This weeks featured author is Belinda Nicoll, and does she have an interesting story to tell and wonderful advice for aspiring authors! Sit down with your cup of coffee and get to know her!
What inspired you to write?
I grew up in South Africa in an era of storytelling as television viewing wasn’t an option. The National Party (apartheid) government of the time saw television as a potential threat to their control of the broadcasting media—nationwide service only commenced in the mid-70s. Injustice aside, listening to the radio, reading books, telling stories and stargazing were our main forms of home entertainment. I guess it was thanks to this influence that I excelled at literature as a high school student. My formal writing career started as a copywriter in the advertising industry. While I loved the creative process and being part of an innovative team, I really wanted to tell stories. But that opportunity, ironically, only presented itself years later as a compulsory career change, details of which form part of my memoir: Out of Sync.
What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you?
My first published book is a memoir. It chose me through the circumstances of my expatriation from South Africa to the United States in 2001. It was a period of upheaval in my life: a divorce and empty nest followed by an unexpected romance, an expatriation motivated by my second husband’s career, arriving in the U.S. on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and multiple relocations and career changes over the next ten years thanks to a declining global economy. Working as a life coach for a big part during this period, I was familiar with the dynamics of change, so I decided to write about the impact my own transformation together with the changes in a post-apartheid South Africa and post-9/11 America had on my life, career and relationships.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I make myself comfortable in front of the computer with my first cup of coffee as early at 7am. I break for a gym session or a walk either late morning or early afternoon; I try to be disciplined about this as all-day sitting tends to take it’s toll on my body. There was a time when I’d work some more after dinner and over weekends, but these days I’m more inclined to give myself a break from the computer by catching up on reading, watching TV, going to movies with my husband and socializing with friends. As much as I sometimes allow myself to become preoccupied with a writing project, I believe the world’s obsession with work is more a need to be fashionable than a necessity and has given rise to blatant abuse in the workplace. Everyone seems to be driven by deadlines and social media obligations. Meanwhile, the world is engulfed by information. Have we lost our awareness of the need for balance?
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I tend to over-think things before committing thoughts to paper.
Are you a pantser or plotter?
I am so NOT a pantser!
Are your stories based on experiences or someone you know, or are events in your own life reflected in the characters/stories you write? Can you share an example?
In the case of my memoir, I’d probably answer YES to both questions. I guess my work-in-progress novel can be considered historical fiction, though I’m exploring both historical events and universal concepts. The Anglo-Boer war in South Africa and Hurricane Katrina would be two historical events that feature in my book; the concepts of war, rape and intergenerational shame are examples of universal phenomena that I’m exploring.
Do you have any suggestions to help new authors become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Think things through: What are your real motivations for writing? What type of writer do you want to be seen as? What kind of stories would you like to be known for? What can you do to ensure that your writing rises above the clutter, and jewels, out there? Do you aspire to entertain, educate or change the world? Understanding yourself better can only lead to works of greater depth.
Are you self-pubbed, indie pubbed, or traditionally pubbed?
I am an Indie author. At one point, my manuscript was under serious consideration; in the end, it did not crack a sale—the writing was already on the wall with regards an industry collapse. I wanted to move on, not only with my book but my career. I don’t regret my decision at all. I don’t expect a literary agent or publisher to back an author unless they feel passionate about the project, but that the chances of perfectly capable newbie authors are jeopardized by the industry’s greed is despicable.
What are your current projects?
I’m working on the novel that I’ve describe above as well as a creative writing guide, which is my first priority and should be published by the end of the year.
About the Author:
Belinda Nicoll is originally from South Africa. She expatriated to the United States in 2001 and has been a citizen since 2010. She holds a BA degree in the social sciences and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Belinda was a talent agent and drama coach before venturing into the advertising world as copywriter. These days, she works as a freelance writer and teacher of creative writing. She’s an active blogger, and her favorite subject to explore and write about is change.
In 2001, when a couple leaves South Africa for a stay abroad, they land at JFK International Airport on September 11th, unprepared for the sight of smoke billowing from the Manhattan skyline or the horror of a second plane exploding into the North Tower.
Over the next ten years, as their host country confronts fundamental change of its own, their marriage buckles under the strain of their disparate experiences. With the international economic crisis making it all but impossible for them to return to their country, they relocate from California to the North, the South, and the Midwest searching for a place they can call home.
Out of Sync is an insightful tale about marital endurance that promises to enthrall anyone, expatriate or not, who has ever felt at odds with themselves or the world.
Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!