I speak French. I’m a proud Canadian, born and raised in Montreal, so I learned to speak French as my second language. But I must admit, it’s rather rusty these days, i.e., don’t ask me to chat up Céline Dion or even Bradley Cooper (apparently) because it will not end well.

Nicole Blades

Nicole Blades

Accents are my jam! I’ve always been fascinated by them and can imitate various accents—just a knack, I guess.

There are two people whom I always thank for ignited my love of storytelling and writing. The first is my father, who is a fantastic, natural storyteller, and the other is Mr. Harry Polka, my third grade teacher. He was a big supporter of creative writing. He encouraged us to write down our stories and to do it everyday. And he showed such interest in what we were writing, too. It really set me up to believe that what I had to say was interesting and even important. I’ll always be grateful to him for that.

I’m low-key superstitious. In my logical brain, I know it’s all quite unreliable, at best. But the emotional side will still actively avoid walking under a ladder, knock on wood when I mention something truly horrible possibly happening, and I don’t know what I would even do if I were to break a mirror. (*knocks on wood*)

I started writing fan fiction without even knowing it. As a young kid, one of my favorite television shows was Miami Vice. I would record the show on Friday nights when it aired and watched it a few more times through the weekend. Then on Sundays I would write a new version of the episode, but starring me as the hero interacting with other people and cooking up adventure.

I’ve been a journalist for over 20 years, and I believe it has benefited my fiction writing. Journalism taught me how to pay close attention to details. It’s the details that make something feel authentic or relatable, and those details are what help a fiction writer draw the reader in and, often, keep them there. Also, journalism has taught me the immeasurable value in research and asking the right questions. There’s that old saw: Write what you know. Yes, it’s true. But there’s something to be said for writing what you don’t know. It forces you out of your comfort zone and makes you dig deeper, ask questions, look for people who know more than you about XYZ and ask them, learn from them.

To me, one of the grossest things in life will always and forever be soggy bread. Just the thought of it makes me feel nauseated—and we haven’t even broached the subject of the feel of it. Ugh!

You: Would you like an open-faced, hot sandwich with gravy over it, Nicole?

Me: Stop talking. Right now.

I’m a runner. I’ve been running for well over a decade, and still feel connected to it. I run year-round outdoors. And we live in New England now and before that New York City, and running in the cold can be a challenge. (Sometimes even I ask myself: Woman, why are you like this?) But being out there in the fresh air—cold or not—putting in miles, gives my brain a chance to wander and take deep inhales and exhales too.

Writing is my vocation. I take writing seriously. And when I’m actively writing, I’m very focused on it. It may sound a little corn-dog, but it’s true: I feel so honored to be part of this immense, important tradition of storytelling.

I’m also deeply dedicated to storytelling that raises the volume on Black voices and experiences that have historically pushed deep into the margins. It’s important to me to illustrate how Black Life is vast with sensibilities to match. Our lives are truly diverse and cannot be boiled down to a single, same story or tired trope. And I’m committed to highlighting this truth with my work.