The ‘Use Only As Directed’ Interviews: Ian Nichols

29 07 2014

I can’t promise that the image shown below is an entirely faithful reproduction of Ian Nichols — indeed, I’ve met the man several times, and he looks nothing like this — but it’s the face he chooses to present to the world via his email avatar, and so it seems only fitting to represent him here in like manner. ‘Mister Lucky’, Ian’s story in Use Only As Directed (the Peggy Bright Books anthology co-edited by Edwina Harvey and me) is fourth in the anthology’s table of contents, and so it’s fitting that Ian’s is the fourth in the series of interviews.

Here’s what he had to say:


What should readers know about you before they sit down to read ‘Mister Lucky’?

Readers should know that I’m a poor, starving author who desperately needs an Oz Council grant to maintain my fragile existence, and petition that same council to give me one.

What provoked you (or, if you’d rather, encouraged you) to tell the story you did? What was the germ of the idea that led to it?

Memories of when I played D&D and other dice-controlled games, and how some people always seemed to throw the right dice at the right time.

If you were told you were only allowed to keep one sentence from the published story, what sentence would that be, and why?

The last one, because, without the story, you’d want to know why.

So just how much research have you put into the fleshpots and bright lights of Vegas, and do you have any particularly useful tips for us regarding probability-based investment that you feel willing and able to share at this point?

I’ve been there a couple of times, and nosed around in a couple of areas away from the Strip, where the old methods still prevail. The Strip itself is pretty much Disneyland in the desert, these days, but there are places up north where shifty-eyed guys named Louis still hang out at the bar, keeping an eye on the big winners. As for probability-based investment, don’t play roulette or craps, because the house has a huge advantage in both and the odds are hard to calculate. Don’t play poker unless you have a doctorate in behavioral psychology and really, really know the odds for the cards. Blackjack is the only game where you have a chance, even though the odds are still stacked against you, they’re not stacked as high. You don’t need to count cards, which is pretty much impossible when you’re facing a shuffle of six decks, just know the basic odds and play conservatively, and pull out when you’re ahead; the best gamblers never push their luck. Set a limit on how much you can lose, and never, never exceed it.

What are you currently working on, and what would you like to tell readers of this blog about your current endeavour?

God; as is my won’t, I’m working on two novels at once, and getting ready to take another two over to Worldcon on the grounds that there are agents and publishers there. One of the novels is a straight fantasy called The River, and the other is an end-of-the-world-start-again called Displaced Persons. The two I’m taking with me are called The Bloodiest Rose (not SF) and After It Ends, which is another end of the world novel. I seem to have a fascination with killing off the world and seeing how hard it would be to start over, but DP is going to go a long way beyond that; vast inimical galactic empires and aged civilisations, huge computer-driven fortresses, artificial moons that are really space-ships, even a form of zombie, along with a decent helping of sex and a craving for coffee.


If you’re interested in learning more about Ian’s writing, I can usefully point you in the direction of both a collection of his short fiction and one of his novels, since I have reviewed both on this very website.

If you’re now feeling motivated to read ‘Mister Lucky’ and the other stories in Use Only As Directed, the links are here: (PBB (publisher, pbk, epub, pdf, mobi); Amazon (mobi))

Tomorrow’s interview: M Darusha Wehm, ‘Home Sick’.




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