Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself, by Nicholas Tanek: Spotlight, Interview and My Review

This morning, I'm talking about Nicholas Tanek's story, The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself.  I know I've been gone awhile, but I'm back with a bang, so enjoy!!

Book Description:

Okay, so no one actually kills themselves in this book.

The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself pulls you into the early 90's New York City rave scene, in all its chaotic, psychedelic glory. The narrator grabs you by your wrist and drags you behind two teenage lovers from New Jersey as they tumble through a whirlwind of reckless hedonism that eventually spirals into a dark, devastating world of drug addiction and heartbreak. As a teenager, Lynn cried, "No one is ever going to write something for me."
Nearly two decades later, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Nicholas did just that. The gesture came too late for our unlikely heroine, but his heart was in the right place. A broken heart... but a true love. Reunited after years apart, Lynn and Nicholas embraced their love and sexuality, and embraced each other, despite troubled pasts, despite illness, despite all of their imperfections and mistakes. They shared the kind of honest and shameless connection that few have had the honor of knowing, and most would never understand.

"We're not hurting anyone. We're just living life without caring what anyone thinks about us."

"It's the coolest way to kill ourselves," Lynn said.

So turn the page, and pull the trigger.

I think that you will find my book very interesting. It is a very unconventional romance. The love of my life died at the age of 37. She passed away a little before Hurricane Sandy. With a generator to keep my laptop working, I wrote a book for the woman who thought no one would ever write something for her.

About the Author:

Nicholas Tanek is an American ghostwriter from New Brunswick, New Jersey. He graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelors in English. He has been a ghostwriter for over 15 years.

Interview with Rutgers University's RUckmakers:

Amazon reviews:

TKS – Radio Interview

My Interview with Nicholas Tanek:

  1.  Describe your writing process. 

NICHOLAS TANEK: I need music. In my book, The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself, I write about writing the actual book. I write about how I need music. I usually get a bunch of records and CDs ready. For The Coolest Way, I would constantly listen to the soundtrack that is in the back of the book. That includes Roxy Music, Withered Hand, My Bloody Valentine, Momus, The Smiths, New Order, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, the list goes on and on.

2.  What motivates you to sit down and write?

NICHOLAS TANEK: Love. I had to tell this story. It is a true story of the love of my life. Lynn’s story needed to be written. This book saved my life in many ways. After Lynn passed away, I could have fallen into depression, drugs, or other negative behavior. I decided to do something creative. I used to get published in magazines and anthologies. All of my poems and stories were for other women. While coming down on ecstasy, Lynn once got very upset and said, “No one will ever write something for me.” She felt she was never good enough. Well, I wrote a book for the girl who thought no one would ever write for her. Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey. During Hurricane Sandy, I had to move into my parents’ basement. Many houses did not have power. My laptop was powered by our generator. Seeing the loss and devastation, I felt inspired to preserve the memories and honor Lynn’s life.  At the start of the story, I was a New Jersey punk rock skater kid who got into the rave scene during the 1990’s. The story captures the come down that followed. The book is filled with hard drugs, kinky sex, and an endless amount of music references. I am very proud of it. Just like Lynn, the book is very different. I think I am very different too.  As a couple, we were not like all the rest. I wanted my book to capture that. It is not a romance novel, but it is a love story.

  1. Do you have any writers that you consider mentors?
NICHOLAS TANEK: Catherine Doty, a poet from New Jersey.

4.  What do you think your greatest strength is in your writing?
NICHOLAS TANEK: Brutal honesty. This is a true story. I am honest about Lynn’s life and I am honest about mine. There are many things in this book that embarrass me and, sometimes, the people I know. Still, Lynn and I had honesty in our relationship. As a writer, I needed to be honest with the reader.

5.  What is your biggest challenge?
NICHOLAS TANEK: Making it as perfect as possible. Nothing I do will be perfect, but I can try. So, my editor and I spent months and months making something about being imperfect as perfect as it could be.

6.  Do you ever experience writer's block?  How do you get through it?
NICHOLAS TANEK: Write. Fix it later. Seriously, write… just write. Even if everything gets deleted and only one good sentence or thought comes from it, it’s cool. Think of it as fertilizer. This is going to sound silly, but it’s true. Your beautiful, creative rose may grow from all of that shit you put on paper.

7.  Name some authors who have influenced or inspired you?
NICHOLAS TANEK: Richard Shannon. He wrote The Book Of Peace. I also like Hunter S. Thompson, Herman Hesse, JD Salinger, and many others. Some very cool comics wrote some interesting books too. David Cross, Eugene Mirman, Chris Gethard, Marc Maron, and Patton Oswalt wrote some very funny books.

8.  Tell us about your favorite character from the book. 
NICHOLAS TANEK: Lynn. This book was written for the love of my life, Lynn. Not only did she come into her own, but she helped me with the so-called “character arc.” We saved each other. We were both ex-drug addicts dealing with depression and addiction. We became enlightened. It sounds corny, but it’s true. Love saved us. Kink enlightened us. Our lives improved because of our relationship. It was beautiful.

9.   Are there specific themes that you would like your reader to grasp while they’re reading your novel?
NICHOLAS TANEK: Truly loving someone with complete honesty is something that most people do not do. Lynn and I admitted our faults, our deepest secrets and desires, and we had a beautiful romance. We knew every single detail of each other. We embraced each other’s faults and tried to help each other. Honesty is essential to all relationships. Most of all, be honest with yourself. Trust is romance. Lynn and I had a beautiful romance because we trusted each other. The trust became the romance.

10.  Do you have a current work in progress?  Can you tell a little bit about it?
NICHOLAS TANEK: Yes. I am in the process of editing a prequel to The Coolest Way to Kill Yourself, however it is a stand-alone story. The prequel is titled Chipped Black Nail Polish: A Tribute To A Post-Punk Rock New Jersey Girl. Once again, it is true. It is about my very first love. She took me, a very awkward, shy music snob of a teenager and introduced me into a world of New Jersey punk rock. The reader can read about how Nicholas became the Nicholas they meet at the start of The Coolest Way. I like to think of it as a post-punk rock John Hughes film.

11.  Tell us about yourself, outside of writing.

12.  Is there anything else you would like to share?

NICHOLAS TANEK: This is when I crack my evil grin… READERS! Expect more from authors. Please look deeper. Do not settle for cheap romance BDSM books that are only looking to take your money. Look for more creative and original books. The new romantics are here.  There is nothing wrong with the typical romance novel… However, many of the very popular books that deal with BDSM do NOT represent the BDSM community in a safe and honest way. They are written to make money and exploiting the BDSM community and lifestyle. There is a whole new wave of honest people who are writing very romantic love stories that include real BDSM and they are not writing just to sell books. They are trying to create art. We are trying to create classics. We are trying to help others. We are the new romantics. We are a part of something very cool. Check it out.

My Review:

As evidenced by the rest of this post, this is not your typical romance novel.  For one thing, it's a memoir, and for another, it does not have the HEA most romance readers are accustomed to.  I'm not spoiling anything, Mr. Tanek is very clear from the get-go that Lynn, the love of his life, dies, and the story is written for her.  It's a beautiful, raw, poignant, and at times ugly celebration of life, both Lynn's and Nick's, and their love.

There are several aspects of the story that I had to get used to.  One was the writing style, but the style reflects the maturity level and events of the characters' lives.  So in the beginning, the style is choppy and chaotic, the narrative jumping from event to event and overlapping in some places.  But this sets the tone beautifully, and enables the readers to submerse themselves more easily into the 90's rave scene, with all the drugs and sex and music that goes along with it.  (The only rave I've ever been to was just a few years ago, and I was the only dinosaur there over 30, and not wearing a tu-tu.  At the time, I thought to myself, 'this would have been cool fifteen years ago').  

So the story is a collection of bittersweet recollections of a love lost, his mistakes, her mistakes, and both of their salvations.  The beginning shows the dark chaos that was their lives, the drugs, the parties, their blatant egocentrism of youth, fed by the writing style. The latter part of the book changes focus, as they overcome their drug addiction and embrace their sexuality.  

 The characters are beautifully flawed, wearing their emotions on their sleeves.  The writing style matures along with the characters.  A lot of the topics involved hit me very close to home.  I had more than a few moments where I had to put the book down and do something else, because I knew what was about to happen, and that was my way of stopping the characters from making mistakes, at least until after I finished the dishes.  I also had several moments where I had to just put the book down and think.  

This book was not given to me in exchange for an honest review.  I bought it.  And for the amount of thought I put into it, it's totally worth every damn penny.


  1. The book was not written to be sold,but rather was written for love.At its center,this story speaks the second chances.It's a tale about offering into love and discovering the quality to heal.