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Conversation with N. S. Winston

Raise your hand if you love science fiction! Okay, for those of you with your hands down, I have to ask if you've seen Star Wars, Star Trek, or Doctor Who. And by Star Wars I mean the original trilogy and the prequels (don't get me started on the latest three movies), and by Doctor Who I mean David Tennant's seasons because, well, he is the best doctor (the comment section is open for debate). My mom is a nerd and proud of it. We went to Comic Con together when I was in high school and to local Doctor Who conventions. She can quote Star Wars, and a significant number of our Christmas ornaments feature George Lucas' creations (Mom, can we please add Baby Yoda this year???). We have a cardboard cutout of the TARDIS and one of the 10th Doctor (which will never cease to scare me when I open the basement door) and lightsabers. My boyfriend has sent me a Mandalorian-themed cutting board, Star Wars-themed cooking utensils, and an R2D2 patterned trash can. Yes, you could say that we're science fiction fans.

So what makes the genre so appealing? In my opinion, science fiction is endlessly fascinating because it offers a glimpse into the realm of possibility. While fantasy allows us to escape into worlds of our imagination that could never come to fruition (I can still hope that magic is real), science fiction's emphasis on science and technology offers a glimpse into what could become possible through invention and questionable decision making. We very well could travel to different planets and galaxies, could create flying cars, could create a time machine. We just can't yet.

N.S. Winston was one of the first authors to send me his book to review when I began blogging last year. An equity research analyst and MBA candidate, Winston (he prefers to use his pen name when discussing his literary career) is passionate about science fiction and fantasy. His debut, self-published novella, The Doubles is a quick and immersive read that interrogates the lasting consequences of cloning on society. My full, glowing review of this absorbing novel can be found here.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Winston a few months ago about his literary inspiration, his passion for travel, and the process of self-publishing. Our conversation has been summarized below.



Tell me a little about yourself!

Winston received his BA in English and Economics. He chose these majors because he knew he wanted to read and write, but he wanted to broaden his career options. He wrote short stories throughout college, and his work has been published in literary journals. He is currently working as an equity research analyst and is pursuing a graduate degree in business in New York City. He enjoys investing and telling stories through his work. When he isn't working, studying, reading, writing, or promoting his book, Winston enjoys traveling. He has visited Thailand, Europe, and Latin America thus far. One of his favorite destinations was Annecy, France. The quaint lake town, according to Winston, felt like an idyllic other world with its medieval buildings and beautiful mountains.


What inspired you to write The Doubles?

While at a business meeting six years ago, Winston looked down at the glass surface of the table and saw his colleagues' forms perfectly reflected across the smooth surface. The image was so impactful that he immediately began writing the first chapter of The Doubles on his flight back to New York. The novella ultimately took him about 3 years to complete. At that point in time, he was traveling frequently for work and would write on planes and in his hotel room. If it's something that you're passionate about, he said, you'll find the time to write.

While the concept originally sprang from the reflected images, Winston said that he was also inspired by the long literary and mythological traditions of doppelgangers. From Germany to Egypt to the United Kingdom, stories of doppelgangers have entertained and frightened us, and Winston has enjoyed reading every one that he could get his hands on.

The first draft of The Doubles was written in dense literary prose because that is the natural way that Winston thinks. However, after reading the first chapter of the draft on a podcast and receiving feedback from his beta readers, he came to realize that his language needed to be pared back. He rewrote his novella and had a friend assist him in the editing process. He sent out query letters, but he described the process as being a blackhole. If he had the time to pursue his dreams of publication full-time he would, but he decided that going around the system and self-publishing made the most sense at this stage in his life. He is still interested in finding an agent and working with them to expose his work to a larger audience. He has invested his time into marketing campaigns and is hoping to do more readings and podcast appearances to further promote his work. After our conversation, I can definitely attest that Winston would be a wonderful addition to any podcast and that his reading will leave readers wanting to know what happens next.


Tell me a little about your book's impact on readers.

Winston has been excited that his book has mostly been well-received by readers. He finds it to be cool whenever people reference a specific part of the book. Because the story is so gripping and the novella is so short, he has learned that most people read his work in the span of two days. According to the analytics of the ebook, most readers speed through the first three-quarters of the book in a day. Because I was so absorbed in his world building, I finished the book in a matter of hours while laying in my dorm on a Saturday afternoon. NYC Book Girl has been featuring books that she reads in the span of a Saturday, and this would be the perfect addition to that challenge.


Tell me about sci-fi/fantasy books and movies that you love!

When Winston was younger, he was a big fan of Blade Runner. He currently loves Lord of the Rings and has seen the movies tons of times. Tom Bombadil is his favorite character in the series, and if that isn't the sign of a true fan, I don't know what is.



If you are interested in purchasing a copy of The Doubles, you can do so here. As is the case with any author, leaving a review or telling your friends makes a world of difference! Also, I'm thrilled to announce that Winston and I will be partnering together on Instagram to run a HUGE giveaway in the next few days. You will NOT want to miss this amazing opportunity!


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