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JULY 31, 2012
Interview with author Nick Arvin

Award winning Colorado author Nick Arvin will be visiting two Jefferson County Public Library book groups for the discussion of his newest book, The Reconstructionist. His previous novel, Articles of War, received the Colorado Book award and was selected for the One Book, One Denver program. Visitors are welcome to attend these discussions. Belmar Library Wednesday Night Book Group, August 1, 6:00 pm Standley Lake Library Thursday Night Book Group, September 13, 6:00 pm

We asked Nick a few questions about his writing.

JCPL: The main character in The Reconstructionist is Ellis Barstow, a man whose childhood was marred by a car accident. Ellis works as a forensic engineer analyzing car crashes in order to determine what caused them. How did you come to create a character with such an unusual occupation?

Nick: Because it was my occupation! I’m an engineer, and for a couple of years I worked in forensic engineering. I sort of stumbled into it, but I knew from the first day that I wanted to write a novel about the work. The work itself was basically a process of creating little mini-stories about the accidents we were working on, and these accidents were dramatic and tragic, and the process of creating these mini-stories was really interesting, but also discomforting in the way that that the it required applying cold, analytical techniques to examining terribly human situations. I had great material in hand, from the details and stories of working in accident reconstruction, but it took a lot of work to develop characters and a larger story that made the material meaningful. I also felt a real obligation to do my very best to honor and do justice to the stories I was working with.

JCPL: When did you start writing and what was your first publication?

Nick: I started writing short stories in high school, and never stopped. My first publication was about ten years later, a short story in a literary journal published by the University of Alabama, The Black Warrior Review. A couple of years after that, I sold my first book, a collection of stories titled In the Electric Eden.

JCPL: Which authors or books have most influenced you?

Nick: Influence is hard to parse. I read a lot, and all of it affects my own writing. Let me recommend a couple of engineers who turned to writing fiction: Stewart O’Nan, a former aerospace engineer who has written a stack of excellent novels on all sorts of themes; and George Saunders, who studied at the Colorado School of Mines and is now possibly the most interesting and funniest writer of short fiction in America.

JCPL: What are you working on now?

Nick: I'm well into a collection of stories about engineers and other technical types -- the kind of people who are creating the technologies and machines that are rapidly remaking our world, and yet don't get written about very much. It's tentatively titled "An Index of Human Properties."

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posted by Joanna, Standley Lake Library


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