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IR Approved Author Christie Nicholls: “When I’m writing – I turn off my phone and cover it with peanut butter.”

ELEPHANTS IN MY ROOM received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Christie Nicholls.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

ELEPHANTS IN MY ROOM. November 22, 2019

What’s the book’s first line? 

“Hi.  Welcome to my room. You’re probably wondering who I am and why you are reading this book. I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not famous. Not even close. Famous people write books. I know.”

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”. 

ELEPHANTS IN MY ROOM is comprised of 17 true stories/personal essays of embarrassing and personal nature. Most of the stories are exceptionally funny, and a few are real tear-jerkers. It’s a giggle fit, a warm Snuggie, a vivid escape from boring, dreary, day-to-day life. Wait, wait…I got it: the book is like a hot tub for your head. You will go “ahhhhh, this feels amazing” when you start reading and you won’t want to get out.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event? 

Prior to acting I spent time playwriting, screenwriting and performing in storytelling shows. I found I really missed the process of writing. It should be noted that my long-term memory, especially my emotional-recall is quite strong. Luckily I also had (and still have) years and years and years of embarrassing journals to mine, and felt it would be fun to share some of the most silly and serious moments in my life.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

First of all, a lot of readers have said ELEPHANTS IN MY ROOM is very funny. So, a big reason to read the book would be to laugh a lot.

But, also, I think this book opens up a lot of personal history for its readers. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback like “this reminded me of this one time I ___” (fill in the blank with all the stories and sentiments that might otherwise stay locked up in our hearts). So, reading this book is kind of like popping an emotional zit for people; old feelings and memories come gushing out (in a good way). It’s satisfying AF.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

These are autobiographic essays, so, who would I want to play me? Leonardo DiCaprio. I can’t decide if I have a crush on him, or if I just want to be as cool as him, but, like the female version. I feel like me and Leo would be great pals. I am intense, too. I care about the planet, too. Oh, and I furrow my brow when I want people to know I’m thinkin’ real hard – just like Leo.

When did you first decide to become an author?

I was in kindergarten and I remember seeing a poster of Mickey Mouse’s gloved hand writing with a quill pen, and the caption underneath the image said “WRITER.” That’s the first word I can remember reading and understanding. After that I just liked that I could go anywhere when I wrote, and for all the weird and personal things I experienced in my writing, I found I could eventually share it with someone else, who could go there, too. My grandmother, who is lovingly featured in two chapters of ELEPHANTS IN MY ROOM, was a huge advocate for my writing. It’s for this reason that I took her last name (my legal last name is also IMPOSSIBLE to spell) and why I will not stop writing.

Is this the first book you’ve written?

This is the first book I’ve published. I have several other ‘buns in the oven,’ so to speak. I am nearly finished with the second installment of ELEPHANTS IN MY ROOM, a collection of 17 even more personal essays called TRYING. Following TRYING I am finishing a work of crime fiction, called GLORIA, and a children’s book about a community of pigs, called THE 30.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing?

I act in commercials and the occasional TV show, or independent film. I also perform live comedy (stand-up comedy and character shows).

How much time do you generally spend on your writing?

I spend as much time as my schedule permits. A perfect writing day would be 8 hours with a break for a workout and time to walk my mutts. When I don’t have a full day to write I create specific goals (“write three pages on project X” or “write 1100 words”) and I time myself to make sure I’m moving along and being productive. My editing process is intense and involves actually ‘cutting and pasting’ and restructuring text using color-coding and post-its. Good writing takes time, but I really enjoy the process of putting the puzzle together.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie?   

BEST PART: I love being able to write whatever the f*ck I want.

HARDEST PART: I don’t love the stigma that comes with the response, “ohhh…you’re self-published.” I’d also love a big publisher to get me lots of press and interviews and pay for my therapy co-pay.

What’s a great piece of advice that you can share with fellow indie authors?

The best advice I’ve gotten is simple: “just write”. I wear a cheap Casio watch that I use for writing. It has an individual timer function on it so I can sit down and say, “I will spend anywhere from 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes on this.” I think most of us writers have a weird concept of time. Also, sitting down for a big block of time is daunting. When you first start your writing session say to yourself: “I will not touch the internet browser for three minutes” and set your timer for three minutes. You’d be amazed at how long that three minutes will feel at first, but once you tame that impulse, you will go hours without thinking about the internet. You won’t even need to check and see if Leo DiCaprio emailed you to see if you want to meet for tea and talk about ways to save the planet.

Also – when I’m writing – I turn off my phone and cover it with peanut butter. I spent two weeks doing nothing but writing in Siberia (while camping – no electricity or internet) and that got me thinking how much technology interrupts (and damages) creative expression.

Last thing – make yourself a pot of tea in the afternoon. I get such a kick from a good cup or two of tea. Pair it with a Rice Krispie treat or a mint Milano.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?  

I assume this question means, ‘would you go the traditional publishing route, if a publisher came calling’? I would absolutely consider a partnership with the right publisher. However, I’ve learned my lesson from mediocre managers. There are plenty of mediocre publishers out there and I am only interested in working with people who match my work ethic and unique level of talent and skill. If that never happens, then I will continue to publish on my own, and quite happy to continue writing whatever the f*ck I want.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?)

Knowing that my work speaks to people on some personal level, that it brings up memories, feelings (both joyful and painful), and that readers are willing to share that with me and be more honest with themselves and their loved ones – that’s a big motivator. If one person can read what I’ve written and feel less lonely, or less shame about their own stories, and if they can laugh about something deeply personal that I’ve shared – that’s enough. My next book has two sections (nine chapters in total) that speak very candidly about depression and infertility – FUN!!! For whatever reason, it is my calling to extract the painful details from my own story and share them with those who don’t yet have the words for their own struggles.

Also…I like money. Fame, meh. But, money? Always.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

You’ve probably never have heard of her, but maybe now you’ll look her up: Victoria Benedictsson.

 Which book do you wish you could have written?

Moby Dick. Just kidding! This is a hard question to answer because writing is so personal and if I were to have written, say, Moby Dick, I would have really done it differently. For starters, I would have chosen a better title, like “The Whale that Got Away.” Anyways, I think it’s best that I wish to complete my own stories/books. But, I wanted you to know that I sat with this question for a while and I love that you asked it. Thanks for that!