If you missed my interview with Nicole from February 6, 2010 on her last novel, Saving Cicadas, you can read it here. That post also has a good bit of biological info, which I’ll skip here and get right to the “interview”—3 Q & A’s with Nicole Seitz:
P&P: Hi, Nicole. Thanks for taking time to answer a few questions for my readers again. If you don’t mind, I’m going to take a bit of a different tact with these questions—focusing more on the craft of writing than the story itself, especially since quite a few of my readers here (and on Facebook) are emerging or established writers themselves. So, let’s get started with a question about tense and point of view.
I like the way you wrote each section through the voice and point of view of a different major character—George, Magnolia, Joe, and Annie. I’m doing this same thing with my novel-in-progress, so it was fun and helpful to see how this worked in your book. But I have two questions about your technique here. (1) Why did you choose to write the flashback sections in present tense rather than in past tense? and (2) Why did you write the two sections (in chapters 40 and 46) subtitled “Joe” in third person rather than in first person, the way you wrote the sections featuring the other main characters?
NS: The flashback scenes are written in present tense because they are in Magnolia’s mind and Magnolia LIVES in the past. The two sections of Joe are in third person because he is more removed from the world and from himself than Magnolia is. In many ways, he’s living a third-person life with senility.
P&P: Wow. He’s “living a third-person life with senility.” That’s a powerful answer, Nicole. I’m thinking now about my own mother, who is in a nursing home, with Alzheimer’s. Okay, on to my next question:
I’m intrigued by your “Additional Author Note” at the end, where you acknowledge some of the real, historical people, who inspired two of your characters, and the real locations that are fictionalized for the book. Again, part of my novel-in-progress is set in Macon, Georgia, so this is particularly interesting to me. Did you consider that your readers would recognize these people and places, making the book of greater interest in so doing? Or, is the Additional Author Note simply a way to acknowledge and thank your sources?
NS: You said it well. Here, the additional author note was a way for me to acknowledge and thank my sources, but also to let people know there are actual facts they can research if their interest is piqued by the book. I always have little facets of truth in my books that become fictionalized. As a reader, I’m always interested in those little kernels of truth.
P&P: We discussed this next question in my interview from a year ago, but it keeps cropping up—it’s about genre. Once again it seems that some folks at Amazon are insisting on calling you a “Christian author,” although your books are, as you said in our last interview, “character-driven novels, often with a touch of magical realism—part myth, part Southern drama, part mystery.” What do you think Southern authors have to do to prevent folks from putting you in a box, trying to isolate you from the realm of upmarket literary fiction, even when your ISBN number is listed under “Fiction/General/General”? Do you think your spirituality scares them, or what?
NS: Susan, I wish I had a good answer for you. Part of it is that my publisher, Thomas Nelson, is KNOWN as a Christian publisher, so bookstores and book vendors label the work as such, no matter what the ISBN says. For me, I simply try to write the best book I can (often crossing genres and often ruffling all sorts of feathers), and I don’t worry about who labels it what.
P&P: I noticed this one reviewer (who reads 450 books a year!) ended her February 6 review of The Inheritance of Beauty this way: “Interesting note: even though this book is published by Thomas Nelson (a known Christian publisher) I don’t feel this book is Christian fiction at all.”
Thanks so much for taking time to “chat” with us today, Nicole. Your writing inspires me, on many levels. I hated missing Girlfriend Weekend this year—mostly for the opportunity to visit with you, and to see what kind of cute costume you came up with this time! I wish you great publishing success with The Inheritance of Beauty.