Q&A: Willy Nast
PleasureTown’s resident reporter was a natural fit for writer and performer Willy Nast. Growing up in Aurora, Ill., Nast moved to Chicago in his early 20s to pursue an education in creative non-fiction at Northwestern University. After graduating, he found his new home in Chicago’s “live lit” scene. In 2013, he took over Essay Fiesta, a monthly reading series cofounded by PleasureTown co-creator, Keith Ecker. Willy also hosts a “completely unpretentious” literary podcast called All Write Already! In his assumedly limited spare time, he writes longer, third-person non-fiction.
Today, the PleasureTown Historical Society sat down with Willy to discuss his experience giving a voice to the settlement’s out-of-place reporter, acting for non-actors and refrigerated food.
How would you describe the reporter?
That’s a good question. It seems like there’s a bit of Frasier Krane in there. But with a more adventurous side, like that dude who went “into the wild” in Alaska, except not nearly as much of a narcissistic jerk.
What do you have in common with the reporter?
We’re both writers, of course. More specifically, we both have a desire to go out and do in-depth research on a topic, really get steeped in it, and write something substantial about it. But we’re different in that I very much enjoy my 21st-century comforts: your refrigerated food, your interwebz, your central air conditioning. I’m not terribly inclined to visit a place and time like PleasureTown. I’d much rather experience it through the convenience and comfort of my ergonomic, earbud headphones.
What was the greatest challenge in finding your character?
I’m not an actor, so just about everything. While recording my lines, my single overriding thought was “Do I sound stupid? I hope I don’t sound stupid.” But let’s be real: It wasn’t a vast stretch, and I assume Keith and Erin knew as much and cast me in the role thusly.
If you lived in PleasureTown, what would be your occupation?
I have to say, PleasureTown’s reporter would be a pretty entertaining gig. I absolutely would not want to be the town doctor, or, even worse, the town dentist.
Listen to Episode 103 & follow Willy Nast on Twitter