Please welcome author Nicole R. Dickson to Into Another World.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a native of California and a child of the West. I also would say I have wandering feet. From the time I was born, we moved around a lot on the West coast, from city to city, house to house. If I look at it, the longest I’ve lived in any one place in my life is the house I am in here in North Carolina – nine years, which is very long for me. Did you ever read Chocolat? See the movie? That main character is how I feel – a woman in a red cape holding her daughter by the hand and hearing the North wind call her to join its wayward journey. That’s me – the wayfaring stranger.
What or who inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always been a storyteller since I was little. I was always in my head somewhere else, living in a world of my creation, built on the world around me. In college, I had professors suggest I pursue a career in writing, but I just didn’t have it in me at the time to sit down and write. I didn’t have that discipline. Everything changed with the death of my mother. I realized how short our lives are and how precious are the stories of the people that surround us. Somehow, right then, I figured out how to put a story together and had the focus to actually write it down hour after hour.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Like I said, I’m a storyteller. Always have been. Writing takes discipline, which I never had really. I’ve always written, of course, but never finished anything except poetry. Then I took to writing children’s stories. Always something short so I didn’t have to commit – my motto in writing. The stories were always in my head, though. So, with my mother’s death, I started writing down what was in my mind day after day, week after week. I’d tell a good friend of mine over and over again how I wanted to be a writer. It was such a longing and such an impossible dream to be one. Then, one day in one of our conversations, she turned to me and said, “Nicci, you are a writer. What is a writer if not someone who writes, which you do all the time.” That day was an eye opener for sure – a complete shift in how I saw myself. It changed how I spoke to myself. I didn’t want to be a writer. I was a writer. I am a writer.
Do you outline your books or just start writing?
Actually, I don’t. Different writers have different ways to forge a story. In college, when the professors would say I should take up a career in writing, I always said no precisely because I hated outlining stories. I didn’t like structure like that because it totally snuffed out the lightness of my imagination. So now, I couldn’t write an outline to any of my stories to save my life. That said, what I always do have is the end. Once I have the end, I can start and I have a meandering path to walk to that end. It’s a journey filled with surprises and miracles and wisdom born elsewhere and funneled through my pen. Honestly, I can say I don’t even feel like it is me writing. It is something else – something far wiser and deeper than I can ever be. And I love being with it – listening to it scratch its story on to paper.
What kind of research did you do for this book?
Here and Again takes place now but also has a storyline back in the Civil War. I’ve been wandering around the Civil War for a very long time, so I had a great deal of the research completed when I started. I guess you could say, I spent eleven years or more researching for this book. I also spent that much time waiting for a story to come that took place in the Civil War. I wanted to write one, but had to wait for it. Finally it came, which was such a fantastic road to walk down. I was also lucky that it came when my wandering feet brought me to North Carolina. I was in the vicinity of all the great battles of the Eastern theater and I walked many of them. I also have realized I’m not done with this time in our history, though. I sense I’ve got a couple others yet to come from that time.
Have you started your next project? If so, can you tell us bit about your next book?
Currently, I am working on a novel that deals with Sherman’s Special Field Orders , No. 15, which, back in the Civil War, was a military order that allotted 40 acres (and a mule but that is questionable) to the newly freed black slaves in Georgia, South Carolina, and several other states. This history has become the tale the Red family of Antres Vast, Georgia tells each generation as to how they came to own the property on which they live and that same 40 acres is now at the center of a major family battle. As with most family stories, the telling changes in time and is rarely reflective of the reality way back when. In fact, sometimes family history is nothing but a myth and the truth is deeper, darker, and more defining of who we are than even we ourselves can possibly imagine.
For nurse Ginger Martin, her late husband’s farm is both a treasured legacy and the harbinger of an uncertain future. Since he was recently killed in Iraq, every day is fraught with grief that won’t abate. Keeping the farm going and nourishing her children’s hopes without him seems as impossible as having dreams for the future—or going back into the past…
By a curious coincidence, a stranger appears in Ginger’s life, always showing up to help in unexpected and much-needed ways. He says he’s a soldier, lost and trying to make his way home, but Ginger understands that Samuel is a kindred spirit, longing to repair a life interrupted. The challenges of their hopes and longings will test who they really are in the most heartbreaking of ways. And only by coming to terms with their losses and the necessity of change will Ginger and Samuel be able to each make a future of their own—and discover at last where their true home lies…
Author Nicole R. Dickson creates an indelible, delicate world filled with heartbreak and hope, seamlessly weaving past and present, and tying together the personal price we pay for legacy, war and duty.
About the Author
Nicole R. Dickson is the author of two novels, the first of which, Casting Off (2009), was a top ten entry in the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2008. Additionally, as a business executive, she writes essays on leadership and defining brand. An avid student of history, she can most often be found buried in that section of the library and finds many of the books there follow her home to rest on her bedside table. Here and Again is her second novel.