Nicole has progressed from scribbling in notebooks to banging on keyboards, but she’s never managed to stop daydreaming at inappropriate moments.
When not answering the demands of her characters, Nicole can often be found curled up with a good book or spending far too many hours acting the hero in whatever video game is her obsession of the moment.
One of Nicole’s other great passions is travel. She loves being married to a native Belgian, both because she likes the idea of being “The American” and because it gives her plenty of excuses to visit Europe—that wondrous land of coffee, chocolate, pastry, and some other stuff—as often as possible.
Michigan born and raised, Nicole lives there with her honorary Michigander/Belgian husband and her two children. A Michigan State University alum, Nicole bleeds green and is a Spartan for life.
The inspiration to write came to Nicole from two school assignments in elementary school. She was assigned to retell the classic tale of Paul Bunyon. The teacher liked hers so much that Nicole got to take the story to the principal who read it and wrote a personal message inside. Another assignment asked the students to imagine themselves as an inanimate object. Nicole chose to imagine herself as a pair of pink Reeboks which were “tres chic back in those days,” Nicole remembers. She received an A+ on the assignment and has been crafting stories ever since, slowly graduating from notebooks to an electric typewriter and then using computers.
Nicole is inspired by everything around her. She finds some of her story ideas as she watches The Flash or the evening News. “Something will catch my attention and set my mind wandering down a “what if?” path, and the idea grows until it becomes a novel. Other times, random scenes just pop into my head, and I race to my computer to jot down notes before I forget.”
Forgoing the arduous process of traditional publishing to self-publish her books. “I went that route because I wasted a lot of years doubting myself, and when I started to think seriously about pursuing a writing career, I decided I didn’t want to spend a lot of time querying agents and trying to sell a manuscript.”
When writing, Nicole says she’s somewhat of a hybrid writer versus being a strict outliner or panster. “When an idea really fires me up, the book will play out in my head like a movie, down to detailed scenes. At that point, I just have to get things down on paper and figure out where the story is taking me. Once I have a better sense of my direction, I’ll do an extremely loose outline of the rest of the book’s chapters—we’re talking a sentence or two summarizing the main event in each chapter—and then I keep going. Even then, I’m not committed to what I’ve outlined. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that if I have to wrestle for control over the storyline, I’m doing it wrong. I have to let go and let the story take me where it will, even if it turns out very different from what I’d initially envisioned—not an easy thing for a control freak like me to do!”
Since Nicole writes in the Dystopian genre in her Contributor Trilogy, I asked her why she feels readers are so drawn to these types of novels. “I think there are a couple reasons for this. When you really think about it, a lot of dystopian books aren’t that different from our own world, at least not in substantial ways. Dystopian fiction often holds a lens up to some of the problematic aspects of our society and exaggerates them to make a point.
With my Contributor trilogy, the central heart is the idea of corporations taking over and replacing traditional lines of allegiance. National boundaries don’t exist in the trilogy, there are only the corporations to which everyone owes their loyalty by dint of being born into that particular corporation’s dome. I ended up taking the story in this direction after having worked in both the corporate and educational worlds, so it was a combination of my own personal experience and watching loved ones struggle with work/life balance, something that keeps getting harder the more technology advances. Once upon a time, you left the office and didn’t think about it again until the next day, but now you can be reached anytime anywhere thanks to cell phone technology. Contributor is a reflection of the blurring of those lines, of the ways in which corporations are starting to creep into facets of everyday life they didn’t necessarily occupy in the past. I know people who avoid Facebook and other social media for fear that something they post will be seen by their employer, who will disapprove. I think that’s very telling.“
1. Least favorite genres to read or watch?
“I’m not a big fan of romance novels, but I read a variety of genres. My favorite genre to read is probably the mystery/thriller genre, which has a lot to do with how I developed a love for reading when I was a kid. Nancy Drew was my woman, and for a long time I read primarily mysteries before I started branching out more.
When it comes to movies, I’m not a fan of action movies unless they’re comedies. I also cannot get enough of well-done slapstick comedies, and Airplane! is one of my favorite movies. I tend to gravitate toward science fiction shows and movies as well, and am currently binge watching Humans. We humans never can seem to get enough of movies and books about robots taking over the world, can we?”
2. Advice for aspiring writers?
“Write. For years I would sit around waiting until I felt “inspired”—whatever that means. Yes, there is undeniably something magical about those periods where you write in a fever because you can’t stand not to do it, but there is really something to be said about parking your rear in a chair and just writing. NaNoWriMo taught me to let go of my neuroses while writing and just put words on paper. Sure, sometimes those words are terrible and I have to hack them away mercilessly while editing, but it’s also incredibly freeing to push yourself to turn off those negative voices in your head and just let the words come. I’m definitely a whole lot more productive now that I just aim to write on a regular basis than I was when I sat around and waited for the muse to strike me. Always remember: you’ll fix it when you edit.”
3. What scientific achievement is right around the corner?
“There are so many things I’m interested in on this front. I cherish the hope of living long enough to see a manned mission to Mars.
I’m also extremely interested in the National Microbiome Initiative because it has such huge implications for so many fields. To take one example, we know so little about the microbiome in our guts, yet we’re starting to realize that it may very well impact many aspects of our overall health. As someone who has an autoimmune disorder (I have Crohn’s Disease) and who has family members affected by them, I’m eager to see how this initiative will further treatment protocols, and even potentially uncover the keys to finding cures for these diseases.
Lastly, I’m fascinated by brain science, and thanks to technological improvements, we’re learning so many startling and amazing things about the brain each day. This is a great era for science geeks like me!”
Book cover shoutouts!
“One of my favorite things about self-publishing is choosing my own covers, and I never regret hours spent browsing pretty, pretty covers when it’s time for me to choose one for a new book. My designers absolutely deserve props because their work is key to making my books look beautiful on Amazon.
My Contributor series’ covers were done by James from GoOnWrite (www.goonwrite.com). He’s designed a lot of my covers, and I also have quite a few of his designs that I’ve stored in reserve for future books. I jump right on it whenever he sends around a newsletter announcing he has new covers available.
My Astoran Asunder series’ covers are the brainchild of the truly fantastic Anita of Race-Point (www.race-point.com). I gave her an idea of what I was looking for and was completely blown away by the design she put together. She’s so nice, and a genuine pleasure to work with.
I also want to give a shout out to author SM Reine, who designed the cover for my second Fairytale Collection book, Asleep. I actually won the design in a contest she ran on the KBoards a while ago, which was so cool because she’s a successful and busy author in her own right, so it was awesome that she was paying it forward!”
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