If you begin to express yourself you will find your voice and tone: An online interview with Niall Rasputin
Niall Rasputin: Poet and author. Lives on a houseboat in SE Louisiana.
Dupur Mitra: What are you working on now?
Niall Rasputin: I am currently working on several projects. I just finished a collection of 10 prose poems titled Ghost Walk. It is a series of poems about a male soul falling through time and space from one broken romantic relationship to another, and how the pains we all face in our lives ultimately help to prepare us for a true love. Within the next few days, I will start seeking publishers for this series.
I’m also working on a supernatural comedy novel about demons. This project will take much longer. I do not have a project ‘finish date’ yet. But, when I finish it, I think it will be a lot of fun to read
I have several writing projects going all of the time: song lyrics, scripts, plays, short stories, essays, etc. I have too many projects to mention them all.
Dupur Mitra: What inspired you to become a writer?
Niall Rasputin: I was just born like this. I have been writing poetry since I learned to read and write. Many writers and poets have inspired me over time. But, the truth is, I just can’t stop writing or creating art. It is the purpose for which I was created. Birds fly, fish swim, I write.
Dupur Mitra: Could you explain your own particular writing process, including schedule, rituals and methods?
Niall Rasputin: I have two separate writing processes. The process I use for poetry and lyrics is very different from the process I use when writing fiction.
When writing poems and lyrics, I will meditate and clear my conscious mind as much as I possibly can. Then, I free write. Usually, I will write about 100 pages with no breaks or structure. I just let my subconscious mind flow out as it wishes. After that free writing is complete, I take a rest from the body of words I have created. After a rest, I come back to the body of words and scavenge through for phrases, word combinations, or expressed thoughts and emotions that inspire me. From a single free writing session I can usually create 30 to40 poems or songs. Not every poem or song is worth sharing in my opinion, but most of the time I can pull 15 to 20 pieces that are worth sharing. I use the throwaways for cut-up.
When writing fiction I use a very different process. I begin by creating a basic outline of my entire story. Next, I write back stories for each character. Then, I begin writing the story. The story always changes as I become inspired by certain characters or sequences, but, as it does, I amend my original outlines to match with what I have created. For me it is very similar to updating a map as I explore a geographical location. I can always go back to the outline to remind myself of what I want the story to become.
Dupur Mitra: What inspires and influences your writing the most?
Niall Rasputin: Everything inspires me. The entire world is my muse. I am especially interested in the human experience. The internal and external struggles we all bear. I must admit that the aspects of ourselves and our lives that we tend to keep hidden inspire me most. The hatreds and loves we hide within ourselves because they make us vulnerable can tell some pretty amazing stories. Also, the addictions and habits we form that we fear showing to others. I believe the things we hide are an important part of what connects us all. I believe that shining a light into the darkness we create in our minds goes a long way to letting us know how connected and how similar we all are; the shortcomings and weaknesses we hide are as indicative of our commonality as the victories and strengths we often openly share.
Dupur Mitra: Do you write your stories according to a pre-organized plotline?
Niall Rasputin: Yes. I explained this process earlier.
Dupur Mitra: What was the best piece of advice you’ve received with respect to the art of writing?
Niall Rasputin: My father was a great thinker and writer, though he chose to keep most of his work private. He taught me to write. He told me that writing was about making connections with other humans. He taught me that, through expression and communication, we can overcome our differences and do away with our prejudices. I believe he was correct. Through reading and writing, I have learned to love and respect many different cultures and personality types that I could just as easily ignore or disdain without good reason. I have learned that people everywhere struggle with similar internal issues. I have also learned that peoples’ actions are often reactions to the environments and societal pressures they live with. Once you have read about or seen what another person is dealing with, it becomes much harder to judge them or hate them. Artistic expression is a powerful tool. We can use it to come closer together, or to move farther apart. The best advice I’ve ever received is use it as a vehicle spreading understanding, as opposed to spreading confusion.
Dupur Mitra: How did you implement it into your work?
Niall Rasputin: It is what my work is about. It is the core of why I write.
Dupur Mitra: What’s your favorite novel?
Niall Rasputin: My favorite novel by a living author is The Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore. My two favorite novels by an non-living artists are Notes From The Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson.
Dupur Mitra: Your favorite book of criticism or nonfiction?
Niall Rasputin: I enjoy the criticisms of J.R.R. Tolkien. But, my favorite book of nonfiction is Zen and the Birds of Appetite by Thomas Merton. I enjoy this book, not because I agree with what it says, but because it shows the similarities of two different belief systems and cultures that most believe are total opposites.
Dupur Mitra: Can you talk about your new novel?
Niall Rasputin: My novel is a supernatural comedy about 3 tribes of demons competing to take over Hell. They are all attempting to find a seal which has been hidden in the heart of a human. Most of the battles and competition take place on earth. It speaks about the concept of psycho-spiritual warfare with a lighter tone. It is a black comedy. I hesitate to say more because the novel may change a thousand times before I finish it.
Dupur Mitra: Which type of fiction you like more and why?
Niall Rasputin: I am a naturally strange person. I tend to enjoy strange stories. Fantasy and Science Fiction are my favorite genres. I just love to see where the human mind can take us. I also tend to enjoy stories and novels that have a comedic edge to them
Dupur Mitra: What advice would you give beginning writers?
Niall Rasputin: My advice would be to write. Don’t think about it too much. Don’t overanalyze processes and writing tools. Just write. If you begin to express yourself you will find your voice and tone. If you mess it up, then you can fix it with your editing process. But, it’s just like anything else you do: you may study vocal music your entire life, but until you sing a song you are not a singer. You may study writing your entire life, but until you write something, you are not a writer.