Nathan Cromwell is the author of "The Tortured Teen." Rather than being interviewed by us, Marla, one of the characters from “The Tortured Teen”, expressed her desire to talk with the author about the story.
Marla: You don’t like me very much, do you?
Cromwell: You’re a bit of a pain, but I’m sure you’ll grow out of it.
Marla: You have me already dead in the very first paragraph!
Cromwell: . . .
Marla: (After a half-hour awkward silence) What’s up with the picture?
Cromwell: That was a gift from my niece, Mikaela. It’s a statuette of me with a peacock on my head.
Cromwell: I don’t know.
Marla: Okay. So, how did you come up with the story?
Cromwell: I was sitting in a coffee shop trying to think of something interesting to write for this anthology. I had started watching a documentary on string theory the night before, and I had recently read Oscar Wilde’s The Ghost of Canterville, so I decided to mix an old-fashioned ghost with modern physics.
C: Sometimes I do write straight through, but mostly I jot down ideas until my muse takes a bathroom break. Then I’ll start arranging my notes into clumps and decide the best plan of attack. Once I’ve got the architecture, I start fleshing out and filling in gaps, and either throwing out or saving things that don’t fit.
Marla: Some authors talk to their characters. Do you?
Cromwell: I never have conversations with my characters.
Marla: Speaking of your characters, how did you come to put me in Atlanta instead of somewhere more goth-friendly, like New Orleans?
Cromwell: I used to live there, and I left about the time they were tearing down homes in the shabbier part to prepare for the Olympics. Since I wanted a ghost haunting a brand-new house, that came to mind.
M: A lot of authors, myself included—did you know I write heart-rending poetry?—get inspired to write by reading a story and saying to themselves: “I can do better than that.” Do you feel proud that you will inspire so many future writers?
C: I’m not some hack! I put a lot of effort and thought into my stories.
M: You know, after all that work, it’s unbearably sad that no one will read or even remember this story fifty years after you’re dead.
C: (As a pleased smile blossoms on Marla’s lips) That’s not—maybe this—you never kno—oh, shut up!
M: And if by some miracle people are still reading it, you’ll be dead but I, the dead girl, will live on in your story. Isn’t that neat?
M: Thank you, Mr. Cromwell. I enjoyed our interview. More than you know.
Many of his stories are online, and you can find links to them at nathancromwell.wordpress.com.