If you’ve read my blog before, or hung out on the BestsellerBound message board, you might be familiar with Nestor Maronski. We’ve had a lot of fun with Nestor, the miserable book critic whose mission is to destroy all indie authors. He and some of his victims have made appearances on various blogs, giving interviews about Nestor and his mysterious disappearance. All this fun stems from a book written by today’s guests – Maria Savva and Jason McIntyre. These two authors “met” on BestsellerBound. An idea tossed out within a thread evolved and a book was written – all within posts on this same thread! The book is titled Cutting The Fat and Maria and Jason are here to tell us about it.
But there’s more! I’m giving away a ‘Nestor Must Die’ t-shirt to one lucky winner. Plus, Maria and Jason have generously offered to give away 25 PDF copies of Cutting The Fat! Before we get to those annoying but necessary contest rules, let’s take a look at the book:
Nestor Maronski is the world’s most notorious book reviewer, meticulously crafting his scathing critiques every week for the Daily Post. The massive Maronski fortune allows vile-tempered ol’ Nessie to become a puppetmaster in countless other arenas, all of which are dedicated to his passion for desecrating the careers of independent authors everywhere. Now a myriad band of such wronged writers has glommed upon one scary idea: kill Nestor Maronski… but after he’s made to suffer.
That cover, by the way, was designed by our brilliant Jason McIntyre.
Now let’s talk to Maria and Jason about their book and the writing process:
Jason, you wrote the first scene for Cutting The Fat. Can you tell us what the inspiration was?
The idea struck me as my wife and I took a very rare evening away from home and went to our favourite local restaurant which has a bar at one dark end, just as it is described in the opening bits of ‘Cutting The Fat’. There was a man seated there, heavy set, wearing a suit and a tie that matched the red liquor in his snifter. He was alone, and very demanding of the barkeep, kept wanting more napkins or something. In between his barks at the young bartender, this balding man was studiously typing at a net book as if he was instead at a table in a Starbucks, writing poetry or a love letter. But then I laughed as I do when I self-edit a real-time situation. I instead started thinking that he looked like he was composing some kind of bad news. Not a love letter, but perhaps a Dear John letter. I had read the suggestion on Bestsellerbound earlier in the day (or the day before, I can’t remember which) about co-writing a story and it immediately occurred to me that this man’s name was Nestor Maronski and he worked in the media, his primary job being a well-read and powerful book reviewer. Later, I wrote what I saw in my head, laughing over his visage and how he delighted in his wicked craft at the bar on that computer. After I pared it down to the essentials, I posted it to the bestsellerbound website. In what felt like moments, we were off to the races with the start of our story.
Maria, you almost immediately took up the challenge and wrote the next scene. What drew you in so quickly?
I just loved the idea about writing a novel featuring an evil reviewer—which of course was your idea, Darcia, so you can take the credit for that! I felt inspired by the subject matter, because as an indie author, I have come across many Nestors in my time—and we all know someone like Nestor, don’t we?
When I read Jason’s first chapter, I found it very amusing and loved the way he had described Nestor, he just seemed like the perfect character that a writer could have a bit of fun with. If I’m honest, I didn’t think I’d be able to write a second chapter as good as Jason’s first, it was a brilliant start; in just that first chapter, Jason had created the nasty excuse for a human being—the Nestor Maronski we now know and love. Jason made it easy for me to use the essense of Nestor’s personality from that first chapter and expand on it. When I wrote that second chapter, of course, I had no idea that it would be just me and Jason writing this story; I thought lots of Bestsellerbound authors would step in and add a chapter or two, so I didn’t really feel that much pressure to write anything earth-shattering at that stage, it was just a bit of fun.
Jason, you and Maria quickly found a rhythm together. Was that surprising to you?
It still surprises me and, in fact, I’m looking for another writing partner but no one will have me! I also worry that it won’t be as easy as it was with Maria. How could it possibly be?
Maria, when did you realize that you and Jason were in the midst of writing a brilliant book?
Quite near the beginning, when Jason had written the first chapter and I’d followed with mine, when I realised that no one else was going to add any other chapters and that everyone was waiting for Jason to continue, I had a feeling that maybe people were seeing something great in the story. To be honest, I was so busy writing it and trying to focus on each new chapter, that I didn’t really have time to stop and think about whether it was any good. Each chapter I wrote came with a great deal of anxiety about whether I would be able to think of anything to add. None of it was planned. I would just read Jason’s chapter and type up the next one direct onto BestsellerBound, no editing, nothing. All completely improvised. And I didn’t even know Jason, had never even exchanged an email with him when we started writing the story, and we didn’t exchange any emails about the book until we were right at the end and wondering how to finish it.
Whenever I read Jason’s chapters I was always blown away at how he’d managed to write so many twists into the story, he really kept me on my toes. On reading his chapters, I was spurred on to try to write the best chapter I could. I also tried to make sure that what I was writing fitted in with his style and what he wrote; it’s clear from reading the book that we both have very different ways of approaching a story—yet somehow our chapters fitted together perfectly. It was encouraging to have some cheerleaders on the forum (you and Joel in particular). Knowing we had an audience and people were actually liking the story did get me thinking that something special was going on, but it wasn’t until near the end when Joel was asking for a ‘Nestor Must Die’ t-shirt, that I started to realise that we’d caught the imagination of so many of the members at Bestsellerbound.
Jason, what was the most enjoyable part of writing with Maria?
The anticipation! After the first few back and forth turns, I started to expect the best from her and I knew I would be surprised and challenged by the threads she left dangling for me to either sew up or completely rip out. I was right about this.
Maria, what was the most enjoyable part of writing with Jason?
Just the whole experience of writing with someone else, which was completely new to me, was surprisingly enjoyable. Before I co-wrote Cutting The Fat, I’d always thought of writing as being a solitary thing, but it taught me that it’s a whole lot of fun when you bounce off another writer and try to keep up with them and come up with something that inspires them. It was fun reading his chapters and trying to write a chapter that followed on, linked in, added something to one of the characters he’d created etc., etc. I was always looking forward to finding out what he’d come up with. His chapters were very entertaining. I feel honoured to have been able to write with such a talented author.
Jason, what was the most difficult part of writing with Maria?
The timeline. We were really enjoying ourselves so we were writing a 1500 or 2000 word piece each per day at the height of it. That’s a lot for most writers, particularly given that I was marketing and doing interviews and writing my own material at the same time, added to all the other responsibilities of life.
It really helped me get down to it and produce my end (I suppose my ego wouldn’t let it hit the floor!) but the irony is that I think it also made my writing better than if I had more time to hem and haw about the direction of the story. There’s much to be said for following your writing instinct and this kind of experience proves it.
Maria, what was the most difficult part of writing with Jason?
Just the fact that he seemed to keep producing the chapters very quickly. Sometimes I’d wish that he would just take a day off or something, because I’d write a chapter and then breathe a sigh of relief that I’d be able to relax a bit until the next chapter (what with the time difference between the UK and Canada) but then I’d log on to BestsellerBound a few hours later to find he’d already written another chapter! So the pace was very quick. Having said that, he might think the same about me, because I’m the sort of person who will try to reply to messages, emails etc. straight away rather than leaving them until later, and I kind of took that attitude with the writing of Cutting The Fat; whenever I saw that Jason had written a new chapter I’d always try to respond straight away. So, maybe I’m the one to blame for not having any rest for a couple of weeks while we wrote the story! But it all worked out for the best in the end!
Jason, who was your favorite character and why?
Richard Jameson became my fave because he seemed like the moral centre of the story. He was the second character introduced and I felt a kinship with him because I made him a husband and father just struggling to get by and get his book read. He’s understandably devastated by what Maronski does to his fresh writing career but he’s still reluctant to go down the path so many of the others do so readily.
It was particularly hard when Maria figured this out and kept drawing him back into harm’s way!
Maria, your favorite character and why?
I would have to say Nestor, just because I’ve had so much fun pretending to be him on Facebook and Twitter recently. But I also really like Shrieker, aka Russell Flemming, because he’s just a complete nutter.
Jason, did you each write from specific characters points of view? Or did you share your characters?
Both of us wrote all the characters when we needed to because we didn’t communicate with one another, other than through each installment we wrote. We took ownership of the story when it was our turn, not at the expense of the other writer, but because we knew certain doors had been opened and they either needed to be walked through or closed. Avoiding certain characters would have made this impossible without getting together to plan it out in a more structured way. I think the lack of such a plan or agreement made each twist and development more exciting for us and the readers.
Maria, was there ever a time when Jason wrote a scene that stumped you or that you wish he?d done differently?
I remember thinking that it would be hard to try to get Richard Jameson and Flemming out of the hospital after Isabelle caught them in Nestor’s room at the end of one of Jason’s chapters. I hadn’t expected that. But I managed to find a way for them to worm their way out of it. Also, when Richard Jameson was getting away with his wife after he’d decided to quit topic 777, I personally didn’t want him to get away because I think I had more planned for him. I brought him back later (the police caught him on the highway). On the whole, it was always a challenge when Jason would write something unexpected at the end of a scene, because then I would have to try to look at things differently and work out the story to fit what I thought might be his plan (even though I had no idea which way he wanted to take the story!), or try to twist the story back around to what I wanted. It was a lot of fun.
Jason, what do you think Nestor would say about his newfound infamy?
He’d hate it. First, because he hates everything, and second, because this infamy has more to do with his faults than with his accomplishments. Even though, you and I could stand in a room and laugh together, exclaiming, “What accomplishments?”
Using this hated character to come alive on the web is an interesting thing that has, in many respects, become sentient — almost self-aware. Would he like that I compare it to an overgrown weed in a garden?
It’s a pretty brilliant way to market a book in this e-age so if I was an outsider, I’d naturally think it was some ad genius’s marketing idea, but in truth it was a little bit of fat and a little bit of milk and a little bit of cake from nearly everyone who commented on the story and read along as we built it.
I do occasionally worry that I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and Nestor Maronski incarnate will be standing over me with a length of rope and a wicked grin, but other than that I think it’s stellar that the writing community has embraced his snarky, foolish presence. I think that presence is a facet of me, by the way, and not Maria.
Maria, we’re giving away a ‘Nestor Must Die’ t-shirt today. I understand that one of your Nestor groupies came up with the design. Can you tell us who the designer is and how that came about?
Initially, Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick (one of the cheerleaders), shouted out that he wanted a ‘Nestor Must Die’ t-shirt. And, then I made a comment that maybe we should give a t-shirt away in a competition, and I think you said something about knowing where we could get them printed. Eventually, Jaleta Clegg (who, along with Lainey Bancroft, also helped out with the editing of Cutting the Fat) volunteered to design the t-shirt. She has experience of graphic design. When she posted her fabulous design on the forum, we were all very pleased with it.
Anything either of you would like to add?
Maria: Yes, it would be great if all your blog followers would follow Nestor Maronski on Facebook and @NestorMaronski on Twitter. If you tweet something at him, he’ll respond in a very evil way.***
Cutting The Fat has just been published on Amazon’s Kindle store! Have a look:
There is no print version – yet. Want one? Tell Maria and Jason!
You can learn more about this book and others by these two authors on their websites:
Maria Savva: www.MariaSavva.com
Jason McIntyre: www.TheFarthestReaches.com
Okay, now about that giveaway. The first prize winner will receive a ‘Nestor Must Die’ t-shirt (large only) and a PDF of Cutting The Fat. 24 more lucky winners will receive the PDF! I don’t want to restrict the winners to just the U.S. and Canada, particularly since Maria happens to live in the U.K. That wouldn’t be very nice of me, would it? So this contest is open to everyone 16 and older, everywhere on earth! Just leave a comment with a valid email address before midnight EST on Friday, February 4. I’ll post the winners here the following day. Please keep an eye on your spam folders. If you win, you don’t want your PDF to get sucked up by one of those dreaded spam filters!
Cutting The Fat is truly a great read. Don’t miss out on your free copy! And the t-shirt is quite cool. Go ahead, leave a comment. I know you want to.
Thanks for reading!