Interview with S.K. Nicholls

Posted on October 23, 2013


Tonight please give a warm welcome to the lovely S.K. Nicholls!!

S. K. Nicholls

Do you write under any other names? Not yet.

What are you currently working on? A crime novel/murder mystery that is turning into a bit of a psycho thriller and a sort of autobiography.

How many (if any) books do you have published and what are their titles? Only the one, “Red Clay and Roses”.

What inspired you to write your first book? Finding the ledger in 1992 was the impetus.  Having a racially mixed granddaughter and being concerned about the society that she will grow up in and the history of her culture was another.  I am also very much interested in promoting civil and women’s rights, and women’s reproductive rights and responsibilities.

Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer?  I write stream of consciousness style, and though I have worked on developing other styles, I always come back to this style.  It is most comfortable to me.

How did you come up with the title of your book(s)?  Red Clay and Roses are repetitive themes in the book.  The red clay of GA soil, and our roots, the clay that we are molded from and the indoctrinations of our youth are analogies.  The roses, of course, being a symbol of love, are found throughout the literary work.

Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp?  We are all one human race.  The progress that we have made socially is good, but we are not anywhere near where we need to be yet.  Also, I don’t want people to forget what life was like for women before Jim Crow law was repealed and before Row versus Wade.  History teaches us some valuable lessons.

How much of the book is realistic/true?  Most all of it is real.  It is Historical Fiction from the era of the 1950s &60s. It is a faction novel.  A true story loosely based on fact.  The nonfiction novel was very popular in the seventies and is trying to make a comeback.  The story is real, but names of people were changed.  Of course there was dialog that occurred before I was born and that was recreated from stories in my cousin’s diaries.  The setting was real, and many other historical landmarks and locations mentioned in the book are very real places.

Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life?  There were two older people that I had interviewed in the 1990s, and again, my cousin, who were very real.  The introduction and conclusion were based in a large part on my own personal experiences.

What books have most influenced your life most?I would have to say that non-fiction books have most influenced my life.  I am a nurse and a history buff.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”?  I had a writer friend in my youth who lived across the street from my maternal grandmother.  He used to loan me books to read from his library.  He is a science fiction author by the name of Michael Bishop.  I believe he was the first influence in that he made his living writing and editing.  He encouraged me to read and to write.

What book are you reading now?  A book by Michael S. Fedison called “Eye Dancers”.  It is a YA/teen sci-fi/fantasy novel.  I read many genres and try not to limit myself to one.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.Definitely my WordPress family/friends.  I don’t know how I could have managed without their support.  Especially those at The Community Storyboard at .

Do you see writing as a career or a hobby?  I am a semi-retired Nurse with a thirty year + career, so I would say writing is a hobby for me now.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?  The introduction to my book was condensed from one chapter to three.  In doing that, some of the flow was not quite right so I have recently revised that in preparation for the paperback edition.  I am also struggling with my cover image, as I feel it is too comically macabre for historical fiction, so I am working with my cover image artist to see what we can do about that.  That is the beauty of self-publishing.  If you aren’t necessarily satisfied with something you can change it.  If I had it to do all over again I would have done less exposition in the first chapter and provided a quicker intro to the action.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?  In High School, I wrote volumes and was encouraged to take up writing as a career in journalism, but my life took another turn, so it is not something I was able to devote time to until a couple of years ago.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?  I don’t often do excerpts for publishing reasons, but I can say that the setting is quite interesting.  There is a primary murder case that takes place in Florida, and the detective husband and wife team live in a nudist resort that was fashioned after my family’s resort, Cypress Cove at .

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?  It was most challenging to write southern dialect without it sounding silly or contrived, because spell and grammar checks have to be turned off, yet you have to write very consistently for it to come across correctly and be properly edited.  I also wanted the African-American Southern dialect to be heard and felt, without it being disrespectful.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?  I love Anne Rice’s writing style.  I have every book that she has ever written.  I find her descriptions to be beautifully written yet succinct.

Who designed the covers of you books?  I work with a cover artist named Paul at

What was the hardest part of writing your any of your works?  Three things: 1) Research: Keeping true to a time line within the work as far as 1950s-60s dates of researched events and places in history relative to the actual events that the characters were involved in during the era. 2) The three chapters of Moses Grier’s family’s history because of his dialect, and 3) Editing, which is absolutely crucial if you expect to be taken seriously.  It is owed to the literary world and other authors alongside of you to create a literary work that you would be proud to be remembered and known for.

Do you have any advice for other writers? Patience and perseverance are your best friends.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?  Enjoy the read!

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to life?  I have little difficulty talking about issues that are quite sensitive for people outside of the medical field, such as abortion, adoption, death and dying. Dealing with such sensitive issues as racism can also be challenging.  There are harsh realities in life and sometimes it ain’t pretty.I am very uninhibited, frank, and real in my writing, which may be offensive to some. There are all sorts of emotions that the novel will bring forth.

What character from your writing is your favorite and why?  Sybil, because she was a high spirited independent woman in her time, who dared to be different, for one.  Moses, because I felt he was a kind soul who needed a friend in the worst way, and I found him to be quite a challenge to write.  I loved Beatrice, simply for her eccentricities.  Nathan, I loved because of his devotion and dedication.  Althea, because of what she sacrificed for the story.  I loved them all for different reasons.

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