The city of Orlando is known for its many opportunities available to people from all walks of life. For Orlando authors, Nathan Holic and Michael Wheaton, one of those opportunities is a space in the local literary scene.
Nathan Holic is a University of Central Florida writing and rhetoric professor and published author. Holic draws much of his writing inspiration from the state of Florida and the city of Orlando. This inspiration is what led him to write his novel ‘Bright Lights, Medium-Sized City’.
“I wanted to capture Orlando in the way that so many other cities were captured in books I love,” said Holic.
Holic was able to develop a comics course at UCF, to help aspiring authors explore this aspect of literature.
Not only does Holic find his inspiration through writing and comics, but he also finds it through being a father. “It took me a while before I realized when I had kids,” said Holic, “that maybe the good thing that I can do is help other people become good people.”
That realization also takes form through his role as a professor at UCF. He is passionate about helping his students succeed and grow throughout the different courses he teaches. Holic immerses himself in the subjects he loves throughout his days as a professor, “A life where I just get to sit and talk with people about that all day is a lot of fun,” said Holic.
Holic finds inspiration for his work through Orlando and one way he does this is by viewing Orlando as a character itself. His approach to this is by looking at all the people who come here and what they come for. “Our character and our personality is in our coffee shops, our restaurants, our bookstores,” said Holic.
A part of that character is the literary culture that can be found in Orlando. The literary culture in Orlando is as Holic says, “niche”, yet new publications such as Autofocus, a literary publisher of artful autobiographical writing, have helped to build up this community.
Michael Wheaton is the publisher of Autofocus, the host of “The Lives of Writers” podcast, and the editor of Autofocus Books and Autofocus Online. Autofocus started as an online magazine in hopes to cultivate community around autobiographical and creative nonfiction writing, “There are very few spaces for this genre and style of literature,” said Wheaton.
Wheaton shared that the literary culture in Orlando has been slow to come out of the pandemic. However, members of the community have been holding events in hopes to reunite the culture here, such as the opening of Zeppelin Books in downtown Orlando. “The little successes are cool,” said Wheaton, “but it’s meaningless unless it’s working in this bigger community."
For Holic and Wheaton, the Orlando Life means a lot, not only is Orlando such an integral part of their careers but it’s also where they’ve found their ever changing literary community.
Not only are Holic and Wheaton doing wonderful things to build the literary culture, but they also help to unite literature lovers in Orlando through their own stories and publications. Bright Lights is a book that’s on a lot of shelves in Orlando,” said Holic, “and a lot of people in Orlando know about it because they were my audience.”