Posted by: Brad Nixon | September 4, 2018

Probing the Mind of the Professional Writer

Hello, this is Under Western Skies psychoresearch reporter, Ignazio Cabezaloco, with a special edition blog post. Today, we’re going to use an innovative emergent technology to conduct an interview with the creator and author of USW, blaknissan. Our subject is mental focus, especially the focus required of someone training to be a professional writer.

Thanks to an ingenious new mind-machine interface under development by the BoogleSoftTwitBook Corporation™ (BSTB), we’ll see blaknissan’s verbal responses on the left in blue, but also see his thoughts represented on the right. His thoughts may appear as text or images, and should provide some added insight to the complexities of the authorial mind.

Here’s blaknissan in the BSTB psychosensory apparatus.

MV 00993-LR_Wired Man 680

Cabezaloco: Blaknissan, that looks uncomfortable. Are you all right in there?

Perfectly fine. Yep. No problem. Don’t worry about me. Alex

Cabezaloco: So, let’s start at the beginning. Are there early childhood experiences that you think were central to turning you into a writer?

Well, first, I was always a reader. Before that, my parents read to me. I also come from a very vocal and expressive family, so I had a lot of reinforcement about language. But I was an advanced and ambitious reader from the outset. Advanced Reader cropped 340

Cabezaloco: Today, the online experience is a distraction for young people, but in your childhood the dominant medium was television. Was TV a very big influence on how you experienced storytelling?

Hardly at all. I rarely watched TV, and I was almost entirely a reader. Nope, scarcely anyNo TV 2

Cabezaloco: That’s interesting …. Still, your writing relies a lot on visual portrayal of scene and setting, and you’ve had a lot of experience with both still photography and video. Where did that interest come from?

I suppose it’s some combination of my ability to visualize what I was reading, plus a general interest in the visual arts, although more through art books than visiting museums. Oh man, Steve Ditko…. and those Charles R. Knight Dinosaurs!Art 340

Cabezaloco: Let me stop for a moment. Everything okay with the apparatus? It does look uncomfortable.


Perfectly fine. Seriously, I scarcely know I’m connected to all these wires arnold 300

Cabezaloco: I’ll go on, then. We’re getting a picture of a precocious reader, and apparently you found role models among the authors of those books. Who do you consider some of your intellectual inspirations as a developing author?

In high school, probably the same things most ambitious teen-agers were reading: Salinger, Heller, Updike, Dickens, Roth, Shakespeare…. Yep, the giants ….Role models 340

Cabezaloco: Okay, then. I have to ask. Frankly, it sounds like you were a bit of a nerd, weren’t you? I mean, does a kid who’s reading that sort of thing get much of a chance to … um, well … talk to girls, for example?

I don’t know about that. I might’ve been a late bloomer, but I was certainly interested in girls. There’s nothing about being focused on classics and more contemporary literature that would make a kid anything but better prepared with good examples for how young people or even men and women relate to one another. Girls 300

Cabezaloco: I think we’re getting a pretty clear portrayal of a dedicated student of the art of writing, and a budding intellectual. Many, although not all, of the protagonists in your stories are male. The ideas of the male persona have evolved significantly, and I wonder if you can think of male figures who loom large in your own ideas of how men do and should behave.

Obviously, there are positive and negative role models, everywhere. As a kid I might’ve had everything from Hercules to the adventurers in Conrad. Getting into high school, there was good ol’ Holden Caufield, but also Yossarian, the Henries in the history plays and Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom. 20th century literature was the era of the disaffected anti-hero, and sorting out how the male persona evolves and relates to society, but I like to think I have some sense of what constitutes a man’s place in the world. Role models 300

Cabezaloco: Thanks, blaknissan. This has been a truly … um, revealing glance into one writer’s lifelong dedication to his craft. I hope the apparatus wasn’t too uncomfortable.

Not at all. Quite enjoyable and completely unobtrusive. I hope the readers found it worthwhile. frankenstein 300

© Brad Nixon 2018. Photo of blaknissan in apparatus © M. Vincent 2018. All other images and names in this post are the intellectual property of some individual, company or agency and may not be used for any commercial application.


  1. Thank you, Mr. Cabezaloco, for a most informative and entertaining interview!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s my pleasure. We hope to offer UWS readers an opportunity to experience the apparatus, and will let you know, if you’re interested.


  2. I never got Updike at all. Totally beyond me. I think I could use one of your contraptions to help me. Or some professional writers and readers like my two college alums.

    I suppose I should have watched less TV when I was young and read more books. But you can’t go home again. Perhaps that made me more of the visually oriented person I later became and focused me more on the plastic arts.


    • I have no doubt you’re correct.


  3. What, no ‘Book him Danno’?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Didn’t occur to me, although it should. The memory bank’s kind of a mess … all that stuff jumbled together in there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know the feeling…


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