea that love and friendship and hard work and being truthful are all that really matter in life; these are the same core concepts that make fairy tales so timeless, because human nature just doesn’t change.
Does your background with religion tie into your stories very much? How so?
A. I grew up in a staunch, Catholic home where no one talked about sex and we did chores and went to church and did as we were told—or else. And during my childhood religious education I asked the nuns questions about God and Catholicism, but I was rarely satisfied with their answers. Then in college I took a comparative religions class that really opened my eyes; I came to the conclusion that most people think what I believe is religion and what you believe is myth. Ever since then I’ve been on a spiritual quest, investigating Hinduism and Buddhism and reincarnation and alternative ways of looking at life and death. I’ve subtly included elements of my beliefs in the pages of Black as Snow, but in a way where the characters ask themselves the same questions I do. But Black as Snow isn’t a book about religion, just as it isn’t a book about being famous or gorgeous, or rich or poor. It’s the story about how love transforms and unites us all.
Thanks for stopping by Nick!
Paperback: 352 Pages
Buy Link: Amazon
Young Sebastian Black is a handsome, likeable religious movement leader living in modern day Los Angeles. With the help of his Kitty, the perfect modern wicked witch, they've created the highly successful, Evo-Love movement. Thanks to donations from around the world, Sebastian and Kitty live in opulence, with penthouses, luxury cars, and a plethora of beautiful women, and men, at Sebastian’s disposal. Although Sebastian senses that there is something special about him and that he has a specific destiny to fulfill, he can’t help but feeling their liberal spending is immoral. And when his own words cause an Evo-Love follower to murder his family and commit suicide, his doubts about his preaching become so potent that he must escape his mother’s greedy grasp. Sebastian’s concerns over their religious movement aren’t the only reason he needs to flee; his life is in danger, literally. Not everyone likes what he has to say, and Christian militants are convinced he is the anti-Christ and must be stopped—permanently. Receiving an increasing number of death threats every day, Sebastian retreats up the California coast. But as things intensify, Sebastian is placed in grave danger and it seems the web of lies, secrets, risk, and greed that has been spun around Sebastian may be too dense for him to escape.