It could be said that Nick’s entire life has been lived to write this book.

While growing up in the Central Valley of California, he spent a fair bit of time in what is now known as the Silicon Valley; it was the first major American city that he was steeped in. Santa Clara Valley—and its nearby mountains and ocean—captured his imagination long before the advent of the internet era. The people’s history of the bygone agrarian and canning industries in the area intrigued him so much that he ended up moving there in 1995 for undergrad at SJSU—just north of Steinbeck Country. Nick read various world literatures with guidance from a wide variety of scholars, but studying Steinbeck—a master of empathy—under Susan Shillinglaw was key to his development as a student and a writer of fiction.

Though it was in San Jose that Nick explored and observed his first adult influences in literature, art, music, and diversity, it was a gap semester at the age of 20 that informed his writing in a way university could not. He traveled solo for the first time, surviving on about $2,000 in busser/waiter cash and meeting people from all over the world; writing in earnest over those two months; staying in hostels; and traveling by bus and train. Ultimately, he produced what would later become material for the now-completed second volume: Toil & Sound—the re-placement.

Before he moved to New York City in 2003 to pursue an M.A. in literature and creative writing, Nick wrote his first successful short story. It was part of his application to CCNY and was a short story that tested the bounds of his empathy. Someone whom he was close with at the time was attempting to figure out issues related to sexuality. He processed this by writing from a perspective that, in some ways, resembled this person’s perspective. What he wrote for his CCNY application morphed into what now exists as part three of chapter one in volume one: the forthcoming Toil & Sound—the re-visionist.


If Nick’s social consciousness was still in a somewhat nascent stage when he moved to New York City, living for a year in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan opened his eyes. It gave him a real sense (however limited) of being an outsider: he may have been the only white person in a half mile radius. This and other cultural experiences in NYC entwined fortuitously with his courses. And these factors dramatically affected creative choices he made in Toil & Sound. He studied in depth the work of the South American and Caribbean magic realists; beyond the early slave narratives, he dove deep into the African-American canon.

Nick moved to South Korea in 2006. Among other things, he was fortunate to find new experiences and people. His lifestyle also allowed him the solitude needed to write. He expanded his book ideas over the course of four and a half years; he completed the first draft of his two novels. Since then, he has continued to read widely and write online about intercultural and social issues.


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