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Saturday, 20 September 2014

Saturday Storyteller Interview: Nicholas Tanek

What’s your name and where do you come from?
My name is Nicholas Tanek and I come from New Jersey. To be exact, I am from Edison and New Brunswick, New Jersey. Once I was very much involved in the NJ punk rock/hardcore scene, but then I got involved with the 90’s New York City rave scene.
Tell us a bit about your latest release.
I wrote a book called The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself. The title is a metaphor; this is not literally about suicide. It is a true love story that spans 15 years. Two years ago, the love of my life died at the age of 37. During Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey was devastated. I was stuck in my parents’ basement and used a generator to power my laptop. I wanted to write a tribute, a grand gesture to the love of my life. When we were teenagers and going to raves, I would write poems and stories for women I liked. They got published. Lynn was a woman with whom I had a summer romance. My writing for other women always upset Lynn. She would say, “No one is ever going to write something for me. Why?” So, I decided that I was going to write a book for the girl who thought that no one would ever write something for her.
Basically, it is a love story that starts off in the 1990’s and ends in 2012. We had a teenage fling, but I broke her heart. More than a decade later, we were given a second chance. We had the most honest and beautiful relationship that I had ever experienced. At the same time, we dealt with drug addiction, depression, mental issues, and abuse.  The title, The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself, has multiple meanings. Instead of falling into depression, using drugs, or doing something negative, we embraced each other, with all of our flaws, and shared an honest relationship that made us both stronger. Doing what you love, no matter how you may be judged, is the coolest way to kill yourself. Giving into love is the coolest way to kill yourself. The book is filled with hard drugs, kinky sex, and an endless amount of music references. At the core, it is a tribute to a woman who loved me. Hopefully, it will give people hope that second chances do happen. People can change. I am not the man I used to be.
How do you go about creating the perfect "Swoon" worthy man?
I am not just some romance writer. Still, this book is a love story. I am not looking to sell books, be famous, or create a male character that women fall in love with. I just wanted to tell an honest love story. So, my goal was not to craft and market a “swoon” worthy man. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with that, but that was not my goal. I do think that people fundamentally gravitate to and respect honesty. My book is very much about the beauty of honesty, especially when two people love each other. I did not create characters to fantasize about. I wrote a story to hopefully inspire others to be honest and seek out an honest love if they do not already have that.
What’s your biggest turn on?
Wow, okay. I like kink. I used to be a very dominant male. The women I used to be with loved being submissive and submitting to me. Lynn brought out a different side of me. and the fetish community did too. There is a beauty to a powerful and intelligent woman. An important aspect of my book is Femdom. While many male romance writers write about how dominant they are and they write books about “true dom” characters and all that crap, I prefer to be real. Don’t get me wrong, I do get turned on by being a dominant lover, but I absolutely love when a woman can sexually control me.  Wait, did I just say that?
What’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you?
Lynn would do anything for me. One thing I loved is that we both fell in love with kink and lingerie. When all I wanted for Christmas was my ex-wife to wear a French maid outfit and have some kinky fun, she refused. I write all about that in the book. Lynn, who I rekindled a relationship with after my marriage ended, had multiple French maid outfits. Basically, the honesty and the complete sense of comfort in each other’s kink was something that money could not buy. All of the lingerie and fetish outfits cannot top that.
What’s your greatest weakness?
Addiction and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It is embarrassing, but you asked. I find myself slipping in and out of O.C.D. sometimes. It’s not serious, but it’s true. When I find a new band I love, I want every album they released. When it comes to addiction, I do not do drugs anymore. Still, I have an addictive personality.  I know that can be dangerous.
What trait do you find the sexiest?
Since I have already told you that I find intelligent, dominant women sexy, I'm going to go ahead and tell you what I find sexist! Let’s be frank here. There are women writing male dominant romance novels under fake male names. Not only is this practice unsexy, but it is incredibly sexist. It represents a woman who does not own her sexuality. Strong, intelligent women write amazing stories, under their own female name. As I said earlier, a strong, intelligent woman who can dominate me sexually – because she is comfortable in her own sexual skin- is a bigger turn on than just about anything else.
I want to go off topic, only slightly, if I may, because I think this issue is important. Just because a woman writes a romance novel under a male name, the industry (and some in the romance audience) perceives it to be somehow a better story and so it may sell even if it is crap. That is sexist and it perpetuates sexism. I seriously think that some people just put a guy with tattoos, piercings, and abs on the cover and call it something like “Hot Fire” or “The True Dom that Dominates the Sub.” I love BDSM and I like being dominant too. As someone who is in the community, I think that is simply not cool. Many of these books misrepresent the BDSM community. It’s so stupid and I think it insults the audience. Readers are smarter than that. This interview will get me in trouble, but just like my book, I am going to put this out there even if it kills me. I think it is time for a change in the industry of romance stories. I am a romantic at heart. Still, I find that many (not all) romance novels are sexist, boring, and unoriginal. I am not naming names, but my fans know what I mean. These unrealistic books about billionaire dominant men with mommy issues who “tame” a young girl are boring to true fetishists and kinky people. They are coming to the end of their lifecycle and flooding the market. I believe that the audiences for romance stories are far more intelligent than perhaps publishing houses and some indie audiences may give them credit for.  My very good friend, Aimee, was correct last time we talked. There is a new wave of romance and erotic literature. People in the BDSM and fetish community are outraged by the warped perception of our community.  It’s time for something cool. Something cool has to come from the people who truly live it, not from the people who read an article about the lifestyle and think they are fully experienced enough to write about their perception of the lifestyle.
Sure, the man or woman who lives some boring sexual life will dig it. But, real, cool, sexually open-minded women and men know better, and they are asking for better. It may not be a money thing, but it will be a cool thing. It will be an underground thing, but the ones who are cool, they will know. They will buy the books. Not every bestseller is the best book.

Is the stuff you write about from experience or mostly imagination?
My book is real. Everything actually happened. The only thing that came from my imagination was the fact that I had to change the names. Nowadays, I will write about anything as long as it is real and rooted in honest emotion.   Still, it’s the way I write about it. I do not want to be exploitative. There were some scenes that I edited out because they were too graphic. When my publishing company’s lawyer read the book, she loved it but she said that I was “dangerously teetering” on pornography. I do not write pornography, but sex and kink is a major part of my life. I am not ashamed of it. My style of writing has been described by many people as unique and that the book flows in a way that does not come across like a cheap romance novel or porn.

What do you do to get in the mood for writing love scenes? Candles, music,etc.?
Music… I always need music for every kind of scene I write.  Of course, I need privacy too. Still, each drop or scene has a certain song that fits. For example, “This Is Hardcore” by Pulp is a beautiful and lush song that can get the reader in this naughty, kinky mood. The way the drums and the horns slowly glide… like a caring lover who truly knows how to caress you. It’s a little dangerous. It’s a lot of a good time.  Other songs I used were “Kinky Love” by Pale Saints, “Extra Ordinary” by Ultra Vivid Scene, and “Gravitate To Me” by The The. Then, I needed very emotional songs like “The Last Beat of My Heart” by Siouxsie & The Banshees and “Love In The Time Of Ecstasy” by Withered Hand. When I am not writing, I am usually thinking about writing. I guess it has become a sort of addiction. Seriously, I could not do anything but write The Coolest Way, when I was writing The Coolest Way. The people are around me are supportive and they get me in the mood. My editor, Melissa, is an essential person in my life. We are working on her book. She is also editing my second book, which is a prequel to The Coolest Way. I love to promote the book. I would like to say hello to my Coolest Street Team: Kim, Isa, Wendy, Joanne, Olivia, Syrina, and the others.  Other than that, I like to be involved with music journalism and ghostwriting. Sometimes though, I have to be a suit & tie guy.
Tell us something that might surprise our readers.
I am a real person and my book is true. I am not looking to take your money with some dumb story of some tattooed, pierced musclebound billionaire dimwit looking to abuse women and call it being a “dom” or a “master”. I am truly a part of the fetish community. I used to be a greeter for Fetlife.  We are the cool romantics. We are the real romantics. We are here to make real romance cool again.
Okay, so no one actually kills themselves in this book. 

The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself pulls you into the early 90’s New York City rave scene, in all its chaotic, psychedelic glory. The narrator grabs you by your wrist and drags you behind two teenage lovers from New Jersey as they tumble through a whirlwind of reckless hedonism that eventually spirals into a dark, devastating world of drug addiction and heartbreak. 

As a teenager, Lynn cried, “No one is ever going to write something for me.” 

Nearly two decades later, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Nicholas did just that. The gesture came too late for our unlikely heroine, but his heart was in the right place. A broken heart… but a true love. 

Reunited after years apart, Lynn and Nicholas embraced their love and sexuality, and embraced each other, despite troubled pasts, despite illness, despite all of their imperfections and mistakes. They shared the kind of honest and shameless connection that few have had the honor of knowing, and most would never understand. 

“We’re not hurting anyone. We’re just living life without caring what anyone thinks about us, without caring about the consequences.” 

“It’s the coolest way to kill ourselves,” Lynn said. 

So turn the page, and pull the trigger. 

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