Happy Author Wednesday! Today I welcome Nick Tory, who is the author of the Johnny Books, humorous novels with a reluctant hero. It’s a pleasure to introduce Nick to you today.
Nick, it’s great to have you visit today. Tell us some things about your writing life. First, what is your vision of yourself as a writer?
I’m still not sure I am one. Books keep coming out with my name on them, so that part is registering in my brain, but then I look and see them on the internet, or see that people read them, and I think, there must be some mistake. Everything in those pages is just the ramblings of a lunatic. Then I realize that I am that lunatic, and that usually ruins my afternoon.
I have news for you. You may be a self-described lunatic, but you are a writer. So, what’s on your writing plate at this moment?
I’m in the midst of a humor series called Johnny Books. It’s set to be ten short books (about one hundred pages each). Three trilogies and a finale. The humor is off-the-wall, absurd, goofy, and a little dark. I’ve basically tried to cram one thousand jokes into each story, which are all about a dimwitted anti-hero named Johnny Tee, who always seems to get himself into life-threatening situations and luck his way out of them. The first trilogy (which consists of Johnny 12 Steps, Johnny Vegas, and Johnny Driver) has him mixed up with the city’s dangerous underbelly, and in the second trilogy (consisting of Johnny Real Estate and the soon to be released Johnny Zookeeper), he tries to go straight and get real jobs. He’s sort of a tough, bumbling hobo whose moral code is ambiguous even to himself. I love him because you root for him even though every fiber of your being tells you not to.
He sounds like my kind of guy. I’m looking forward to reading Johnny 12 Steps. What type of research is required to create your Johnny Books?
The funny thing about doing research for these books is that sometimes I need to just shut down my internet connection. I’m writing from the perspective of a guy who is supposed to be very clueless, so I actually have to be really careful about how much I know on a subject. When Johnny was going to become a realtor, I started researching the occupation, and with everything I read I thought, there’s no way he would know any of this, even if it was his job. The only place I have to stop and dig for more information is if I think the laws of physics are being broken, and I’m pretty sure I’ve only loosely followed those. There’s a lot of freedom writing that way. Just like life, my writing is all about erasing any potential accountability.
That’s interesting. I can see how too much information would get in the way. Plus you’re off the hook, right? Even though you’re writing a humorous story, do you have messages you try to convey in each one?
As bizarre as the stories may get, I always try to have Johnny learn something about how to treat people, or about how to be a better person. He doesn’t usually completely get it, but it’s important that the reader still likes him at the end of the day. I’m not sure that I’m even trying to get the reader to even agree with the messages. I’m pretty sure I’m not qualified to dispense that kind of moral information, and even if I technically am, you’d be better off not really listening to it, but instead maybe just nodding and smiling at me while you mentally hum Greensleeves. Also, I want the reader to understand that humor doesn’t need to be dirty to be funny. I’m a big fan of dirty humor, the filthier the better, but I don’t write it, because it seems too easy, and also, one day I want kids to actually be able to read it.
What? Sorry, I couldn’t hear you over my humming. How’s that for humor? Who has most influenced your writing and why?
The writers that make me laugh the most are John Swartzwelder and Jack Handey. I also really like the Richard Parker and Joseph Garber. But more so, I’m influenced every day by the funny people in my life though. If you make me laugh, then I want to spend time with you. I could tell you my funniest friends’ names, but as it turns out, they’re a bunch of nobodys. Fellow author Amy VanSant has been a good friend as I’ve entered the field and helped make the books better.
The funnier the better. My best friends are the ones who make me laugh. In a good way! Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre after you finish the Johnny Books?
For the foreseeable future, yes. I’ve tried a little bit with other genres, but when I read it, I always hate it. Usually, it’s been science fiction. I would have no business writing romance, which is why I will probably write a terrible romance novel someday. It will be completely unreadable. People will download it on an Amazon free day, and they will later be angry that they did, even though it was free.
That’s the spirit! The reviews will be interesting. For those books you have written, what’s the best thing that’s been said about one of them by a reviewer?
It was a very nice review, but somebody called it a “breath of poetic fresh air,” which, like I said was very kind, but is by all accounts an out and out lie. It’s probably a lot more like a breath of air you’d take in a very nice bomb shelter. There is a lot of effort in place to make it breathable, such as mechanical systems in place to recycle the air and stop you from getting violently ill. But after a while you look around at the people you’ve called a family for all your life and think, what the hell is really entering my lungs right now? Also, what happens when this is all over? Will there still be other people? If so, will they like me?
So you’ve even managed to take a good review and turn it around to black humor. Good job! What is the best thing someone could say about any of the Johnny Books?
That it’s funny. Writing humor is interesting because it’s so incredibly subjective. Because of that, I just write what makes me laugh. If people tell me it’s not funny, it’s easy not to argue because to them, it’s probably not. I have to respect their opinion, and I don’t hold anything against them outside of a rage-inducing, life-long grudge.
Humor is the most difficult genre to do well, at least for me. I admire you for tackling it! Thank you for stopping by today. I laughed quite often.
About Nick: Nick Tory is a recluse who lives in a shack in the mountains. His primary daily contact with humans involves angrily hollering at the mailman. While not much is known about him, there are some existing stories. One is that he wrestled a bear. Another is that the bear was actually just his own shadow, and he was just rolling around like a maniac in a hallucination-induced rage. A third story is that he is living in a big city with a wife and two daughters and enjoys concerts and baseball. He is the author of four books, including Johnny Vegas and Johnny Real Estate.