Author Spotlight: Albert Nothlit

Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.

Today, Albert Nothlit – Albert Nothlit wanted to become a writer long before he realized it was his way of connecting with others. There is something special in reaching out through words that carry a piece of his soul, and there is nothing better for him than hearing back from readers. It turns the product of what can be a very individual-centered profession into a shared experience, a chance to talk, to grow, and share. He firmly believes that the desire to create new worlds out of thoughts, memories, and emotions speaks to a greater truth within him. He still hasn’t figured out what that is, though. It’s going to take a lot more meditation, for which he unfortunately has no patience. He only knows that books changed his life, and that brightening someone else’s day with a story is the highest accomplishment he can think of achieving.
 
Albert currently lives in Mexico City, where he has somewhat reluctantly gotten used to the crowds. He shares a home with his husband and their sassy little dog named Link. His two other passions are gaming and running, although not games involving running because those can be boring. His favorite games are RPGs, and one of his guilty pleasures is watching eSports in pubs whenever the opportunity arises. He has an MSc in Environmental Engineering, which has turned out to be surprisingly helpful in creating postapocalyptic science-fiction worlds. Not that he thinks that an apocalypse is unavoidable. He is a secretly hopeful man who thinks the future will be better—just no flying cars. Imagine the safety hazards.

Albert Nothlit

Thanks so much, Albert, for joining me!


J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?

Albert Nothlit: I think sometime during junior high I discovered that I really enjoyed my creative writing class. I also went through a period right about that age when I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on, and although I’m pretty sure that the first things I wrote sucked, I persevered. I think the first time that I truly realized I had what it took to become a writer was when I received my first contract for a piece I had written.

JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?

AN: Post-apocalyptic science fiction with a strong focus on interpersonal relationships. Although I have written some fantasy now and then, as well as contemporary fiction, I find that my mind constantly casts its creative net into the mysterious and undefined waters of the future. I like to think about how society would rebuild itself after the apocalypse because it’s like a blank slate from where anything is possible. That is not to say that I simply come up with complicated-sounding tech talk and slap it onto my creations to label them sci-fi. Nearly every item of technology that I present in my stories has a strong scientific foundation. In fact, when I started writing I felt the need to add lengthy appendices to everything I wrote that explained the nature of the hypothetical technology I had imagined. Then, as I grew as a writer, I realized that such things weren’t really needed – as long as the story and the characters are solid, the science background should remain just that, a background.

JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.

AN: My first ever piece to see the light was a short story called Beyond, published by MLR Press. It was a mixture of M/M erotica and fantasy, and it was great fun to write. It holds a special place in my memory because it was through it that I gained the confidence to publish bigger and bigger pieces until Earthshatter, a full-length novel that I hope will showcase the skills I have gained throughout more than a decade of writing.

JSC: What’s your writing process?

AN: I always start with a core idea, a sensation I want to capture. It can be anything – a memory, a sudden association, an idea slowly assembled throughout weeks or months. Once I have it, I make sure to head on over to the computer and I write freely for a couple of hours to capture the essence of the project. Once that’s done, I take as long as necessary to write out an outline of the story, first chapter by chapter in a very general way, and then going scene by scene within each chapter. If the story is long enough, I will also create a separate file with a cheat sheet of sorts where I will list all the relevant characteristics of the characters, their background, personalities, and so on. Once all of that is ready, I began writing, from start to finish. I don’t usually write out of chronological order within the story, although I will go back and change pieces as needed if I find that they are not working anymore. With careful planning, though, I have discovered that large edits are usually not required. Which is great, because editing can be a handful!

JSC: Tell me one thing hardly anyone knows about you.

12670254_455909034620427_1462224762456255813_nAN: I have a tattoo on my left biceps of the symbol of Kyrios, an artificial intelligence which is (kind of) the main character in Earthshatter and the books to come. I had it made way before I got the book published, as a reminder of the passion for creativity which first got me into writing.

JSC: Do you write more on the romance side, or the speculative fiction side? Or both? And why?

AN: All of the groundwork for my stories is based on speculative fiction, but I believe a story is only as meaningful and memorable as its characters. Relationships make us who we are; they expand our view of the world and offer experiences good and bad which we could never have by ourselves. In light of this, relationships are the center point of everything I write. It’s not only romance, though. Sometimes it can be friendship, respect, or personal growth. As long as it is something meaningful, it will be there.

JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?

AN: A white maltipoo named Link (because I love the Legend of Zelda) is currently demanding my attention by whimpering softly next to my desk. He is wearing a doggy T-shirt which cost me more than a T-shirt for myself. I used to roll my eyes at people who dressed their dogs, but now my husband and I are chanting ‘One of us!’ right along with the rest of the dog-clothing crowd.

JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?

AN: Plots all the way. I like having everything carefully laid out with plenty of contingency measures in place for the unexpected.

JSC: If you could create a new holiday, what would it be?

AN: Reach Out Day. The one day of the year when engaging in sincere conversation with strangers wouldn’t get you suspicious glances or polite but swift dismissals. Some of us are very lonely, or simply stuck in hanging out with the same group of people all our lives. Reach Out Day could give us a chance to meet others and maybe make a meaningful connection or two.

JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?

AN: I am writing the third book in the Haven Prime series, of which Earthshatter is Book One. Since Light Shaper, Book Two, is coming out this August, I think it’s safe to predict that we will have part three around December of this year. If I finish writing it on time, that is!


earthshatterAnd now for Albert’s new book: TITLE:

The world is gone. All that’s left are the monsters.

The creatures attacked Haven VII with no warning. An AI named Kyrios, a nearly omnipotent being, should have protected the city during the Night of the Swarm.

Except It didn’t.

No one knows why It failed, or why It saved eight specific people: the Captain, the Seer, the Sentry, the Messenger, the Engineer, the Alchemist, the Medic, and the Stewardess. They have no idea of the meaning behind the titles they’ve been given, why they were selected and brought together, or what Kyrios expects from them. When they awake from stasis, they find their city in ruins and everyone long dead. They’re alone—or so they think. But then the creatures start pouring out from underground, looking for them. They don’t stand a chance in a fight, and with limited supplies, they can’t run forever. All they know is that the creatures aren’t their only enemies, and there’s only one place they can turn. Kyrios beckons them toward Its Portal, but can It be trusted? In Its isolated shrine in the desert, they might find the answers they need—if they can survive long enough to reach it.


Excerpt

February 21

9:55: Fifteen hours to the Night of the Swarm.
Dex and Alain
Psychiatry Wing, Electorate Research Compound
Haven VII

DEX LIKED being in the mental asylum, even if he couldn’t get out.

At least here he was away from everyone else. It had been much harder before, when he’d had to go to school, when his parents had insisted he spend more time with the other kids. They hadn’t understood why he couldn’t be near other people—and neither had he, not until he became older and realized no one was quite like him. Nobody felt the way he did. Nobody saw… not really.

So when Dex’s parents had finally given up and sent him here, he had been glad. He’d been ten at the time. Now he was fourteen. Here in the Psychiatry Wing, he had finally known relief. He was alone most of the time, and that was good. He only spoke regularly with two people: Agnes, the young nurse who brought him his food and medication, and Alain, who visited two or three times a week, depending on how busy he was. Lately he’d been coming less often, though. Maybe it was because most of his time was now spent in the Medicine Sector with the rest of the undergraduates. Or maybe he just didn’t like coming anymore.

Dex shook his head. He knew that wasn’t true; Alain loved visiting. He was the one person Dex could be himself with, and he was certain the feeling was mutual. If he didn’t come as often, it was because becoming a doctor was hard work. Dex had never told Alain, but he suspected the reason his older brother had enrolled in a medical career was a not-so-hidden wish to help find out what was wrong with Dex’s mind.

Dex smiled in his cell. The doctors who came sometimes would have figured it out long ago, too, if they had been willing to accept that there were things their science had yet to catch up with. Just because you can’t explain something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

“Dexter Fournier, you have a visitor,” a disembodied voice called.

Dex stood up and stretched, smiling. He had been thinking about Alain, and now he was here. Or was Alain here because he had been thinking about him? Sometimes he couldn’t tell the difference anymore.

He walked in small, precise circles around his room as he waited for Alain to come up. It usually took fifty-three steps from the time they announced him to the time he came in. Fifty-one. Fifty-two. Fifty—

The door opened.

“Hey, Dex! What’s up?”

“Hi, Alain.”

“Hey, you really have to open the windows in here from time to time. What’s the point in you getting the deluxe suite if you’re not going to take advantage of it? The view is supposed to be great.”

“Suite?”

Alain shrugged. “Sure, why not? It’s all in the eye of the beholder.”

Dex nodded faintly. He let Alain stomp into the cell and open the windows. He did not point out that he would have liked to open them himself, but the latch was set too high for him to reach unless he jumped on his bed, and he didn’t like to do that. Alain was more than a head taller than Dex, though, and he didn’t notice the height problem. He probably thought everybody should be as tall as he was.

Alain gave the glass a shove, and nice morning air filtered through. Outside, the sky was a bright blue. This part of the compound was set right at the edge of the city, and Dex’s window had a nice view of the wastes beyond. Dex sometimes dreamed of running outside in that arid desolation, away from the world. He knew he would die very quickly if he actually did it, but the idea was somehow comforting.

Alain snapped his fingers, smiling. “Hey, Dex, don’t zone out on me. I can hardly squeeze enough time out of my schedule to come see you, and I want to make the most of it.”

“Sorry,” Dex said. He sometimes forgot normal people spent most of their time talking, not thinking.

Alain plopped down on the bed and threw him a pillow. “No, you’re not sorry. You love to be off in your own little world, and you know it.”

Dex grinned. It was so easy to be with his brother. Anyone looking at them would probably think they couldn’t be more different, but that was just on the surface. They looked different, but they kind of thought alike.

Alain was really athletic, for starters. He was only twenty, but he had tried his hand at most professional sports around Haven VII and succeeded at nearly all of them. He was no prodigy, but he had an iron determination that usually got him what he wanted. Once he had even told Dex he had been invited to play in a Torus Racing exhibition match in Haven Prime. Alain had turned the invite down at the last minute, though. He had never said why.

Alain’s skin, though naturally pale, had a healthy tan because he spent so much time outdoors. Dex knew he was popular with the girls, and he certainly had the looks for it. His face was edgy, so well-proportioned it looked chiseled by some sculptor, and his deep blue eyes had a haunting quality about them. He wore his hair at medium length but with an asymmetric style that left it a bit longer on one side than on the other. There were always a few strands falling over his forehead, covering his eyes. His hair was raven black, almost blue when the light was right. Even now, with slight dark circles under his eyes from lack of sleep and too much studying, Alain managed to look good.

Dex was his polar opposite in looks. He was thin, frail looking even. His skin had never felt that much sunlight, and he had a deathly pallor that made him look like he had some kind of chronic illness. His hair, when he had had any, had been light brown. Now he always shaved his head—it saved time otherwise spent in combing, and besides, some of the pills Agnes gave him knocked patches of hair off anyway.

Alain had once told Dex he had weird-looking eyes. Maybe it was true. They were a light gray color that could almost look white at times. He had perpetual dark circles under his eyes, but they didn’t make him look interesting like Alain’s. Just tired. And weak. He wasn’t short, and he wasn’t even done growing yet, but he knew Alain was always going to be the taller of the two. Still, he didn’t mind looking the way he did. Dex knew that was the way people expected him to look. The poor, helpless crazy boy. Look at him. He needs help. In truth, he didn’t need anybody’s help. And he was stronger than even Alain suspected.


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Author Bio

Albert Nothlit wanted to become a writer long before he realized it was his way of connecting with others. There is something special in reaching out through words that carry a piece of his soul, and there is nothing better for him than hearing back from readers. It turns the product of what can be a very individual-centered profession into a shared experience, a chance to talk, to grow, and share. He firmly believes that the desire to create new worlds out of thoughts, memories, and emotions speaks to a greater truth within him. He still hasn’t figured out what that is, though. It’s going to take a lot more meditation, for which he unfortunately has no patience. He only knows that books changed his life, and that brightening someone else’s day with a story is the highest accomplishment he can think of achieving.
 
Albert currently lives in Mexico City, where he has somewhat reluctantly gotten used to the crowds. He shares a home with his husband and their sassy little dog named Link. His two other passions are gaming and running, although not games involving running because those can be boring. His favorite games are RPGs, and one of his guilty pleasures is watching eSports in pubs whenever the opportunity arises. He has an MSc in Environmental Engineering, which has turned out to be surprisingly helpful in creating postapocalyptic science-fiction worlds. Not that he thinks that an apocalypse is unavoidable. He is a secretly hopeful man who thinks the future will be better—just no flying cars. Imagine the safety hazards.

Website: http://www.albertnothlit.com