Name: Nathan Tavares
What you Write: Scifi/speculative fiction novels and short stories
Agent: Naomi Davis
Why BookEnds? I was so drawn to BookEnds because of the agency’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. But it really was chatting with Naomi that clinched it for me, and learning about how open, communicative, and passionate they are.
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
I write almost every day, either creative writing or “I need to keep the lights on”-type freelance journalism. My dog is my alarm clock, and most days she’ll nibble my hand to wake me up around six. Then, I put a pot of coffee on and head to my little desk in the guest room of my place in Boston, where I’m surrounded by piles of papers and books. My desk is right by a window so I spend a lot of time looking at the birds bouncing around in the trees, and, this time of the year, really territorial turkeys bullying people walking around my neighborhood.
Do you have any writing rituals? (e.g. burning a candle if you’re having trouble getting started at the computer or writing longhand first if you’re feeling uninspired.)
I usually start writing sessions by setting a five-minute timer, closing my eyes, and just free-writing in a Word doc. I’ll write about ideas, or my intentions about whatever I’m working on, or my mindset. Even if I’m just writing about being hungry or wrestling with doubt, free-writing helps kick the floodgates open. The only rule for those five minutes is that I keep my eyes closed and that my fingers never stop moving over the keys.
What do you love about writing scifi?
World-building is such a fun challenge and a stretch of the imagination.
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
The first things I wrote as a kid were these superhero fanfiction stories. My mom is still really into scifi and we used to love watching Babylon 5, Stargate SG-1, and a bunch of other shows together. I’ve always been drawn to the fantastical and the “what if,” from the Goosebumps books I was obsessed with in elementary school, to the Greek mythology I couldn’t get enough of.
Do you get inspiration from any TV shows or movies? If so, which ones?
So many! I love Black Mirror. The “San Junipero” episode is one of the most beautiful pieces of scifi I’ve ever seen. Naomi and I connected over our mutual love of the film Arrival when we first chatted. How that movie shifts through time was a huge influence when I was writing my book, A Fractured Infinity. I love Contact, Interstellar, The Fountain…basically if it’s a cerebral scifi flick, I’ve seen it a million times. Bonus points for scifi and fantasy with subversive female characters, like Buffy, Xena, and the Battlestar Galactica reboot.
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
On family trips to the Azores in Portugal where my parents are from, we used to spend a lot of time at the beach in this little rustic house. It was about a mile walk over this rocky path from the closest village and the house itself was basically just four walls with no electricity, plumbing, or running water. Me and my sisters and our friends would spend all day running around the black volcanic sand beach and swimming. When I’m stressed or anxious—which happens a lot—I’ll picture the black sand beach and hear the ocean and the night birds. My dream writing location is right there on the coast, but this time I’d outfit that house with a few more frills. Electricity and plumbing would be nice! A never-ending supply of cold brew coffee, too.
Do you belong to any writing organizations?
I was really lucky to receive two writing fellowships from the I-Park Foundation in East Haddam, Connecticut and I volunteer with and donate to the organization as much as I can.
What was the most important question you asked when interviewing agents?
“What drew you to my book?” I wanted to make sure the agent I was working with was excited about the same aspects of the book that I was.
How did you know your book was ready to submit?I’ve worked with agents before and was on submission for a while with a book that didn’t end up selling, which was hard to bounce back from. I knew that when I started this current book that the best thing I could do for my own mental health was to have zero expectations about it going anywhere other than my computer. I just had to focus on writing something I was passionate about, and showing up every day with a sense of play and gratitude. I knew it was ready to submit when the manuscript felt as close to that nebulous idea in my head that made me want to write those first few words to begin with. Then I worked on developmental edits suggested by two separate editors, dissected it way down at the sentence level, and then I really knew it was ready to submit.