Interview with Author Nicole Blades

In You, Your Books on April 13, 2010 at 8:59 AM

Earth's Waters by Nicole Blades


Nicole Blades is a writer, editor and blogger.  Her writing gigs include remarkable stints at ESPN and Essence Magazine.  On her website, she describes herself as “… someone who likes to tell tales.  Not tall ones.  Just  good ones.”      

LW: Welcome Nicole and thanks for taking a moment to sit down and chat.  Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you.      

NB:  I’m enthralled by accents. I like to hear and often try to imitate people’s accents.    

Two things I like to observe in human beings: their hands and their handwriting. Fascinating.    

 I’ve never in my life eaten Taco Bell, and have absolutely no plan to change this.    

LW:  How do you describe Earth’s Waters?    

NB:  Set in Barbados, EARTH’S WATERS is a coming-of-age story about young girl slowly drowning in paradise. Young, sea-loving Harriette Leacock—nicknamed Lily, after the floating flower—lives a lonely life with Mother, a stern, detached woman who is actually her maternal grandmother. Harriette’s only joy is the frequent trips she takes to the sea, where she can escape the prison of boredom and Mother’s contempt, if only for an afternoon. It was at the sun-soaked beach that the withdrawn, thoughtful Harriette finds precious stones, money, company—and Colvin Edwards. Quickly and almost unwittingly, Harriette enters into a relationship with the seemingly charismatic Colvin. But his involvement in a crime that rocks the island forces Harriette to make a decision: stay the shy, retiring flower or finally swim freely into her own destiny.    

LW:  Are the characters’ experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?    

NB:  No, not directly. My family is from Barbados, and I lived and worked there for two years—after my first “tour of duty” in New York City. The characters and their experiences are based on a combination of stories I’ve heard my father tell and my own dreamed-up ideas.    

LW:  What inspired you to write this book?    

NB:  I started working on Earth’s Waters at two different stages, actually. The original seed/idea was planted in my mind one morning when I was riding the ZR (a small van-like bus) to work when I was living in Barbados back in 1997. I was working as a reporter for The Nation, one of the local newspapers, and I would interact with such interesting local characters throughout the day—both in the office and out on assignment. This one morning, looking out the window, I spotted this old woman selling newspapers and nuts near Westbury Cemetery (it might be called something else now). For whatever reason, my mind stayed on her. I started thinking about the people—the regulars—who stop by her cart to get their newspaper or pack of raw nuts before heading off to the rest of their day. I had this specific idea about a story where three different characters’ lives play out in very different ways, yet they are all connected to each other through this newspaper woman. Anyway, I wrote a few thoughts down—half scenes, some dialogue and character descriptions—but didn’t really develop it all the way until a few years later, when I was in California. It was after the dot-com fallout, and I needed to put my creative energy into something solid, so I went back to the story and started writing.    

 LW:  Which part of researching Earth’s Waters was the most personally interesting to you?    

NB:  The people and their stories. My father is a good storyteller. He always had some tale to share about his days as a young boy in Barbados. It was interesting to delve into some of those stories, go deeper into the background of why someone acted the way they did and the history behind so much of it.    

LW:  What is the message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?    

 NB:  I don’t think it’s a message so much as I hope that they enjoy the story enough that they are transported into that time and experience happening on the page.    

LW:  And the cover; who designed it?    

NB:  The publisher, DC Books, handled that. They used a husband-wife design team in Montreal, Canada.    

LW:  How did your interest in writing begin?    

NB:  My love of stories goes way back to when I was a little girl growing up in Montreal, Canada. I often say that ever since my third grade class with Mr. Polka, I’ve been telling stories. Mr. Polka was this fantastic, creative grade school teacher who really encouraged creative writing, and I thoroughly enjoyed letting my imagination roam.    

LW:  What book(s) influence your life— and why?    

NB:  It’s rather difficult to narrow this down. The list is long and varied. I find inspiration in so many places. As for literary, I’d say Alice Munro, Octavia Butler, Edwidge Danticat, Toni Morrison, Jhumpa Lahiri, F. Scott Fitzgerald, to name only a few. Seriously, the list is crazy long! Other inspirations include my son and my husband, my parents, grandmothers, movies, music, photography.    

LW:  What are your three favorite books and why?    

NB:  Oh, I couldn’t answer this question. I don’t know if I can narrow it down to three. There are short stories that I enjoy, essays, plays, and then add to that all the novels… I’m going to skip this one. Sorry!    

LW:  Fair enough. 🙂 What are you reading now?    

NB:  I have a 14-month-old son, so reading (as I would like) is a luxury in which I don’t often partake. Between keeping up with that little sweetheart, writing my second book, working on my blog, and doing freelance media projects, if I have “free” time, I’m sleeping! I’m constantly giving the side-eye to this ugly–and growing uglier–stack of  magazines and books that sit piled *next* to my night stand. It’s next because the pile is too much to rest *on* the table.     

However, when I do grab some time to read, I’m quite fond of short story collections. They are just enough for me to bite off and digest before racing off to do something else. Recently read some stories from this thick F. Scott Fitzgerald shorts collection and some from the “Best American” shorts series. Right now I’m reading Alice Munro’s “Too Much Happiness.” I’m also reading a nonfiction, behavioral science-y book called “59 Seconds” by Richard Wiseman. Other books closer to the top of the stack, and which I hope to get to soon: “Big Machine” by Victor LaValle, “On Mercy” by Toni Morrison. My husband and I both read Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” not too long ago.    

LW:  Favorite films and music?    

NB:  I am possibly the worst person to ask these things. My lists are so long to name, and I’m always remembering another “fave” well after the fact and want to add them to the list.    

Music: I like lots of things: jazz, R&B, pop, rock, reggae, hip-hop (the old stuff, not this crazy new business). My husband is a big music guy. He’s introduced me to lots of great World music and some Bluegrass.    

Films: There are many. I am not at all into horror or frat-boy silly stuff. Maybe telling what I *don’t* like is the way to go with these all-time faves questions. Films I’ve seen recently and liked: “Hurt Locker,” District 9,” “Up in the Air.” Also caught “The Wrestler” and Ryan Gosling film “Half Nelson”    

LW:  What advice do you have for new writers?    

NB:  I’m not one to give lots advice to new writers except to say this: Write! You have to write to be a writer. You have to write to become a better writer. Don’t get bogged down in some of the other business-y aspects of the publishing game–it can be daunting. Do your part in this, and write.    

LW:  Can you share a little of your current work with us?    

NB:  I don’t want to say too much about it, but I can say that it’s (primarily) set in an all-girls, boarding school in Vermont, and the main character has a big secret.  But the arrival of a new student in the final year of school rattles the protagonist’s charmed life, and her carefully constructed world begins to crumble.    

LW:  What’s next?    

NB:  Next is finishing this manuscript. Next is building my blog. Next is being a mom. Next is moving forward, forward, forward ever.    

LW:  What else do you want your readers to know? Consider here your likes and dislikes, your interests and hobbies, your favorite ways to unwind — whatever comes to mind.    

NB:  I’m very interested in photography. It’s another fascinating way to tell a story, capture a moment, convey a feeling or idea.    

LW:  Where can our readers find your book and website(s), twitter, etc?    

NB:  Blog:; Twitter: @NicoleBlades Book: “Earth’s Waters” available at, Banes &, etc.    

LW:  Thanks for chatting with us Nicole.  Good luck with your blog, your photography and your “next”!  🙂    

  1. As someone who has read “Earth’s Waters,” it is good to hear about the genesis of Nicole’s engaging first novel.

    • Nicole is one remarkable lady and author; she truly has the “gift”. And to top it off, she’s a really fun and down to earth person. Thanks for weighing in!

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