Interview With Nicole French

I sat down with Nicole French to learn more about her book, Legally Yours! 

When did you realize or decide you wanted to be a writer?

Oh man. Since forever? I wrote my first “book” in first grade. It was about a whale and the hunter who decided to save his life. This was a project where kids got to draft, revise, print, and bind their illustrated books from start to finish, and I loved every step. When I was finished, my teacher read it to the whole class and the principal gave me a special note. That was the first time I remember feeling how great it felt to write stories for other people.

How do you research and plan your books? Do you find outlining helps or hinders your process?

I’m a big fan of outlining. When I first got really into creative writing (this was in college), I used to write primarily short stories because I couldn’t continue the “thread” of a story for more than 40,000 words or so. Every attempt to write a full novel would peter out pretty quickly. Now that writing time is something I have to use more efficiently, what with having a job and a family, outlining a book from the beginning gives me a framework to stick to, and ended up making the drafting process a lot smoother. Plans inevitably change, and I don’t always end up where I thought I would, but it’s a major help to have the essential “threads” of the story mapped out from the start.

Have you made any writing or reading themed New Year’s Resolutions?

A thousand words a day, minimum. As a new writer, I know that my follow-up is almost as important as my debut, so I’m working really hard to get it drafting and available to my new readers as soon as I can.

Tell us a little about your writing nook! Favorite tea/coffee/writing snack?

I’m really lucky: my husband is a total coffee snob and makes the best coffee you will ever have in your life. But when he’s not home, I’ll usually make a cup of Irish Breakfast tea with lots of honey and milk. If we have some in the house, I might sneak some Theo’s Chocolate or a hot cocoa in the evenings.

Of all of your own characters, who would you most want to date?

Oh man, that is a hard one. Most of my readers will know that I’m about to release a second book, likely within the next month. It’s main male character, Nico Soltero, is pretty much my ideal man: dark hair, dark eyes, hometown boy from New York, and the kind of guy who has absolutely no idea how hot he really is. It also helps that he wears a uniform.

What project are you currently working on?

Two pieces: I’m hard at work on the second book in the Spitfire Series, Legally Mine. It will pick up where the first book, Legally Yours, left off with a pretty brutal cliffhanger that I know a lot of readers are eager to see resolved. Layla and Brandon’s story will likely need three books to get through, so I’ve started sketching out Book 3 as well.

I’m also in the editing stages of the first book of another intended series; the book will be titled “Downtown Baby.” A new adult romance, it follows the life of Layla Barros, an NYU student living in New York just after 9/11, and Nico Soltero, a Fedex worker with aspirations of becoming an FDNY firefighter. New York at that time is obviously not the easiest place to be, and Nico and Layla have to find their way to cross some big cultural divides in order to make it work together. It’s a story about young love and the hard lessons you learn when you are just starting to grow up.

What’s next for you?

Write, write, write, edit, write some more. I’ve got two series to finish and another one I have outlined, but still need to start drafting. Lots more in the pipeline. I just want to get it out there.

About the Author: 

Nicole French is a lifelong dreamer, hopeless romantic, and complete and total bookworm. When not writing fiction or teaching composition classes, she is hanging out with her family, playing soccer with the rest of the thirty-plus crowd in Seattle, or going on dates with her husband. In her spare time, she likes to go running with her dog, Greta, or practicing the piano, but never seems to do either one of these things as much as she should.

unnamedAbout the Book: 

Tell us a little about your new release: Legally Yours!

Legally Yours is about two really stubborn, ambitious people, and what happens when those two energies collide. Skylar Crosby is a third-year Harvard law student who is trying to figure out her next steps post-graduation.

One night, during a particularly bad Boston snowstorm, she ends up stranded in the living room of Brandon Sterling, investment wunderkind and founding partner of one of the most successful firms in Boston. The attraction is instantaneous, and the fireworks go off from there. But, of course, complicated people often come with complicated lives, and Skylar and Brandon are no different. The question left by the end of the book is whether or not they can overcome those complications in order to make the most of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.

Where did your inspiration for the book come from?

This is funny. I was watching way too much Sons of Anarchy with my husband, and that night I ended up dreaming about Charlie Hunnam, who is a total fox. Only, it wasn’t the MC version, it was Charlie Hunnam in a very nice suit, with his blond hair brushed back. I ended up dreaming almost the entire scene where Skylar and Brandon first meet. It was one of those dreams where you wake up thinking it really happened. I got out of bed at about 3:30 AM; I had to write it down. I didn’t go to sleep for the rest of the night, and by the next morning, I had three full chapters drafted, plus the outline for the entire trilogy.

Did you outline the story, or dive right in?

Both. I sort of jumped back at forth; as I’d come up with outlined plot turns, the scenes themselves would appear in my mind, almost like I was watching television.

How did your characters come to life?

Skylar was the easiest. The book is written in the first-person, so I felt like I knew her very well from the beginning. Her character is a lot like many of the students I knew in Boston and New York when I lived there, so she wasn’t terribly hard to crack in terms of her motivations and decision-making.
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Brandon, on the other hand, took a while. There are several scenes–some of the steamier ones in particular–that I had to rewrite several times because sometimes the actions I wrote didn’t quite ring true. I went into the story thinking he was going to be your average “alpha billionaire”, but he’s really not. I had to take some extra time to write out his backstory, to figure out those little kernels of truth that made him tick. Once I figured that out, Brandon’s character solidified, and I was able to write his scenes and dialogue with much more fluidity.
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Did you do any cool or interesting research for this story? What did you learn?
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I don’t know if this counts as weird, but it was definitely interesting. Skylar’s estranged mother, Janette, is an installation artist who is somewhat inspired by some of the people I met in the modern art community when I was working as a curator’s assistant during college.
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When I was trying to figure out what kind of stuff Janette created, I went to a lot of the galleries around Seattle to take a look at modern and installation art. One of the installation was a room that was about fifty feet by fifty feet, and the entire floor was covered with rows upon rows of plastic rats. All of the rats were about two feet high, and the second you walked into the room, they were all staring directly at you. It was beyond creepy. But that was one way I learned that installation art is often supposed to make you feel strong emotions like that: bewildered, disturbed, jarred, etc. So that ended up telling me a lot about Skylar’s mother, about what kind of person she is, and how that has affected Skylar in turn.
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What was your favorite part of working on this story? What was the most challenging?
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I love writing Skylar and Brandon’s dialogue. They bring honesty out from one another, which, to me, is the mark of an intense connection more than anything else. Their conversations feel very real to me, very natural. I could write their heart-to-hearts for hours (and I have!).
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The biggest challenge for me was writing the Mafia scenes. I’m from the Seattle suburbs originally, so I grew up pretty much as far away from that world as I could. I saw some things like that while living in New York later, but I wasn’t exactly on the set of Goodfellas. I didn’t want to make the Messina characters seem like stereotypes or glamorize the modern day Mafia. They’re criminals and lowlife; that’s really all there is to it. So it took quite a bit of researching actual small-time gambling rings in the news to figure out what that kind of racket might look like realistically.
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What’s next for this story – is it part of a series? When does it come out?
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Legally Yours is Book I in a planned trilogy called the “Spitfire Series.” I’m shooting for a May release date, but that will depend on how quickly the drafting process goes over the next few months. The best way to keep tabs on that is to join my mailing list and follow me on social media.
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Excerpt: 
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I set the box on the couch between us and pushed it toward him. “This is an incredibly ostentatious gift, and I work for you. Sir, it would be completely inappropriate for me to take it.”

“It’s a pair of shoes,” he stated.

“That cost a month’s rent.”

“Are you planning to continue working for me?”

I paused. “No. Am I being offered a job again?”

“No,” Sterling echoed. He leaned toward me. I had to force myself not to lean back. “Not unless you’ve changed your mind.”

I bit my lip. I was all but being told that a job at one of the top firms in Boston was immanent with my acceptance. Every law student in Boston would be falling over themselves for this kind of opportunity, particularly in this job market, particularly with only one semester to go. But my instincts hadn’t changed. Sterling Grove wasn’t the right place for me. Especially if I was going to be working for someone with a penchant for over-the-top gifts that would do nothing but start a bunch of unpleasant rumors.

“I haven’t changed my mind,” I said much more confidently than I felt. “But that doesn’t mean I can take these from you.”

“Sure it does.”

“No, it doesn’t!” I sputtered.

I picked up the box and thrust it into his lap; it slid helplessly to the floor. The sleek red shoes fell out of the cardboard to rest haphazardly on the rug. Sterling glared at me, his eyes now a dark blue despite the warm light. This time I glared right back.

We maintained our silent standoff while the fire popped in front of us. I tried not to notice that his knee just barely touched mine, sending heat coursing up my leg that couldn’t completely be from the fire or my temper. They did say there was a thin line between love and hate. It was all too easy to imagine us throwing the shoes across the room—maybe at each other?—before falling onto that soft rug. Naked. Wrestling. He would lean over me in the firelight and pin my hands over my head just as he eased himself between my…

“Skylar?”

I blinked out of my illicit daydream. “What?” Christ, that had gone from zero to sixty in record time.

His scowl had transformed into a knowing half-grin that told me he knew exactly what I was thinking about. “Your cheeks are red again. Are you feeling all right?”

Goddamn my Irish complexion.

“I’m fine,” I said, reaching behind me for my tea. I made a big production of taking a sip, rotating the cup in the saucer, and setting it back down again so I could regain my composure. “Are you always this stubborn?”

“As an ass,” he confirmed. With one toe, he kicked the shoes out of sight. “Usually it gets me what I want.”

Something about the way he said that had me flushed all over again, and I found myself reaching for my tea again just to avoid the heat of his gaze. I took another large sip and a deep breath. When I felt calm again, I looked up.

Check out Legally Yours on Amazon – Amazon UKAmazon AusAmazon CA

And find Nicole on FacebookGoodreads  Twitter 

 

 

 

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