'Nautical Cove' is Delmont author's newest book
In “Nautical Cove,” the new book by Delmont author Nathan Urban, an investigative journalist follows a missing-person case down a dark and dangerous rabbit hole.
For Urban's third novel — which he wrote under the pen name Nathan DiLeo — he decided to incorporate several elements of his education to create a mystery thriller.
Urban spoke with the Star recently about his latest work. This interview has been edited for length.
Q: How did you get the initial idea for “Nautical Cove”?
A: The idea for “Nautical Cove” began as a screenplay. At one time I had toyed with the notion of being a screenwriter. An actor friend of mine named Dante Costabile — currently co-starring in a Netflix original movie titled “Alex Strangelove” — convinced me that my writing was good enough and that we should make the journey to Hollywood and give it a try, him as an actor and me as a screenwriter. “Nautical Cove” was one of eight screenplays that I wrote between 2008 and 2009. Eventually, I gave up on the idea of Hollywood and settled for a career in health care, which I have since regretted. “Nautical Cove” and the other seven scripts ended up in a cardboard box in a storage unit.
Q: What are some of the ways that your degree in criminal justice is helpful in crafting this type of mystery/thriller story?
A: While studying criminal justice I seriously considered a career as an FBI profiler. The criminal mind is a deeply complex and fascinating thing. Well, eventually that dream fell through as well. But my interest in criminology never ceased. I read countless books on a variety of criminals from serial killers and con artists to gangsters and terrorists. On the other side of the law, the police officer and criminal investigator were as equally fascinating to me. Their dedication and dogged methods in their quest for justice for victims of criminal acts is incredibly inspiring. To this day I very much admire the brave men and women of law enforcement. As a child, I was also a big fan of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a genius. That too played a role in my decision to try and craft an intriguing mystery thriller.
Q: What is your writing process?
A: I take a lot of notes and am constantly making changes to the characters and dialogue. When I am not writing I am always thinking about how I can improve a character or a plot twist in the hope of making it more interesting or challenging for the reader. … There have been times though that I will incorporate an idea into the story if it suddenly pops into my head. That situation is certainly one of the more exciting moments in the writing process.
Q: Have you drawn any inspiration for the story from the Western Pennsylvania area, whether it was settings, characters or something else?
A: Western Pennsylvania certainly has inspired a lot of my writing in the last 10 or 12 years. There's a very interesting dual nature to the area (duality being one of the dominant themes of the novel). It can be enchantingly beautiful sometimes. It is also a very haunting and mysterious place, one of the strangest places I've ever lived and I've lived in five other states throughout my life. There are many local legends of the supernatural, everything from ghost stories to real-life legends like Charlie No Face (aka The Green Man). There is even one place, and I don't recall the name at the moment, that is supposedly one of the gateways to Hell. So yes, one could say the supernatural elements in “Nautical Cove” were certainly at least in part inspired by Western Pennsylvania.
Q: What was the biggest challenge for you in writing “Nautical Cove”?
A: I think the part I enjoy the most is creating the characters and the dialogue. I've been told that one of my strengths as a writer is having the ability to create very entertaining dialogue. The conversation is so important in that it really invites the reader into the world of the characters.