It is always exciting to celebrate a debut novel from an author, and today, I’m delighted to feature Nichelle Seely on my blog. Below are her responses to my interview questions, followed by her bio, contact information, and buy links.
First off, congratulations on the publication of your debut P.I. novel, A Memory of Murder. Please tell our readers about your book and what inspired you to write it.
Ex-homicide detective Audrey Lake moves to a small town after a traumatic undercover assignment, but she starts having visions of a woman being attacked and forcibly drowned. She doesn’t know if she’s going insane or if the visions are of something real or just hallucinations. I’m interested in mental health issues, so I chose to give Audrey PTSD. The novel is as much about her coming to terms with her past as it is about solving the case. In addition, she has a budding psychic ability brought on by the trauma. She can’t always distinguish between the two, which adds complication; plus, she has a dim view of psychics in general. In this novel, her ability has barely emerged, and she is very confused by it. My intentions are for this ability to not be a superpower, but a source of complication in future cases. It helps, but also hinders, meaning that she may ‘see’ something psychically, but she still has to gather evidence.
I know that you are also an architect. Has your work in architecture influenced your fiction writing?
Absolutely, especially in the description of setting: the ‘built environment’ in archi-speak. One of the characteristics of Astoria is the rich architectural history. I’m probably more aware of architectural details than your average person, which is why I made Audrey’s mother an architect, so she has a good reason to be a little more knowledgeable.
Have you always been interested in writing as well as architecture? What drew you to writing fiction?
My interest in literature predates my interest in architecture. I’ve always been a reader, and my first degree was in English. When no lucrative career was forthcoming (I didn’t want to teach), I got a second degree in architecture. In addition, my mother and grandmother were writers, and my sister is as well. So writing has always been a thing.
What books/authors inspired you as a child? As an adult?
As a child, I read everything. There wasn’t the wide field of children’s literature as there is now, but I loved Madeline L’Engle and Tolkien. On the mystery side, I liked the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown and Three Investigators. Children’s books then featured mostly boys, which is one reason I liked L’Engle’s stories with girls as the MCs so much. When I had plowed my way through the available kids’ books at the library, I started reading books for adults. My parents were also readers, so I sampled Agatha Christie and other mystery writers through my mom and science fiction through my dad. Today, I still read across genres. My favorite mystery author is Tana French. She could write a shopping list and I would read it.
Tell us about your writing process: Are you a plotter, a pantser, or someone in-between?
I used to be a pantser, but it took me forever (years!) to finish a story. I realized that if I wanted to make writing my profession I needed to produce faster. So I plotted A Memory of Murder loosely, and then more tightly as the broad outlines of the story came clear. So I’m in-between but trying actively to be more of a plotter.
Are any of your characters or their experiences drawn from real life?
No, although I know a couple of people with PTSD who were willing to share their experiences so I could portray that accurately. One friend was also very open about her experiences in therapy, so I used that background to inform the psychotherapist character, Phoebe Rutherford.
What are you currently working on writing-wise?
The sequel to A Memory of Murder, and also I’m revising a fantasy novel which is much too long, so I’m pulling it apart into three separate books. I’ve also got a couple of short stories on the back burner.
What advice would you give aspiring fiction writers?
Read, read, read. Write, write, write. There is no short cut to developing your craft. And you don’t need a degree. I started an MFA in creative writing, but left the program when I realized it wasn’t actually helping me become a better writer. I’ve since gotten more and better training from webinars, books, and conferences. The resources are out there.
When you’re not writing or working on an architecture project, what do you enjoy doing?
I like being outside, walking in the woods or on the beach. I like playing games and cooking, usually with my husband. Anything to get away from the screen!
Anything else you’d like to add, or wish I’d asked that I didn’t?
Are you ready for the soap box? People ask me all the time why I chose self-publishing. There’s several reasons, but mostly, I like being independent. In architecture, there’s a huge basket of influencers: building codes, city officials, and contractors, not to mention the client. Writing is something I do for myself, and my readers. I didn’t want to introduce another whole industry of people to please.
Thanks so much for visiting today, Nichelle!
Nichelle Seely is a writer and architect living on the Oregon coast with her husband. She has been writing since she was a child. An eclectic reader, she dips into almost all the fiction genres and also a fair amount of non-fiction. She loves the outdoors, walking in the woods or on the beach, and bicycling. In the rainy winter she enjoys playing games, including a mean hand of cribbage. She has a B.A. in English, a Master’s degree in architecture, and half of an MFA in creative writing.
Nichelle Seely | Author of Audrey Lake Investigations
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You can purchase A Memory of Murder at: Amazon