Welcome, Nicole. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I write stories about everyday people who are faced with extraordinary circumstances. Tragedy is a part of life, and finding hope amid the ruins of an unforeseen disaster--whether personal or communal--is what compels me to write. I believe that life is a fine balance of both devastation and beauty, and I am passionate about pointing out the light that still glimmers from the ashes of a seemingly unredeemable wreckage. It’s all about rising from the ruins, finding hope where none seems possible.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I’ve had a hundred happiest days. My wedding day, the birth of my sons Isaac and Matthias, the day I first held my adopted son Judah, the day I signed my first book contract... The list goes on. One of the happiest days I’ve had recently was the day I finished reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to my two oldest boys. We were curled up on the couch with hot chocolate, and we all got teared up through the final pages. I love sharing things with my kids, and I think that particular afternoon is one that we will all remember forever. Often we believe that the important stuff is the so-called big stuff, but I’m a big fan of living in the details.
How has being published changed your life?
I think the biggest change for me was letting go of my career as a teacher. I was a high school English teacher before I signed my first book contract, and although I was taking a break from teaching to be a stay-at-home mom, I always thought I’d go back to the classroom. Now that I’m writing, I know that will never happen. It was a bittersweet day when I let my teaching license expire.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Juliet by Anne Fortier and loving it! Out of all of Shakespeare’s plays, Romeo and Juliet was my favorite one to teach (high school students get really into it!). It’s fun to read Ms. Fortier’s take on this classic story.
What is your current work in progress?
I kind of have two books on the go right now. I’m editing my next book, Sleeping In Eden (due out in February of 2013), and laying the groundwork for my third contracted book with Howard. Sleeping in
is a mystery that spans three decades, and my current work in progress is a
love story that spans the globe. Eden
What would be your dream vacation?
I want to spend an entire summer on the
. island of Capri
How do you choose your settings for each book?
Most of my books are set in
Northwest Iowa simply because it’s an area that I know
and love. I’ve also used Florida, British Columbia, Alaska,
and most recently West Africa as settings in
my books. Personally, I wouldn’t write about a place I’ve never been. To me,
the atmosphere of a book is too important to guess at.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
I know this sounds kind of uppity, but fame doesn’t really do much for me. I once met Bono, and when I realized it was him I was like: “Hey, Bono.” He said hey back, we smiled, and went our separate ways. So the person I would like to spend time with is someone who is meaningful to me... I have an old friend that I would like to reconnect with, but we live too far apart to make it possible. I’d love to spend an evening sharing a bottle of wine with her.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I love to garden in the summertime, and work on house projects during the winter. My family is also very outdoorsy and we live with our windows open and our feet bare when weather permits. We like to hike, kayak, run, camp, geocache... Pretty much anything we can do outside!
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Finding the time to write. I haven’t overcome it by a long shot--it’s a constant, daily struggle. No matter how hard I try to stick to a schedule, life continues to interfere. My kids get sick, school is canceled due to a snow day, a friend crisis comes up... But I’ve learned to roll with the punches. The work always gets done somehow.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Oh, my goodness... Where to begin? I guess what I would say is not so much advice as it is an anecdote from my own life. I’ve been writing ever since I was a little girl, but none of my early work is any good at all. I believe that’s because for years I didn’t have anything to say. It was only after I had given up writing for nearly five years that I experienced some really difficult things in my own life... And suddenly I had so much to say. In my life at least, I needed to have a story to tell--a meaningful, personal story--before I could write a novel worth reading.
Tell us about the featured book.
Far From Here is a book that is very loosely based on one of my own family stories. Over thirty years ago, my dad’s best friend disappeared off of the coast of
. He was a bush pilot, and he simply
vanished into thin air. No trace was ever found of him or his plane. I grew up
with this piece of family history, but it wasn’t until I was a grown woman with
a husband of my own that I began to grasp the depth of loss that everyone who
loved this man must have felt at his disappearance. Far From Here
explores that sort of loss, but it’s definitely a novel that hinges on hope...
Even if that hope is a tenuous, ever-changing thing. Alaska
Please give us the first page of the book.
The first time he took me up, I thought I was going to die. It was an accident, really, a stroke of luck or fate or happenstance that lured me into the cockpit that morning. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have touched with the tip of my little toe the small red-and-white Cessna 180 that Etsell used for teaching rookie pilots. But his lesson had been a no-show. And the plane was fueled up and ready to go, waiting on the runway for takeoff.
I was huddled in the hangar, arms wrapped tight against my chest to ward off the early-spring chill as Hazel yakked on endlessly about her grandson who was in the army. Later, I wondered if it was orchestrated, if she had baited me with a fresh pot of coffee and the pay-attention-to-me slant of her puppy-brown eyes. But at the time, all I could think of was that her steel-wire mop of hair could use a good wash and set.
“My grandson is going to be in the special ops,” she said with a grin.
I nodded, though I doubted that those sorts of things were determined in the first week of boot camp.
“He’s going to be one of those secret agents. Navy SEAL or something. Imagine that: Special Agent Jansen.” Hazel smirked at my halfhearted acknowledgment. Then her eyes slid past me and she tipped her head in the direction of the runway. “I think Etsell is waving at you.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nicole-Baart/53232389209
Thank you, Nicole, for spending this time with us.
Dear readers, my friend Nicole is a Christian, who wrote this book for the general market.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Far from Here: A Novel - paperback
Far from Here - Kindle
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