AJ: Let’s talk a little about “Good Things.” I was there when you won the book prize; it was a very big deal and guaranteed your manuscript publication by New Rivers Press, which is a student-run press. What was it like to work with New Rivers?
Nick: My experience with New Rivers was terrific. Despite the Fairfield Book Prize being brand new, everybody at the press was extremely knowledgeable and helpful throughout the entire process.
It was also pretty unique, at least for me, because New Rivers is a teaching press.So my manuscript was being overlooked by a group of graduate and undergraduate students.
AJ: How exactly did that work? Was one student assigned to you as editor or was a professor working with you as well?
Nick: I had a primary contact at the press who was lovely and amazing and helped streamline the entire process. But outside of her, there was a total of four students working in two teams who collectively read each story and sent me their notes and suggestions for revisions. I took their comments, incorporated my own, and over the course of a year, we took a very messy manuscript and polished it.
AJ: What month was “Good Things” published?
Nick: “Good Things” officially came out in October 2012, so it’s still pretty young.
AJ: How have things changed for you since the collection came out? Fame, wealth?
AJ: I know.
Seriously, though, has having a published book changed things for you? Have you encountered new readers or changed the way you write or go about publishing?
Nick: Well, I think you might remember me having a bit of a freakout when I first heard I won.
Nick: It was so unexpected and shocking to me, especially since I was up against a lot of really, really talented people in our program for the prize.
AJ: Yes, but I don’t think anyone was really surprised that you won.
Nick: I was!
AJ: I do remember that.
Nick: And I’m not trying to be modest.
It was just, It was like you’re a little kid and you’re madly in love with this girl at school, as kids tend to be, and you spend a year agonizing over every conversation with her and then finally you work up the nerve to hold her hand and she holds it back and everything is great and good and really, really unexpected.
That’s what it was like.
But never anticipated.
And this is very off-topic from your original question, haha.
AJ: Keep going! This is analogy is like Knittel flash fiction!
Nick: Haha, perfect.
AJ: So wait, winning the prize and publishing the book changed that feeling?
Nick: Well, no. I was terrified initially.
I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that the initial manuscript was pretty rough; it was totally unfinished and one of the stories wasn’t even included at the time (“Quiet”) but as the editing process went on and all of the promotional materials started coming in and it started to feel more and more like a real ‘thing’ and not this mysterious idea stuck in my head, that’s when it all started coming together for me.
And now, even though it still feels weird to say that I have a book, I mean, it’s a pretty big accomplishment.
So I’m proud of it.