Tuesday, November 19, 2013
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Nadine Keels
1. When did you decide to start writing professionally and why?
This lifelong bookworm and writer wrote her first complete book,Yella’s Prayers, at the age of seventeen, and while I did intend to get it published at some point, I didn’t see myself as a “real author” who qualified for publishing yet. Professional writing came in the picture in 2009, after I self-published (with a team of helpers!) my first book of poetry, The Song of Nadine. I was having all kinds of trouble getting a job, but I knew I was a good writer and a good editor to boot, so I founded my communication company, Prismatic Prospects, to offer editing services to other authors, and I got Yella’s Prayers published some months later. A cycle took off from there, where I’d spend months applying for jobs and come up empty-handed, so I’d write and publish a book; then more months of no-go’s on jobs, so I’d write and publish a book… Today, I’m writing and publishing because I’ve accepted the fact that I’m simply a writer, through and through, and since other authors have helped me so much through their literature, I in turn want to use my literature to help people.
2. What would you be doing if you weren't writing?
Not living, probably. I write to live and live to write. Even if I wasn’t publishing, I’d still be writing. It’s just in me to do it.
3. What authors inspired you when you were younger? What authors inspire you today?
From my childhood into my young adult years, I was most inspired by Beverly Cleary, with her Ramona books and more, and by L.M. Montgomery and her Emily books. I could see so much of myself in Ramona and Emily, and what better experience for readers than for them to see themselves in the literature they read? Today, I’m still inspired by Montgomery’s timelessness, as well as Henry James and Davis Bunn for their command of language, Janette Oke for the simple ways she can get at a reader’s heart, and J.E. Keels for how he can take you on a philosophical trip in such an entertaining way that you don’t feel like the trip was hundreds and hundreds of pages long.
4. Where do you see yourself and your career in the next ten years?
Still writing, still publishing, and with a whole lot more readers whose lives I’m helping, if it is to be. I also plan to have a screenplay or two under my belt, since some of my literature would do well to be put on the screen. I’m about as big a film lover as I am a bibliophile.
5. What was the inspiration for The Movement Of Crowns?
I started drafting scenes for The Movement of Crowns while I was a senior in high school, at the same time I was tinkering with my initial versions of Yella’s Prayers. I was inspired by the thought that although my generation was young, we weren’t precluded from aiming toward greatness. It’s taken some years of growth, as a writer and a human being, for me to be able to convey the Crowns story as I see it.
6. Why did you decide to write a sequel [The Movement Of Rings]?
I decided to write The Movement of Rings one spring afternoon this year when the idea and the basic plot just hit me all at once, something that doesn’t happen to me with most of my stories. I’m usually pretty open to the thought of sequels, in case I want to revisit a world or characters I’ve created, and one day I was intrigued with the notion of telling the “other side” of the Crowns story, where Munda is concerned. Hence, out came the Rings.
7. I loved the strong characters in Crowns. Were they based on real poeple or wholly imaginary?
I have a way of putting myself and other people I know into my characters, whether intentionally or by accident, but as far as The Movement of Crowns goes, I didn’t intentionally base the characters on anyone in particular. I undertook the task of imagining how people living in an “epic” time and setting might think, speak, and feel, and they began to just seem like people, to me. Human beings with human thoughts, emotions, aspirations, and hopes I wanted to write about. Besides one short story I wrote , from my book Love & Eminence: A Suite of Stories), writing Crowns would be my first time serving as an interpreter for a group of characters, since Diachonians and those in kingdoms neighboring them don’t speak English. It was something of a challenge to reconcile the “epic” way that educated people from another time might express themselves with the relaxed language they were bound to use sometimes, as human beings tend to do, but making the attempt was fun for me.
8. Constance is a very tough, mature girl. Did she start out as being so determined or was she a different sort of character?
I pretty much always saw Constance the way she is as a character, though she started off with a different name in the first scenes I drafted as a teenager. The name “Constance” turned out to fit her better, being a solid match for her personality as well as being a suitable choice for the sentiment her parents would have put into naming her, a sentiment the reader should have a good idea of by the end of the book.
9. In Crowns, the council is reluctant to accept Constance because she is a very young female, but she perseveres. Did you want to make a statement about women's rights and the equality of the sexes?
Yes, I wanted to make a statement about equality as well as ability and genius. People spend so much of their lives hearing about how they’re not male enough or not female enough, they’re too rich or too poor, too short or too tall, too black or too white, too smart or too stupid, too fat or too thin, too young or too old, and the list goes on. Yet, when you have genius for something, you have it, and there must be some way you can and should put that genius to work, no matter what race, body type, era, or whatever else you've been born into. Beyond standing as the “radiant symbol of all that is still hopeful and pure” about Diachona, Constance has a genius to lead, and she’s determined to put that genius to work for the benefit of the world she lives in.
10. Constance gets two suitable men (the prince from Reêh and Chieftain Greenly), but only wants Commander Staid Alexander. Was their relationship always obvious or did it surprise you, as the author, as it developed?
I knew about Constance and Staid from the get-go. Their first scene together, in Topaz’s marketplace, was the first scene I drafted of the story, when I was seventeen.
11. Queen Grace suffers from a form of mental strain, known now as depression or, as a deeper form, social dissociation, but improves as the story goes on. What made you want to write in a character like that?
My own past experiences with depression played a part in creating Queen Grace, and I also wanted to use her as a type of symbolic foil for Constance: how even when the circumstances surrounding it may be difficult or painful, grace gives you the space to become yourself.
12. After Rings, will you write more about these characters in the future?
I’m working on the third and final book of the Crowns series now, planning to have it finished this coming winter. There’s just a little more this overarching storyline needs to say.
13. You've written numerous other books. Could you pick a favorite or are they like children: you love them all equally?
In a way, it seems like my “favorite” book tends to be whatever I published last, but simultaneously, all of my books retain a favorite status. For instance, Yella’s Prayers is my favorite for being the first book I ever wrote. The Song of Nadine is my favorite for being the first book I ever published. The Order of Things is my favorite for being the first book I ever wrote, designed, and found a way to publish without a personal team telling and showing me how to go about it. The Crowns books are my favorites for being my first series of epic fiction as well as my first series period. I could go on, but all of my books are my “favorites” for different reasons.
14. Are there any other books/stories in the works? Can you give us a little insight if yes?
As I mentioned, I’m writing the third Crowns book, and in it I’m working on something I’ve never had in any of my novels or novellas before: a male protagonist. I love writing male characters as much as female ones, but besides the leading man in a short story of mine ("Come to Yourself", Mr. Jones, also found in Love & Eminence), women have always had the leading roles in my fiction. Yet, after writing about King Matthias, King Aud, Commander Alexander, and some of the other men in the Crowns series, I felt it’d be great to put a man in the lead role of the closing story. And so far, I dig the new dude I’m writing. (*Giggle*—not in a “book boyfriend” way or anything, as I, being my characters’ maker, wind up digging all of them for one reason or another, but, hey, you get it.)
15. Thank you for participating in this interview! Can you please leave the reader with three things that may surprise them about you?
Well, firstly, even with all of my love for, say, Jane Austen and sweetness and romance and Janette Oke-like prairie women stories, I’m a zealous and competitive football fan. (#GoHawks #12thMan #LegionofBoom.) I seriously considered going out for the football team when I was in high school, and if it hadn’t come down to knowing that those guys out there would crush my girly little stick of a body into unrecognizable pieces, I would have done it. Secondly, I love tomatoes—raw tomatoes, cooked tomatoes, tomato-based sauces in pasta and on pizza—but I’m disgusted by the sight and smell of ketchup. Thirdly, I was out walking one day a few years ago when a lady’s big, mean dog got away from her and came chasing after me in the street, barking. The dog ran up behind me, taking a snap at the back of my leg. He missed my actual flesh but got close enough for me to feel the heat of his breath flash across my leg, and his snapping teeth got my jeans wet. I kept on walking, laughing the whole time. I didn’t consider until later that my happy-go-lucky-ish response to almost getting my leg bitten off by a big, hostile beast was probably a strange response indeed.
Find Nadine Keels online via the following: