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Five Questions with Nicole

1.) When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve known vaguely that I wanted to be a writer about as long as my memories go back, but it wasn’t until middle school, when I started getting into reading science fiction and fantasy novels, that I really understood the way storytelling could transport a reader to new worlds and offer a means of escape from the troubles of reality. It became my goal to write stories that would compel readers to feel the same euphoria I do when I pick up a soon-to-be-favorite book for the first time.

2.) What do you love most about the writing process?

I love tapping into a good flow state! There’s something magical that happens when you turn off your “editing brain” and just let yourself get swept away into the story. For me, it serves a similar purpose as meditation, and I always feel more at ease when I dedicate time in my day to practice stream-of-consciousness writing.

3.) What do you love most about teaching writing?

My reasons are pretty selfish! Teaching writing puts me in the incredibly privileged position to see amazing new stories form from the ground up. I love getting caught up in conversations about craft and how an idea comes to fruition. Plus, because every writer’s process is different, I always come away with great new strategies for making the most of my own writing time. I also think it’s a huge honor to be a part of the trust circle that comes with workshopping another writer’s early pages. Writing can be a very vulnerable process, and I place a great deal of value on creating a “safe space” in workshop where participants feel comfortable experimenting and taking risks.

4.) What are you reading right now?

As I write this, I’m between books! I just finished reading Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver (which I would highly recommend), and I’m getting ready to start K Arsenault Rivera’s The Tiger’s Daughter. I’m a big fan of both fairy tales and high fantasy, which these two books are respectively, though I’m very down to dig into book recs outside of speculative fiction as well! My writing always feels freshest when I make a point to read across multiple genres, especially ones I wouldn’t necessarily gravitate towards if left entirely to my own devices.

5.) What's your favorite writing quote?

When I was a teenager, I loved the YA author Michael Grant. He used to have a piece of advice on his website that said something like, “To be a good writer, you have to read a lot, you have to write a lot, but the best thing to do is live a lot… fall in love, fall out of love, have some very dark nights. You’ll use all of it.” That is a haphazardly paraphrased version of the original quote, which I believe has since been lost to the depths of the Internet, but that advice really struck a chord with me. I still come back to those words whenever I’m going through a tough time as a writer or as a person. It’s comforting to think that even our darkest moments can be a foundation for creating something meaningful.

Nicole is teaching a Science Fiction & Fantasy Generative workshop this winter on Monday nights.

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