photo by Susan Larikis (c) http:/franznicolay.com
with Franz Nicolay:
SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter @franznicolay; Instagram @franznicolay; Facebook.com/franznicolay
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Franz: I started writing keeping notes when I was on the road with bands in the late aughts, wrote some short stories and magazine articles, and finally decided it was time to attempt a book-length project. That became my first book, the travelogue The Humorless Ladies of Border Control. The biggest influence on that project was Rebecca West, specifically Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. As far as fiction, this is not a particularly original answer, but I will never not get a thrill out of reading Nabokov: the humor, the snobbery, the pathetic fallacies, the easter eggs, the hand outreached asking you to join him in the process—I love it all.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Franz: I’m profoundly impressed by Rachel Cusk and Helen DeWitt, though I’m not sure I could say that my writing has anything in common with theirs, if that’s what you mean by “influence.” The sharp, uncompromising intelligence in their work is as inspiring as it is intimidating.
Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/artist/musician?
Franz: I was single-minded about being a musician from the time I was in elementary school; by the early 2010s I had begun to find their just wasn’t room in songs for the kind of language I wanted to be using and the only place for it was on the page.
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
Franz: I’ve worked with some very sharp editors—Wendy Lesser at the Threepenny Review comes to mind—and had some wonderfully generous teachers, notably Sam Lipsyte.
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away influence your work?
Franz: I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire called Center Sandwich, in fairly isolated conditions in the woods. It was a wonderful way to grow up, but by the time I was 17 or 18 I was ready to engage with the world a little more. I suspect that has something to do with my interest in travelling and especially peoples’ vernacular, idioms, quirks, and especially their stories and how they frame them.
Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?
Franz: World/Inferno Friendship Society’s Red-Eyed Soul; Guignol & Mischief Brew Fight Dirty; The Hold Steady Open Door Policy; my own record Do The Struggle; maybe this novel? I need a little more distance to know for sure.
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
Franz: I run; I go used-record shopping; I buy Soviet watches online from time to time; I enjoy a cocktail.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?
Franz: Here’s a lyric I’m kind of proud of: “The frayed shaft of the sun makes the tower in the light jump into falsetto.”
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Franz: My novel Someone Should Pay For Your Pain is out August 24 on Gibson House Press.