Interview with Nathaniel Sewell

1.   Bobby's Socks deals with the traumatic issue of sexual assault of a child. How tough was it to write this story?

“This goes back several years; I was sitting in my office searching the web for information about a medical malpractice insurance client. I noticed an article about a theorized ‘suicide gene’. At McGill University researchers had taken samples from a brain bank, short and sweet, they had discovered from the tissue samples suicide victims with a history of Child Sex Abuse had a common gene instruction that the control groups did not have. It might be said they all had a common thread, a genetic link like the helical shaped DNA molecules that are strung together to create life. In part, this is the reason the book is titled, Bobby’s Socks, it is in the possessive because the socks are interwoven, like our bodies, and each pair are slightly different from the others except for the ‘happy heart’ symbol that links them together. But the ‘suicide gene instruction’ got me motivated because I understood what it felt like to have those thoughts.

“Obviously, I had a rather unfortunate childhood. I am a text book case. But I did not want the novel to be about me. So I researched the subject, learned about abuse victims, outcomes and typical predator profiles. The book being fictionalized gave me some emotional distance to write the story. But I felt convicted to help someone I’ll never meet to understand their partner, father, mother, sibling or friend. So with constant encouragement from my wife, RD, I took in a deep breath, and I pressed on and got the book published. “

“But I think your question is about the writing craft, and tapping into the readers emotions. I will admit that there was one chapter in the book that was real. I really went to a movie with my fourteen year old friend, I literally (excuse the pun) closed my eyes, and took my mind back to the exact moments; the place, the weather, what she was wearing, and I could even remember the smells. It was a raw emotional moment for me that I then wrote into the story. It took a while for that pain, that childhood scar, to subside and heal. If you want to write, and share, I think you are cheating the reader if you don’t go all in, to those raw emotions, inhabit the characters, and then put it all on the page. I think it is about respecting the reader and the journey you want to take them on, and the places and feeling you want to share.”

2. Tell our readers about Bobby's Socks Foundation Mission.

“We are in the process of building the idea out. By nature I am rather suspicious of people waltzing into my office with their hands out asking for a donation. So we don’t want to ask anybody for money, but instead we are in the planning phase to build a sock company. My thought experiment created the vision that if we manufactured colorful woven socks with the happy heart symbol on them, we would be offering a quality product in exchange for someone’s hard earned resources. We would then be able to use the profits to focus on another goal. “

“It will take some time, but imagine a high school, college football, basketball game and each team wore the socks the students designed and created and then they exchanged them with the opposing team. I think that would create a fertile ground for teachers to teach about the subject, and perhaps get a young person to ‘talk’. As in they might ask, “Hey dude, what’s up with your socks?”

“If you get them to talk, you can save a life. We have the idea to have the socks available for trauma and crisis centers to add to the intakes bag of goodies. Imagine a young child that has been attacked putting on a pair of colorful warm socks, just before the professional has to interview them?”

3. Your other book, Fishing For Light, is a satire. What inspired you to write this book?

“My wife, RD. She challenged me to let my creativity go wild. So I let my inner Lewis Carroll run free. And my love of Steve Martin, and his movie, The Jerk, and Monty Python, and the movies that Terry Gilliam has created, the one in particular I would point to was, Brazil. I watched it when I was a freshman in college, I was hooked. But in Fishing for Light, instead of a bureaucrat trying to correct an administrative mistake, we have government scientist, Professor Quan trying to correct a genetic creation that he accidentally helped create, Ms. Prosperina that intends to control humanity.”

“It is a satire that examined 21st century life, but the themes are quite serious, and each character represented something specific. The main character, Eddie, had a life trauma; the death of his father. From the trauma the Epi genetic effect altered his gene instructions, and swerved him off his destiny that Professor Quan had created for him. (If you observe someone who had gotten lost into depression, you would understand the character and the Epi genetic outcome.) But further, Eddie represented the current 20 something’s that have lost hope, and are in large part completely unaware of the nasty social, political and religious forces that swirl around them, forces that attempt to control their lives and force them to get in line with everybody else. And the reason Professor Quan and Captain Lovins stole the real Hope Diamond. I had to add that element.”

“Ms. Prosperina was the hidden conspiratorial force; IT – because a Chimera is not a HE or a SHE, but an IT, was inspired from my interest in Greek/Roman mythology, and Chimeric genetics. If you read the book pitch that the kind folks at Standout Books helped me with, “How do you take your coffee?” It is not by mistake that Ms. Prosperina has a red eye and a black eye, was created from Professor Quan’s genetic starter that had some Nazi DNA samples mixed in, and was the specter behind the Starry Eyed Coffee Hut Company. And I was inspired to use Nashville as the story setting because they have an exact replica of the Parthenon and a re-created 42 foot high statue of Athena. And yes, I created a scene for Ms. Prosperina to visit the Parthenon and examined the statue. I loved writing that scene.”

4. What are you working on now?

“My current project is titled, Fifth and Hope. It is a story about a highly successful business man that learned from his mother he was a mistake, but after her death he discovered his grandfather’s diaries which headed him on a life journey to truly understand his grandfather and himself. “

“The book title comes from the fact my maternal grandparents really did meet each other for the first time at the intersection of 5th Street and Hope Street near downtown Los Angeles, California in 1926. The spot is directly behind the side entrance to the LA County Library. And I really have my grandfather’s diary, but the story is fiction. “

5. I love that you wear a bowtie. Bowties are cool. That's not really a question, but it needs to be said. Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about you?

“I really do love to wear bowties. And I do wear colorful woven socks because they are comfortable, and they are hidden unless I cross my legs. I think the combination stirs people to smile, to laugh which is what I prefer to do and cause. And I write poetry, I share them occasionally on my websites blog. My poems are written to tell a story, and I don’t write anything overly esoteric. My favorite book is ‘The Giving Tree’ by Shel Silverstein. “

“I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky but most of my adult life I lived in Florida. And my professional career has been in the medical malpractice insurance business. Growing up in Kentucky, I’ve been in parts of Eastern Kentucky, thanks to my missionary grandparents that if you shut your eyes, we stopped the car and got out and you opened your eyes you would swear we were located in a third world country. I don’t like any politicians. I do believe in God. And I use a pen name because I did not want my nephews and nieces to be aware I wrote Bobby’s Socks. I was not channeling my inner Mark Twain. And I can do impressions, and tell a good joke if encouraged by an adult beverage.”

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