I was lucky enough to join Nicole on a panel at the New York Comic Con in 2014 and we got to chatting a bit during out signing. When not a super cool writer, she’s and associate professor at Seaton Hall where she directs their MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. Her Jane True series follows Jane True (spoiler alert) as she deals with life as a selkie. Her most recent book, Jinn and Juice, is the first book in a series about a cursed jinni living in Pittsburgh. Dr. Peeler’s bio expressly states that she also lives in Pittsburgh, but is neither cursed, nor a jinni.
Welcome to the pub, Dr. Peeler. What are you drinking?
A Blood and Sand, sir. One of my favorites.
I have to say, that’s remarkably fitting.
Now, your bio says you live in Pittsburgh but are neither a jinni or cursed. Me thinks thou doth protest too much. Jinn and Juice is actually a cleverly disguised autobiography, isn’t it? It’s okay, I promise not to try and get any wishes out of you.
Ha! You’ve caught me. It’s all true. Although now I will have to kill you…
If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
You graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston U, and got your Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh, right? Did you set out to make everyone of your students feel instantly inferior upon meeting you, or did that just happen as a happy coincidence? As a follow up, do you assign your own books as required reading, and are you open to bribes to assign other author’s books?
I don’t need my credentials to make students feel inferior as I have mastered the art of the Academic Stink Face. And I do not assign my own books, although I do have my students read one of my short stories. As for bribes, expensive whisky may get you somewhere. No promises though.
We’ll talk after this interview.
For the main character in your award winning Jane True series, you made her a selkie, a creature of Celtic myth that is a seal in the water and a human on the land. What inspired you to make this choice, a pretty wide divergence from the norm?
I knew I wanted to write a non-kickass heroine who could show how “normal” women are sill pretty kickass, even without ninja chopping enemies in the face. A selkie was perfect, obviously. Plus the myths are always super sad so she came with a built in backstory, which is always handy.
Convenient and profound all in one. Nicely done, Doctor.
Do you have any requirements for your writing process: silence, music, a foppish hat with a large feather, a team of contortionists performing an intricate tumbling routine, penguins serving you blue M&M’s, etc?
Nope. I’m a professional, son. I just git ‘er done.
And right now there is an author weeping into a bowl of blue M&M’s at being called unprofessional. *slides bowl of blue M&M’s away*
One would assume that being a professor, that you’re very structured in your writing. Is that the case? Do you outline meticulously, or are you a seat of your pants kind of writer?
I’m very structured, although I’ve learned to be less so as I’ve gotten more experienced. It’s funny, all the pantster friends I started out with have become more structured, and all us plotters have become less rigid. I think we all have to find our own personal sweet spot between productivity and creativity, especially if we’re writing popular fiction.
Excellent Buddha-esque answer.
You’ve been published now for about six years, is that right? What bits of wisdom would you share with new writers like myself?
Don’t take yourself too seriously; we’re all just storytellers. Social media is a quagmire and doesn’t make you a bestseller, unless you’re willing to continually stuff its insatiable maw with your own flesh. Instead of worrying about stuff you can’t control, keep writing. Listen to feedback; other people are your audience. That sort of thing.
I think that might be the best description of social media I’ve ever read. That really needs to be on a mug or something.
Does it annoy you to constantly be asked for advice?
Only when it’s really someone asking me to tell them “the secret” and they don’t want to hear that a lot of work is the secret.
Yeah…but we both know what the secret really is.
What would you say are the best parts of being a published author? Were any of those things the best part when you first were published, or has it changed over time? What would you say has been the single best moment thus far?
I still get a kick out of seeing my book on shelves, although the first time is really magical. And the biggest thrill has been becoming friends with people I really admire and have fangrrrled over. That’s rad.
I’m glad to know the excitement of seeing your book on a shelf doesn’t get old.
Your book, at least the Jane True books, have some incredibly steamy moments. Does your mother read your books?
Yes, AND she is super pervy about Anyan, especially. It’s horrible.
I’m so very sorry. Thanksgiving must be a delight for you.
Current favorite manly eyecandy?
Tom Hardy for sure. Mad Max was everything I’ve ever wanted in life.
Really? I liked him better as Handsome Bob in RocknRolla.
You’re an award winning author, seemingly respectable (I promise not to mention the burlesque knife routine); do you still geek out when meeting other authors, or have you reached a point where you see them all as colleagues?
OMG I still totally geek out, but within reason. I never want to lose my ability to get excited, you know? On the other hand, you do have to pull your shit together so you can actually talk to the person without humping their leg.
Whew, I’m glad I’m not the only one who ever—You were be facetious, weren’t you? Damn.
What is the best comment you’ve gotten from a fan (in person or electronic)?
“THESE BOOKS ARE JUST PORN.”
That still cracks me up, not least because if this person thinks my books are porn, I can’t imagine her reaction if she ever saw actual porn.
Please allow me to apologize on behalf on my grandmother for that.
You posted a blog piece debunking common myths about published writers (viewable here and worth a read). In it you talk about how much you enjoy teaching and that you wouldn’t want to give it up even if you did make crazy good money from your writing. How do you strike the balance between writing, day job, and a life in general?
I work really hard when I’m working, but I also prioritize taking care of myself and nurturing my relationships. If that means I can’t write four books a year, I’m fine with that. I’ve also gotten better at saying “no,” to myself as well as to others. I also have really great people in my life who forcibly remove my own head from my ass, if need be.
It takes a good friend to help in undoing a cranial-rectal-inversion.
You seem to be a big fan of Write or Die, what mode do you work on? It’s kamikaze, isn’t it?
Dude, Write or Die is the absolute BEST. I write all my books in it and can’t recommend it highly enough. And yes, obviously Kamikaze mode.
I’ll hold on to that answer in case you ever need to plead insanity at a trial.
What are your plans with the series? Anything in the works that might interest readers?
Right now I’m working on Something Completely Different. And world domination, naturally.
Well naturally and good luck to you on that, and thanks for stopping by, Grand Lord Peeler.
Nicole’s the author of truly excellent books including: Tempest Rising, Tracking the Tempest, Tempest’s Legacy, Eye of the Tempest, Tempest’s Fury, Tempest Reborn, Jinn and Juice, as well as short stories and novellas. You can find her online at her urban fantasy emporium.