Indie Author Interview: Nate Philbrick

Welcome to the first-ever KRS indie author interview! Joining me from far-off Barcelona, Spain is Nate Philbrick. Wave to him. He won't be able to see you, but do it anyway.

Nate is the author of the fantasy novel Where the Woods Grow Wild (which, as you can see from this review, I enjoyed very much). He's currently hard at work on the sequel, Where the Woods Grow in Flames. (At least, I certainly HOPE he's working on it. His fans should probably stop distracting him by asking him to do all these interviews.) In addition to being a brilliant writer, Nate now holds the distinction of being the first indie author to be interviewed by two bloggers from southern Idaho in one week—he was featured on my friend E.B. Dawson’s blog on Tuesday. There has been some *ahem* debate about who got the idea to interview him first.

It was totally my idea first. Just want to make that clear.

Anyhoo, on to the questions. Tell us about yourself, Nate.

I was born in Maine, but I currently live near Barcelona. In 2015 I graduated from Northland International University (Middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin) with a B.A. degree in English, but most of what I know about writing is the result of years of trial-and- error. And reading. Lots of reading. Most of the time, my writing veers towards the light-hearted, snarky side of the spectrum. I don’t like to take myself too seriously, especially since fantasy writers in general have the tendency to sound super somber.

How did the premise for Where the Woods Grow Wild come about? What inspired it?

Believe it or not, I got the original seed of an idea for WtWGW while watching a Let’s Play of Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I found the premise of two friends (friends? wink-nudge) being separated in a brand new world pretty intriguing, and I’d always wanted to write a book about adventures set in a forest. The idea grew from there.

What would you say was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the book written and published, and how did you overcome it?

My first round of edits was probably the most challenging part. I had to completely rewrite about 2/3 of the novel because of some major plot changes I felt I needed to make, and I had to do so in less than a month to (more or less) meet my deadlines.

What is your favorite writing-craft resource?

I thought Stein on Writing (Sol Stein) was super helpful, but it’s been quite some time since I tackled any one resource. A lot of dabbling in various blogs and websites for specific bits of advice, but I’m a pretty big fan of finding my own way (for better or for worse).

What is your favorite fiction book of all time…besides mine, of course? (I’m kidding. XD)

Oh man, you just had to ask that question, didn’t you? Uhm…The Princess Bride would definitely be near the top, along with Aftermath by Chuck Wendig, The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander…I’ll stop there.

What’s your favorite music to listen to while writing?

Whatever fits the mood of the scene I’m writing (if anything at all). Usually Spotify playlists filled with soundtracks. If possible, however, I write without music. I prefer an open window and a quiet house.

As a fellow aspiring artist (who’s not nearly as talented as you), I have to ask, what has helped you the most in improving your art?

Nate's painting of his character Elodie from Where the Woods Grow Wild.

Well, I bought my first Wacom tablet back in October, so I haven't been at it for very long, but I've been watching tons of artists on Youtube who've done tutorials, or even just watching them work in real time. I also hop on Pinterest or Artstation whenever I have a moment and observe different art styles that I like. And for every piece I share online (which has been, what, two so far?) I have twenty that I don't share because they're just for me to improve. Even since painting the Elodie piece, I feel like I've learned so much, so I'll look forward to sharing something new in the near future! 

What advice would you give to other young authors planning to self-publish their books?

I’ve said this to others and myself many times before: don’t rush. Trying to hurry through any given step of the process leads to guaranteed mistakes. It’s always worth waiting for a better result, even if it means not publishing something as soon as you’d like to. I learned that the hard way.

If I may ask, how did you come to live in Barcelona?

Well, the port guards found me as a baby floating in with the Mediterranean tide in a barrel…well, no, not really. I’ve lived here for twenty years, i.e. most of my life. I teach English as a second language here, my family started a Christian trilingual school, and we’ve got relatives on my mother’s side here as well. Kind of a family thing to go live abroad, you know?

OK, Star Wars time. 😀 If you got hired to write the screenplay of a Star Wars Anthology film and could use any era and characters you wanted, which ones would you pick?

Star Wars time is the best time (coincidentally, I’m answering these questions on May 4th!). And this is a fantastic question. So many possibilities! So much power! Unlimited—wait a minute…Okay, I’d have to go with either A.) an anthology film about Hera Syndulla and how she ‘adopts’ her crew members one at a time, or B.) an anthology film about Darth Vader during the Jedi Purge following the events of Revenge of the Sith.

If Where the Woods Grow in Flames were a summer blockbuster movie, what would the ultra-mysterious teaser trailer look like?

Oh boy. I think you said it yourself: ultra-mysterious. I think part of the appeal of the forest is never knowing what’s in it (until it’s too late to go back!), so I wouldn’t show anything in its entirety in the teaser. Maybe a growl here, a claw there, and a cloud of puffernut dust over yonder. There would definitely be a shot of Podgin digging for truffles, because come on. It’d be wrong not to. Oh, and Illo needs to have a snarky retort in there as well. (I’m going to stop writing now, but my teaser-ideas are definitely warming up now!) One can hope, right?

Here’s the synopsis for Where the Woods Grow Wild:

A forest looms over Bardun Village. Nobody goes in. Nothing comes out. The secrets in the oaks remain hidden until a mischievous escapade thrusts Martin and Elodie behind the silent trees. Separated and lost in a tangle of fantasy, they discover more than animals roam where the woods grow wild.

Don’t bother telling me how lengthy your TBR is. Buy it and read it. Also, you should follow Nate’s awesome and inspiring blog, and look him up on Twitter.

Thank you, Nate! Now get back to work on Where the Woods Grow in Flames. Right now.


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