Ivan Grabar: Can you tell us what Lazor's Awful Empire is about and a few details about the main characters?
Nick Zilic: Hello to you and your readers, and thanks for having me!
LAE is the first brainchild I published on Amazon and it's a military science-fiction comedy. It could most simply be described as a parody, but also an homage to the Warhammer 40k Universe. The main character is Pelerin Artwood Lazor, a former Techno-Viking manager who marries into the wealthy Artwood family. His father-in-law, unhappy with Lazor's shabby background, sends him into the Empire's vast military force. To make things short, there are all the standard mil SF tropes such as power-armors, genetically modified soldiers, absolutely overpowered enemies, huge space battles and explosions (in space, with fire, I know…), etc.
IG: As you know there are many scifi and fantasy books on the market. Could you tell us what separates your books from others i.e why should the reader buy your books?
NZ: Well, first, they should buy my books because I have somewhat of a soft spot for money. I just like it, I guess I’m special like that. Almost all jokes aside, there truly are a lot of these things on the market nowadays, but I don’t think I saw a military science fiction comedy that tackles the tropes of the genre the way I did in LAE. This doesn’t make the book inherently good, but at least I think it’s somewhat unique.
IG: What is the inspiration behind your books?
NZ: I’ve been a major science fiction nerd since I watched Star Wars when I was 5. When I told my mom I wanted to read things that are similar to the movie, she, with the help of a fossilized librarian, gave me Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. That book depressed me endlessly and I couldn’t understand how someone could shove something so colourful and fun like SW in the same category as Jules Verne’s book (listen, I know he’s the daddy of it all but be honest when’s the last time you read any of his work?). I started writing my own short stories about space battles to make up for that lack. Sometime later when I discovered the Foundation series by Asimov, I realized that writing about the far future is totally a big thing already. Kind of shocked me too. I’m still recovering.
IG: Do you have any books, shows, comics or games that influenced your work?
NZ: Before writing LAE I was on a WH40k binge so to say. I read some 20-ish books in the Horus Heresy and I loved it. I had already read Starship Troopers, Old Man’s War, the Forever War, all that good mil SF stuff but something about the absurdity of WH40k just clicked with me. While it’s not necessarily quality writing, it’s very fun, so I thought I wanted to try to push some of those tropes even further. A thousand ships? Why not ten thousand ships?
Anyway, my second book isn’t mil SF at all (it’s somewhat of an experimental SF genre) so I’m not necessarily constrained by genre. I enjoy a lot of different sci-fi. I just finished Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem and I absolutely loved it (the whole trilogy is just genius) but right now I’m reading the Bobiverse sci-fi comedy saga and those two trilogies couldn’t be farther apart when it comes to style and story.
NZ: I’m on my third book and honestly, I don’t really know. I wrote LAE as a discovery writer, if you will, but then I planned out Sky White (my second novel) almost entirely.
I’m currently co-writing a trilogy with Jaeger Mitchells who’s an acclaimed gamelit writer and we’re doing something of a combined method right now: we know where the chapters should go but we take a lot of creative freedom with each. I said I don’t know but I’m leaning more and more towards discovery writing because it is just way more fun.
Writing is a lot of work and if you don’t find a way to enjoy it, if you just grind through it, then what’s the point, I guess.
IG: Can you tell our readers something about yourself?
NZ: I’m a 30-something-year old English teacher from Bosnia and I live in Zagreb. I’ve spent years in college in Bosnia and Austria, honestly just trying to perfect my English and my understanding of literature. I always knew what I would use my education for but even now, after having written a couple thousand pages, I still feel that my writing career is in its infancy. Writing in your second language has challenges of its own but it opens up so many more doors for obvious reasons.
IG: Where can our readers find your work and where can they contact you?
NZ: My first two books are on Amazon: Lazor’s Awful Empire and Sky White. By the end of February, I’ll have the first book of our new trilogy out, but it will be under a different name: Doc Temples (English names sell English books). So, keep an eye out for that. I won’t write under ‘Nick Zilic’ for a while, and maybe ever.
I’m currently working on switching to writing full time and that dream is slowly but steadily coming true. So, if there are potential writers among your readers: keep at it, don’t let publishers bring you down, you really don’t need them.
You can contact me via mail at Nickzilic@gmail.com, visit my website, nickzilic.com, or find me on Facebook and Twitter under the same name.
Thanks a lot for having me!
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