(Interviewed by Bobby)
Nicole, thanks so much for joining us to talk about you and your novella Keeping Her in the Light!
How long have you been writing, whether for personal pleasure or actual publication? What was the first story you wrote (that you can remember)?
I’ve been writing for at least 5 years, and that’s pretty good, considering my current age. Living for only nearly two decades, writing for the past five years, having a book published recently… The first story I wrote took place in the Victorian Era, wherein a woman about to be punished for a crime she had committed escapes with the help of a man who later asks her to steal something with him in return for what he had done to save her. I never finished it, though I knew how it would end. I think when I know how a story ends, I don’t finish it. Keeping Her in the Light was the first story I ever completed; I never knew how it would end until I actually ended it.
What caused you to pursue professional publication? Have you found that being published has changed your life at all? If so, how?
When I finished writing Keeping Her in the Light, I just decided to try having it published. Having a book published hasn’t change my life at all, though. I’m still the same person, and everyone around me treats me as they had treated me before being published. Though sometimes I can’t help but feel there are more expectations laid out for me, and I just add up to that expectation because I end up expecting a lot from myself.
Tell me a little bit about the background of your psychological thriller Keeping Her in the Light. Did anything in particular inspire this story? What impressions were you hoping for your readers to walk away with?
The syndrome that dominates the story, Stockholm syndrome, acted as an inspiration. I was quite interested with it when I had first heard of it. So interested to the point that I just had to write a story revolving around it. I wanted the story to leave readers with a certain thrill, the idea of a captor-captive situation haunting their minds and, somehow, moving their hearts.
This story revolves around two unique psychological conditions: Stockholm syndrome and Lima syndrome. What inspired you to write about this? What kind of research did you have to do before you could pen this story?
I found out about Stockholm syndrome from an article in a site I frequent, and the knowledge of Lima syndrome followed, since the two syndromes are mere “opposites” of each other. Naturally, Stockholm syndrome inspired me to write a story about it. It was just too interesting to take away from my mind. When I wrote this story, not much research had to be done, because I was already familiar with both syndromes.
Tell me a little bit about your development of the killer, Vernicus, and his various personalities. How did you want your audience to react to him?
I want them to feel what Allie felt: confusion. As for the development of Vernicus and his personalities (by the way, one can’t be too sure that Vernicus is the original personality), I was supposed to make him have only one personality: Hector’s. I started off with a stoic man. Something must have happened to me while writing, because right before my eyes I could see Hector changing, becoming insane, crazed. I scolded myself for being so inconsistent with my characters. Then the idea of a killer with a Dissociative Identity Disorder hit me. They came in order of appearance, Hector and The Clown alternating regularly. Vernicus appeared to me one day, and like Allie, I was shocked, surprised. All his personalities were different, yet somehow, they clicked together. So many different personalities coexisting in one body.
Why do you write horror/psychological thrillers as opposed to other forms of fiction?
Seems like it’s the only genre wherein I don’t know what will happen next. Writing thrillers gives off the same feeling as reading them. It makes me think, it makes others think. I used to be scared of writing thrillers, especially since the story itself would be proof of how dark the abyss of my mind could be. I’ve learned to embrace the fact, though.
When you create your characters, how attached do you get to them? Do you have a hard time letting go after writing “the end”? Also, with your antagonists, are you content making them simply “bad,” or do you feel as if they have to have any redeeming characteristics?
When I create a character, it’s hard for me to let go of them, not when the story ends, but when their lives end. I recently killed off a certain character in a new story I’m making, and I nearly cried. I write what I see. I didn’t make him die. He died, so I had to write that he did. I had to write what I saw. With the antagonists, I make sure they have some redeeming characteristics. Making them have some redeeming qualities is similar to how everyone has a bit of good in them. A person can’t be pure evil, and I make sure my antagonists aren’t 100% hate-worthy.
How much planning goes into your writing? Do you systematically plot everything ahead of time, or do you let the words flow and see where they take you?
Maybe about 5% planning goes into writing. I don’t think much when I write. It’s like I go into trance and an outpour of words just happen. If I plan everything ahead of time and know what’s going to happen, the story begins to bore me and I don’t finish it. I start with a word or a phrase and I take the risk of letting the words take me anywhere.
What is your current work-in-progress? What can your readers expect from you after Keeping Her in the Light? Is it going it to creep us out or scare us silly?
I’m balancing my education with my writing as of now, but I’m planning on going back to a story I abandoned a couple of years ago. It’s still a thriller, but this time based on a dream I had two years ago. It won’t be as horrifying as Keeping Her in the Light because it’ll have more elements of gentleness in them: the gentleness of a distorted, misunderstood killer to a beautiful, innocent, yet blind little girl.
Tell me a little bit about Nicole Fuentes the person. Will you share a little about your home, your family, your interests with us? What are your hobbies that take you away from the computer? Do you have a full-time job besides writing?
I come from a family of 8, and though I may have the weirdest family ever, I’m proud I have such a unique, strong family. As of now, I’m really interested in the books “Hannibal”, “The Silence of the Lambs”, “Dead Man Walking”, and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. I thankfully have something that takes me away from all the thinking: karate. I’m a purple-belter, though I had to put it on hold for my studies.
So, what are you reading right now? What books would I find on your bookshelves? Do you tend to read any particular genre over another? Anything that we would notice as conspicuously absent from your library shelves?
I’m reading “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo. It’s quite interesting—the contrasts between Frollo and Quasimodo who love Notre Dame for two very different reasons. Aside from this book, you can find the following books on my bookshelf (the others are on my wish list): “The Hannibal Lecter series”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Dead Man Walking”, and a couple of Dean Koontz’s books. I don’t think it’s a matter of genre; I think it has a lot to do with the content. Notice that there’s always someone misunderstood or cast away in each book I’m interested in. I guess I just want to understand the misunderstood.
Please let us know how we can find out more about you and your writing – websites, blogspots, etc. How can we go about purchasing your work?
Nicole, thanks so much for sharing your story with us. We at BookWenches wish you the very best for the future in life and your writing career!