Interview with Bobby Nash, author of the SNOW series and more
Today it gives the Indie Crime Scene great pleasure to interview Bobby Nash, author of the SNOW series and more.
You wear many different hats: award-winning writer, small press publisher with BEN Books, comic book artist and occasional actor. You are also a member of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers and International Thriller Writers. Can you tell us something about that and how you came to be a writer, and much more.
Yeah. I don’t like to stand still. I love creating and telling stories. I’ve been fortunate to do that through writing, art, acting, podcasting, and the like. I was an only child until I was nine, so I played outside alone, and imagination was key. Eventually, I discovered art and my dream was to draw comics. I started writing comics to have things to draw. From there, I moved into short stories then novels. I eventually tried my hand at screenwriting and even wrote a couple of full0cast audio scripts. I enjoy experimenting in different formats and trying new things.
Thrillers and crime fiction are my go-to genres most of the time and writing media tie-in stories is great fun. It’s like revisiting old, familiar friends in a way. I try to do them as often as I can. BEN Books is my indie press and I do several series there, mostly in the crime, thriller, action, mystery, and adventure genres. I love those genres so revisiting them is fun. I’m a hybrid author. I do my personal projects through BEN Books, but I also write for other publishers. I like the balance between self-publishing and traditional publishing.
Tell us about your interest in Pulp Fiction. You were named Best Author in the 2013 Pulp Ark Awards, and Rick Ruby, a character you co-created with Sean Taylor, was named Best New Pulp Character of 2013. You have received many more awards and nominations in that genre. What sparked your interest in Pulp and why?
I was a pulp fan before I knew the definition of pulp. I have always been drawn to writing action-packed stories before I knew they were called pulp in some circles. When I was asked to write some stories for an anthology of new pulp stories, I jumped at the chance… after asking what pulp was, of course. Ha! Ha! Pulp is a very straightforward way of telling a story. No subplots or side stories, just telling the story, usually in a fast-paced manor. I love it.
Rick Ruby and The Ruby Files is one of those lightning in a bottle moments that I didn’t see coming. When Sean and I started working out the characters and settings, we knew we had something special. Thankfully, other writers, a publisher, and readers agreed. Both volumes of The Ruby Files were nominated for, and won, several awards. Sean and I are incredibly proud papas.
Awards are a nice bonus and I am incredibly honored to have been nominated and won a few for my writing. It makes you feel good.
You have written in various genres and forms, from short stories to novels to screenplays (and not forgetting comic books). Do you have a favourite type of story and what are the different challenges of writing them?
Each format has its own enjoyments and challenges. Short stories and novels are the most me as I am writing all of it. Succeed or fail, it’s all on me. With comic books and scripts, there’s a collaboration involved with the artist(s) and actor(s). It’s fun to see how all of the pieces come together. I tend to write prose most often. It’s just me, my characters, and the laptop.
You are a prolific writer, with two new novels coming out in November. How do you manage your time?
I would love to say that I have a great time management system, but I don’t. Procrastination is my favorite hobby. In all seriousness, I try to write every day. It’s a job so I schedule it like I would any other job. Deadlines help keep me focused. I know what I need to do each day to meet the deadlines and I make it happen.
The Snow series is my love letter to the private detective, cop, and crimefighter stories I grew up reading and watching. Snow is a bit Magnum p.i., a bit The Rockford Files, a little bit MacGyver, with just a hint of Scooby Doo tossed in for good measure. The idea first came about as a Movie/TV idea. I didn’t really have a way to make it happen so the idea went into the back of my mind until I talked to a publisher that asked if I had any stories to pitch. I dusted it off and Snow was born. When the rights reverted to me, I decided to keep Snow going as part of BEN Books. I have been excited by the reaction to the series. Readers seem to like Abraham Snow, but they love his grandfather, Archer Snow.
Keeping with the TV theme, the novellas are stand alone, but the first six make up one big story. Going forward, the books won’t have such long arcs, though subplots will continue from book to book.
Abraham Snow is a former government agent. He worked deep undercover cases for well over a decade. When the series begins, his cover is blown. Snow is shot and left for dead, but he survives and tries to re-enter his life, reconnect with family, but he can’t quite walk away from the job, which gets him into trouble. Plus, he can’t quite let that last case go unfinished.
What about the Tom Myers Mystery series? Your readers first meet Tom Myers in Evil Ways. How does his story develop and what can we expect from the latest instalment?
Tom Myers is the sheriff of a fictional Georgia county called Sommersville. He first appears in Evil Ways, though he’s not the main character. After I wrapped Evil Ways, I never expected to write the character again, but when I wrote Deadly Games!, part of the story eventually moved out of Atlanta into the country so I used Sommersville again. As I was writing, the character kept reminding me that “this is the point where they should call the cops, right?” until I finally gave in and had Myers and his deputies appear again. As before, I figured that would be the last time I wrote him. However, Tom Myers is a persistent character. He kept popping up into my mind often until I finally had a story for him. That story became In The Wind – A Tom Myers Mystery. The response to the book was nice so I wrote a second, which will be out in November, called Such A Night – A Tom Myers Mystery. A third book is in the planning stages for 2022 called Standing on the Shadows – A Tom Myers Mystery. I have plans beyond that as well. That’s one of the things I love about a good character. They won’t let me forget about them. They refuse to be ignored.
What made you set up your own small press, BEN Books, and what do you publish?
I started BEN Books when the rights to my first published novel, Evil Ways reverted back to me. I wanted to get it back out there and BEN Books was born. For a time, BEN Books was a place where I put special projects or projects where the rights had reverted to me. That’s what happened with Snow Falls, but when I decided to continue it, BEN Books became more of a serious publishing venture. It’s still a work in progress, but I started publishing other writers this year. I invited some writers to pen Snow stories for me. It’s been an interesting experience.
Today, BEN Books is home to my creator-owned projects. The Snow series (Snow Falls, Snow Storm, etc), the Sheriff Tom Myers series (In The Wind, Such A Night, etc), the Harold Palmer series (Evil Ways, Evil Intent), the Bartlett and West series (Deadly Games!, Deadly Deals!), and other books that may or may not get series treatment like Suicide Bomb. All of the books mentioned above exist in the same universe so there can be crossover there, which I enjoy writing. I also do some Lance Star: Sky Ranger under BEN Books as well as Airship 27 and the odd ideas that interest me.
How important are cover art and illustration to your novels and what artists do you work with?
The cover is your first opportunity to convince a reader to look at a book so I consider it extremely important. The first thing a reader sees is the cover, then they usually look at the back cover, then page one. A good, solid cover really helps sell a book. I like to experiment with covers. I have done phot covers, design covers, and full art covers. I have been very fortunate to work with some amazing cover artists over the years at BEN Books and other publishers. Jeffrey Hayes, Mark Maddox, Uwe Jarling, Dennis Calero, Douglas Klauba, Rob Davis, Sean Ali, Michael Kaluta, Jeff Austin, Tony Elwood, Natania Barron, Rick Johnson, and more. There are a lot of fantastic artists out there.
You release some of your books in a serialised version, for example Deadly Games, which was the 2013 Pulp Ark Nominee for Best Novel. How does the serialisation work and what particular challenges does it create for you as a writer?
I started serializing novels and novellas a couple of years ago on my Patreon page (www.patreon.com/bobbynash). There’s a couple of reasons I started. The first was to make sure that my patrons are getting their money’s worth. I am a firm believe in giving them more bang for their buck, so I started serializing as a way to put up fresh, new story content weekly. $1 a month gets 2 chapters a week. What I discovered was that doing this also increased my productivity, so I use the serialized format to keep personal projects moving along while also working on other assignments. It has been quite a fun challenge. I also like playing with the concept of cliffhangers and the like. The bonus to doing the serialized work is that it affords me multiple opportunities to pre-promote the book while it’s being written so that when it eventually gets released to the public, they’ve hopefully been following along or are at least familiar with it. I’m loving it and hope to continue for a long time.
Suicide Bomb was a fun experiment. Someone once pointed out that I kill someone in almost every book I’ve written. With this novel, I decided to double down and kill a lot of characters in very unique ways. The Controller has discovered a way to turn ordinary people into targeted assassins. Then, once they’ve fulfilled their mission they take their own life. The challenge was to find a way to make the story work and tie all of the murders together so we actually see the progression as he perfects his method. The Controller became the ultimate boogey man for our heroes, DC Metro homicide detective Catherine Jackson and disgraced Secret Service agent Samantha Patterson. Jacks and Sam work together to stop The Controller before he can reach his ultimate target, the President of the United States. I created a fictional President and there’s a good deal of political intrigue mixed in with the action and suspense. The Controller has an endgame. Once he perfects his methods, he’ll be able to make millions as a killer for hire.
Suicide Bomb was the first book I did serialized. I had started writing it years ago but kept sitting it aside to work on other projects. Serializing it allowed me to edit, update, and finish the story and get it out into the world. The biggest change came in the identity of The Controller, which I won’t spoil here, but a friend of mine asked to be a villain in one of my novels so that’s The Controller’s real name. My friend was quite pleased, which made me happy.
I would like to revisit Jacks and Sam again one day. I just have to find the right story for them.
You mention that you have appeared in several movies including Creepshow, Joe Stryker, Doom Patrol, The Outsider, Ozark, Lodge 49, Slutty Teenage Bounty Hunters, and more. This sounds really cool - how did you come to be involved?
I love movies and TV. When the opportunity came about to be an extra, I decided to give it a try. It was fun and I take background gigs from time to time. From there I was able to move into a few featured roles and roles with dialogue. I enjoy acting and try to do it as often as I can. As a writer, I work alone in a room most of the time so being creative on set while surrounded by other creative people is amazing. I’ve met some wonderful people, played some fun parts, and learned a lot about how filming works. Also, since I’m in a scene with Kevin Bacon on The Following, I win the Six Degrees game all the time. Ha! Ha!
I’ve had the opportunity to play a tech guy, a sword-wielding Santa Claus hunting werewolves, the victim of a serial killer, a cop, an FBI agent, a gambler, a hippy, a costumed weirdo, an innocent bystander, a kooky guy buying a chair, angry fat guy (I get that one a lot), and more. It’s been a great experience. The past couple of years have put a damper on my ability to do as much as I would like, but I hope to get back to doing it again soon.
What would you say to a young writer starting out in the crime and thriller genres today?
My first piece of advice is always to write what you like. You will enjoy yourself a lot more if you write what interests you instead of trying to guess what the market is looking for or what’s popular. Decide what your goals as a writer are and plan accordingly. Not everyone is looking for the same thing out of their writing. Some write as a hobby and there is nothing wrong with that. Some want it to be their career. Also, nothing wrong with that, but both have different goals and ways to achieve them. If writing as a career is your goal, you have to treat it like a job. Yes, it’s a job you love, but it’s still a job. That means meeting deadlines, staying home to get your words in instead of going to the movies on occasion, that sort of thing.
Most importantly, though, have fun.
Do you have any favourites amongst the classic pulps?
I fell in love with the Domino Lady as soon as I read the original stories from 1936. I had already been hired to write a story, so I tracked down the originals, read them, and was instantly hooked. Domino Lady’s story is a classic crime thriller. Her father, a crusading public defender is murdered by the people he was trying to stop. Ellen Patrick returns home from studying abroad and fashions a plan to not only avenge her father’s death, but to clean up 1930’s Los Angeles and save her city. She’s amazing and I love writing her adventures.
I also enjoyed writing The Spider, The Avenger, and Secret Agent X. Great characters.
Writers are often advised to “write to market”. What do you think of that advice?
As I mentioned above, I think it’s a bad idea. I always advise writers to write what they enjoy. Here’s why… let’s say you write a vampire novel (as an example) and you are not a fan of the genre, but you did it because it’s popular. Now, say your book becomes a hit and you get typecast as a vampire writer. Now, you’re writing vampires for the rest of your career and are unhappy because you aren’t writing what you love. That’s why playing to the market can backfire. At least that’s been my experience.
What are you working on at the moment?
I always have multiple projects going. I’m currently serializing two novels; Lance Star: Sky Ranger “Cold Snap” (a WWII pulp thriller) and Deadly Deals! (a crime/thriller), posting a chapter from both each week. In process is a pulp adventure novel that hasn’t been announced yet so I can’t share the title, the fourth book in the Hunter Houston: Horror Hunter series, a cozy mystery that I am co-writing with an author friend, and I’ve started prep on Snow Hunt (book 7 in the Snow series) and Standing on the Shadows (book 3 in the Tom Myers series). There are a few short stories scattered about as well.
About Bobby Nash:
Bobby Nash is not a man of action, a detective, or a hero, but he loves writing about characters who are all those things and more. Bobby is an award-winning author of novels, comic books, short stories, screenplays, and more. He is a member of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers and International Thriller Writers. On occasion, he acts, appearing in movies and TV shows, usually standing behind your favorite actor. From time to time, he puts pen to paper and doodles. For more information on Bobby Nash and his work, please visit him at www.bobbynash.com, www.ben-books.com, and across social media.