Sword & Silk Books is excited to welcome Nicole Bea
Her novel, Beneath the Starlit Sea, is a NA Romantic Fantasy with Historical elements comparable to The Witcher and The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry.
When sorceress Illyse is captured by the king's guards for her complacency in crimes against the kingdom, she finds herself falling for the mysterious human doctor she's been charged to work with while they try to solve a string of murders.
Sorceress Illyse prefers to isolate herself from the age-old conflict between her kind and the humans of Sjökanten, but not at the expense of her own life. Captured by the king's men and threatened with death for the crimes of her coven, she strikes a bargain: put an end to the murders of human citizens at the hands of a mysterious sea-bound entity, or be forever imprisoned in ore as so many other sorceresses have.
Bound by an iron band that limits her power, Illyse and her fox familiar join with Garit Darling, a medical practitioner and mystery unto himself. Together, they delve deep into forgotten lore and forbidden romantic entanglements, despite a ban on relationships between sorceresses and humans. However, when it is discovered that Garit's past is more closely tied to their investigation than either realizes, soon their passion and distraction from the crimes may just be at the cost of Illyse's potential freedom--and Garit's life.
Nicole Bea is a technical writer, author, and Editor-in-Chief of eucalyptus & rose literary magazine who focuses on deep stories to dig into: books that include romance, honesty, hope, and self-discovery. An avid storyteller since childhood, she has honed her skills through a variety of educational programs including management, sociology, legal studies, and cultural diversity in the workplace, most recently engaging in coursework about communication for technologists. She loves books of all shapes and sizes, but has a soft spot for short reads, protagonists with pets, and anything featuring ghosts or cats.
When Nicole isn't busy updating her manuscript portfolio or catching up on her To Be Read pile, she can usually be found gardening, horseback riding, or perusing the shelves of a used bookstore. She and her husband share their home in Eastern Canada with a collection of multi-colored cats and a lifetime's worth of books.
An Introductory Interview with Nicole
Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi - I'm Nicole! I write deep stories to dig into: pieces that include romance, honesty, hope, and self-discovery. My books range in genre and age group from fantasy to romance, middle grade through to adult. I also wear many hats in the writing community, from the editor-in-chief of an online literary magazine (eucalyptus & rose) to submissions intern with Sword & Silk! In addition to fiction writing, I am also a technical writer for a global manufacturer of CPAP masks, machines, and other products that manage sleep-disordered breathing, so a lot of my day revolves around writing. When I'm not busy updating my manuscript portfolio or catching up on my To Be Read pile, I can usually be found gardening, horseback riding, or pursuing my latest hobby of learning to cook. I share my home in Eastern Canada with my husband, a collection of multi-colored cats, and a lifetime's worth of books.
Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
I've always been intrigued by the idea of creating a fantasy alternate universe based on historical real life, and when The Witcher 3 video game came out, I absolutely fell in love with the story and the atmosphere that was created. I ended up buying the books, the other two games, and then watching the Netflix series, immersing myself in the way the relationships and characters were portrayed and the way people were interacting with the multiple choice options presented to them while playing. I found myself fascinated with the statistics and psychology of the choose-your-own-adventure selections that people were opting for, and soon wanted to write a story of my own based on what I picked--mixed with my own imagination, of course.
What is your writing process? Plotter or Panster? Are you a morning or evening writer? What is your tried and true method for getting words on the page?
I am definitely a pantser! I keep everything about my stories in my head, which can make remembering small details a lot more challenging. However, I usually start by creating some visuals--a cover, an aesthetic, a mood board--and writing up a quick, two-paragraph blurb about the very basics of the story and where things are going to be heading. After that, I just write! I write in chronological order and can't skip around, maybe because I'm a pantser and don't take any notes. Additionally, I'm definitely an evening writer. I find the daytime is often too distracting with other things going on, whereas at night things feel quieter and I'm able to focus a lot better. I find just being able to sit down in the dark and the quiet is key for me to be able to get words on the page, but if I'm really stuck, I crawl into bed with my salt rock lamp and essential oil diffuser both on and type away on my phone.
Authors often impart pieces of themselves into their stories. Which character best reflects you? Do you share any personality traits with your protagonist?
I definitely write parts of myself into all of my stories and I think, in some ways, I am totally like Illyse, but in other ways we're complete opposites. I tried to write her so that readers would be able to identify with pieces of her--her anger, her frustration, her deep love, everything else. If I had to pick a character who is the best reflection of me, it would probably be Illyse, though I think I try to have some of Garit's personality traits as well. Where Illyse is fiery, Garit is typically calm and I think I can be both, depending on the situation.
What drew you to the NA genre as an author?
I've written several YA books, and when I was coming up with the idea for this story, I wanted to try something a little bit different and new for me. Often the NA age group is underrepresented in books (or not represented at all, depending on the case), and of course, I decided to take that as a challenge and write a story that straddles the line between NA and Adult.
If you could give your teenage self one piece of advice what would it be?
Dear younger Nicole: don't stop doing what you love because of someone else's opinion of it. You're allowed to focus on you. You're allowed to like things and have interests that don't hurt other people. You don't have to be the best at something for it to have value in your life.
When I was a teenager, I quit so many things because they weren't popular, or because someone at school (okay, a one boyfriend in particular) thought that I wasn't paying enough attention to them. Now that I look back on this, it was ridiculous and it makes me a little sad. I wish I hadn't wasted time on people who didn't genuinely care about me, my health, or my well-being.
Oh, and maybe I'd also mention that giving myself bangs isn't the best idea.