Today's guest, Nathan Castellanos is an LA local who is not only a fantastic writer but is a book collector and reader. His stories include multi-genres and themes from horror to science fiction with a lot of dark comedy. The authors that inspire him, not surprisingly, are Bukowski, Robert Anton wilson and Chuck Palahniuk. Cut it short, let's get into the interview.
1.Hi Nathan.Glad to have you here. Random question. Any inspirational thoughts and ideas you’d like to share to start the interview with? And who is your biggest inspiration for writing?
Hmmm! Inspirational? That’s a tough one considering that inspiration is relative to the receiver; what enflames passion in one person may incite anger in another, or just plain indifference. The one thing that comes to mind for me is the concept of writer’s block. I’ve never believed in it, and I think that when a writer invests in the idea of its existence that this hypostatizes its validity into their belief system. In essence belief is powerful, so be careful what you do with it. Writers that are the biggest influence on my writing are variant, the most powerful being Robert Anton Wilson, Philip K. Dick, and Grant Morrison.
2. If you'd ask me that question, I wouldn't be able to answer as good as you. You’re a fanatic reader and book collector. Can you tell us more about that?
As far back as I can remember I’ve been reading, overthinking, uber-analyzing life. As a child I would critique the validity of claims made in advertisements between Saturday morning cartoons. I read whatever I could get my hands on; The Iliad, Dracula, Poe, Twain, etc. At the age of 18 I became a serious collector, and now at 40 my collection is roughly at about 2,500 to 3,000 books, including novels of every genre, books on philosophy, psychology, mythology, history, religion, and the occult. I’m a decadent consumer of every subject.
3. That's the ride many of us take, I assume. Can you tell us about your writing journey? Why did you become a writer?
That’s a sad story, that one. I believe the catalyst was finding my ex-wife’s phone open one evening after a long period of suspicious behavior on her part. My mind and heart was not nearly prepared for the sight of her giving copious amounts of fellatio to another man. Needless to say we parted ways, and my mind underwent a sort of logic and belief-free metamorphosis. To put it plainly, I lost my mind, and was only kept anchored to relative reality with the help of Grant Morrison’s Invisibles and Robert Anton Wilson’s Schrödinger’s Cat. These books gave language to the state I was in, and eventually inspired me to follow their narrative method, albeit with my own story.
4. What are your writing routine and habits?
NITRO COLD BREW, and lots of it! Most of my writing is fueled by copious amounts of caffeine, zazen meditation, irritating run ins with the elitist gentry of Los Angeles, and the concepts/information that I take from books on various subjects, ranging from Los Angeles history, nano-technology, martial arts, culinary, and the occult (Thelema, Chaos Magick, Jungian Gnosticism, Tarot Archetypes, etc). After a while every subject is all one big homogenous piece of so called reality; there are no genres in “real” life, so why limit yourself to just one in your writing?
5. let's talk bout your latest novel, without spoilers, can you tell us what is this book about?
Salted Plastic starts out as a scathing diatribe against gentry in every facet of Los Angeles society; night club culture, overpriced eateries that mask their subpar food with ostentatious marketing/atmosphere, the life hacking nature of influencers relative to pop-culture, the culture clash of the individual with the memetic communal socialization of hipster millennial culture. About a third of the way through though, and the reader gets a preview of how reality is not what it seems, that the perpetrators of gentrification and cultural appropriation are not human, but monsters set on nothing less than farming human culture via the manipulation of real estate, pop culture, and academia.
6. For me Transgressive fiction and non-fiction are the best way to express oneself and what is wrong with our society. Do you find your books fall under this category?
I feel, like Philip K Dick, that my books are a commentary on the modern world as seen through the type of empirical analysis that can only usually be gained when one is a misanthrope or Saint-grade cynic. Like Dick I utilize the themes of sci-fi, fictional narcotics and psychedelics, overt and obscure dystopia, cognitive dissonance, dark humor, etc. as a sort of Rosetta Stone for those with the emotional content (life experience) necessary to feel what I’m saying, as opposed to just “understanding” what I’m saying. My point being that there is always plenty of non-fiction in fiction, and the themes of genre are just a veneer to add marketable flare. Dick knew this only too well.
7. Are you currently working on other books? Can you tell us about your future or current projects?
I have a few concepts in the works, but at the moment I am focusing solely on Salted Plastic. The main project that I have set aside for the future is called House of Fortune. The plot revolves around a reality where human beings are sold at birth to monstrously abusive undead families that inure the adopted human to emotional, physical and mental abuse, leaving them in a mental state where they are completely convinced that love is synonymous with horrific things like having your toes eaten at the dinner table by a mortified infant, or being force fed your own excrement in front of your fiancée till they leave you in disgust while your mock family watches with malevolent delight.
8. About publishing process. Would you mind explaining how did you get your book published? As Transgressive genre is quite a difficult and risky genre to publish classically, I’m curious to know more about your experience in this field?
I knew that the subject matter and presentation (style) of my book would not be welcome at the time (2015), so I took the route of self-publishing. That said, I also anticipated the steadily emerging shift in culture that has gained headway the last two years. Meaning that the ever growing culture clash has been highly apparent in recent years. This is emphasized more and more by the growing housing crisis, and lower class resentment towards “high” society that has been seeded by gentrification and the theft of the working class identity by noveau riche technistocrats, blue blood trust fund children feigning a revolt against the 1% society that they came from, and various local politicians that are only too eager to turn a blind eye to the displacement that their city planning logistics leads to………all of the above has fueled a growing interest by mainstream readers in my book, and I believe that this will lead to an opportunity for me to publish via mainstream publishing houses.
9. Lastly, what advice would you offer to writers, many of whom are struggling to be creative right now, on how to keep momentum on the work when the world around feels somewhat stranger than fiction?
I would say that strife is great fuel for artistic endeavor. I understand that a lot of ivy league and academia cemented types have a general idea of writing under so called “perfect conditions”, but as someone that utilized extreme emotional pain, loss and the resentment of being priced out of my home town to create my own work, I simply cannot invest in the idea that life needs to be ideal in order to create. The greatest (and most novel) art has historically been generated by the worst epochs of history.
Thank you once more
My pleasure. I was great to have you for this interview.
If you're interested to know Nathan more, you can check his Linktree: