World of the Innocent, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about World of the Innocent?
NADINE C. KEELS: World of the Innocent takes a fresh look at coming of age. The characters in the novel are adults, but the story’s central theme shows that maturity of the human soul comes not through losing innocence, but through reclaiming it.
The protagonist, Jhoi, is passionate, gifted, and guarded—a poet who doesn’t explicitly call herself one and who doesn’t hold much confidence in the idea that she can effect positive change in the world or among her gang of fun-loving peers. She meets a young man named Jaxon and she thinks he’s so strange and “out there,” but perhaps somewhere in Jaxon’s strangeness, Jhoi sees a reflection of herself. The two strike up an unlikely friendship, despite the fact that Jhoi doesn’t know why Jaxon would want to know her better (let alone why a guy with his amount of experience might be romantically interested in a “green” girl like her), and Jhoi’s wise old neighbor, Mr. Elmer, asks her, “Jhoi, are you ready to love this young man?” Jhoi will soon discover the link between navigating intimate relationship and owning the world: becoming a steward of an era.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
NADINE C. KEELS: Human beings are such fascinating creatures, and I find it easy to develop characters by considering people I’ve come in contact with, including myself. I add traits that diversify the characters, distinguishing areas like their motives, habits, and patterns of speech. I don’t believe anyone would guess just how many characters in my first novel, Yella’s Prayers, were embellished representations of different sides of myself. World of the Innocent is even more autobiographical, so much so that I informed a number of individuals beforehand that characters in my new novel were based off of them. (My people were generally overjoyed about that.) Then of course I took license to round the characters out, especially the main three.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
NADINE C. KEELS: Come one, come all romance lovers who will be drawn by the gazing woman and smoky-eyed man on my book cover (a cover that I’ve been told is “steamy,” despite the fact that I used a picture of the ocean in my design.) Even so, my ideal reader will be anyone who is “coming of age” in some way and who wants to take over the world—or at least his/her world.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
NADINE C. KEELS: World of the Innocent was birthed through personal heartbreak. I’m a firm believer in not letting either one’s positive or negative life experiences go to waste, and I figured I may as well let something beautiful come through my season of pain. I was creatively inspired to write a new book when my oldest brother took me to see the ocean for the first time this past Labor Day (I used a picture from the trip for my book cover), I had a decisive talk with a friend of mine later that week, and about a week and a half after that, my first draft of the novel was written. The writing process proved to be cathartic; I can’t pinpoint exactly when the pain from my heartbreak dissipated, but one day I reached inside to check on that familiar ache, only to realize it wasn’t there anymore.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
NADINE C. KEELS: I start all my writing by doing a mental self-check or by reading my journal. Sometimes I may construct an outline, but when it comes to fiction, I usually run straight to a manuscript with my ideas, taking down notes as my thoughts develop along the way. I like to write in the moment when inspiration hits, whenever possible. My fiction writing and editing speed has varied so far—I completed my first novel in roughly ten years, my second one in four months—but I generally take a great deal more time revising a manuscript than initially writing it.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
NADINE C. KEELS: I’m inspired by Henry James for his command of language, by Janette Oke for her honest simplicity, and by my brother, fellow novelist J.E. Keels, for his delightfully haunting style of storytelling.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
NADINE C. KEELS: I can’t say that I wish I’d literally written anyone else’s book myself, but I do hope to gain a much greater command of language, like James, even if mine turns out to be shorter-winded.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
NADINE C. KEELS: I’ll gain a better handle on the marketing and promotion business and meet more of the right people, by and by. In the meantime, I mostly use social media and online avenues, communication with local media, and I take advantage of my speaking and spoken word engagements to get news of my work out there or to make copies of my books in print available to the audience. I had my first book signing earlier this year, and I loved it.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
NADINE C. KEELS: Publishing on Kindle is simple, cost effective, and ideal to draw readers who are on the go. When I hear that one of my readers is on the road or doesn’t have much space for a physical library at home, I’m glad they still have a convenient way to read my books.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
NADINE C. KEELS: My advice to a first-time author would be to do your research and weigh your publishing options. Then if you decide you want a mode of self-publishing that’s fast and easy, plus convenient for a growing number of readers, go ahead and give Kindle a try.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
World of the Innocent; a reference for writers entitled Write Your Genius, Genius!: A Rather Quick Guide to Book Writing; and she also writes short stories and articles for children. Nadine has served as editor and co-editor for a number of titles, and she is the founder of Prismatic Prospects, a communication company based in Seattle.
Visit her website.
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