If you’ve been around here very long, you’ll already know Nicole. She was an early and frequent participant in 5MinuteFiction, back when it lived here. But life got busy for me with the release of Fighting Gravity, and I asked for someone to take care of and look after my baby, 5MinuteFiction, and love it like it deserved. Well, Nicole has been doing that for over a year now. In fact, with the release of her new novel, The Trajectory of Dreams, she’s passing the baton as well. But more on that later.
Because now we’ve got a 5MinuteInterview with Nicole, and at the end, there are PRIZES!!
You’ve got a novel out now, The Trajectory of Dreams, give us your novel pitch in 140 characters.
The Trajectory of Dreams is billed as a psychological thriller. Where do you think your interest in things creepy or frightening started?
Rumor has it that my father forced my mother (and me, of course) to see The Exorcist at a drive-in movie theatre when I was about a year old. I don’t remember the experience, but I think it sort of set me up for a lifetime of being warped. I also grew up in a very rural area–it’s just way too quiet, and there’s a cornfield next to the house where I grew up. Bad things happen in quiet cornfields . . . or at least I always imagined it that way. So I guess I blame my hometown (Berwick, PA) for making me the twisted woman I am today.
One of your non-writing related pursuits is promoting locally grown foods and sustainable living. Tell us a little bit about this.
My grandparents were dairy farmers for a lot of years, so I grew up hearing about how hard it is to farm. A lot of people, and I was one of them, never think about the difference between small farmers and commercial growing operations, and we really never think about the chemicals commercial food producers use or about they way they treat their animals. After I moved away from my hometown and finally learned to cook, I started reading about commercial food production, and it wasn’t comforting. It’s more than just food miles or supporting your local economy or keeping smaller farmers afloat–it’s really an issue of biodiversity and food safety on a mass scale. I started gardening (in the heart of South Philly, no less), growing a small portion of my food, and trying to find a greater portion of my food grown by small producers from the immediate area. At the time, it wasn’t easy, so I founded Farm to Philly in 2007, a website devoted to locally grown foods and sustainable living. There are about half a dozen writers or so, and we write about everything from federal and local food policies to local farm markets. It’s been a real thrill to see Philadelphia become a food town devoted to keeping our local artisan food producers afloat and be a part of all that’s happened.
For a year or so, you’ve hosted 5MinuteFiction. How was that experience and what do you think you, and the participants, got out of it?
When I inherited 5 Minute Fiction from you, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d been submitting entries while it was hosted here, and I think I guest-hosted once or twice, but you never really know what it’s going to be like to take over something so established. It’s been really great to host–I’ve met some amazing people and had fantastic opportunities because of it. I will say that I missed participating, though, which never feels possible–I’m such a worrywart, I’m always camped out over my email in case anyone has trouble submitting! When I was a participant when you hosted, though, and I assume this is true of all participants, it was a rare chance to think fast and make snap decisions without any consequences. There’s a freedom to being forced to just blurt things onto the page without obsessing about it. My writing got sharper, or at least I’d like to think so! Now that the care and feeding of 5 Minute Fiction has passed to Wendy Strain, I hope I have some time to play again!
Many thanks for the interview, Leah!
And now, Prizes! Enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card. So get on that!