An Interview with Author Lily Nicole

The Quarter Percent by Lily Nicole

Why do you write? 

I write because I can. I wrote my first novel when I was 10 years old. It was a murder mystery, something like Agatha Christie. I made my aunt read and critique it for me. 

• What do you write about? 

I publish poetry, reflections essays, and fiction on my blog Sabiscuit’s Catalog.

• Do you have a specific writing style?

My style is mostly descriptive and it depends on what I am writing. If I’m writing about my personal experiences, or offering opinions, I am less structured. 

• What are obstacles that come in the way of writing? 

Thinking too much about whether readers will remember that they are reading fiction and try to engage with the story as if it were factual. Based on the reactions I’ve had to some of my fiction writing, I realise that not everyone is capable of suspending their disbelief. 

What’s the most memorable thing asked/said by a reader about your work?

Actually, on my blog, years ago, I published a series of short stories that form the basis of my novel, The Quarter Percent. A well-known author, who writes fantasy fiction, told me that she would buy the novel version if I published it. Her encouraging words are what led me here.

•  When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?

Writing has always been a part of me. I am an avid reader and I didn’t realise I had the ability to write poetry or fiction until I did. 

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

My schedule is, whenever I have some free time. If I have to sit in front of my computer, my time is going to be limited. Whereas if I can find 15 to 20 minutes to dictate a story and polish it up over several passes, that’s a lot more comfortable for me. I like to be relaxed when I’m writing. This means talking into my phone or my tablet. 

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Dictating entire scenes into my phone or tablet while I’m at my favourite coffee shop. And I don’t care who is overhearing. I also edit to a soundtrack. Each story or scene has its own soundtrack. This is a trick I used when I directed stage plays. Using a song helps to set the tempo of a scene, and keeps the actors moving along on cue.

How long does it take to write a book? (if you’ve written one -published or non)

Writing a short fiction story does not take a long time. But I will spend a lot of time editing. This novel took me two years to complete. One year to write, almost a year of not looking at it and then two months of redrafting and daily editing. That was because I wasn’t sure I was going to publish it. 

Do you have suggestions on how to become a better writer?

Yes. I always go back over my work and read it from the perspective of the reader. Also, I read from the perspective of the characters. And then from the perspective of a critic. I have spent a lot of time listening to people who critique films and they always complain about the writing more than acting or cinematography. Readers don’t always want an easy solution to a problem. A scene at the end of my novel has the Crown Princess trying to intimidate a national leader. My original version of the scene had him trembling at the prospect of being forced to make a public confession. But I asked myself if he would really back down that easily. I thought, “What’s the best way out of the situation?” And then I made them have that conversation. The unresolved conflict in this scene allows for a more satisfying ending because you find out what the Crown Princess was up to, starting with a Sunday morning breakfast meeting in the first chapter. 

What challenges do you come across when writing/creating your story?

For one thing, the futuristic technology that I created in my novel had to be based on real science. However, I needed to write it so anyone could understand exactly how it works. To do that, I made the most complex technical explanations conversational. For those scenes, I wanted the reader to overhear a conversation. You never feel you have to understand everything fully in a situation like this.

What do you think makes a good story?

The more you like your characters, the better your story is going to be. I deleted about five scenes from my novel because I didn’t think the conversation were that interesting. 

Do you have anything specific you’d like to tell the readers?

Yes. Thank you very much for reading this interview. I am grateful for your time. I hope that you enjoy reading the beta version of my novel. And I am looking forward to hearing from you.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I consider myself an artist first, with writing as one of the formats that I work with. I once did a three-month installation of fiction writing on my blog, entirely in dialogue format. I enjoyed that experience very much.


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