I’m pleased to introduce to you Christine Nolfi, author of the adult fiction The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge. Be sure to read my review.
In 2004, Christine Nolfi began writing fiction full-time. Her debut, Treasure Me, is a finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards and appears on the Midwest Book Review’s Bookwatch as, “A riveting read for those who enjoy adventure fiction, highly recommended.” Her second contemporary fiction novel, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge, continues to earn 4- and 5-star reviews on GoodReads and Amazon. Her third release, Second Chance Grill, was released October 30th.
Christine, welcome to my blog! I’m delighted you agreed to this interview. Would you please begin by telling us a little about yourself? And do you have a family, a job outside the family?
Lynn, thank you for the invitation to visit today! I’m a full-time novelist and a recent transplant to Charleston, South Carolina. Three of my adopted children are now in college; the baby is a high school senior. I remarried last summer on a beach – Barry and I both feel blessed to have received a “do-over” in our fifties. Prior to writing fiction full-time, I owned a small PR firm in Cleveland, Ohio.
You seem to lead a full and satisfying life. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Who or what inspired you?
Honestly, I can’t recall a time when I didn’t write. Vignettes in childhood and later, short stories. In high school, I usually received top billing in the annual literary magazine. I wrote my first novel at age nineteen and turned down an offer to sell it at age twenty-two. Don’t ask why. Thirty years later, the reason seems silly.
Aw, darn. Now you know what question I really want to ask next! *sigh* Okay, I won’t. Instead: as a writer, do you do much reading? Who were/are your favourite authors or books?
I read several hours each day, whether it’s The Economist or Wall Street Journal, or the latest novel to catch my eye. Presently I’m reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Heart of the Matter by Emily Griffin and The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. My taste in fiction runs toward literary, but I read across genres and can’t imagine choosing a favorite author.
Have you ever felt like giving up? When did you finally believe in
yourself so you can say “I am a writer”?
Some weeks the sheer volume of promotional work on my “to do” list becomes quite intimidating. I’ve never suffered from doubts regarding my abilities because I worked as a freelance writer for so many years.
Do you have a motto or Bible verse or quote that you try to live by
and that helps to keep you going?
I use “Bible flipping” daily: open the Bible, and read the passage that first catches my eye. The practice brings both comfort and hope. Frankly, I couldn’t have survived all the years of single parenting without my faith.
What do you remember about your very first time to be published,
how did that happen?
In my early twenties I sold a short story entitled Night Hour to Working Mother Magazine. The editor called to say she loved the over-the-transom submission about a mother who finds the courage to march into the basement rec room and confront her teenage daughter before the girl and a teen boyfriend have sex. The editor was convinced I was a working mother who’d written a story about experiences with my own teenagers. Needless to say, I was happy to let her think what she wanted – and was even more delighted when the magazine’s two million subscribers read my first published work.
Now, that’s an exciting start! Do you mind mentioning some of what you have written thus far? Of what you have had published, what means the most to you? Of those, what do or did you most enjoy writing?
I’ve published three novels with two more currently under edit. My debut Treasure Me was cited by USA Today as among the best of the indies and recently became a finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards. The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge has even higher scores on Amazon and GoodReads but hasn’t yet reached the contest circuit. My third novel Second Chance Grill was released October 30th.
Whether I’m writing lighter books like Treasure Me and Second Chance Grill or a darker, closer to literary work like Tree of Everlasting Knowledge, I invariably fall in love with the characters. The work-in-progress becomes my favorite book.
Congratulations on your success so far! What method do you use to keep track of your writing ideas?
I rarely veer off course once work commences. Compelling fiction begins with deep characterization, and I spend months researching and fine-tuning the characters destined to populate a book. If I’m not satisfied with the completed manuscript after several revisions, I file it away. Some books need a cooling off period and fresh perspective before final revision work and publication.
What process do you go through when writing and perfecting your work?
I’ll write a chapter or two then return to the beginning and edit. Then I’ll write several more chapters and edit again. After the first draft is complete, I take the Word document and create a landscaped version resembling a paperback novel and edit, revise, cut, and add new passages in longhand fashion.
Very interesting! What inspired you to write The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge?
Tree explores problems related to the U.S. foster/adopt system. As an adoptive mother, caring for the world’s abandoned children is an issue dear to my heart. The idea for Troy’s dilemma in the novel—which I’d rather not give away here—came about after I conducted interviews at an adoption network in Cleveland, Ohio.
How long did it take you to write The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge? Did you have to do any research?
The work required extensive research into foster/adopt law in the United States. I also conducted interviews with social workers, a birth mother, and coordinators at an adoption network. The novel went through extensive revision on at least three occasions. I set the work aside when Treasure Me gained notice in The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards then picked Tree back up for one last revision in early 2012. All told, the novel took three years to write.
It was worth it, I would say. Did you find any part of it hard to write about or pull together?
Writing scenes from child Emma’s point-of-view proved gut wrenching. And Troy’s pivotal scenes with Buck took many months to write.
Why did you decide to write about such a difficult topic, that of violence in varying degrees?
Originally I planned Tree as another book in the Liberty series with the much lighter Treasure Me and Second Chance Grill. A literary agent on the West Coast had put me in contact with an amazing private editor who quickly concluded that Tree was much more literary than my other works, and deserved to release as a stand-alone novel. Her advice set me free to write a book both heartbreaking and uplifting.
I agree, it is both of those. Did you write a little of yourself into any of the characters?
Certainly the children Walt and Emma are inspired by my experiences as a mother of adopted children of color. Troy and Ourania? I’ve probably put some of my personality in both of them. I hope I don’t share any traits with the loathsome Buck Korchek, the most difficult character I’ve ever written.
How did/do you go about getting published? Why did you choose the route you took?
I worked with two literary agents, had two “almost sales” to Random House then New American Library. The problem? My books incorporate features of the romance, mystery, suspense and literary genres – never a good thing when a NY editor needs to decide where to place your debut on a bookstore shelf. My critique partners finally convinced me to try indie publishing. Naturally I’ll happily embark on a traditional publishing career if the right deal ever comes along.
How do you write consistently? Do you have writing goals? daily?
weekly? monthly? long-range?
Having owned a PR firm for many years, I still work as if I’m in the Marine Corps. Early start, break at noon for a workout at the gym, return to my office to edit the morning’s pages. I stop at dinnertime. Writers who burn the midnight oil or put in 18-hour days are asking for an early death. Any artist needs to recognize that her body is as sacred a gift as her boundless creativity.
That’s something to seriously consider. What other interests do you have for a change from writing?
I love to cook, garden, stroll the beach with my husband, walk my sweet mutt in Charleston’s early morning sunlight – and read. In between books, I try to read as many novels as possible.
Do you have another project in the works?
I’ll publish two shorter romances in early 2013 then release the third book in the Liberty series. Or I’ll release a longer, literary novel set in Istanbul. It’s a real dilemma. I’ve already written a portion of the Istanbul book, but the amusing antics of the characters in the Liberty books are hard to resist!
That’s just the kind of dilemma I imagine a lot of writers would love to have. :) Finally, do you have any advice for hopefuls?
My best advice for hopefuls? Join a critique group. Read often and well. Write an entire first draft then revise. And revise again. Research the publishing industry before submitting your first query to a literary agent, or uploading your first novel independently. And always believe in your singular gifts.
Thanks, Christine. That’s great advice. Thank you for the insight into your writing life.
Readers, here are some links Christine invites you to check out:
Author Christine Nolfi’s website: http://www.christinenolfi.com
Find her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/christinenolfi
Find her on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4811669.Christine_Nolfi
Find The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Tree-Everlasting-Knowledge-ebook/dp/B007IO78QK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1340741334&sr=1-1&keywords=the+tree=of=everlasting=knowledge
Now leave a comment and your name will be in the draw for your chance to win a copy of Christine Nolfi’s The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge. Tell us what you found most helpful or interesting of what she had to share. On Saturday, November 10 at 6 PM EST one name will be drawn out of the basket. I will contact that person for his or her mailing address and when the winner gets back to me I’ll inform Christine who will send a book to the winner. So, leave a comment to enter the draw!
Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! :)