Sunday, March 17, 2013

Interview with Author Nikki Palomino

Give us a quick introduction on yourself and your book.
2003 named Writer’s Digest Best Genre Short Story Writer, written many short stories for print rags, erotica for Foggy Windows Publishing, covered music for rags from Los Angeles Country Examiner, Blast, Buddy Magazine, to NYC’s indie magazines, studied under feature writers at both the Houston Chronicle and Houston Post. Co-writer and co-producer of Palomino Productions in Los Angeles with Film Noir, Baby, and award-winning dark comedy, The Rug, as well as TV pilot Our Way of Life for ABC.
DAZED (The Story of a Grunge Rocker) Silver Publishing is the first in the DAZED series in negotiation for movie option. Protagonist Eric Peterson returns home from the Portland streets to find most things unchanged, but a fellow art student sees the pain beneath the artistic brilliance as the men struggle to survive in a world that hates junkies and fags.
What inspired you to write your first book?

Having been part of what I call the underbelly of heaven (bullied, runaway, grunge rock musician hanging with punk rock icons like Patti Smith, etc.) I naturally gravitated toward the music and art scene. So very early on, I became involved with a junkie musician. Everything was beautiful, the discovering of each other’s bodies, the rush of dope, the falling in love among the rebellion where we existed for one purpose, to overwhelm our brainstems with the flood of endorphins. When he died of an overdose, I didn’t have to look far. By then I was playing infamous clubs like CBGB’s as a grunge rock musician. When I hit the strip in L.A., covering music for various rags, I met the grunge rock junkie musician, Kurt Cobain of the band Nirvana. He stood on the precipice of success. He seesawed in the playground others prayed for. I immediately recognized what drew me to him, his invincibility and total absence of discomfort when he spiked. Every junkie I knew thought I could fix them. I didn’t realize at the time, they had fixed me.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I’d say, raw, impulsive, graphic, sparing no one the pain. Reaching into a junkie’s guts, you wonder how deep you have to dig. What I find is the tainted strand of words.

How did you come up with the title?

I used to sit on the couch staring at Kurt nodding. If I started to get up, he’d grab my arm and pull me back down. When I looked into his pinpoint pupils, all I could think was DAZED.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Romance doesn’t have to be between two people. In DAZED, the romance is between Eric and heroin.

How much of the book is realistic?

All of it. A junkie’s heart stings like a mutha, and he just wants to rip it out. In the end, he knows there will never be enough drugs to make things right.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Kurt was my biggest influence because he could have self-medicated with a whole different drug, success. He was like a dog forgotten in the bliss of affection, completely oblivious to the stress of the last beating and, if he could have really looked at what he was given, he might have chosen a different path. But he didn’t. I knew him when he was so wasted he couldn’t get off the bathroom floor or stop puking or shaking or crying and the whole time he’d beg to do something to make him stop. No one can kick the habit for a junkie. I learned that lesson the hard way. The weight of his life seemed to put nothing right, except the ability to write what others judge to this day.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Too many to mention, but Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds is the best description of human frailty spilling from each breath.
“The smaller birds were at the window now. He recognized the light tap-tapping of their beaks and the soft brush of their wings. The hawks ignored the windows. They concentrated their attack upon the door. Nat listened to the tearing sound of splintering wood, and wondered how many million years of memory were stored in those little brains, behind the stabbing beaks, the piercing eyes, now giving them this instinct to destroy mankind with all the deft precision of machines.”

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Can’t do one. Truman Capote and Sylvia Plath for we spilled the same mistakes.

What book are you reading now?

Rosemary’s Baby. Ira Levin nailed the American horror story set in modern times.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Rick R. Reed and Billie Sue Mosiman, and we are very lucky to have a group coming up the ranks that have paid their dues, grabbing the words from those ghosts haunting our bodies.

What are your current projects?

Second in the DAZED series, STILL DAZED (Through a Grunge Rocker’s Eyes) coming 2013 and a new series, The Underground Diaries, based on my runaway years set in NYC late 80’s.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Survival Instincts, uninterrupted.

Do you see writing as a career?

Already is.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Hard to say since STILL DAZED is already written and the third being thought out.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I grew up in a small town in Texas. In the back stood a field, two ditches and a gravel road lined with blackberry bushes. I was ADHD so my energy surpassed the constraints of nothingness. The only place I could escape to was my imagination. My parents didn’t have lots of money so books were limited to the small selection at the library. My grandfather was a writer, and when we’d visit Overland, I’d sit in his office and watch him type. I just remember the sheer joy washing over his face as he placed his words in a logical progression. I knew then I wanted to be a writer. It was from my grandfather’s library I discovered Truman Capote, James Cain, Flannery O’Conner, Harper Lee, Eudora Welty, and poets like Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath. I never got to keep the books, so I kept their most prized words and let them circle my brain like the stars circle the moon, at least in my imagination.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

STILL DAZED (Through a Grunge Rocker’s Eyes), 2nd in the DAZED novel series, has an unanswered question on each page, “Why can’t protagonist Eric Peterson stop using smack?” Eric’s journey through burgeoning grunge rock fame begins within the constraints of small town prejudice. Surrounded by a cast of unlikely characters who automatically fall into their enabling roles, he fights his inner demons. A young man in pain, he’s desperate for his mother’s approval and struggles through an empire of dope to choose what no one wants him to and survives an American nightmare, a world that hates junkies and fags.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Reliving what I’d put behind me.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Somerset Maugham, a hand-scrawled scrap of paper with his guts smeared bloodied on the page.

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

On occasion. With social media, traveling unfortunately is kept to a minimum. There’s something about eye to eye that makes an author and his work resonate.

Who designed the cover?

Reese Dante

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I find the experience a dream, even the crap parts like editing.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

That I want to write even more; it’s the air I breathe.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write like your gutting yourself. Otherwise your words are not worth permanence.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

To live with Eric, isn’t pretty, so use his experience to understand a different aspect of life.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

Remembering what I’d wanted to forget.