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Interview with Nicholas Tanek

He is an author and that person who runs YOUR KINKY FRIENDS. He has interviewed kinky and sexually expressive people from all over the world. Hailing from New Brunswick and Edison, New Jersey, Nicholas Tanek grew up as a New Jersey punk rock skater kid who lost himself in the early 90s New York City rave scene. 

After years of drug addiction, he got his life together when he was reunited with Lynn, the love of his life before she died at the age of 37. Instead of choosing negativity, he chose creativity. Losing Lynn inspired him to write his first book, The Coolest Way To Kill Yourself. There is quite a bit of kinky sex, drugs, and music in the life of Nicholas Tanek, and he has some unique stories to tell.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
My life is pretty much an open book. I literally wrote three books all about my life. I used to be heavily involved in drugs since the 90’s rave scene in New York City. I survived that and became more creative within the BDSM kink community. I haven’t done drugs in more than a decade. My current addictions involved kink/BDSM culture, music, and food.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you shortly? Any new project you’re working on?
Two years ago, I was told that I had three months to live, and I was dying from liver cirrhosis. I had to stop drinking and had to start eating healthy, but I needed a liver transplant. So, I struggled, but I eventually got on the list and got a liver transplant. That was in January 2022. It’s August 2022 now, and I feel like I’m back from the dead. I’m not ready to die yet. 

So, I began writing a book about the whole process of dealing with my operation. The working title is Sex, Wine & Cirrhosis. It’s a funny book about staying kinky while going through a major operation. Since then, I have deeply appreciated people who enjoy the medical roleplay fetish.

Q.3 When did you decide to write The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself?
The love of my life died in 2012. She was in her mid-30s. We always wrote poems and stories, but I would get published, and she never did. My stories were always tributes to women who I was infatuated with. She always lamented, “No one ever writes anything for me.” Well, after she died, during Hurricane Sandy, I wrote the book for the girl who never thought anyone would write for her. 

It started out in the 1990s. We grew up as punk rock kids in New Jersey, which evolved into the New York City underground rave scene. We did tons of psychedelic drugs and opiates. Our lives spun out of control, and 15 years later, we got back together. It’s a story of second chances. We had the most honest relationship there was. We put the bond in bondage. So, I wrote our memoir. The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself is a tribute to her.

Q.4 It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing. Tell us about your marketing campaign?
It was really kind of an experiment. After dealing with so many difficult people in my life, I decided to just follow the love and be around people who love me. So, that’s how I marketed it. I did not spend any money. I spent time with readers, podcasters, and bookstores. Then, people like Kim Grey, Desiree Nelson, and Isa Jones helped me promote the book on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. 

The next thing I knew, I was doing live readings, radio shows, podcasts, and blog takeovers. So, all the support was from people who gave their own time and energy to support me and the book. I was never in it to sell books and make money. I was more interested in celebrating the love of my life, Lynn, who I wrote the book for.

Q.5 How long does it typically take for you to write a book?
About a year. First, I have the outline in my head. I do not write the outline down, but I constantly go over it in my head. Second, I just write, write, and write more. I always listen to music for the right mood for my writing scene. I like to think of my books like movies. A song fits specific scenes or chapters. After I get the words on the paper, I edit, edit, and edit more.

Q.6 Were there any challenges you faced while writing this book?
Since it is all true, I was worried about legal issues. The book is filled with sex and drugs. So, I had to change some names and label them “fiction.” Yeah… fiction… sure.

Q.7 Do you have a routine for editing your books?
I re-read and edited the book over and over. Then, my editor and I read the book out loud to each other. I think that makes a difference in the flow and rhythm of the writing style. Plus, that makes it easier for the reader. 

Since the author is blinded by the emotional connection to the work, an editor is essential because they see things in the book that the author cannot see. This whole process takes many long nights, but it is fun while being emotionally draining.

Q.8 What kind of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write. Be yourself and write. Even if you write five pages of garbage, you may find one idea or sentence that is worth gold.

Q.9 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
Write! You do not have to publish or show it to anyone. It’s good just to get your thoughts out on paper. One idea you do not use or end up liking could lead to an idea that you will love. You must create to make something happen. Music helps. When I listen to certain songs and artists, that inspires me to create a mental scene that is rooted in emotion.

Q.10 What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
I was stoked, but I knew my book was unlike a typical book. I grew up a punk rock kid, and DIY was all I knew. My book is a love story, but it’s not a “romance” novel. So, I wasn’t going to have some glossy cover with some muscular guy with bulging abs and a girl caressing him in the background. 

There is quite a bit of BDSM and kink in the book; I’m not one of those authors who jump on the horrible 50 Shades of Grey bandwagon and has women on the cover blindfolded and submitted. The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself is a memoir, and I write about writing the book in the book. Plus, I love art. So, for all my books, the covers are hand-drawn art done by my editor, Melissa Blair.

Q.11 Does your family support your career as a writer?
I guess they don’t have a choice because they love me. They are my family. On the back of the books, I always quote them. Those are actual quotes. Since all my books include sex and drugs, they do not like the fact that I am confessing to this whole lifestyle, but they realize that I must be myself. 

The only way my writing works is if I am totally honest with and about myself. We may not all agree on everything, but they are supportive as they can be. Still, I do not rub the subject matter in their face for shock value. There is passion and heart to my work. I like to think that comes through.

Q.12 How did you select the name of your characters?
The books are all true, so I generally use real names. I use my name. For the people in the book who I am still friends with, I ask them if they want to use a different name. Some do, but others love that their real name is in the book. 

My friend Kevin goes by his real name in all three of my books. He insisted on it. Then, for the people in the book who may not come across in the best light, I give them a name that just sounds like their personality. For example, my ex-wife was given the fake name of someone else I knew because they were both horrible people.

Q.13 What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
When I have the fire in me, I write as often as possible. Even if I am not in front of the keyboard, I will send notes to myself over my phone. Generally, I would write, and Melissa and I would edit would be during the night. 

Sometimes, we would work until early in the morning. Occasionally, we would work during the days on the weekends, but evenings were always best. I was constantly reminded of the films I watched late at night when I was a kid. I like to keep that kind of energy in my books.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
I’m very obsessive and compulsive when it comes to writing and music. It must be honest about my life and authentic to the scene. I wrote about the rave scene in The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself, the BDSM kink community in Your Kinky Friends, and the punk rock scene in Chipped Black Nail Polish

Each book has its own soundtrack. So, I always need music in the background while I write. The more the book is completed, the more specific songs get played over and over during specific chapters.

Q.15 How did you come up with the name of your books?
A. The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself
is a metaphor. No one kills themselves in the book, although there is an attempt. It’s basically a metaphor for falling in love and giving yourself over to love. The selfish person I once have been killed off was a more enlightened and loving person. 

Chipped Black Nail Polish is a metaphor for the image and style of a punk rock girl who looks cool and wild but is very damaged and falling apart. Your Kinky Friends is not a metaphor but more of a tribute to friendships made in the BDSM kink community. I was sick of these horrible so-called BDSM books that were obviously trying to cash in on 50 Shades of Grey. Authentic BDSM culture is not like that. 

The BDSM and kink community saved my life, and I hold those friendships close to my heart. So, Your Kinky Friends is a tribute to the real NYC/NJ BDSM kink community. When thinking of titles, I also want them to be unique. I want them to be memorable. Also, if someone searches that title, I want my book to come up and not be lost in some generic title.

Q.16 What is the most challenging thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I am fortunate enough that most of my friends are women. My relationships and friendships with women have taught me to be a better man. So, my editor is a brutally honest woman. She couldn’t lie to save her life. So, you always know where your work stands with her. 

I think it’s essential for writers to surround themselves with people from the opposite sex or gender identities to listen, understand, and respect their perspectives. Since most of my friends are women and the people I am writing for are women, I feel I must honor them but writing something honest but respectful.

Q.17 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
I have written three books. The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself is a tribute to the love of my life, who died in 2012. My second book is Chipped Black Nail Polish, which is a tribute to the very first love of my life. My last book, Your Kinky Friends is about me being devastated by the death of Lynn. It is a true story about the wild and wonderful people in the kink community and how their friendships saved my life. I also like to think that it is an honest snapshot of what the BDSM kink community is genuinely like.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
There are many, and I could not narrow it down to just one. I am very lucky to have met many people I have admired since I was young. I had lunch with Jim Reid of The Jesus & Mary Chain. I know Tom Scharpling from The Best Show on WFMU

I have interviewed Madame C, Andrew Burnett of Close Lobsters, Herve Lomprez of Trisomie 21, Guru of Gangstarr, and Michael Allen of The Wolfgang Press. Still, I would love to meet The Dali Lama, Hunter S. Thompson, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tony Wilson (of Factory Records), and Alan McGee (of Creation Records).

Q.19 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
Since all the characters are real people, I do not have to develop them or even think of plots. I just tell the story. The important thing to me is to show how the characters evolved and give meaning to the story they are living.

Q.20 Share the experience of your writing journey so far?
It has been a wild and wonderful ride. I took my negativity of addiction, grief, heartbreak, and depression and turned it into creativity. Hopefully, I made some people connect and laugh in the process. My goal was not to be famous or rich… and I’m not. But I have made a name for myself, and I am proud to say that I am creditable. 

I have met wonderful people and formed magnificent friendships with people worldwide. Fans have become friends who contributed to my creative projects. I love it. Fans of my books mixed in with friends from the BDSM/Kink community, and we set up the web/podcast community. We have writers, artists, performers, and podcasters. I have been writing articles for the site and doing video interviews with various kinky people. 

Guests have included professional dominatrixes, submissives, burlesque performers, sex workers, sissies, comedians, bands, activists, and more. Subjects include BDSM, femdom, sissification, chastity, latex, leather, rope aficionados, edge play, impact play, medical play, knife play, consensual blackmail, mindf*ckery, education, LBGTQ rights, women’s rights, sploshing, and much more. I have interviewed people from all over the world and have fans from all over the world. It’s been an incredible ride.

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