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AUTHOR SNAPSHOT: NICO BELL

Welcome to NightTide's Author Snapshot! Snapshots are quick, engaging, bite-sized interviews with writers that we love! This week, we chat with the marvelous Nico Bell!

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1. Give us your best elevator pitch on your work.

Women-centric horror and science fiction!

2. What was your first published work?

My first published work was actually not in the horror genre. I started in romance, so my first piece was a romantic short story about a woman who moves into a new apartment, discovers her pipes are leaking, and seeks help from her neighbor who happens to be a rugged
handyman. This was back in 2012.

3. Is there a story inside that you have seeds of but can't seem to connect that's dying to get out? 

My latest book Static Scream (publication date: March 6, 2024)
is this story. It’s a harrowing and vulnerable look at mental health, a mother’s love for her daughter, and grief. This has been something I’ve wanted to write since 2015, but I wasn’t in a mental state that could handle the deep emotional dive I wanted to take in order to develop this plot. Honestly, I probably could have dived deeper, but I think (I hope) I crafted a story that will resonate with anyone who has struggled with the many complicated emotions that surface while facing the death of a loved one.

4. How do you handle a rejected story?

I’ve been very fortunate to be in this business for over ten years. Because of this, I’ve had hundreds upon hundreds of
rejections and plenty of practice dealing with them! In the beginning, all of them stung. All of them made me feel like I wasn’t good enough, but over time, I learned there are plenty of reasons for a rejected story and some of those
reasons are completely out of a writer’s control. Sometimes, there’s simply too many submissions that are similar in premise or a story is well crafted but not marketable. There are still some rejections that sting a little harder than others, but for the most part, I read the rejection email, make a note of it on my submission spreadsheet, and get back to work!

5. What does literary success look like to you?

This is such a good question! I’ve given this so much thought over the years and it’s evolved over time. It’s common
for literary success to be defined solely by traditional publication standards. Does a writer have an agent? Check! Does a writer have a contract with a big five publisher? Check! Does a writer win an award? Check! Successful! When I started writing, I refused to accept any other definition of success. To me, if I didn’t have a big contract and a book on the NYT Bestseller List by the time I turned 40, I failed (spoiler: I’m forty, no book on NYT Bestseller). But as I learned
the industry and got involved in indie publishing, I realized success isn’t one path. Success has tons of definitions and thank goodness for that! Success is writing a single sentence on a day when depression weighs you down. Success is sending
a query to your dream agent. It’s self-publishing your book or receiving a single review on Goodreads or collecting twenty-three cents in royalties for an entire quarter. It’s taking the day off for self-care and coming back the next morning with

a fresh creative mindset. Success is literally defined anyway a person wants to define it. For me, it’s all of these definitions and it’s constantly changing.

 

6. Do you read your book reviews and if so, how do you deal with bad or good ones?

I do even though I’ve been told not to. It’s similar to how I approach rejections. In the beginning of my writing career, negative reviews would be like salt on a wound. Now, I appreciate the fact that someone actually took the time to read my book and write something about it, even if it’s about how much they hated my story. Readers should feel comfortable sharing their unapologetic opinions about books, and I truly appreciate anyone who has ever taken the time to hop online and write a review, regardless of whether they liked my book or not. Plus, some of the negative reviews are pretty awesome. There’s one for my book Food Fright that basically says how they (the reader) don’t like books about witches or YA books in general, but they read Food Fright anyways, and sure enough, they didn’t like it. I love how that person knew my book contained two things they don’t like, tried the book anyways, and was like, “yeah, still don’t like these things.”
Totally fair perspective!

7. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

I struggle with mental illness, and getting my brain to corporate with me long enough to sit and write is incredibly challenging. I often wonder what my career would look like if I wasn’t mentally ill. Would I have more publications? Would I have an agent? But then I remind myself that every writer is on their own path, and I focus on what I’m capable of accomplishing. It's still hard. There’s still so much I want to accomplish in my career, but sometimes, my brain simply won’t cooperate. I’ve learned to give myself a lot of grace and focus my energy on gratitude and being grateful for what I’ve been
able to do with my brain as it is. Still, there are times when I struggle to write or focus or be creative. It’s a never-ending cycle of forcing myself to continue onward, forgiving myself for falling short, and dusting myself off and getting back
to work.

8. The truth is often stranger than fiction. What has been the hardest scene or chapter you've had to write if you were channeling personal experience?

Static Screams (coming out March 6, 2024 on Amazon and wherever you buy books online) really broke down my barriers. The entire book challenged me, but there were small moments in particular that surprised me with their intensity. For instance, there is a moment when the protagonist challenges a supporting character, claiming that there’s two types of evils in the world: those that commit the evil and those that watch it happen without stopping it. While writing, I wasn’t planning on taking that protagonist’s dialogue in that direction. It just happened, and when it did, it channeled emotions I’d locked away long ago. It turned the narrative in a direction I wasn’t prepared to go in and that turned into a hard writing session.

9. What inspired your latest work? 

The dedication for Static Screams is “For Charlie, Chris, and the one who asked.” This book was inspired by “the one who asked.”

10. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would ti be? 

I’d tell young Nico to not be so narrow-minded when defining success and to enjoy the journey.

11. What's the best advice you've received from a fellow writer?

I heard Tananarive Due once tell writers to write at least one sentence every day. She said that on bad days, when writing a chapter, a page, or even a paragraph was too much, she found writing a single sentence helped keep her writing momentum going, even if that sentence was only two
words. I’ve found this advice extremely helpful and recommend it to other writers, especially those with conditions that make consistent writing challenging.

12. What is your go-to comfort horror/Sci-Fi book? 

When it comes to comfort, I like b- horror, camp, “bad movie” vibes, so I often reach for Lola Faust books. Lola writes dino erotica. Dino. Erotica. Yeah. It’s as amazing as it sounds.

13. If you were to genre-hop, which genres would you most like to try writing? 

I would do bonkers romances in the same lane as Lola Faust but I’d leave the dinosaur lust to her since no one can top “How Stego Got His Groove Back.”

Check out Nico's additional work here!

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