Nick Lang: Dancing on keyboards
Troutdale author Nick Lang first started working on "The Lost Angels" in 1999. The Outlook sat down to speak with the wordsmith after the book saw publication in February of this year.
Your debut is titled "The Lost Angels." What's it about?
(It's about) ordinary people, they don't remember that they're angels … It's contemporary fantasy. There's a lot of emotion in it: love, loss and redemption.
What's self-publishing like?
There's more money, slightly.
What's good about selling a book online?
When you walk into a bookstore, the book is like that (showing only the spine). If you go to Amazon, it's facing you, and you can control the cover.
You're part of a writing group, right?
It's a children's writing group. I wrote to them and said, "I don't have kids, but I have two cats." (We meet) in the food court at the Lloyd Center. It used to be at the Panera in the Hollywood District.
Who inspires you?
I don't want to copy other people. But I do remember, during the recession, I went to Barnes & Noble and read a lot of Hemingway.
His short fiction — "The Old Man and the Sea." I called it preparation. From Hemingway, I learned a lot about dialogue, and how it should flow.
What does good dialogue sound like?
Almost like bantering, but not all of the time. It's like you have your characters locked in this cube, and (they have) to figure out what to do.
Your book is exactly 71,146 words. Got anything shorter?
I have written short stories too, but those are hard for me. (With) books, you get to move around, and really know who the characters are. A short story is more like an image.
You were born three months early, weighing one pound 12 ounces. How did that affect people's expectations?
I remember my teacher sitting us in a group (in high school). One person, Matt with cerebral palsy, said he wanted to be a pilot. And somebody else said they wanted to be a fireman. I said I wanted to be a novelist, and the teacher said, 'There's enough books in the world.'
There was another time, we were in English class, and (the teacher) told us to write a short story. So I did. It was about vampires and castles and humans. My assistant read it and said, "Who did you copy this from?"
Do you want people to like your book?
It doesn't really matter. If nobody likes it, I have a second book.
What's the subject?
It's a trilogy (called) "The Chronicle Gates." Book one and book two are done, and I'm almost done with book three. But these are just rough drafts.
Any tips for aspiring writers?
When you're trying to describe your characters — don't do it all at once. You want to first get the characters doing something, and get the reader into the story that way. Then you can pull back and describe what the character looks like.
OK, I give up. What's the secret to good writing?
I've heard it said that writing is... throwing up on the page, getting it out there. And the rewriting is the real writing. You just have to keep dancing your fingers on the keyboard.
Just the facts
Name: Nick Lang
Location: Troutdale since 2010.
Day job: Works in the shipping department of Globe Lighting in Northwest Portland.
Favorite books: "Inkheart" by Cornelia Funke, "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" by Robert C. O'Brien, "Travels with Charley" by John Steinbeck and "Magic Kingdom of Landover" by Terry Brooks.
Favorite movie: At least the first six installments of the "Star Wars" series. "You have to think of it as a whole story," Lang says.