Today’s guest on the blog is one of my favorite people on the planet – and no, its not just because she liked my book! She’s fierce, kind, funny and a fantastic writer and a great friend and support. Her novel, What They Don’t Know, is coming this October (and I reviewed it earlier this morning!) and is absolutely amazing and is a MUST MUST MUST buy. Let’s learn more about Nicole and her incredible book, an ARC of which is signed and up for grabs in the giveaway!
ABOUT NICOLE MAGGI
Nicole was born in the suburban farm country of upstate New York, and began writing at a very early age. Of course, her early works consisted mainly of poems about rainbows and unicorns, although one of them was good enough to win honorable mention in a national poetry contest! (Perhaps one of the judges was a ten-year-old girl.) Throughout high school, her creative writing was always nurtured and encouraged.
Nicole attended Emerson College as an acting major, and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Post-college, she worked as an actress in New York City for over a decade, focusing mainly on Shakespeare and the classics.
Now living in Los Angeles, Nicole balances writing full-time with motherhood. WINTER FALLS, the first in her TWIN WILLOWS TRILOGY (Medallion Press, 2014) is her debut novel. She has a stand-alone novel, HEARTLINES, coming out in February 2015 with SourceBooks Fire, as well as the second and third novels in the TWIN WILLOWS TRILOGY in 2015 and 2016.
You Can Find Her At:
Three secrets. One decision. A friendship that will change everything.
Mellie has always been the reliable friend, the good student, the doting daughter. But when an unspeakable act leads her to withdraw from everyone she loves, she is faced with a life-altering choice―a choice she must face alone.
Lise stands up―and speaks out―for what she believes in. And when she notices Mellie acting strangely, she gets caught up in trying to save her…all while trying to protect her own secret. One that might be the key to helping Mellie.
Told through Mellie and Lise’s journal entries, this powerful, emotional novel chronicles Mellie’s struggle to decide what is right for her and the unbreakable bond formed by the two girls on their journey.
You Can PreOrder Her Book At:
Nerd Girl: Tell us a little bit about What They Don’t Know. This novel is different from some of the ones you’ve written in the past. What was the inspiration behind it and why was this the next story that you had to tell?
Nicole: What They Don’t Know is the first straight contemporary YA I’ve written. All of my other books were either fantasy (Twin Willows Trilogy) or had a paranormal element (The Forgetting). My previous books also had a romantic relationship as a major part of the plot, and I knew for this book that I wanted to write a story about a female friendship. So I started from there. I knew I wanted to explore the issue of reproductive rights and I wanted to have two POV characters who came at the issue from very different places, who aren’t friends at the beginning of the story. I asked myself, what would happen if the character who identifies herself at pro-life is raped and becomes pregnant, and the character who identifies as pro-choice is the only one she can turn to? The story was born from that.
Nerd Girl: What They Don’t Know has some hard and emotional events and themes in it; did you have a message that you wanted to portray when you wrote it or did you just want to give a voice to this kind of story?
Nicole: I think I started out writing on a bit of a soapbox and once I really knew who the characters of Mellie and Lise were, I came down off the soapbox to just tell their story. And the message I wanted to convey in the book isn’t so much about abortion than about how much stronger women are when they support each other than when they undermine each other. I wanted to say that there are so many things stacked against us as women in the world and that we are strong as hell to survive whatever the world throws at us. I wanted to say that there are girls and women who will lift you up, and some that will tear you down, and the sooner you learn the difference, the better. I wanted to say, be the kind of woman who lifts other women up. Be Lise. Don’t be Delia. The book does deal with heavy issues but at its heart it’s about the friendship between these two girls and the power they find in themselves through each other.
Nerd Girl: You have a young daughter and I’ve seen that you’ve made it important to teach her feminism and equality and acceptance (which I think is badass and the best kind of parenting). Do you keep her in mind when you are writing your novels?
Nicole: She’s always in the back of my mind when I write, because I hope that someday she’ll read the books. I fully expect her to be a typical teenager that thinks her mother doesn’t understand her at all, so maybe when she reads the books she’ll know that I understand more than she thinks I do!
Nerd Girl: Are there are books, or any other stories, that have had influence on your novels, either the story itself or the style in which you write?
Nicole: I try to stay true to my own voice, but there are definitely writers whose style and stories I just love and secretly wish I’d written myself! Libba Bray is one of my favorite authors, and her Gemma Doyle Trilogy was definitely an influence on my own fantasy trilogy. Tamora Pierce is one of my other favorite fantasy writers; her Song of the Lioness series is one of the reasons I’m a writer in the first place! And of course there’s JK Rowling. Anytime I’m stuck in a story I think, WWJKRD?
Nerd Girl: Are you working on anything new at the moment? Can you tell us anything about it?
Nicole: I am working on a fantasy novel but it’s way too early to say anything about it! It’s in the very very early stages so I won’t start talking about it until I have a firmer hold on what I’m doing (which may not happen until the book is done, hahaha!).
Nerd Girl: Did you intend to write YA literature or did you fall into it?
Nicole: My first novel was an epic historical fiction that isn’t published – but it was good enough to get me my agent. The book wasn’t written as YA, but it was out on submission right around the time that YA started to explode, and a lot of the feedback my agent heard from editors was that it felt like YA. So she encouraged me to write YA for my next book. When I started writing in a YA voice, it felt like coming home to all the books that I’d love as a teen, the books that made me want to be a writer.
Nerd Girl: What do you think are some of the best parts of YA literature and the YA community?
Nicole: For me, it’s the people I’ve met and made friends with that is the best part about it. The community of YA authors in Los Angeles, where I live, is wonderful and supportive. I’m the rare extrovert author and I love doing events, especially when the panels are made up of author friends whose work I love and respect. We’re so fortunate in the YA world to be surrounded by deep rich stories in all different genres – fantasy, sci-fi, issues-driven contemporaries, thrillers, horror, romance – told in voices that we can all relate to because we were all teenagers once. I get deeply annoyed when people discount YA fiction as being “less than” adult fiction, because the writing is no less dense and complex or multi-layered. Kind of the same way I get deeply annoyed when adults discount teens for being silly, insignificant, or over-emotional. It’s no wonder that we’re seeing teens rise up in the real world right now. They’ve been rising up in our fiction for years.
Nerd Girl: What is the best writing advice that you received that you can pass along?
Nicole: A lot of people advice “write every day” but frankly I hate that advice. I think it’s a little abusive. Because some days you just can’t get to the page. Especially if you’re a parent! And a worst thing that not writing is beating yourself up about it. So my advice instead is, do something creative every day. It doesn’t need to be a grand creative gesture. It can be as small as taking a walk and noticing how many different shades of green you see. Or journaling for 15 minutes. Or cooking something. Anything creative contributes to your creative stock, so that when you do sit down to write, you have a lot to draw from.
Nerd Girl: Who are your fictional crushes?
Nicole: Once upon a time I was obsessed with the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, and Jamie Frasier will always be my first fictional love!
There are many prize packs up for grabs, with one that includes a signed ARC of What They Don’t Know! The giveaway runs until June 4th and is open internationally!