An Interview with Jonathan Nevair

It is my pleasure to present my interview with Jonathan Nevair, author of the Wind Tide Trilogy and recently Stellar Instinct, a fast paced Spy-Fi Space Thriller.

Check out his author bio at the end of the post and book covers below. I hope you enjoy the interview!

Jonathan’s Books


Hi Jonathan and welcome to Spells & Spaceships Blog. It’s a pleasure to have you here!

You’ve recently released your Spy-Fi thriller Stellar Instinct. Congratulations! What challenges did you face as a writer in going from an in-depth Science Fiction epic in The Wind Tide Trilogy to a fast paced mystery-adventure-thriller in Stellar Instinct?

Brevity, pacing, and suspense were new challenges for me with Stellar Instinct. I spent a good deal of time educating myself on thrillers before I dug into the story and writing. Coming off a three-book space opera series, the biggest challenges lay in adjusting from a focus on epic, expansive world building and multi-layered plot lines and character arcs to a single-moving storyline that included an essential set of story beats and devices related to the thriller genre. I really enjoy world building, and relish in the description of details. Much of that had to be put aside in order to keep the pacing in the “thriller zone.” Luckily, since it was a secret agent adventure I was able to bring a lot of those really fun and exciting ideas in through the plot and setting. The biggest takeaway for me was related to writing and language – I learned a lot about how to write with an economy of words, thinking about riding a line where you give the reader just enough to build out a world and plot while keeping the pace moving.

Having read Stellar Instinct and really enjoyed it, it really feels like you had a lot of fun writing it. I love that there is so much imagination and invention while the story always feels completely focused. Did you have as much fun writing it as the impression we get as a reader?

This book was an absolute blast to write! Coming off the Wind Tide trilogy my creative drive needed something lighter. The space opera series is quite earnest, with a focus on philosophy and action, and ethics and struggle, and it took a lot out of me (it was also written in a short period of time because it was first contracted under a publisher and I was on deadlines). Stellar Instinct was me giving myself permission to write something without connections and attachments to earlier texts (Wind Tide is inspired by Ancient Greek sources) and ethical philosophies, etc. It was so much fun to write a new set of characters in an action-packed universe. I wrote about alien species for the first time and had so much fun with it! I love creating secondary characters, always have, and Granny Kissy was so much fun. She is inspired by the character of Violet Crawley in Downton Abbey!

Let’s talk for a moment about your completed series, Wind Tide. What are the overall messages, feelings or emotions you’d like to think readers take away from the books?

Well, readers should take whatever they get from a book/series, but as far as what I put into it as the author, that would be a few things. Settings – I try to instil a vibrant sense of place through sensory associations. I am big on mood – when I think of locations I try and not just describe what they appear like, but rather how a character feels in a place. Then there is the internal experience – that is big for me. I try to write books that bring the reader inside the character in the story, especially their ethical and moral conflicts in situations and circumstances when they interact with others. This series is built off a set of themes originating in Ancient Greek sources. Goodbye to the Sun from Antigone, Jati’s Wager from the Iliad, and No Song, but Silence from The Eumenides. There is a connection between the three – moving from family vs. state, to understanding the relationship of give and take, and sacrifice as a noble act, to concluding that forms of justice evolve and require forgiveness to progress. An author I very much respect described the series as, “space opera that makes you think.” I like that a lot – there is a good deal of critical theory and other related ideas about societal structures and the spaces we inhabit in there (material philosophy is a big influence) and I do hope that readers enjoy the story and find themselves thinking about the situations characters find themselves in, and how it relates to their own ethics and morals. We are all capable of change and a lot of characters experience that in the series.

George R. R. Martin and yourself have the distinction of being the two authors I’ve read the most books by. Not bad company to keep  However, he’s beating you 9-4! Do you think you can maintain your current rate of a book release each year?

Um… first of all, wow! That is flattering! I hope I can keep up this pace. I’ve fallen into a really good writing rhythm – I’m a college professor, and that gives me an annual calendar with a period of time during Dec-Jan and over the summer where I can focus on professional activities. I’ve set up a good system where I do R&D and plotting over the winter break as the start of a new book, and then muse and reflect, outline, and write a bit here and there over the spring semester. Then, by the time summer comes I am ready to dig in and write (and hopefully finish!) a book. So, if I can keep doing that, maybe I can catch up to George. I will keep writing books if you promise to keep reading them!

What is the main way you have developed as a writer from starting out to now?

Learning about narrative structures and plot points/genre beats has been essential for me. I came from my academic background very comfortable with research and formulating a thesis, synthesising complex and layered information into an outline form, etc. But I was not informed about fiction writing at all. Learning how to be efficient with my language, and understanding how to use exposition prudently, as well as when to show and when to tell is something I am constantly working to improve. 

Do you have any tips for someone wishing to take the self published route? What is the one piece of advice you must follow, in your opinion?

Well, I went from a small indie press to having my rights reverted with Wind Tide and then going it alone for Stellar Instinct. But you are not alone, actually. The self-pub community is amazing – so supportive and helpful, both with the craft of writing and ALL the “other” stuff. And when I say community, I mean fellow writers and also bloggers, reviewers, readers, etc. About being a self-pub author – let me tell you, there is a LOT of other stuff. Be ready to do twenty other things in addition to writing a novel, or whatever format of literature you are interested in crafting. You need to be prepared to select the appropriate editors for your work to ensure it is well vetted before entering the market, do all your own marketing, work on your network, oversee the artistic and design aspects of your book, have a website, engage on social media, etc. Or, you don’t have to do any of the social outward facing stuff and that is fine too – there are varying degrees of all of that in the business of self-publishing. Is that one piece of advice or like 20? 🙂

What books take pride of place in your household; are there any that you absolutely adore?

Oh, what a question! Treasure Island is a book from my childhood I re-read every few years. It never ceases to sweep me away into a world of adventure with great characters, setting, and exciting action/intrigue. In terms of “grown up me” – I am all over the place but here are a few that are dear to my writer heart: A Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet and Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, David Gemmell’s Drenai series (esp. Waylander and Legend), N.K Jemisin’s The Fifth Season, Trevanian’s Shibumi, Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 and Rendezvous with Rama, Umberto Eco’s The Island of the Day Before, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, and Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire. The funny thing is, so much of this depends on where you are in your life’s journey – if you asked me this question twenty years ago, I would have given you a completely different set of books as an answer. Except for Treasure Island!

What’s next on the horizon for Jonathan Nevair?

Something tells me that Agent Renault may have another GAM-OPs mission coming…

Author Bio

Jonathan Nevair (he/him) is a speculative fiction author and, as Dr. Jonathan Wallis, an art historian and Professor of Art History at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia. After two decades of academic teaching and publishing, he finally got up the nerve to write fiction.  His space opera trilogy, Wind Tide (Goodbye to the Sun, Jati’s Wager, and No Song, But Silence) was inspired by Ancient Greek texts and myths and released in 2021. Stellar Instinct, a standalone spy-fi thriller in space, is his latest release (December 2022). 

Jonathan lives in southeastern PA with his wife and rambunctious mountain feist, Cricket. When not writing and teaching, he spends his time chasing his dog through the woods and hoping he’ll be able to walk in space before he croaks. Find him online at @JNevair.


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