The HCR Interview with Nate Ragolia

We’re very excited to have a new face down at the campfire—Nate Ragolia, who is a writer and publisher based in Denver. He's written a number of the books, and is the co-founder of Spaceboy Books, not to mention the editor of the incredible BONED: A collection of skeletal writings, which is where I first crossed paths with him. Please join us by the fire for a little back and forth!

Hobo Camp Review: Tell us a little about BONED. What led you toward the idea of publishing “skeletal” writings?

Nate Ragolia: BONED came about primarily because I felt, after years of submission, rejection, some publication, that I wanted to help, enable, and encourage other writers. In a space that’s often sold on its competitive nature, offering another venue through which authors, poets, and essayists could see their work validated seemed like a no-brainer way to build community and, selfishly, enrich my own work by collaborating constantly with others. The concept, skeletal writings, came from my fascination with horror and philosophy…Bones are our structure, the things that holds us up, the things that break in us, the things that form us, and they are probably the easiest part of anatomy to grasp… no secret machinations of firing electricity, or life-sustaining muscle with limited power and capacity. Bones seem straightforward. “Bone” and “Skeleton” also bear multiple meanings. “A bone to pick,” “Skeletons in my closet,” and colloquially, “We boned last night” and many more—these words connect with us viscerally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. And BONED, as a magazine, has already treated me, and our readers, to hundreds of poems, stories, screenplays, and essays that delve into the deepest foundations of humanity. Plus, skeletons are universal. We all have one, and under the skin, our skeletons are all pretty similar…a kind of equalizer.

HCR: In what direction does your own writing lie? Does it lean toward the sci-fi aspects of Spaceboy? Or is your writing more like what readers might find in BONED, which covers a lot more literary ground than one might expect from the thematic description?

NR: My writing tends to stay close to people, to character, but beyond that it will vary in genre and theme, setting and structure. I’m definitely fascinated with science fiction and all speculative fiction because I think we really do learn more about our present reality when we view it through the lens of the future. When we consume a future world, we always do so in comparison to the now, and sometimes that’s the only cause we might have to really compare or question the now. I’ve always glommed onto crisp morality play kinds of stories, like you might see on old Twilight Zone episodes, and I’ll have the most fun writing something like that. But overall, I write for meaning, for the reader to experience the characters, join them in their lives, and after that, I write for catharsis. The short answer, then, is I write sci-fi that I hope is literary, and literary work that I hope provokes questions about big ideas.

HCR: What is the best thing you’ve read so far in 2018? Any books you’re looking forward to reading this year?

NR: Aside from the work I read for BONED, and the manuscripts I read and edit for Spaceboy, I have really enjoyed Cory Doctorow’s novel Walkaway. It’s a kind of science fiction novel that has everything to do with people and the longterm side effects and outcomes of advancing technologies… with a side of socioeconomic theory, all topics that I try to tackle in my novel The Retroactivist. But truly, I spend most of my time reading for BONED and Spaceboy, and that reading is joyous, and sustaining. Beyond that, I look forward to reading Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World by Anand Giridharadas. It’s not fiction, but its discussion of the motivations and modes of philanthropic activity, and how they may actively sustain the existing imbalanced social structure, is right up my alley.

HCR: As a publisher and editor, are there any dream writers you’d like to work with and publish one day? What kinds of projects would you love to tackle through your publications?

NR: Oh man, to suggest any recognizable names would feel like an act of hubris. I’d love to collaborate with Neil Gaiman or Neal Stephenson. In the non-Neil/Neal category: Margaret Atwood would be my super-crazy-never-gonna-happen dream team-up. To work with her on science fiction or literary horror…Oh man. But, as I said, it would be a favor to me more than anything to work with anyone I admire. As far as projects I’d love to take on…My co-founder Shaunn and I both really love the comic genre and I’d relish the opportunity to publish someone’s sci-fi comic concept. And beyond that, I love works that mash and meld form and structure. Bring me a novel that’s layered with poetry, ephemeral materials, and a quality story. We’re in an era where a book, a novel, a collection, can be infinitely more dynamic and diverse than ever before. I’m also intrigued with audio and doing more complex audiobook-style work…possibly because I’m an improv/story podcast junkie.

HCR: What’s one piece of advice you’ve heard recently that really impacted how you approach your writing?

NR: My friend Antoine likes to remind me, “EKT - Everyone Knows That” when it comes to the kind of exposition that we get caught up in during the world-building phase of a novel or story. If the characters in the story all know something, they aren’t going to explain it purely for the reader’s benefit, and often, they won’t talk about it at all. Exposition is always necessary, but the art lies in dishing it out in teaspoons that go down easy.

HCR: Any new projects or appearances of your own that you’d like to tell us about?

NR: I’ve been working on a collaborative novel that involves water on Jupiter’s moon Europa, which has been exciting to play with. Otherwise, I was featured on the Denver Orbit podcast, sharing a short I wrote called A Companion Piece about technology, sex, and disposability. You can find the podcast here:

HCR: Ok, my last question I give everyone: You’re on the road with three other artists, of any era and medium, of any level of fame, success, or anonymity. Who do you choose to travel with, and why?

NR: Picking three is insanely tough, but here goes: 1. Rod Serling, for my admiration of his progressive ideologies, his story writing, and his pioneering work in television. Plus, Serling always has that confident smirk that lets you know he’d be an interesting traveling companion, to say the least. 2. Shirley Jackson, for all of the reasons I attributed to Serling, and because Jackson could succeed with even more adeptly meaningful, diaphanous literary stories. Few writers make you feel the horror or loss or confusion in a short story the way Jackson did. I think I could learn a lot from her, and that she’d say numerous, effortless things that would ring true. 3. Simon Pegg because it would be fun to drink with him, to laugh with him, and to talk about mashing genres with great skill throughout his career. And I’ll leave it there because if I keep thinking about this I’ll pick another three and then another and then another.


Nate Ragolia is a writer and publisher in Denver. He's written the books, There You Feel Free, and The Retroactivist, co-founded Spaceboy Books LLC (, a Denver-based sci-fi imprint, and edits BONED: A collection of skeletal writings ( He also dabbles in webcomics, The Illiterate Badger (2009 - 2016, and The Right Corking Adventures of Cecil Larkbunting and Alastair Wakerobin (2013 - present, When not creating, he's spending time with his wife, petting his dogs, and voraciously devouring other peoples' works.

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The views and opinions expressed throughout belong to the individual artists and may or may not coincide with those of the other artists (or editors) represented within the magazine. Hobo Camp Review supports a free-for-all atmosphere of artistic expression, so enjoy the poetry, fiction, opinions, and artwork within, read with an open mind, and comment wisely. Thanks for stopping by the Camp!