Author Spotlight – Noelle Nichols
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is Noelle Nichols!
Noelle Nichols is a writer, creator, and most of all a dreamer. Her first novel, SHADOW’S HAND, was published in 2018, and is inspired by Bushido, feudal Japan’s code of the samurai.
Noelle is a Colorado native. She lives in the mountains with her artist husband, two border collies and two cats. She spends most of her free time hiking, creating art or taking photographs of her dogs for their Instagram account. You can find Noelle on Twitter @noelle_nichols, and on her website noellenichols.com.
Thanks for joining us today, Noelle. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
I’m currently reading Never Die by Rob J. Hayes, and I’m loving it! It’s a very typical samurai story where the characters move from one duel to the next, with all your favorite stereotypical types of characters. It’s a really fun read. All the characters have stories about them, about their great deeds with fun names like Emerald Wind and the Whispering Blade.
If you like samurais, it’s one you definitely want to read.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Rogue. Kunai and shuriken.
Okay, I’ve actually never played D&D. Someone needs to introduce me to it!
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
Type. Writing by hand is too slow for me. I usually write stream of consciousness and pants my way through a draft, so the faster and less I’m actually thinking, the better the story and words are.
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
Epic music! I listen to the most epic, most dramatic music while I write. I like to feel empowered on my battle scenes and keep the tone of epicness when I write. I do switch to some more magical sounding stuff when I’m writing more of a fantasy-esque scene, but for the most part, it’s epic instrumental soundtracks.
Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!
So, for me, the more “gone” I am from the world, the better I write. Meaning there’s this weird time for me between 4am-7am where I can just sink into my world. It’s before the world wakes up. It’s my magic time. The more unaware of what I’m typing—and the faster—the better my writing is.
What are your most significant non-book fantasy influences?
Anime and video games (although I don’t play very many video games, but I do have a certain series I like that has influenced me quite a bit—The “tales of” series). I like looking at artwork and especially different places around the world. Mostly landscapes. I save a lot of photos and follow rabbit holes down old myths and legends.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
The last thing I watched on TV was The World’s Most Bizarre Things. It was interesting! Lots of weird stuff to be used in future books, or even to just dream and think about. I don’t watch too much TV, I prefer reading at night, but I do occasionally watch some anime series when I can find them.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?
Sounds like I’ll be spending the first place exploring the mountains and painting in the afternoon. In fact, if you can just drop me off in the middle of nowhere, with a cabin, some food and survival tools, I’d be very appreciative. At some point, I’ll need the internet and a laptop, but for a week or so, me and my dogs will just have a good time.
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
Ellipses. In the middle of sentences, especially. People seem to talk like they do on the internet, and I just have never been able to stand them. In certain instances, they work and are a good tool, but for the most part I hate how a lot of people use them.
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
The Shadow’s Creed Saga is a story about moral choice and consequence. It focuses heavily on staying true to oneself and seeking truth in a world that is on the edge of change.
If you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?
I would love to write something in R.A. Salvatore’s world. I’ve always been a huge fan of Drizzt and the action sequences in the Legend of Drizzt. I haven’t read too much beyond the books pertaining to Drizzt, but it’s such a fun world to explore in.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
The least helpful was “write what you know”. This advice stopped me from writing for ten years because I hadn’t experienced enough life (or so I thought) to write a good, gripping story. Some critique partner in high school said the scene I was writing didn’t feel real. At the time, I had never experienced love, but just because I hadn’t found “the one” at the time, didn’t mean I needed to stop writing.
Especially when writing fantasy, a person should feel empowered to explore things they never have experienced. I’ve never been faced with a life or death situation, nor have I had to wield a staff to defend a village from a group of mercenaries.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
The Meiji Restoration. It’s the period of time after the Edo period, where the samurai class were prominent in Japan. During the restoration, the samurai had to figure out how to assimilate back into society. It’s a fascinating time period. I’m also a fan of the Sengoku period, the warring states era. As a very distant observer, although I like to think I would have been a warrior had I been born into that time.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I’m a huge believer in just sitting down and working through the “meh”. 99% of the time I write myself out of the mood. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes to get over the initial slump, sometimes it takes an hour, but I find that sitting down at the keyboard and just writing, helps start the magic.
I try and keep momentum on my project. When I feel like I’m not moving forward, that’s when I run into trouble. I’m okay with writing crappy words to get to the good stuff. Sometimes I just start a chapter to find what doesn’t work, and then later in editing I find what does work.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
So, one of my favorite books is called The Letter for the King (by Tonke Dragt). I found it one day while I was on vacation with my family. It was in a box, in the back alley of a bookstore with a sign that said “Free!”. The cover caught my eye, and I took it home (it was an ARC copy, so they couldn’t sell it). The narration is very similar to The Princess Bride (which is a wonderful book and movie) and some of Neil Gaiman’s work. Very storyteller like.
Anyways, it has wonderful prose and a good quest story. Highly recommended. I’ve never heard of anyone talk about it before, although a quick google search just let me know it’s going to be a Netflix original series. (whaaaat!)
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.)
Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!
A shark, who use to know what he believed, is forced out into the great ocean to uncover the truth of a mysterious shark power. The deeper the shark swims, the more he realizes just how hard it will be to protect his homeland as the shark he is. Will the shark be able to stay true to his shark-self or will he succumb to the lure of the deep and forsake his shark-pride?
Brilliant, Noelle. Thanks again for joining us, and good luck with your next book!
Noelle Nichols is the author of SHADOW’S HAND, the first book in the Bushido-inspired Shadow’s Creed Saga.