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Author Interview

Photographer is Wild Kind Photography

How did you become a writer?

Stories have always been part of me. I remember being ten years old, staying awake late most nights reading novels or dreaming up original stories. I started writing poetry at eleven and fell madly in love with the art of painting pictures with words. As an adult, I've used those stories to work in marketing, as a photographer, as well as a screenwriter and director of short films.

In 2020, like many people, I found myself without a job, lonely, and in need of a creative outlet. That's when I stumbled upon the wonderful world of fan fiction. One night, I decided to write down one of the stories spinning in my head and posted it to AO3. Soon I had an amazing fandom community rallying around my fics and cheering me on. Not long after that, a few of my fandom friends and I started a writing group to work on original fiction, and here we are!

What inspires you to write?

People. I love hearing people's stories, struggles, and lessons learned. I love writing stories that people can relate to on a deep level while making them laugh out loud in the process. Quite often, I'm inspired by my own strange dreams. I have a whole folder of notes on my phone containing foggy story ideas I wake up with. I also find nature, music, art, and poetry deeply inspiring.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

Once I have a general idea for the story, my next questions are: Who are my characters? How are they flawed? What do they need to learn? Then I craft a plot with the tension needed to guide them into that growth. I also enjoy digging into psychology and the enneagram to get ideas for developing more layered characters.

I would call myself a discovery writer who likes a good map. I like to create the sandbox before I play in it. To do that, I use the Save The Cat method for plotting, writing out beat sheets, and creating character profiles before I start drafting. This gives me a solid starting point, though inevitably, by the end of my first draft, I've learned so much about and from my characters that the story takes on a life of its own.

Could you share some of your challenges as a writer?

Writing can be an isolating craft, and while the introvert in me loves that, the people-lover in me craves human interaction. That's why I love my writing groups and connecting with other writers on social media.

As far as the craft of writing, endings are always my biggest challenge. I always go into a story with an idea of how I want it to end, but that third act always takes the longest for me to wrap up.

Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness?

My story is dual-perspective, so I'll go with my FMC for this question because she is very close to my heart and a lot like I was at her age.

Lainey Starr is seventeen. She is a dreamer with a fast-paced imagination, an awkward girl who never feels like she quite fits in, a loyal friend, and a hopeless romantic. She loves music, coffee, food, art, and the beach. Lainey's biggest plans for the summer before her senior year are to write a song for the competition her friend entered her into, and to watch her favorite band play live. More specifically, she plans to watch their drummer from the back of a dimly lit venue, where there's no risk of him noticing her. (Don't worry, it's not stalking, more like pining from the shadows.) Because if she talked to him, she'd only humiliate herself like she did the first time they met, or worse, he might not actually be as perfect in real life as he is in her daydreams.

I loved writing Lainey because she's quirky, witty, and charming. As a young girl with ADHD, She always has ten thousand things happening in her brain at once and often feels out of place, behind in some way, or simply misunderstood. I find so much joy in writing her inner monologue because it's off the rails at times. She honestly cracks me up, and I relate to her so deeply.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Don't let the idea or goal of perfection stop you. Perfect doesn't exist.

Your talent isn't going to match your taste for a long time. Let that drive you rather than hold you back.

LOVE YOUR WORK. Even if you know you can do better. Even if it doesn't look like someone else's, love it anyway. You made it! It's amazing!

Find a writing/critique group. Giving and receiving critiques is an amazing way to learn.

READ. Read all genres, and soak in how the stories are being told. What works? What doesn't?

Become a student of storytelling craft.

* What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?

Tiktok: @nichole_gibbons

Threads: @nicholegibbonswrites


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