I recently had the opportunity to interview Nicolas Brown, the President of the Canadian Authors Association-Alberta Branch. He was the Issues editor of the “NAIT Nugget” (a student newspaper at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) from 2015-2016 and has worked briefly in the University of Alberta’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
T I: I have read a few of your writing pieces in the NAIT Nugget from when you were the Issues editor from 2015-2016. How would you describe the experience of being the Issues Editor during your time at NAIT? Has it improved your confidence in your work as a writer?
As someone who came from a non-writing background (being an accounting student to a professional working in public accounting), working at NAIT’s campus newspaper, The NAIT Nugget, was my main introduction to writing in a professional environment. It was also an introduction to managing, editing, and providing constructive feedback on others’ writing. However, it also opened the doors to many opportunities to network and develop the skills necessary to interview and research topics. As a writer, regardless of your genre, writing style, or chosen format, these kinds of skills can be extremely valuable.
T I: I see that you have an interest in the genres of science fiction and fantasy fiction. Are there any literary works you have come across that are of great significance to you in the way they present their selective genres?
For my fantasy writing, my go-to author for inspiration is Tamora Pierce. A New York Times best-seller who writes primarily fantasy-fiction for young adults, it’s very much the genre and market I see my fantasy projects fitting. Of course, R.A. Salvatore and Tolkien are also my favorites for epic fantasy and universe building. All three of these authors’ works serve as my benchmarks for my fantasy work, mostly on how to develop characters and fantasy components, but really for everything.
For my science fiction, David Weber’s Honor Harrington series is one of my favorites, along with John G. Hemry’s The Lost Fleet series (written under the pen name Jack Campbell). Both are, once again, literally universe-building authors who can write amazing voluminous series that still flow together very well. Their works are certainly the benchmark to which I compare my science fiction drafts for technical detail and feasibility. These authors have managed to balance that fine line of “technically believable” while still being sufficiently futuristic and “sci-fi”.
T I: As President of the Alberta Branch of the Canadian Writers Association, what do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your participation in volunteer writer work?
As I’m sure any volunteer who leads a project or runs an organization will tell you, there is always something to do, and to go wrong. Yet I keep giving it my best effort, for two reasons. First, simply because if people don’t step up, who will do the work? I’d love to say that there will always be somebody to volunteer, but that isn’t the case. Second, because I love to help people. Both the Writers Guild of Alberta and the Canadian Authors Association – Alberta Branch run several programs designed to engage and support writers. I want to see writers succeed because that means the time I’ve spent has been worth it. It also reaffirms for me that I can do it too because I’ve helped other writers do it.
Mr. Brown’s answers have certainly provided some insight to me of what the early career of a writer may look like. I found his enjoyment of Science and Fantasy fiction to be similar to my own interests in literature, and I look forward to picking up his upcoming crime-thriller short story anthology when he releases it to bookstores.