Spotlight On Writers
Eric Robert Nolan
- Where, do you hail from?
I was born in Queens, New York, and I grew up on Long Island. But I’ve spent much of my life in Virginia.
- What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
“Home,” for me, is Roanoke, VA. Its people are the best and the kindest I’ve met anywhere. I have occasionally viewed myself as an outsider in this world — it’s a part of myself with which I am actually quite comfortable. It says something extraordinary about Roanoke’s citizens that they always make me feel as though I am at home, and among friends, and right where I belong. It is a rare quality of which they seem completely unaware. I’ve written a couple of poems about it.
- What turns you on creatively?
Caffeine, for starters.
I also like to begin by imagining something small and simple, and then “growing” it into something larger, more detailed or hopefully immersive. I’ll start with a limited set of thoughts or sensory impressions and then try to expand them into something more complex. Maybe the result will be a poem with a recurring motif, maybe it will be detailed character point-of-view in a story. It’s a fun creative exercise, even if I don’t actually write anything down.
Like most writers, I suppose, I enjoy combinations of words. I love consonance and assonance, and I like to discover new synonyms to enhance those devices. I like playing around with word order and sentence structure — to sort of “discover” the best version of the verse or sentence that I want to write.
- What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
I’ve been asked this a couple of times, and the word I keep coming back to is variant. I love the way it sounds — the way the electric “v” and the “r” sounds slide into a firm, terminal “t.” It’s like the sound running through a power line; it’s wicked cool. To me, the word variant implies something that was deliberately altered to become different or special. In the world of comic books, for example, a limited-edition variant cover typically features artwork by a sought-after artist. Those covers are harder to find, and they might cost a little more. But they’re special. (Yes, I am a comic book nerd.)
Here’s a shot at a sentence: “All our online avatars are variants of inner selves.” Okay, that wasn’t terribly good, but you get the picture.
- What is your pet peeve?
Pumpkin-spice-ANYTHING. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Authoritarian populism. That one crazy guy in downtown Roanoke who always follows me and calls me “Steve” and suggests derisively that I “don’t know how to raise horses.” He is technically correct, but I’m not the guy he’s looking for.
- What defines Eric Robert Nolan?
I’ve never been a man of especially high aptitudes. I’m seldom the smartest man in the room, rarely the most charming, and never the best looking. The one thing that I’ve been told that I can do well from time to time is write.
I’ll take it. There are far worse lots in life. Writing is like holding a little bit of sorcery in the palm of your hand. If you concentrate at it, and if you’re lucky, you can make somebody feel something on the other side of the world. It’s crazy, if you think about it. It’s a strange and occasionally potent magic.
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