Nathaniel G. Moore is a Canadian journalist, new media artist, designer, and award-winning novelist. He has contributed to publications such as The Globe & Mail, National Post, and The Georgia Straight, and currently works on the Sunshine Coast as a publicist for Douglas & McIntyre, Harbour Publishing, and Nightwood Editions. Moore is the author of Bowlbrawl (Conundrum Press, 2005), Let’s Pretend We Never Met (Pedlar Press, 2007), and Savage 1986-2011 (Anvil Press, 2013). This May, he will celebrate the launch of his newest book, a short story collection titled Jettison (Anvil Press).
SAD Mag interviewed the author and musician to talk about Jettison and his musical collaboration Proper Concern, a pop synth soundtrack companion to the book featuring Warren Auld (guitar) and Moore (vocals).
SAD Mag: Your writing often portrays a not too distant future; there are moments in your work where space and time seem relative. Can you tell me a bit about this approach?
Nathaniel G. Moore: Because Savage 1986-2011 was so time-specific, I didn't want to get too hung up on when things were happening in the stories of Jettison. Plus, some stories were started in the late 1990s, early 2000s. I wanted to remaster them all and not be bogged down on specifics.
Hal Niedzviecki once remarked in a workshop something to the effect of how, when you are finished a story, you don't really need to have a date or anything in it—city name, things like that. Then ten years after he said that, Michael Turner wrote 8 X 10, which really blotted out all identifiers, proper names, towns, etc. I couldn't do that for these stories, nor did I want to, but again, I'm a method writer; I can't really imagine writing about far off places because quite honestly, I've never been. [My] Douglas Coupland story takes place some 25 years in the future, while others have ambiguous time frames. “Son of Zodiac” and “Jaws” could take place 10 or 20 years from today and no one would be the wiser. Many stories look back while standing firmly in the present. Wherever that may be.
SM: The atmosphere in your writing has the feel of Philip K. Dick and yet your words are reminiscent of Charles Bukowski. Who influences you and why?
NGM: I've never liked Bukowski; I don't even think I've read him. I love Philip K. Dick and science fiction in general and wanted to start using the tropes of sci-fi and horror in these stories. I needed to get them out of the hipster slums of "urban fiction"—a term I loathe. I do like Jean Genet, Kurt Vonnegut, Catullus, Martin Amis, Kathy Acker, Tony Burgess, Margaret Atwood, Heather O'Neill, William S. Burroughs (when I was a kid), and all the other tattered male fantasy hipster writers you cling to in those Morrissey-mesmerizing years: Leonard Cohen, Henry Miller, Truman Capote.
SM: Proper Concern is awesome and reminded me of Burroughs’s cut-ups. What made you decide to collaborate in this way?
NGM: It was the summer of 2003. It just happened organically, in a big warehouse loft with wires and a sampler. Over the next couple of years some further sessions happened and our song evolved. Then, after about sixteen or so key songs recorded over a period of less than five years, we stopped. I think Warren gave his sampler to a cousin in Halifax. I'd love to do this type of artistic effort again with him. Something happened when we worked together. But we are far away from one another [now].
SM: Experimentation seems to be a key element in both Proper Concern and Jettison. Can you speak to the ways in which you use experimentation in your work.
NGM: Time is a funny thing. What was once amateurish or considered "a joke band" now sounds polished—as bad or good as any other crumbling emo music empire or upstart. Some of our songs are like that; at the same time, some stories in Jettison are like that.
SM: You work for three major Canadian publishers and Canadian culture definitely plays a role in your work. How important is it to you to keep Canada in your work?
NGM: I've tried many times to become as American as possible. But the paperwork, the demand for me in the States is just not a reality—or a cerebral blip on anyone's radar. Canada is my home and I feel that I can help future generations understand why literature can be exciting and fun and also educational. I've been in the business this long I don't see a way out. I know too much. Like Jason Bourne.