Book Reviews / Guest Authors

Interview and Book Review with Nick Shipley, author of Olives for the Past


Olives from the past

My Review

Olives for the Past: A Collection of Short Stories consists of 8 stories that Nick describes as “a collection of short stories in an attempt to capture emotion in the raw and portray humans being.” My two favorite stories in the collection are “Super Ocean 42” and “Salt River Bottoms.”

There’s some beautiful writing in “Super Ocean 42:” “The pearl grey of approaching down stretched its first wispy fingers into the blue black of the fading night sky,” (1). In this story, David heads to NYC by Greyhound bus to attend an acting class. While traveling, he contemplates his relationship with Leslie, his uber-successful fiance. David is experiencing  an obvious life crisis. Is David ready to let go of his carefree lifestyle of bar hopping and women chasing? Will he ever be able to settle down? Will he ever want to settle down?

In “Salt River Bottoms,” which takes place in the small town of Anders, Missouri, Lisa is forced to re-live a horrific accident every time she travels to and from work, especially during the winter. This story also has some beautiful writing: “Grainy white drifts floated like apparitions across the shiny black road” (31).

I enjoyed the collection, especially the two stories I mentioned; however, I would have liked for some of the stories to be longer. For example, I would have liked to know a bit more about the characters. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys honest and raw short stories.

Nick, Keep Calm and Answer These Twenty-Four Questions

  1. Do you consider yourself a logophile? If so, have you always been? Yes, I blame my Shakespeare monologue instructor in NYC in 1996.
  2. What is your favorite color?  Black
  3. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?  Western Maryland, Ditto.
  4. What is your favorite sports team?  Pittsburgh Steelers
  5. Who is your favorite author?  Hemingway…or is it Shakespeare…it could be Poe…alright, alright I give up its Hemingway.
  6. What is your favorite book?  Hamlet…words, words, words
  7. What do you do when you are not writing?  Work and fret that I may not get writer’s block again.
  8. Do you have a day job as well?  Oh yes…
  9. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?  Writer’s block is perpetual but in the words of Papa…”write that one true sentence”…and it all works out.
  10. Is being a writer a curse or a gift?  A gift.
  11. Where do you write?  Where do I write or where do I write best?  I write everywhere I get mental space.  I write best sitting at a half full (half empty) bar.
  12. Do you prefer silence or some noise while you write?  Chatter and Jazz.
  13. What do you typically drink while writing?  Had to go there…it depends on the weather…coffee, tea, single malt scotch, bourbon…never beer, can’t write with beer.
  14. What challenges have you had in regards to your writing life?  Time, Space, and the Continuum.  Never have enough of any of the above.
  15. When did you first start and when did you finish your book?  9 months ago I started writing these little shorts, published them in January.
  16. If your book is made into a movie, which actors/actresses do you envision playing the parts?  No names.
  17. What does your protagonist think of you? Would he/she want to hang out with you?  Probably annoyed that I am writing all of it down.  Probably.
  18. How do you market your book? What avenues work best?  Amazon, Goodreads, giveaways and signings.
  19. What has been the toughest criticism so far?  My own.
  20. What has been the best compliment?  Every compliment is a pearl.
  21. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?  I think I have a very active imagination that takes a moment in time and says, “What if…”  So vaguely, fact based with a lot of imagination.
  22. How did you come up with the title?  I misunderstood a song lyric, “All is for the best”…Olives for the Past.  I realized then how misunderstanding one simple phrase or point can change the entire meaning of a piece.
  23. Will there be a sequel?  Got another batch in the oven right now.
  24. What project are you working on now?  Another volume of short stories…the real meat on the bone though is trying to capture images with thundering silence and brilliant flashes of life on to the page…thats what I am really working on, perfecting a method.

Please fill in the blank: Keep Calm and Bang A Gong

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