Book Country Member Spotlight Q&A
“I can’t imagine not writing.” —Noelle Pierce
Noelle Pierce is a romance writer and psychology professor based in Atlanta. Among her numerous Book Country badges is the prestigious “founding badge”: she joined Book Country in 2011 as a beta-fish. Since then, she’s regaled us with steamy romances and thoughtful discussion contributions. In addition to writing, she loves astronomy (constellations inspire her historical romance series), book cover design, and shoe shopping.
I talked to Noelle about her achievements and struggles as a writer, the romance genre, and the urban fantasy project she’s currently working on.
Nevena: When did you start writing? What inspires you to continue to do so?
Noelle: I’ve always told stories, and adored reading, but never considered writing until 2009 when a story about twins in Regency England came to me. My husband encouraged me to write it, and it was like a secret chamber in my head opened. Now I can’t keep up with all the stories that come to me. Almost four years later, I can’t imagine not writing.
Nevena: That’s awesome. So how do you fit writing into your life? Do you have a day job?
Noelle: My day job plays into my writing well: I’m a part-time, online psychology professor. I can stay up late, or write after the kids go to school. Depends on when my muse decides to cooperate.
Nevena: You’ve written several romance books. What draws you to the genre?
Noelle: I fell in love with fairy tales, and by the time I was eight, I’d read all ofGrimm’s Fairy Tales so much the pages started to fall out. When I was fourteen, I stumbled upon Johanna Lindsey’s books, and never looked back. (And I credit her with my ability to pass World History in high school.) I occasionally read other genres, but for every thriller or suspense or young adult, I read fifteen-twenty romance novels.
Nevena: Chemistry is crucial to crafting a romance novel. Share your writing strategies with us! Do you have a recipe?
Noelle: I wish! My characters talk to me a lot, and tell me what they all about. I’d like to say I plan how well the heroes and heroines match up, but it isn’t always conscious. When it is, I draw on my background in psychology to look at the characters’ needs. Personalities fascinate me, and I love to analyze what draws people together.
Nevena: Very interesting. You write romance, but you recently been exploring other genres. How does your “writerly identity” transform across genres?
Noelle: The majority of what I write has strong romantic elements, no matter the genre. I guess years of reading romance have impacted how I see every story. My voice is another thing that seems to translate across the genres. I’ve got a light, humorous tone to all of my stories.
Nevena: What are you currently working on?
Noelle: My current obsession is an urban fantasy based on Purgatory, with the working title Pride and Purgatory. There are angels and demons and gods, but they are all secondary. The main characters work in Purgatory, escorting souls to one of the seven gates of Heaven or to one of the seven rings of Hell.
Nevena: Sounds interesting. What’s the biggest challenge you had in your writing? How did you overcome it?
Noelle: Just one challenge? I’d have to say editing. I hate editing because I’m more right-brained, while editing takes more left-brain skills. I adore plotting and drafting—the creative side. During the editing phase, I churn out a lot of art (Why no! It not procrastination at all!), so my creativity does feel stifled. Once my creative side is satisfied, I can sit down and look at edits.
Nevena: Why are you a Book Country member? How has it helped you grow as a writer?
Noelle: I’d been a member of another site for writers, but there weren’t a lot of genre romance writers there, so I got a lot of critiques based on rules for other genres or literary fiction. I learned a hellova lot about writing there, but when I saw Colleen tweet about looking for beta users for a community where genre romance would be a focus, I jumped on it. Immediately, I noticed a difference in the types of critiques I was getting—from people who read widely in the genre. The discussion forum on Book Country is another great source of information.
Nevena: I’m happy it’s helpful. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Noelle: “Never think you’re done learning about writing.” While I’ve learned a lot in the last four years, I am always reading blogs and books about writing to find new techniques.
Nevena: What achievements are you most proud of as a writer?
Noelle: First and foremost: finishing a book. I have hobby ADHD, so the fact that I’ve kept with writing as long as I have is a huge achievement, according to my husband. *grin*
Second, after submitting my writing to a number of contests for a couple of years, I finaled in one—my own romance writers’ chapter contest—The Maggie Award for Excellence. My paranormal romance Lightstorm placed second!
Nevena: Way to go, Noelle! Is there anything else you want the community to know about you?
Noelle: The community has opened up a lot of doors for me to pursue my other love: art. I’ve done cover art, Facebook and Twitter backgrounds, and even logos/icons for author branding.
Also, I love shoes. A lot. It’s a fetish, and if DSW had a credit card, I’d be in deeper debt from that than from my graduate student loans.
As far as writing goes, I like to take myths and rework them into my stories.