APKY/AMP: Hello Nicole, welcome to AuthorMeProfessionals. Could you please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer. What inspired you to write your first book?
Hello. I’m Nicole J. Persun. I’m on the board of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association as Student Liaison and am currently attending Goddard College for Creative Writing. I didn’t always want to be a writer, in fact, I never had a favorite subject in school. I loved them all. I loved learning world history, especially ancient civilizations, and I always found science to be inspiring as well. Despite my many interests, I have to admit, I was definitely a creative child. My first book, A Kingdom’s Possession, started with a map of the fantastical land where it takes place. It wasn’t until I had already finished my first book that I decided to really dedicate myself to being a writer. I suppose I never truly considered myself a writer until I attended my first writer’s conference and started writing every day.
APKY/AMP: Well, now you’ve got the fever. Welcome aboard, Nicole. J Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yes, always! I think the best advice any writer can get is to write on a daily basis. Whether it’s fifteen minutes or two hours, it’s essential that a writer write consistently. Also, every writer should read. Not just in their genre, but across all mediums and topics. This helps writers expand their own work and draw from other genres in new and innovative ways. And finally, I think every writer needs to write what they want. They need to let their characters hold the pen/ do the typing, and truly learn to follow their imagination. Writers should always put their hearts into their work.
APKY/AMP: With you all the way. Now, have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
My most recent competition was ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, in which I was a finalist in the top 10 in the fantasy category. I think competitions are great for writers. They cause some good visibility (especially if the writer contacts newspapers and other media to publicize the win) and assures readers that the writer’s work is credible and worth reading. It’s always a plus to participate in competitions. And if a writer doesn’t win, it’s a great opportunity to check out the winner’s books and learn from their techniques.
APKY/AMP: Correct. Could you tell us what you’re working on at the moment / next?
I’m currently editing my third novel, which is a dark adult fantasy about a schizophrenic king who goes to war with himself. I love the psychological stuff and am excited to start working on the sequel to that book very soon. The themes of those books encompass grief, loss, guilt, and inner struggle. The characters are a beautiful group of individuals… Can you tell I’m totally in love with working on these books?
APKY/AMP: Oh yes I can – the verve in your words could light half a city! J I know you said it in your advice to writers; but do you also manage to write every day?
Yes, in some way or another. It’s essential for all writers to write every day. It’s not always easy to make the time, but it’s definitely always worth it.
APKY/AMP: J J What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
I don’t believe in writer’s block, although I do believe in a lack of confidence in the writing. There is always something to say, something to write, it’s the matter of getting over one’s fears of failure or poor writing that’s the challenge. The trick, I think, is pretty simple. Stop worrying. I never let anyone read my first draft, so when I’m writing, it’s all me and I don’t hold back or worry about how good it is. Fixing things up is for draft two, which makes things a whole lot less stressful on my creative process.
APKY/AMP: Another good advice, Nicole. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and off you are with it?
When I start a book, I know who the characters are, the land they’re in, where the plot starts, and what happens at the climax of the novel. The rest I leave up to discovery, so it stays organic.
APKY/AMP: Wow. And do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
My characters initially just come to me as abstract compilations of feelings and personality traits. Then I usually start thinking about their back-stories and names. The names come from anywhere—movies, ideas, combinations of other names—and if I’m at a loss for a good solid name for a character in mind, I consult a very large baby names book that I keep on my desk. As far as making them believable, I think the believability stems from discovery and allowing the characters to become individuals in my mind and on the page. Back-stories are always key, as they help explain why a character is the way he is. Yet I think it really comes down to creating a person who has preferences and flaws and quirks and allowing them to grow and discover themselves in the story as you discover them while you’re writing.
APKY/AMP: Now that’s a strategy, Nicole. So after second draft and all, who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
My first reader is my father, who has been writing for over 30 years and has a handful of novels published (as well as non-fiction, articles, short stories, and poetry). Since we both write, he usually looks at my books first, after I’ve written and re-written them at least once. And it works both ways. I often will be the first reader for his new books. It’s pretty handy having a father-daughter writing team, as we get to talk about books often and in depth.
APKY/AMP: My, aren’t you lucky. And what do you like to read?
I will read pretty much anything. As I mentioned before, it’s important to read all genres and mediums to stay sharp as a writer. How else can we learn and grow? I do read a lot of fantasy, as it is my genre and I like to stay informed, but I also really enjoy historical fiction. This year, I read an amazing literary book, too, which was great in showing me how language can be used to enhance story. Overall, I think the best writers are the ones who not only read everything but those who also write everything. I try my best to be as broad with my reading and writing practices as possible, because in what other way would I be able to challenge myself and introduce myself to new types of stories and writing styles?
APKY/AMP: Thanks, Nicole. Wish you all the best for your future projects.