Born in San Francisco in March of 1948, Nik C. Colyer lived his first twenty-three years in Hayward, a small suburban community on the southern end of the San Francisco East Bay. At eighteen, he scraped together enough paychecks from his job as a mechanic to purchase his first Harley-Davidson, a 56 Panhead. Riding and repairing his own bike eventually led him to create Cycletherapy, a Harley customizing and repair shop, where he built custom machines for local riders. He maintained his business until the age of twenty-two, when a new direction caused him to close his doors and go back for a year of college. Here he found his next career as an artist, creating bronze and stone sculpture.
Following his art sabbatical, Colyer moved to the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1974, where he spent a year on a forty-acre ranch with ten other like-minded young people. During his first snowbound winter, living in the community library, he found himself surrounded by a collection of well-worn paperback novels. Without electricity or television, he devoured fiction classics such as John Steinbecks Of Mice and Men, Ken Keseys One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Frank Herberts Dune and hundreds more. Inspired by such greats to revisit a childhood longing, he picked up a pen and the seeds of a writing career emerged.
It took another six years before he started his first novel, Hunters Field, and twelve years to complete that prodigious project. Once he felt the success of completion, he dedicated more of his life to that of a novelist.
Nik Colyer gets up most days at 4 a.m. to write. Using that early morning method, his next three novels, DIAS, Maranther's Deception and Channeling Biker Bob, took less than a year each to finish. His philosophy is simple: "If I average writing a single page a day, in less than a year Ill have finished a novel."
To date, Colyer has completed seven novels, with Channeling Biker Bob (Henrioulle, 2001) being his fourth, and first to be published. Though his work is fictional, Nik draws from his early experiences of riding Harleys, as well as his subsequent thirty-year transformation into integrated masculinity. His unending curiosity about the relational dance between men and women adds humor and quirkiness to the content of his writing. Finding equilibrium between the tough biker, while staying close to authentic masculine feeling, is a theme throughout this book and most of Colyers writings. You can check out his website at www.channelingbikerbob.com.
At age 53, he resides with his wife deep in the woods north of Nevada City, California. Though writing novels is his first love, he continues his romance with sculpture through the process of making gold and silver jewelry (www.jewelryconcepts.net).
What inspired you to write the novel Channeling Biker Bob?
My wife and I had been going through a particularly difficult transitional period in our relationship. She wanted more contact, and I felt smothered. I gave into her feminine demand one too many times until, one day, I said enough. When I made the shift and began to take care of myself, I found her need for more contact less insistent. It was the breakthrough our relationship needed. Taking a stand with my wife was the genesis of Channeling Biker Bob.
What surprised you about the book during and after you finished it?
The surprise was how the machismo persona of Harley-Davidsons and relationship issues fit so well. I thought I would have a hard time mating the two ends of the spectrum, but the concepts seemed to come out of me as complete groups of thoughts.
Was the finished product what you expected it would be? Or did it become something entirely different?
Oh, yes. Of the seven novels Ive written, this one, and only this one, finished exactly as I imagined.The parts of the book that came out different were the story line and the quirky characters that popped up along the way. Stewart Chance (protagonist) and Biker Bob were the two I started with, but many came out of the woodwork and astounded me with their antics.
Who is Biker Bob?
Biker Bob is a spirit who comes to Stewart Chance in his dream. He becomes a mentor who guides Stewart through his belated initiation into manhood and helps him deal with his overbearing wife.
Who does he represent?
Bob is that warrior part of all of us, men and women, who helps us make hard decisions, choose to stay or go, do right or wrong, good or bad (if there is such a thing). When I speak of warrior, unlike the military soldier, I talk about the inner warrior, the warrior of the psyche. Bob is that part of us that is ever watchful for our own good. Unfortunately, the predominant image that we receive through our movies and television is outer warrior as brute. Even if you manage not to buy into that particular scenario, many adults in this culture have lost touch with the warrior or had it shamed out of us when we were young by parents or teachers. A violent household might be a place where the appropriate warrior is not allowed. Certainly, in public schools, the warrior does not dare show his/her face. Church, work, relationships, anywhere where the agreement is that we must go along with the status quo or else, the warrior is not allowed.
What do you see as the root cause of Stewart Chances "wimphood"?
In this novel, the root of his wimphood is not explored much because my intent was to focus on his emergence. We all have our stories. My original wimphood came from an overprotective mother. It took me forty-five years to finally disengage from the last of those strings, and it was a long uphill battle all the way. For years, I put that overprotective behavior on every woman I came in contact with. Until I truly became aware of my propensity to force women into being overprotective, I repeated the pattern more times than I want to admit.
If you had to nail it down to something specific, what would you say is the reason why men today feel kicked around by life and unable to find real satisfaction and peace of mind?
I believe that we all, men and women, feel kicked around by life. The barriers set in place from the day we are born are specifically built to disempower us as humans. If you look at only one aspect of this huge issueand there are hundredsMadison Avenue has one job only, and their task is to make us feel inferior unless we buy "you supply the subject." If we don't have the right car, home, clothes, body shape, hair style, even down to personal products like deodorant and shaving cream, we are not quite up to par and deemed, mostly by ourselves, inferior. If a person buys into the manipulation, they have either lost touch with or chosen to ignore their warrior. Don't get me wrong or feel like you are a bad person if you fit into this category. We all do it on one level or another. Mine is the next bigger computer with extra mega bops and lots of giga hops.
In what way is a Harley a symbol and a metaphor for self-actualization?
It really isn't the symbol for self-actualization for me. It is the symbol for the freedom that we have all lost. If you are looking for my metaphor, it is more in Stewarts transformation into cussing. I know it seems a strange metaphor, but consider that when we were boys, maybe every one of us liked to swear. This issue is dealt with in the book so I won't go into it much further, except to ask the question, when did we males give up cussing and why?
Is a Harley an exclusively male symbol?
These days, I see many women riding Harleys, so thankfully its cross gender. In the past, I would say yes to that question. It was equal to big cars, big guns, big houses, big boats, certainly the male extension of whatever exists or does not exist between his legs and however inferior he feels about it. I do have to say that there is nothing equal to the feeling of a hawg between my legs and the wind in my hair, as long as I can keep it all in perspective. Most of the time, I can.
In effect, what is the "longing for a Harley-Davidson"? Some might say its a middle-age desire for lost youth
what do you say to that?
If a man never had a chance to experience riding a Harley and he always wanted to, then I would say yes, it is a desire for lost youth. Since I've had my '56 Panhead for thirty-five years, Harleys are the last thing on my list as a symbol of lost youth. For me, it is those lost hours in my twenties when I had a brush in my hand working on a canvas just for the hell of it or chiseling a piece of stone because it brought me pleasure, not how much money I was going to sell it forwhen I didn't have a mortgage and life was there simply for the living. In those days, I lived in a cabin in the woods and was paying $35.00 a month rent, $11.00 utilities and I was seven months behind on my rent. I was broke, extremely content and lost in the experimentation of pure art. There is lost youth for me, but we all see it so differently.
Stewarts transformation seems to have as much of an effect on his wife Renee as it does on him. Why is that?
I have noticed in my relationship and others close to me that when one person makes a shift, even a small one, the other, no matter how rigid, must also adjust to the new place. My intent was to show how the soft men in our culture force our women to carry our anger. The nicer a man is, the harsher his wife must be to make up for the void. What would happen if a soft man really could own his own anger?
Is the mens movement still alive?
Alive and doing well in my neighborhood. I believe that the men's movement is less vocal these days because men have realized that the work for us is interior work. We are exterior creatures at heart. We build skyscrapers, bridges, cities, machines, art, with ease. It is second nature to many of us. But the interior work is a quiet introspective process. If shared at all, it is done so with a few close friends. Unlike the womens movement, where their job was to go out into the world and make some waves, do the exterior work, the real job for men is to explore the quiet places in their psyche.
What is the mens movement, in your opinion?
The men's movement can be one man making a move one inch into himself, and that can be enough. In the bigger sense of the word, the women blazed a trail for all of us in the sixties. It is our job to study that critical work and explore how it applies and does not apply to our masculinity.
Are there any particular groups or workshops you recommend?
I do work with the New Warrior traininggood work for any man coming from any walk of life (www.mkp.org). Healing the Father Wound is also excellent work for men and women. Gordon
Clay facilitates that series of workshops. He has an extremely informative free website: www.menstuff.org.
Is there hope for Stewart? Is his life permanently changed? Will he be able to go on with his life without being able to channel Biker Bob?
Who said he doesn't continue to channel Biker Bob? If there is hope for even one man out here in the real world, then Stewart also has a chance. As with all of us, even one new word in our vocabulary becomes a permanent change in our life. So can the necessary inner changes, which must take place for us to advance as a culture. With Stewarts cacophony of new ideas, I think his life might settle back into complacency sometime at the end of the next century.
Do you think that going on an "adventure" is essential to the well being of men?
I don't think it is essential for the well being for every man, but it is imperative for novel writing. Without adventure, reading a novel can be pretty boring. We all want to get out of our mundane lives for a while. A man can go on an adventure and never leave the house. If it takes new places and activities to break him out of his rut, then so be it.
Do men need to break away from their everyday lives from time to time?
I dont know this answer because my wife is my all-time best friend. Save my weekly men's group, I can't think of a place I would go that I wouldnt want her along to share it with me. Actually, I happen to be the one who would sit in front of this keyboard until I composted into the chair. It is she who takes me on those wild uninhibited adventures. It is I who cant wait for the next hair-brained idea, seldom my own.
And do women need to understand this better?
Now we get into territory I wish not to tread. We certainly need to understand one another better, that's for sure. Men have certain needs women do not understand, just as women have an equal number of other needs men dont understand. The job of understanding is a hard road of truth and honesty from both parties. No one is better or worse, good or bad, right or wrong. The two genders are simply different. The sooner we men get that women are not inferior creatures, the better off we will be. The sooner women figure out that we are not the blundering oafs to be put up with and pitied, the better off they will be.
Heart of a Warrior is the first in a four-part series.... Can you give an idea of what's to come?
Im about eighty pages into the next Biker Bob, Lovers Embrace, and I am excited that this one is truly coming out great, first draft. In the last five or six years, I have learned so much about writing and it comes home to roost in this current story. Of course it will need editing, but not quite as much as B.B. #1. Unlike Heart of a Warrior, Lovers Embrace begins in a dark, violent place. My protagonist is a Las Vegas cop, and you will recognize him if you have read Heart of a Warrior, who cant seem to stay out of arguments and fist fights. He transforms from a violent drunk to a compassionate man. If I give you more, I may compromise the story for my readers. The four parts, Warrior, Lover, Magician, King, are like the four compass points. They signify the parts of a mans psyche. The Magician, number three, will be about an artist, and who will be the artist, I leave as a surprise to my readers, but you will know him. The king, number four, who encompasses all aspects of the balanced male, will be a story about Biker Bob himself. But that book is a few years down the road.