Today I interviewed Nicki Elson, author of the college love-romp Three Daves. See my 4 star review below!
Jennifer Lane (JL): How much did you enjoy your college experience? How did real life translate into fiction?
Nicki Elson (NE): Let’s see…a lot! College is not like any other time of life. It’s that perfect combination of freedom without total responsibility. I think a part of me will always yearn for those days, and that’s what got me to sit down and write this story.
I attended Eastern Illinois University, and anyone who went there, particularly in the 80s, will recognize the campus, the bars, Jimmy Johns. Most buildings and businesses were given fictional names in my story, but the physical descriptions are heavily influenced by my alma mater. The overall story line is original and not in any way autobiographical, buuut there are most definitely bits and pieces of reality scattered throughout—for example, I saw Wang Chung in Daytona in ’87 and once invented a game called Dial-a-Drink. It’s like this, if Three Daves is a delicious smoothie, then my real life experiences are the strawberries—they flavor the story but the end result is something completely different.
JL: (And that strawberry smoothie was delicious.) I think I read on your website about your mother’s horrified reaction to realizing there would be sex scenes in your book. Thankfully my parents have chosen not to discuss the sex scenes I’ve written. Totally awkward! Any advice about dealing with the aftermath of writing intimate romantic scenes?
NE: Ah yes, the inspiration behind my first ever blog post: Should I Have Faded to Black? So, I guess my first bit of advice is to write a blog post to make yourself feel better! Hehe. Actually, the first step is before the book is ever published—make sure you feel good about what’s in there and that it’s justified. People are all going to have their own opinions, and they are entitled to them, but if you know what you wrote was right for the story you wanted to tell, then the negative feedback won’t sting so much.
My mom’s reaction was to be expected, and I don’t blame her in the least. I think I could’ve prepared her a little better before she actually read it. As a result, I think I overly prepare other people. What I’ve heard quite a few times is that the level of detail I get into is nothing compared to a lot of what’s out there, but then they stop and say, “I’m a little surprised you wrote it.” That cracks me up because I’m a little surprised too! But the story required a certain level of intimate detail (for reasons I explain in my blog post), and not one bit of it was gratuitous.
JL: Music is an important part of this story. What are some of your current favorite artists or songs?
NE: Confession: I honestly do still listen to a lot of 80s new wave. It’s great music! But I promise that I did move on in the 90s to Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cranberries, and Pearl Jam, and even though I don’t listed to a lot of new stuff, current bands I enjoy are Dropkick Murphys, Rammstein, and Stone Sour. And I’ll have you know that Madness is still recording new songs and they rock!
JL: What was your journey to publication like?
NE: It was…it was one of those times in my life where God was being very patient with me and then finally had to clunk me over the head with it. I wrote Three Daves a few years ago, simply because I was gripped by the story and wanted to read it, so I wrote it. I did a bit of research into getting published and learned about literary agents and query letters and all that and sent out a few queries—I think twelve. And I hated every minute of that process. It felt like work, and sales is not my forte, but that’s exactly what you have to be gifted at—selling your novel in a one page letter. I revised that letter so many times, but apparently all versions sucked because I didn’t have any luck. And I get it, the agents get so much sent to them and have to think strictly from a marketing point of view. Unknown authors are a big risk, and my story didn’t fall neatly into any pre-packaged category. But that process was killing the joy of writing for me, so I stopped pursuing publication.
I turned back to on-line writing, fanfiction and original, because that’s what I enjoyed doing—writing and sharing my stories. While doing that I entered and won an original fiction contest with my short story, Impressionism 101, and I suppose that’s what caught the attention of Elizabeth Harper, owner of Omnific Publishing. One day I got this amazing e-mail from her telling me that she was starting her own publishing company and that she’d like to see some more of my original work! I read that e-mail about five times trying to believe it was real. She liked what I sent her for Three Daves and after a whirlwind of editing and polishing and cover design and video trailers etc., etc., etc., here we are.
JL: Do you still wear banana clips, leg warmers, o-rings, or ribbon barrettes? 😀
NE: Oh you’re real funny! That would be a resounding NO! But hey, 80s fashions are making a comeback—I’ve seen the legwarmers, so give me about six months and I just may be sporting pair of those. 😉
Thank you for the interview, Nicki, and for the wonderful ride back in time with Three Daves. I loved your book!
Please join us for our Meet an Author Monday Blog Hop.
Cali Cheer Mom (Lisa Sanchez) has all the details (and a lovely review of my novel on 9/28) on her blog.