Micro-interview: Nathaniel Katz

There are many people who work to make Innsmouth Free Press happen. One of them is Nathaniel Katz, our editorial assistant. Today, we interview him.

IFP: Why are you interested in the publishing world?

NK: Wanting to know more about publishing came as a pretty natural consequence of loving stories for me. Being familiar with the first, writing stage of a book’s life and then seeing finished, published books left me curious about what came between, about how a word document turns into a hardcover and lands in someone’s hands. From a writing perspective, I also figured that it couldn’t hurt my chances of publication if I actually knew what publication consisted of.

IFP: What do you want to do when you grow up? Or mutate into a new life form?

NK: I don’t see my love of stories going anywhere. I imagine that, whatever I am doing, I will be reading and writing, and an interest in publishing will likely go along with that.

At the same time, I do intend to further pursue my interests in history, particularly Roman and Medieval. While reading about Caesar involves less nightgaunts than reading Lovecraft, I don’t see history as all that separate from literature. Both are, at least at the remove of a millennium or two, stories, with the latter mostly differing in being almost unimaginably complex and rich.

IFP: What grabs you in a story? What advice would you give an aspiring Innsmouth writer?

NK: The gold standard for fiction, in my opinion, is a mixture of profundity and entertainment. Make me believe you have something to show me about the world and convince me that nothing could possibly be a more enjoyable use of my time than seeing it.

For horror and Weird fiction, one of the main things I look for is a palpable atmosphere, a sense of being immersed in its strangeness and/or darkness. That can be achieved in any number of ways, such as the powerful prose and bleak vision of Thomas Ligotti or the visceral, living and hurting characters of Poppy Z. Brite. However it’s done, though, a good Weird story has to be, well, weird.

In terms of more specific things that get me excited, anything historical grabs me right away. But that carries the huge caveat that, if I get the sense you don’t know what you are talking about, you’ve lost me for good right there.

As for someone wanting to submit to Innsmouth specifically, I would advise them to read the magazine. Get an idea of what kinds of stories the press likes. And enjoy those stories along the way, of course.

IFP: How did you discover Weird and horror fiction?

NK: I read Stephen King when I was pretty young, starting with Cell and then Needful Things, selecting which title to read next based on the highly scientific process of whatever order the local bookstore had them in on the shelf.

But I didn’t read much of the genre besides King until in the early part of high school, when a friend wouldn’t stop talking about H.P. Lovecraft. Eventually, mostly to get him to shut up about it, I got a slim Best Of-type collection. After reading “The Rats in the Wall” and “The Picture in the House,” my reaction was – meh. My friend, confused and a little distraught, begged me to give him one more chance. The third story was “The Outsider.” I fell in love. Two days later, I dove into the thick Barnes & Noble collection with all of his fiction, and he’s been one of my favorite authors since. I’ve even reread “The Rats in the Wall” and “The Picture in the House” a few times, and come to appreciate them, though I wouldn’t call either a favorite.

After that, I tore through all the horror and Weird fiction I could find, reading modern writers like Adam Nevill and Caitlin R. Kiernan and classic Weird authors, mostly chosen from their appearances in Lovecraft’s “Supernatural Horror in Literature.”

IFP: What are some of your favorite books?

NK: For Weird, Lovecraft and Ligotti’s short stories have no equals for me. Outside, my favorite books are George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the War, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.

IFP: Best monster ever?

NK: I think I might have to go with Stephen King’s Pennywise from It. That clown had the luck to get to me before I was older and more jaded, to play around in my imagination and subconscious before I had built up defenses.

As a general type, though, Lovecraftian cosmic monstrosities can’t be beaten, seeing as I still get excited whenever I come across one in fiction and have yet to find a non-Pennywise clown that didn’t just make me groan.

Bio: Nathaniel Katz is working towards a handsome pair of degrees in English and History at Kenyon College. In all the free time he’s allowed, he reads, writes and reviews Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror. His stories have appeared in, among other places, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Fantastic Frontiers Magazine and Innsmouth Free Press’s Historical Lovecraft anthology. His reviews have wound up on Strange Horizons, the Innsmouth site, and his review blog and internet abode, The Hat Rack: >evilhat.blogspot.com.


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IFPMicro-interview: Nathaniel Katz