I met Nicole through a Facebook group, Binders Full of YA Writers, and the premise of both her books (one published in December, the other debuting next week on February 3) got me so excited that I emailed her immediately for an interview. Have a look-see:

Alessia Jacobs is a typical sixteen-year-old, dying to get out of her small town of Twin Willows, Maine. Things look up when a new family comes to town, but when she falls for the hot, mysterious son, Jonah, her life turns upside down.

Weird visions of transforming into an otherworldly falcon are just the beginning. Soon she learns she’s part of the Benandanti, an ancient cult of warriors with the unique power to separate their souls from their bodies and take on the forms of magnificent animals.

Alessia never would’ve suspected it, but her boring town is the site of an epic struggle between the Benandanti and the Malandanti to control powerful magic in the surrounding forest.

As Alessia is drawn into the Benandanti’s mission, her relationship with Jonah intensifies. When her two worlds collide, Alessia’s forced to weigh choices a sixteen-year-old should never have to make.

Georgie’s new heart saved her life…but now she’s losing her mind.

Georgie Kendrick wakes up after a heart transplant, but the organ beating in her chest doesn’t seem to be in tune with the rest of her body. Why does she have a sudden urge for strawberries when she’s been allergic for years? Why can’t she remember last Christmas?

Driven to find her donor, Georgie discovers her heart belonged to a girl her own age who fell out of the foster care system and into a rough life on the streets. Everyone thinks she committed suicide, but Georgie is compelled to find the truth – before she loses herself completely.

And here are Nicole’s answers to some questions!

According to your website, you are an actress as well as a writer. How do you balance both pursuits, and how does one feed into the other?

Well, I think it’s safe to say at this point that I’ve forsaken my acting career for my writing. I also have a young daughter and writing is much more conducive to motherhood than acting. However, before I had my daughter, I found that I wasn’t so easily able to balance the two. When I was working on a play, it would consume me, and there wasn’t a lot of creative energy left over to write. It was when I was in between acting projects that I would get most of my writing done…and the writing definitely kept me sane while I was waiting for the next acting gig and going on endless auditions.
I do miss being on stage, but I like the world of writing better. There’s a lot more support from your peers. So I’m happy just being a writer at this point in my life. That said, if anyone out there wants to cast me as Lady Macbeth, I wouldn’t say no!

That’s an excellent point–and it makes me even more thankful for fellow writers. I love the premise of WINTER FALLS! How did the idea come to you, and what do you want readers to take away from the story?

The idea for WINTER FALLS came to me one day while I was trawling Wikipedia. That site is like my porn. I can be on it for hours. For some reason, that day I was on the page for European witch hunts and there was a little link to something called the Benandanti. I clicked on it…and immediately knew that I had to write about this. But the original incarnation of WINTER FALLS was a historical novel set in 16th century Italy (where and when the Benandanti are documented to have existed). It wasn’t until many months into working on it that I had a eureka moment that the book needed to be set in the present.

While there is a strong environmentalism theme in the series, what I really set out to write was a story that people could escape into. Those are my favorite kind of books. I really just want readers to live in the world while they’re reading and fall in love with the characters and think about them long after they’ve finished the book.

Those kinds of books are my favorite too. On your blog, you posted a cover reveal for your other upcoming book, THE FORGETTING. Did this story shape itself before you wrote it, or did it develop as you went along?

I approached THE FORGETTING (which releases February 3rd) differently than I’d approached all my previous novels. I’d always been a pantser, but with THE FORGETTING I plotted the whole thing before I started writing. Because of that, I had a lot less work to do on the back end. The book only went through one major draft before we sold it, and one after. There were some things that came to me as I went along and I changed things to suit those new ideas. It’s very important to me to be spontaneous when I write and allow for deviations from the original plan. Otherwise I get bored.

Your plotting experience definitely has me considering ditching my pantser way of life. What are the three books (other than your own) that you’d recommend to readers?

ZODIAC by Romina Russell. She’s one of my best friends and CPs but I promise I’m not being biased! I’m not a huge sci-fi fan and I LOVED this book. If you want an action-packed story with great characters set in a really fantastic world, this book is for you.

POINTE by Brandy Colbert. Okay, she’s also a friend of mine, but seriously this was one of the best books I read last year. There is a lot going on in this book but the way Brandy weaves it all together is masterful. The main character is one of the most interesting, complex, damaged and truly vulnerable characters I’ve read in a long time.

I CAPTURE THE CASTLE by Dodie Smith. This book was written in the late 1940’s (and takes place in 1930’s England) but you can still completely relate to all the characters. And while it was written before YA was even a thing, it most definitely is YA. It’s a wonderful coming-of-age, first love story filled with eccentric and colorful characters. It’s one of the only books I reread over and over.

Excellent recommendations! Thanks Nicole, for a wonderful interview.

To snag WINTER FALLS and/or pre-order THE FORGETTING for yourself, feel free to click on the links below:

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