Allison's Book Bag

Interview with Nick Hupton

Posted on: January 24, 2014

NickHupton_InterviewNick Hupton is pursuing two lifetime dreams, that of being a teacher and a writer. To date, he has two novels published: If I Knew It Was Coming and The Ridge.

Although Hupton isn’t a military kid, while doing graduate studies, he became interested in writing about the war in Iraq. At that time it was in full swing and very much on his mind. In an interview with Jody Sparks, Hupton decided to combine the idea of parent separation with the exploration of the “wars” going on in the homes of deployed soldiers. As part of his research for If I Knew It was Coming, he spoke to a number of kids whose parents had been deployed and listened to their stories. He also did a lot of reading about the affects of deployment on families.  Finally, his wife and him even traveled to Walter Reed Medical Center (still in operation at the time) to speak to administrators. My review of If I Knew it was Coming appeared on Wednesday.

 As a middle school teacher, Hupton used to chaperone field trips to an environmental learning center in northern Minnesota called Wolf Ridge. In an interview with Book Club Reading List, Hupton explains that he would take the students on hikes at night and tell them a ghost story about an old hermit who lived in the area. It was believed, according to the story, that the hermit was responsible for a number of missing children over the years. “The kids would get creeped out and the story became a bit legendary throughout our school.” When he had the opportunity to write a second novel, this ghost story inspired The Ridge. My review of The Ridge will appear here tomorrow. Save the date: January 25!

ALLISON: Iowa! What do like most about growing up in the Midwest? The least?

NICK: I grew up in Des Moines, but have lived in Minneapolis for the past 15 years.  I have enjoyed my time in the Midwest.  I have traveled extensively, but have never lived anywhere but Des Moines and Minneapolis, so it is difficult to compare it to anything else.  I love the city of Minneapolis–the parks, the lakes, the culture.  There is a lot of writing inspiration in this town and I love that.  What I dislike the most about the Midwest would have to be the weather.  Summers are great around here, but the winters are long and can be depressing!

ALLISON: What is your most proud moment as a teen? The moment you most wish to forget?

NICK: My most proud moment as a teen probably came on the tennis court.  Tennis has been a huge part of my life from when I was a young kid, through college, and even now (I am a high school tennis coach as well).  Cramping up in an important sectional championship match, I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it through, but I fought through it and ended up winning, qualifying me for the state tournament.  It was a very proud moment.  I think I tend to pull details from that adversity and transfer them to the characters in my books as well.  Sometimes they transfer directly to the athletic field (both Tim Hansen and Zach Sutton are baseball players) and other times, it happens in their daily lives.  The moments I wish to forget are the times I might have made bad choices and knowing the consequences were coming from my parents.   There are a number of scenes in my books that play on that suspense and discomfort–knowing that there will be a punishment and, but not knowing how the parents are going to react.

ALLISON: Do you prefer middle school or high school? What is one reason you stay in the education field?

NICK:  As far as teaching, I prefer high school overall, but there are things I miss about teaching middle school.  I loved the relationship building aspect of middle school- the fun activities and field trips, particularly.  Some of my favorite moments of teaching took place at Wolf Ridge, which was the trip that inspired the setting for The Ridge.  But I do love teaching high school day in, day out.

ALLISON: Are you a teacher or a writer first?

NICK: I am definitely a teacher first.  It is my #1 priority.  I love forming relationships with students and watching them grow, but writing is a true passion of mine.  It has been my dream for many years to become a published author and I am so thankful and grateful that it has come true.  I owe North Star Press a great deal for helping make that happen.

ALLISON: Why did you decide to pursue a degree in creative writing? What three lessons did you learn from that experience?

NICK: My degree from Hamline University was a combination of Liberal Studies and Creative Writing, so I got the best of both worlds.  I took some amazing classes separate from the creative writing track, but then also was able to take many classes in writing as well.  I knew I loved writing and wanted to learn more.  Honestly, I never realized it would lead to the publication of 2 novels (3rd in the works), but I couldn’t be more happy with the results.  It was a great program and I would do it all over again if I had the chance.  The three lessons I learned would be: the elements of writing fiction, the patience it requires to complete a longer project, and how the publication process functions.  These were all eye-opening aspects of the program and I continue to learn more and more about each of these as I have experienced the world of publication.

ALLISON: Outside of tennis and writing, what are your hobbies?

NICK: Outside of tennis and writing, my favorite hobby and passion is music.  I am a drummer and come from a very musical family, so it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  Music is a great escape for me.  I even have ideas for books that revolve around the music world.  Hopefully those ideas will come to fruition in the not too distant future!

ALLISON: Do you prefer the city or the country?

NICK: I definitely prefer living in the city.  I love the culture, people, and atmosphere.  But I also love the outdoors.  We have a cabin on a lake we go to frequently and I love nature.  It’s so peaceful and soothing.  It serves as a nice reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city.

ALLISON: What’s your favorite season? Do you prefer hot or cold weather?

NICK: Summer is definitely my favorite season.  It allows me to get outdoors, exercise, and soak up nature.  It also doesn’t hurt that I don’t work full time in the summer either!  My wife is a teacher too, so our family enjoys the time off and it gives us time to travel, do book promotions, etc.

ALLISON: You watched scary movies to help inspire you while writing The Ridge? What ones did you least like? Which ones gave ideas?

NICK: I do love scary movies. Halloween is my favorite holiday, partly because there are so many of those movies on around that time.  But I also read a number of paranormal/fantasy books to get ideas for the The Ridge.  Stephen King is a big influence on me.  I think he is an amazing storyteller.  I never thought of myself as a paranormal mystery writer until The Ridge came along, but King has shown me that great stories can be told in alternate realities.

ALLISON: How do you overcome writer’s block?

NICK: Writer’s block is obviously very frustrating.  If I am stuck at a particular point in a novel, I usually try to step away from the writing for a while–maybe a few days, maybe a couple of weeks, even.  When I come back, it is fresher and less daunting.  Sometimes the ideas will come to me while I am on that break and sometimes not, but it is always simpler when I return for some reason.

ALLISON: What are your top favorite teen books? Favorite general books?

NICK: My favorite teen books would have to be To Kill A Mockingbird, The Fault in Our Stars (John Green is amazing) and I really like The Hunger Games and Divergent series.  My favorite books overall would be Native Son by Richard Wright, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. and The Kite Runner just to name a few.

ALLISON: What’s next?

NICK: I am currently writing the sequel to The Ridge, entitled Stone Ridge.  I am very excited about it.  I think it is even better than the first book.  It is a bit darker and longer and it has been very interesting to watch the development of the main character, Zach Sutton.  It should be released in either early June or September.

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Summer Reviews

Books can take connect us with strangers, take us to unique places, and introduce us to new ideas. They can also offer hope in a chaotic world. And so I must share what I read!

Each week, I’ll introduce you to religious books, Advanced Reader Copies, animal books, or diversity books. Some I’ll review as singles and others as part of round-ups. Just ahead, there will be reviews of:

  • Joni: The unforgettable story of a young woman’s struggle against quadriplegia & depression by Joni Eareckson
  • The True Story of the World’s Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary by Samantha Glen
  • Brothers in hope : the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan–refugees by Mary Williams
  • The Inner Life of Cats by Thomas McNamee

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