Interview & Giveaway: Nicole Maggi Gives us 3 Tips for New Writers

Nicole Maggi Author PhotoAbout 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 encourage

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.

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WTDK CoverAbout What They Don’t Know

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.

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The Interview

  1. How many unpublished or half-written works/books do you have lying around?

    I have one complete unpublished manuscript and one half-written book. This does not include the truly dreadful fantasy romance novel that I wrote in high school because I was bored in my German class (why oh why did I take German?) and is contained in 3 spiral notebooks. I actually can’t find those notebooks; I’ve lost track of them in one of my moves over the years. So if you happen to come across them, you could have some serious blackmail material there. The unpublished manuscript was the first real book I wrote, and it was good enough to get me my agent, but it didn’t sell. It was historical fiction, a sort of female Huck Finn set on the Lewis & Clark expedition. I have a real soft spot in my heart for that book and maybe someday I’ll return to it.

  2. Would you say that other authors help you become a better writer? If so, how/who has helped you the most?

    Back in 2009, I answered a Craig’s List ad for someone who wanted to start a critique group. That someone turned out to be my best friend and fellow YA author, Romina Garber (author of the Zodiac series under the name Romina Russell). That ad really was a stroke of fortune, because Romina and I just hit it off; we often joke that we are twin brains because we think so much alike. For a while we had a full-fledged critique group, but it’s since disbanded because people moved away or got too busy. Romina and I still meet up regularly though, and of course we’re bouncing ideas off each other all the time. Other writers that have been so helpful to me are Jen Klein (author of Shuffle, Repeat and Summer Unscripted), who was once a member of the critique group, and Gretchen McNeil (author of Ten and #MurderTrending) who has just been a wonderful guiding light in my career.

  3. What motivates you to keep going? And how do you deal with discouraging thoughts or fears during the writing process?

    Those discouraging thoughts are so common among writers; we call it “imposter syndrome.” I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I don’t have doubts about my writing. The trick is to write above them. It’s like that Emily Dickinson quote: “If your Nerve, deny you, go above your Nerve.” You have to write above your fear. After a while, the act of writing will drown out the fears. The fears are just the little peons clamoring for attention. You’re the boss, and you’re fearless.

  4. How did you get the idea to write What They Don’t Know in the form of journal entries?

    When I first started writing What They Don’t Know, I wrote it in narrative format, and it just felt SO WRONG. I tried to force it into that format for six months. Finally, I was complaining about it to my husband (who is a great springboard for my ideas) and he suggested I try writing it like a journal.
    The idea sparked a memory in me. When I was in college, I had to keep a journal for one of my acting classes and turn it into my professor at the end of the semester. A few years ago when we were cleaning out some boxes in our shed I found the journal. I was shocked the kind of intimate and deeply personal things I wrote in there for my teacher to read! So I decided to not only have Mellie & Lise keep a journal, but that they are writing the journal TO someone. I scrapped 35,000 words and started over, this time writing in the journal format. It immediately felt right. I was able to access Mellie & Lise’s voices so much easier.

  5. How do you get your inspiration? What was the inspiration behind this book?

    I like to say inspiration comes from everywhere. It can come from news article, a billboard (that’s how the entire sex-trafficking subplot was born in my previous novel, The Forgetting), just anything in the world around us. For this book, I wanted to write about a female friendship and how powerful they can be, especially when girls choose to lift each other up instead of tear each other down. Then a passing comment from my agent about abortion sparked the “What If” question that most books start with.

    What if two girls on the opposite side of the abortion debate are thrown together because the anti-choice girl needs an abortion, and the pro-choice girl is in a particular position to help her? I wrote from there.

  6. And of course, what would an author interview be without any tips for someone trying to become a full-time journalist/writer/author?

    I have 3 pieces of advice:

  • Read. Read A LOT. And read outside of the genre you are writing.
  • Don’t be so quick to show your work to anyone. I like to think of my writing as a glass ball. When I first get it down on paper, it’s very fragile and the tiniest critique–even one that’s highly constructive–could break the ball if I’m not ready to hear it. So I wait until I know that glass is unbreakable and I’m ready to get feedback on it before I show it to anyone.
  • Some people say “write every day” but I find that advice kind of abusive. I mean, there are just some days where you can’t write! So what I like to say instead is do something creative every day. That can be as small as cooking something, taking a walk and noticing how many shades of green you see along the way, or doodling on your notepad.

Thanks for taking the time to speak to us today Nicole!

The Giveaway

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