Nicole Young has a degree in communications and has earned several awards for speechwriting and presentation. In 2004 she won the Noble Theme Award for the Best First Chapter from the American Christian Romance Writers. She is the author of LOVE ME IF YOU MUST and KILL ME IF YOU CAN, and lives with her family in Michigan.
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In this interview, Nicole Young discusses the role that faith plays in her writing and explains how she created the protagonist of her debut novel, LOVE ME IF YOU MUST. She also recalls some of the high and low points she experienced while writing the book, shares a list of her favorite authors and describes a couple of memorable encounters with readers.
Question: How does your faith play into your writing?
Nicole Young: The understanding that my creativity comes as a gift from God helps me relax about what goes onto the page. Sometimes it seems there isn’t much about God, religion, or faith getting written down. But I keep in mind that we all have our own journey. All I can do is tell my character’s story and hope that in some small way it points readers in the right direction. Jesus does the rest.
Q: Tell us about your family.
NY: I have been blessed with a most amazing family. My children, ages 16, 14, 10, and 8, are all artists and authors themselves with wonderful aspirations for their lives. Each of them loves and trusts God. My parents, who live just a couple of miles away, have really taken an active role in raising my kids, which helps take the pressure off being a single mom.
Q: Tell us about one or more of your favorite encounters with readers.
NY: I went to town to do some shopping with the ulterior motive of passing out LOVE ME IF YOU MUST bookmarks. I’d gotten a lukewarm reaction from one clerk and was feeling deflated. But, determined to pass out my quota, I handed one to the cashier at the grocery store. She practically jumped up and down in her excitement to meet a new author and insisted I sign the bookmark. My first autograph! I thanked her for her encouragement and promised to get her a promotional copy of my book.
Another day, I was at a friend’s birthday party. I’d brought along a signed copy of LOVE ME IF YOU MUST for her and her daughter. When my friend’s mother saw the book and read the back cover, she chased me down and begged to buy a copy right away. She said she was an avid reader and had a huge library of books at home. I was thrilled to meet a fellow book fanatic and was honored that she’d want to add my book to her collection.
Q: When did you first start writing?
NY: I’ve been writing since I first learned to put words together. My mother has saved all my ancient, unfinished manuscripts and plays in cardboard boxes that somehow weathered the years. I studied communication arts in college and did a stint in the advertising industry. But it wasn’t until 2001 that I set out on a deliberate path to become a novelist.
Q: What inspires you to write?
NY: I was blessed --- and cursed --- with my creativity and imagination. I found that if I’m not putting my thoughts and emotions onto paper and creating drama on the page, then I’m injecting drama into my real life. As a writer I’ve been able to sort out my feelings and let my imagination roam free without having to “act out” in my relationships. So when I start losing my grip on things in the real world, I run to my laptop and gush out my emotions through the keyboard. When I’m done, I can get back to a reasonably peaceful and serene life.
Q: What books are you reading right now? What books have most influenced your work?
NY: I just finished reading CHOSEN BY A HORSE by Susan Richards. I’m a big horse fan, but I had no idea the emotional impact this book would have on me. From a Christian standpoint, it was a story of God expressing love to a woman through the love of a horse. I was absolutely wrenched by the way Susan wove the tragic details of her life around the care and adoration of a dying horse. I cried for an hour when I set the book down, though not so much for the loss of the horse as for the hope that the lead character would one day recognize God’s loving care in her life.
The reading I did in my youth has a definite impact on my writing of today. My favorite book remains JANE EYRE by Charlotte Brontë. Works by Jane Austen are among my other favorites. Austen fans might see a touch of NORTHANGER ABBEY in LOVE ME IF YOU MUST, my own tale of overactive imagination and fears. I am also a diehard fan of Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney, along with Agatha Christie and Carolyn Keene. Throw in a pinch of Frank Peretti, Janet Evanovich, Francine Rivers, Luanne Rice, and fifty others, and voila! You have books by Nicole Young.
Q: Who are your favorite authors and why?
NY: I devoured books as a youngster. It took the sting of reality out of my life. My favorite authors wrote characters whose situations were far more deplorable than my own: Steinbeck, Dumas, Austen, Brontë, Mitchell, Michener, Follett, Rivers, and many others.
Q: Your new book is called Love Me if You Must. What are your favorite and least favorite things about writing this book?
NY: That the book was completed at all is an absolute miracle. I’d just gone through the most trying experience of my life --- a divorce --- and then acquired a three-book contract. While trying to clean up loose ends and hold my family together, I wrote and plotted and edited and revised and wondered where the money to pay the bills was going to come from. When I lacked faith, my character lacked faith. When I trusted God, my character did the same. I can look back through the story and recall almost exactly what was happening in my life when a particular chapter was written. It begs the old question: Does life mimic art, or does art mimic life? By the end of the book, I learned so much about God’s love for me, how he really has no trouble loving me completely, flaws and all. And not so coincidentally, my character came to the same conclusion.
Q: How do you develop your characters? Are they based on people you know?
NY: My main character, Patricia Amble, is a mixture of the woman I used to be and the one I am now, all mixed up with a hodgepodge of character traits I either wish I had or am glad I don’t. My secondary characters are vaguely based on people I know, have met, read about, or saw on the news or in a movie, all written with great literary license and complete imagination.
Q: What are you working on now, and when can readers expect to see it?
NY: I’m just finishing book two in the Patricia Amble Mystery Series. The release date is April 2008, which is also my deadline for book three. At the same time, I’m hatching ideas for my next series.
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