Interview with Nicole Renee, The author of After Sunset
Ravi: Tell me About Yourself?
Nicole: Hello! My name is Nicole Renee. I am an independent romantic writer. I’m twenty-nine years old. (thirty on September 7th) I am the oldest of just one sibling, who is my sister and best friend. I’m also very close to my family. I was born and raised in San Francisco (Haight-Ashbury district) and I now live outside of the city. I have a bachelor of arts in mass communication and journalism from California State University, Fresno and I have a Master of Science in human resource management From Strayer University. I am currently working on my second master’s degree in humanities.
Ravi: What’s your favorite short story?
Ravi: The Best piece of writing advice?
Nicole: To write what you want. Never try to please the masses. If you have an idea, a type of style or message you want to convey, do it. Ignore everything else.
Ravi: Where do you write?
Nicole: In my living room, library, or a bookstore. Some of my best writing was done at the cafe in Barnes and Noble. It’s the perfect ambiance to get my thoughts out properly.
Ravi: Where do you get your ideas?
Nicole: Believe it or not, I get most of my ideas from poetry, and music. I’ll hear some lyrics, or read from new up and coming poets on various blogs and feel something spark. It’s how I got the idea for my latest book, after sunset.
Ravi: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Nicole: Both. When my characters begin speaking to me, I feel energized and excited. They need to express, or get out their own frustrations, and thoughts and I can’t stop typing until they have finished, or died down a bit. Afterward, I do feel drained. But it’s more of accomplished, happy exhaustion. Does that make sense?
Ravi: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Nicole: Three to five months. The only reason it takes that long is that I spend the first month doubting if it’s even good and criticizing my own work. Then month two kicks in, I get over myself, and really get to work.
Ravi: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Nicole: I love school, so if it’s not writing, I would definitely be a professor. It’s actually why I am going back for my second master’s degree. I thought I could handle working in corporate America, but I learned very quickly, that wasn’t the world for me. I would rather be surrounded by academia, books, and students, rather than stuffed people in suits.
Ravi: What is your favorite childhood book?
Nicole: The American Girl series. Specifically Addy. The former child slave. Addy Learns a Lesson was so exciting to me because I think it was the first time I saw a young black girl who wanted to read and learn just as much as I did. It was also one of the first time I saw a likeness to myself from a childhood book. It was also a happy ever after book, which I’ve always enjoyed even today.
Ravi: What are your favorite literary journals?
Nicole: I only have one. The Paris Review. I absolutely love this! It has everything, and I cannot seem to stop reading. I typically go back to the archives, especially in the poetry section. Some of those works move me to tears. Truly beautiful.
Ravi: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Nicole: Probably television. Even though I hardly watch anything, I would give it up cold turkey.
Ravi: What was your hardest scene to write?
Nicole: Definitely action. I have the idea and picture in my head of how I want it to look, but it can be difficult to properly express that for a scene. I want more practice with action scenes, and that is why my next book, I am purposely integrating more of those types of scenes. It’ll be a good challenge.
Ravi: Do you Google yourself?
Nicole: Absolutely! I want to see if my books are being looked over. I have to know!
Ravi: Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Nicole: No. I wish I was that deep. What you see is what you get. I like putting twists and turns into my books, but that’s about it.
Ravi: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Nicole: The first book, I did. Religiously. But after a while, I stopped. My sister (Olivia) told me that I shouldn’t put too much stock in what others may think about my book. “It doesn’t matter as long as you loved what you wrote,” is what she said to me. It took some time, but I now realize the reviews will never affect what I write, so I shouldn’t put too much stock in them. Yes, I want good reviews like any other writer, but I always write for myself first, good or bad reviews. The bad reviews I honestly laugh at. Because come on, no one can be harsher on my own work than me. I typically take it in stride.
Ravi: Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Nicole: Yes. Tender Rebel by Johanna Lindsey. It was written back in the ’80s and it’s a very cliched historical romance book, but what I loved about it was how the author so seamlessly blended fiction, with real human emotions. It was the first time I thought that maybe fact and fiction weren’t too far off. Especially when it comes to love and the human emotions that come along with it.
Ravi: What did you edit out of this book?
Nicole: So much! I think I edited out a lot of intimate scenes, more scenes with the main characters (Winter and Zahir) getting to know one another, and the original ending was going to be a bit more dramatic. But I wanted it to be a series, so I edited that out.
Ravi: How many hours a day do you write?
Nicole: It depends. Some days it’s only an hour, other days it’s four. I know it sounds crazy, but it depends on what my characters have to say.
Ravi: How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
Nicole: I’ve been a part-time writer officially for seven years and a full-time writer for about three years now, and I love it!
Ravi: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Nicole: It depends on the book. After Sunset forced me to delve into some research on some types of folklore concerning demons and witches. I feel like I learn so much while writing, and I like knowing random facts. I spend about two-three hours researching just to make sure I am correct in the types of folklore, and my research is still limited because I do write fiction, so I don’t want to copy and paste. I prefer creating my own world.
Ravi: What’s the best way to market your books?
Nicole: Definitely social media, and paid promotion companies. I hired two for my book, along with the random post I do myself.
Ravi: How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Nicole: At least 10. I’m thinking of publishing one of them, but who knows?
Ravi: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Nicole: It didn’t. I still do everything the same. If anything it makes me more confident that I can self-publish.
Ravi: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Nicole: Yes, write it. I know what you’re thinking, it sounds crazy but write it. Trust me, people will read it.
Ravi: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Nicole: I’m friends with a lot of independent authors. I reached out to a few well-known authors who have agreed to read my book. (which makes me insanely nervous) They help me by being honest. You want people to like your book, but you want constructive criticism at the same time. It’s a double-edged sword, wanting rave reviews, but honesty. Sometimes the two aren’t always the same.
Ravi: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Nicole: I am always original. I will never be anything but original. I do not care what others want. I don’t mean that disrespectfully, but if you wrote to fit audiences, your voice could be lost. And I’d rather be happy with ten reviews, than unhappy with thousands.
Ravi: What advice do you have for writers?
Nicole: It sounds repetitive, and a bit cliche, but be yourself. In everything. If you have a thought, write it out. If it sounds crazy, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t. Listen to no one but that voice in your head. It’s the only one that can help you, especially a writer.
Ravi: What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
Nicole: To be honest, I couldn’t answer that. I’m subscribed to a lot of pop culture and fashion magazines. I feel that there is no correct answer. There is no perfect formula or a certain magazine that will make you a better writer. Do you read blogs? Great. You watch television and listen to classical music? Even better. As writers, we pull from everything and everyone around us to construct worlds and characters that can be relatable, or not. I hope that answers your question.
Ravi: Tell me about your recent book to our Ravi Reads Blog Readers?
Nicole: My book is an African-American supernatural romance. It’s the first in my series. Here’s the synopsis below:
Two years of hard work finally paid off. After an emotional but necessary move, Winter Frame was now the proud owner of Bayou Books in New Orleans. She loved her new friends and apartment in the French Quarter and she wouldn’t have it any other way. So what if the natives were a little too involved in folklore and superstitions? It wasn’t real, so she had nothing to really worry about. Right?
Zahir Slade was irritated. As the reigning king of the supernatural community, it was his job to make sure rules were enforced, were-species were safe, and the human world stayed blissfully unaware of their kind. Unfortunately, his brother’s interaction with a human bookstore owner was going to make that task a tad bit difficult. Or Maybe Not...Will Zahir realize that he has nothing to worry about when it comes to Winter? And will Winter realize that not all stories are fiction? Especially down in New Orleans?
Let’s find out.
Thanks to Nicole for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to email me at the address on my contact page.