By Sean Tuohy
Filled with an unheard of amount of honestly, The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself is a love story in its rawest form. Author Nicholas Tanek writes from the heart, infusing his novels with his wild past and allowing readers to peek inside his mind. Covering everything from the ‘90s New York City rave scene to kinky sex and a little drug use, Tanek’s novels never flinch and always tell the truth.
I was lucky enough to chat with Nicholas about his career, his writing style, and what makes him tick.
Sean Tuohy: When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Nicholas Tanek: I had a need to write the book The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself because the love of my life died at the age of 37. We both loved to write. When we were teenagers, in the New York City rave scene in the 1990s, we would write all the time. The thing is that I got published and she did not. All my poems and stories were for women. She used to get upset and say, “No one will ever write anything for me.” So, I wrote a book for the girl who thought no one would ever write about her. The book is filled with hard drugs, kinky sex, and an endless amount of music references. It is a very true and very raw love story that takes place over the course of 15 years. It deals with addiction, kinky sex, abuse, depression, crime, and the need to be creative. After I published The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself, I had to tell another story. Chipped Black Nail Polish is a tribute to the very first love of my life. It’s a coming of age story about a very wild punk rock girl and what we went through in the hardcore/punk rock scene in New Jersey during the summer of 1989. So, I wanted to become an author to pay tribute to these magnificent and unique women who were in my life.
ST: Who were your early writing influences?
NT: As far as writers go, Hunter S. Thompson, Richard Shannon, Herman Hesse, Truman Capote, and others. But, stand-up comics have always been a major influence on my life too. People like Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor, Mitch Hedberg, were some of the early stand-up comics that influenced me.
ST How much of you is in The Coolest Way To Kill Yourself?
NT: All of it. The whole crazy story is true. I just changed some names and labeled it fiction. Yeah, sure…fiction. The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself and Chipped Black Nail Polish are all true. I narrate them.
ST: What kind of writer are you? Do you outline the story and then write or just write and see what happens?
NT: Since every book is something that happened to me, I know the story in my head. The first part is getting it out of my head and onto the page. Since the stories are true, I do not just write to see where my imagination takes me. I have a purpose for each part that I write. So, I have a basic outline in my mind which includes the character arcs and the beginning, middle and end. There are various themes in the books. I try to use symbolism in many ways. The rest of the process is editing. For The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself, there are some time shifts. It starts out with me actually writing the book. I wrote the book during Hurricane Sandy. There was no electricity and I had to plug my laptop into the generator. So, I write about writing the book while telling my love story with Lynn. In editing, we played around with the time shifts to make it work. Chipped Black Nail Polish is more of a linear book.
ST: What does the future hold for Nicholas Tanek?
NT: Well, I am working on a sequel to The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself. It is a tribute to the wild and wonderful kinky people in the New Jersey BDSM fetish community. After Lynn died, I just dove in the fetish community for a couple of months and explored, like Nicholas In Wonderland. The book is very kinky, but it’s not masturbation material. Many books represent the BDSM fetish community as a dark and dangerous place. Sure, it can be sometimes, but many of the people are quirky, friendly, and fun. The working title, which I may change is, The Good Kind Of Pervert. It’s a tribute to those who are not scared to sexually express themselves.
ST: What advice do you give to other writers?
NT: Write! Just write! Write something from the heart! Then, edit, edit, and edit more. Write for a purpose. Please do not write just sell books or because you think that is what your audience will buy. So many authors just jumped on the bandwagon and started publishing BDSM books that truly do not represent the culture. I want to help change that and give them something real. But…most of all, for the love of everything cool, please be original and write something original.
ST: Can you tell us one random fact about yourself?
NT: I own an actual straight jacket.