Howdy folks. Last week, we had the opportunity to explore the world of Nicole Green, a debut fantasy author who introduces real world connections and issues and presents them in meaningful ways. This week, it is my privilege to take a few extra moments to speak with the author and learn more about how she brought her world to life, and to discover what comes next. Read on to find out what makes Nicole Green tick.
Tellest: Hello Nicole! It’s always nice to talk to a fellow worldbuilder, and it seems like you’re having a blast in the world you’re building. Of course, I know that it always takes a lot of time to create something so vast, so I’d just like to thank you for taking some time out to speak with me.
Nicole Green: It is wonderful to meet you as well and I appreciate your willingness to talk with me.
T: I always start out with a simple question: what inspired you to start writing? Did you have any authors that drove you toward it, or did you have any friends or family that stirred a creative mind?
NG: I actually can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing – to some extent. My first memory of crafting was squiggles on page after page before I knew how to write words at our kitchen table. I’ve always loved it and as I grew older realized I could express myself through writing in a way I couldn’t out-loud. As for family who helped to cultivate my creative mind, my grandmother (Grama). Whether it was music or writing – it didn’t matter. She has always inspired me. That woman is a dragon!
T: She must be ecstatic that you’ve released your very first book! What do your grandmother and other members of your inner circle think about your achievement?
NG: She was very excited and would bring the book with her to all of her meetings and groups she volunteers in as a conversation starter. She is also always one of my first readers of anything I write. My parents are also huge supporters even though fantasy is not their preferred genre, but my dad was the first person to buy it. Most of my friends just yelled ‘Finally!’ then started laughing.
T: Now that you’ve brought one book to life, you’ve done what most people only dream of. It’s a huge accomplishment, but it’s clear that there’s more to come for you. What are your future writing goals?
NG: Thank you, it does feel great to have my work out there and available to the public. My goal is honestly fairly simple – just to keep writing and getting my work out there as often as I can. If it touches one person who needs to hear the message of that story, then I’m happy.
T: How did you get the idea for To The End, and how long have you been working on it?
NG: I began writing a version of To The End when I was a Sophomore in high school, but then abandoned it. Then re-wrote it as a short story a few years later, only to begin again with what is now the third book in the series. After encouragement from friends, I wrote the back story for the main character which became To The End and what will be the second book. That was ten years and many drafts ago.
T: What were some of the biggest changes that you’ve noticed from the earliest iteration of your story to the latest version you’ve completed?
NG: The most challenging thing for me would have to be trying to find the balance between what I know is going on throughout the story and what readers would need to know and want to know. I try to breathe life into each character and, especially main characters, I could write every detail of their life birth-death, but I know the readers don’t need all of that. Sifting through and deleting is so hard sometimes.
T: Do you catalog all of your lore and backstory somewhere, or is it all in your head?
NG: I keep notebooks on the characters and outlines, sometimes full stories, of all the main characters or players.
T: What was your biggest challenge in bringing To The End to life, whether it was in the writing process, or in the parts that came since?
NG: The writing process is extremely fun for me – and I like editing too, but the parts after was really challenging. I am not a social media person, but I had to learn. I’m still not the greatest, but I am learning.
T: What advice would you give to someone just starting off with writing their own story?
NG: My best advice is to just keep doing it! Find a time and a place where you can disappear regularly enough that it becomes habit. Then sit there for a while and write. I usually give myself between 45 minutes to an hour every morning when it’s just me and the animals. Sometimes I only write (I always handwrite first) three pages, but other times its ten. Find what works best for you, but then stick to it. I’ve had quite a few people tell me they’re writing a book too when they find out I write, but they started ten years or more ago. I do believe everyone has a story to share, but the people who share them are the people dedicated to the cause and really find it in them to make it happen. So don’t get discouraged, don’t give up, and know that someone out there needs to hear your voice.
T: It’s clear that you enjoyed creating the world you were working on in your debut fantasy—you’ve got the proof of that in the back of the book. But you’re also working your way to a new world for your characters as well. Was that always the plan, or did some of your writing take you by surprise?
NG: This world is so much bigger than what readers have been led to believe thus far and it has been extremely fun to build. It was always the plan to have a variety of different worlds, but there are elements that have taken me by surprise.
T: Would you say that you’re telling the story, or are you more discovering it in some ways along with the reader, and helping to explain what you’ve unearthed?
NG: I’m on the journey with all of the readers, for sure. This story has definitely grown and changed as I’ve written it and it is still taking me by surprise. I have an idea, but sometimes I will write a chapter and look back and think ‘Huh? When did I write that?’
T: What is the most surprising thing one of your characters did that you were not expecting—assuming you can talk about it without spoiling too much?
NG: This is a hard question as I am currently working on writing the fifth and final book in the series, but I think in the first book it would have to be Hayle. She has way more steel than it seems and has deep roots in the main character, TJ. There is so much more to their story, but I don’t want to give anything away.
T: To the End has a distinct feeling of high fantasy mixed with contemporary real life. It feels like it is meant to take a long look at some of the experiences that we deal with in our day to day. What made you decide to shine a light on those kinds of things through this lens?
NG: I have always believed fantasy (and all) books are a wonderful way to shed light on sensitive topics and experiences that are otherwise difficult to talk about or understand. As a teacher in my day job, I have seen so much that gets swept under the rug, but I want people to know there is more than just your experience in life – that you can have a hard childhood and overcome it. That there are people who will love you and accept you no matter what you look like or what your orientation is. That is a cornerstone that I believe in and something I always searched for in what I read growing up. I just hope I represented it well.
T: Do your students know about your stories?
NG: They do! I think it is really important for students to know their teachers are real people. That we have hobbies and interests, struggles and joys – just like everyone else. I was convinced as a kid that teachers lived in the school and simply existed in that environment and it made it really hard to connect with them. I don’t want my students to have the same challenge and it’s actually gotten a few of them into writing their own stories – which I think is pretty awesome!
T: Readers see the world through TJ’s eyes, in some ways, but you’ve got a variety of characters. Which of your characters speaks to you in the greatest ways?
NG: I love TJ – obviously, but I also really like Micheal/Mitchie. In many ways he is the shadow of TJ. What TJ could have been had he grown up with different parents, but his story is only beginning, so I don’t want to spoil anything. My favorite character, the readers only see glimpses of for the most part, the goddess, Cabala. She’ll get to tell her story someday.
T: Speaking of which, you’ve got a world beyond a world in your book, and there is a moment in the book when you realize it’s so much bigger than what you first glimpse. Is it challenging working on something “terrestrial” and then moving up to something “celestial” which looks as though it also has its own vast lore?
NG: That’s actually been so fun to write, because there is more than meets the eye – and like you just said there is a world beyond the world in this book. The challenge has been not giving too much away and, while I do write third person omniscient, I do slant it towards the view of TJ more often than not. So most things are taken from his perspective, which is where the terrestrial and celestial come into play.
T: Now that your first book is out, what’s next for you? Are you diving right into a sequel, or are you exploring other ideas?
NG: The sequel is actually set to come out this October and will be available on Amazon, Kindle, and Barnes and Noble. My Instagram @imaginedworlds_nicolegreen will have all the updates for the release soon. In addition to that, I have been working hard on completing the series so I can get down to some hard editing while working on other fiction writing projects.
T: What other projects are you exploring? Are you still working in the fantasy genre, or are you venturing beyond that?
NG: I have published another book recently in the mystery-romance genre and am working on a fiction series as a response to the riots that recently happened in the USA and the Black Lives Matter movement as well as LGBTQ+ becoming more recognized and accepted. This one is very close to my heart and I intentionally put it in the fiction genre to reach as many people as possible. I am still working on another series that is in the fantasy realm – a different world than the Marked Series, and aimed towards adults, but I put it on pause for the other work.
T: Do be sure to let us know about your next fantasy project when you’re ready to talk about it!
NG: Don’t worry! I will be in touch. It’s a big project. New characters. New world. New problems. With hope it will be coming soon, but the Marked Series will keep me busy for a little while yet.
T: You mentioned your Instagram earlier, but what other ways could people find out more about you and your work?
NG: I also have a Facebook page under @imaginedworldsnicolegreen and a website www.imaginedworlds.wixsite.com/author-nicolegreen where you can find descriptions of all my work and links on where to find my work.
T: Nicole, thank you again for taking the time to speak with me today, and to let readers know what drives you and what they can expect from your future writings.
NG: Thank you for all of your insightful questions and curiosity. It’s always fun to share the reasons for creating a world and the characters. I appreciate your time as well.
T: I want to wish Nicole the best with To The End, and with all the rest of the stories that she is working on. And I’d like to thank her once again for sparing some of her time. It is always a delight to speak to talespinners who enjoy revealing the details of their work and their passion. We’ll no doubt hear more from Nicole in the future, but for now, be sure to Check out To The End, Marked Book One on Amazon today. You can also find it in hardcover, here.
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