"Q&A With Nicole Blades"

"Q&A With Nicole Blades"


Author: Nicole Blades

Photo Courtesy of Nicole Blades

Author: Nicole Blades

Author Bio:

Nicole Blades is a novelist and freelance journalist who has been putting her stories on paper since the third grade. Born and raised in Montreal, Nicole moved to New York City and launched her journalism career working at Essence magazine. She later co-founded the online magazine SheNetworks, and worked as an editor at ESPN and Women’s Health. 

Nicole's work has appeared in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Good Housekeeping, WashingtonPost.com, MarieClaire.com, SELF, Health, and BuzzFeed. Her next book, HAVE YOU MET NORA?, will be released November 2017, and her latest novel, THE THUNDER BENEATH US, is available now. Listen to her weekly podcast, Hey, Sis!, about women finding their focus and place in business, art, culture, and life. (Source: Nicole Blades)

1. It seems like there is this common theme in your writing where the protagonist has a hidden truth or identity they hold. Why do you think that you write this way?
Over all the years I’ve definitely noticed clear themes coming through in my writing, whether it’s fiction or in the kinds of features stories that drawn me in. And those themes are: family, identity and reinvention. I like stories that venture into the underneath—the “basement” of some of the things we just have to deal with as human beings living this life. Complicated family dynamics—I don’t know anyone who can’t relate to that.
Trying to right yourself in a tangled relationship; feeling unsure of how to reconcile who you think you are with who you hope to be; tucking away shame and trying to find your way to forgiveness; crawling out from the weight of secrets, crippling doubt and unworthiness in order to start on a completely fresh page in earnest.
These are the kinds of realistic, human stories that I find utterly compelling. I’ve said it many times before: the human condition can knock the wind out of you. And I think that’s what most characterizes my writing: a deep and real desire to explore these very unique-yet-ordinary things that make us, us.  

 2. What emotions are you hoping to evoke with this writing style?
I don’t know if I intentionally set out to evoke a specific emotion from readers, but something I’m very interested in, in general, is compassion. With THE THUNDER BENEATH US and HAVE YOU MET NORA? and even my debut novel, EARTH’S WATERS, I wanted to investigate compassion. We have no idea what’s rumbling beneath the surface of someone’s life, no matter how filtered and fabulous and hashtag blessed it may appear on social media.
We all need to feel valued and heard and supported as we make our way through this life.
It’s crucial to understand that we’re allowed to make mistakes. We can have a misstep or even a total wipeout and still get back up, knowing and believing that we are all worthy of honest love and acceptance and compassion. That’s why it’s vital for us to cut each other some slack. Empathy can smooth out the wrinkles on a lot in this life. Compassion is what keeps us afloat, especially right now in this country.   

3. Why should people read your newest book coming out October 31st, Have You Met Nora?
I’ve always been deeply interested in identity, more specifically, how someone organizes their entire spirit around being something and claiming all that goes with it out loud—a chef, an activist, a runner, a writer, a survivor. In so many instances, claiming your title involves a significant moment when it becomes undeniably clear how essential it (running, cooking, writing, etc.) is to who you are and how you want the world to view you.
For so many people that capital-M moment involves stepping out of a comfort zone and putting your faith in this identity, ready to defend it to those who may doubt your assertion, question your selfhood. “I don’t care what anyone says, this is me.” That—the person who moves through the world with that level of commitment to their identity, to their vocation—that’s what intrigues me for, HAVE YOU MET NORA, I wanted to go even deeper with this concept and examine how someone could construct an identity rooted in a lie, taking “fake it ‘til you make it” to a totally different level. And then, how far would they go to protect that identity that they’ve created out of nothing but dust and dreams? I had to find out! 

4. Where does your inspiration come from when writing these stories?
This may sound corny, but it’s the truth: I draw inspiration from life. Stories I read in magazines or that hear straight from the source, someone who went through an experience, will often send my mind off dreaming and thinking about what if this happened or I wonder what would a person go through if this happened to them when they were just recovering from something else or Imagine if x happened 10 years in the future? And then I’m off to another world, thinking up characters and situations and trying to answer those what-ifs.

5. Have you ever thought about turning your books into movies or plays?
How does one say HELL YES in the most polite, respectful way? Absolutely. I definitely have my eye set on adaptation of my books and, more over, creating original stories to tell on screen.  

6. What is the best advice you have received on happiness?
Yes, a good friend of mine, the talented photographer and writer Karen Walrond, once said that happiness is an emotion and a decision. It’s a choice. I’ve come to agree with this, wholeheartedly.

7. What is your writing process like/What is your favorite part of your writing process?
I can see certain aspects of my fiction writing process that come from my career as a journalist. How I approach a story is quite similar to how I would approach a magazine feature. That means doing loads of research, asking a lot questions, talking to real people with real experiences (yeah, I’m kinda nosy!) so I can try to understand something from all sides. Authenticity, verisimilitude—there are important things to me and that I strive to bring to in my work.

When I’m actively writing, I’m very focused on it. That means devoting large chunks of the day to writing and editing and re-writing and working on it. I write even when I’m not writing. That might mean that if I’m out and about or eavesdropping on two people at a café (come on, who doesn’t do this?) or acting out dialogue in the shower or just letting my mind float free while out on a run—I’m always thinking about the story and writing it.

8. What is the best book you read in 2017 thus far?
This question is always awful—no matter the year! There are so many books that draw me in and keep me there for so many different reasons. This happens with new books, classics, favorites that I’ve re-read, so it’s always a challenge to pluck out one of them and hold it out as The Best. How about, Books that I’ve read this year that I would recommend to a friend without hesitation?
That’s easier! "Hunger" by Roxane Gay, "My Name Is Lucy Barton" by Elizabeth Strout, "Everything, Everything" by Nicola Yoon, and I re-read "The Handmaid’s Tale" by Margaret Atwood.

9. Do you plan on writing more books in the future?
Absolutely! In fact, I’m working on my next book right now. It will be the fourth. I take writing very seriously. It’s my vocation. And I love storytelling. It has always intrigued me. It’s at the core of being a human being. It’s what makes us, us. Through it, we can learn about ourselves, about the world and our place in it. I am in awe of the way stories connect us.
How you can grip people’s full attention, mess with their imagination a bit and pull them to the edge of, not only their seats, but also possibly to your side of things, helping to see a city, a person, a predicament from a wholly new perspective all because you strung some words and phrases together in a particular way all through a great story. There’s real power in that and I’m deeply committed to being a part of that experience. It will always be fascinating to me.

Places to Find More From This Author: 

Facebook: Nicole Blades
Instagram: @nicole_blades
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