Nathaniel G. Moore is a Toronto-based author whose sea monster erotica novel, The Chelsea Papers, will be released this month with Burner Books. “Chelsea” is one part romance, one part psychological thriller, one part erotica, and every part excellent, recommendable to anyone who’s interested in finding out what exactly sea monster erotica is. Moore’s novel also has an accompanying soundtrack featuring original songs by various Canadian and American bands, which you can listen to here.
Here, Christina Drill talks with Moore about Chelsea, e-books, seapunks, and Drake.
Okay, so give me The Chelsea Papers pitch in one sentence. Or two.
It’s a short novel about a woman who struggles with her own sense of self, her desire to find true love, and an intense sexual revolution she cultivates with her new boyfriend. In basic terms, think the film Splash meets The Virgin Suicides and Jennifer’s Body, but with a better script and dazzling special effects.
Splash! Awesome. Bob Dylan hated this question, but I’m always curious. What idea came first: the music, or the words? Was the idea for the soundtrack something you had from the beginning? The songs on the soundtrack were written specially for Chelsea, yes?
Some of the songs, yes. Gregory and Anisa’s were. The others were songs musicians had that they felt would fit. The soundtrack came much later in the concept for the book.
Gotcha. Why a soundtrack in the first place?
I felt that a book has never had an official soundtrack, and I thought it would be fun. I mean, a lot of authors will say, “Oh, Dancing on the Ceiling by Lionel Ritchie was the soundtrack for this book of poetry I wrote, you know, unofficially,” and I’m like, “Mom, you are crazy.” Writers are always making playlists and telling everyone they were inspired by Marky Mark or Coldplay while finishing up their heart-warming novel about their Aunt’s driveway. So I thought I would make Chelsea live beyond the page through the magic of song.
Giving Chelsea a life beyond the pages of the book — I think you were successful with that. I listened to the soundtrack for the first time a few days after reading The Chelsea Papers and found myself going back and rereading chapters. One time, in a writing workshop, this kid came in with a short story he’d written and was like, “But you have to read it while listening to Arcade Fire!” And we were like, “What? Why?”
I hope Arcade Fire reads The Chelsea Papers. I’m friends with Little Scream.
Is this the first book you’ve published strictly as an e-book? What is your opinion on e-books in general?
I have no real opinion about e-books other than that they are very topical in my industry and something that people are beginning to notice. I have never done an e-book ever before. Wrong Bar is coming out this summer in e-book format though, I have heard. We shall see what “Chelsea” does in the meantime. I like the idea that no trees were harmed to make this book.
Good point. People are less likely to buy a printed novella than they are to buy an e-book novella, in my opinion. “Oh, look, it’s short” *click* It’s fun, like buying an iPhone app! Okay, if you had to slap a genre sticker on The Chelsea Papers, what would it be? I went into it thinking it was “erotica” but there is what seems like a conscious effort to avoid explicit sex scenes. Are the sea fantasies [the erotic aspect]?
The sticker would read: This must be underwater love! I spent a lot of time working out the subtleties of the sex scenes as it were, hoping that the visual stimulation of all the aqua love surrounding the couple would become eroticism on its own. It’s brainy sex-writing, I guess, since Chelsea is so cerebral and possessed and sermonic. Is that a word? It is.
I noticed that. Chelsea is super-cerebral. In your Open Book Toronto interview, you mention the character of Chelsea was inspired by a British ex-girlfriend of yours. But who exactly is Benjamin?
Benjamin was written [to be] dull because I was inspired by Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar, and in an essay about that book, [Vidal stated that he] wanted to write the book in a dull way, so that people could ease into him, that he was “unsuspecting, and unsentimental.” I wanted Benjamin to be the observer of her, to be comforting when he could, to be paralyzed by her love.
Interesting! Second to last question, but really important: have you heard of “seapunk”?
I have not heard of seapunk.
You might unintentionally be one of its pioneers. It’s the new steampunk, only with fish and shit. I think it started on Twitter. My last question is apropos of absolutely nothing: what is Toronto’s general stance on Drake?
I love Drake. I do not speak on behalf of anyone in this jackass one-horse town, but as a mouthpiece I can say that Drake is loved by many people in this city.