Today I’m super excited to post my first author interview!
My friend Nicole Sewell is publishing her second book – Emerson Hills – on October 6th. It’s a ghost story (just in time for Halloween!) and is available for pre-order now – links below!
Heather: Hi Nicole! Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed! Can you tell the readers a little about yourself?
Nicole: I’m a full-time wife, mother, and recruiter at a staffing company. I love toast made from white bread, and HATE bananas.
Heather: Emerson Hills releases October 6th – what is it about?
Nicole: Trailer parks, ghosts, and the power of friendship. Ha! Kidding. Sort of. It’s about a girl who is being haunted by the ghost of her worst enemy. And smoking pot. And concussions. And friendship bracelets…I’m bad at this. Here’s the jacket summary:
Seventeen-year-old Jordyn Bentley lives in a trailer park in Georgia with her overworked mother and slacker older brother. Like any trailer park, Emerson Hills is full of drama usually reserved for daytime talk shows. But things get serious when local pageant princess and trailer park resident Emmy Roper goes missing after shoving Jordyn in front of a truck.
All eyes are on Jordyn, who has been Emmy’s worst enemy for years and has every reason to want revenge. To make matters worse, Jordyn is being haunted by Emmy’s annoyingly cryptic spirit.
With accusations flying and an irritating ghost on the loose, Jordyn sets out to prove her innocence and put Emmy to rest with the help of her best friend Rachel, and Brandon, her brother’s hot friend who lives across the road. The cops are breathing down her neck, the clock is ticking, and it just might take help from beyond the grave to clear her name.
Heather: This book is considered Young Adult. What draws you to this genre?
Nicole: I prefer Young Adult just because I’m not a fan of gratuitous sex. There’s plenty of sex in YA, but no heaving bossom’s and throbbing members. I also have decent memories of my late teen years, so it’s fun to relive those to some extent.
Heather: Emerson Hills is a ghost story. Do you believe in ghosts?
Nicole: I do. And here’s why: I believe in spiritual entities, beings that exist on a higher non-corporeal plane, and everything in between. If you believe in God, angels, demons, souls, aliens, etc., you kind of have to include ghosts in that mix. Now, do I believe ghosts are scary things that float around and terrorize people out of spite? No. I think “ghosts” are released souls or energy that are making their way to the next plane. Occasionally one gets caught here.
Heather: Did you have to do any research for this book? There is a séance scene that was pretty creepy; have you been to a séance before?
Nicole: I’ve never been to a séance, but I did pick the brain of a few people that I know dabble with that kind of stuff. I guess you can call that research. I also watched some YouTube videos. They were all pretty lame, honestly. The most informative people I spoke with were the Pagan and the Satanist. Two different perspectives that are radically different from my own Christian perspective. I did a little research on head injuries and the rate of decomposition of bodies too. Not exactly the most pleasant, but it was interesting.
Heather: Along with being a ghost story, Emerson Hills is also a murder mystery. I was surprised by who the killer was – was that your intention?
Nicole: Fo’ sho! Actually, I went back and forth with who I wanted the killer to be. Literally right up to the very end, I had one person in mind. And then I was like, “No, THIS!!!” I’m always REALLY happy when someone tells me they were surprised.
Heather: Can you give us a small excerpt of the book?
“Wanna go in?” she asks.
I stand up from the porch swing and stretch with my arms above my head. “Yeah, why not?”
Movement three trailers up catches my eye. It’s Jason and his lifelong best friend, Kyle, with that bitch Emmy.
I roll my eyes. “God. What’s she doing here?”
Rachel twists around in her seat. “Let’s go inside before they get here.”
Jason catches my eye and walks a little faster, leaving Kyle and Emmy behind.
“Hey,” he says, taking the four front steps in two strides.
“Carlos is looking for you,” I say, watching him closely for signs of nervousness. His face tells me nothing, other than that he needs to shave. And cut his hair. It’s starting to curl around his ears and at the back of his neck. His shirt is so wrinkled it’s like crepe paper. “You look like shit,” I add.
He narrows his eyes, giving me a bland smile before he turns to Rachel. “What’s up?”
“We were about to go inside for a minute,” she says, standing up.
Jason’s eyes drift to Kyle and Emmy as they cut across the neighbor’s yard to join us on the front porch.
Emmy stomps up the steps in her stupid ballet flats. She’s only been on the porch for three seconds and I already want to punch her in the throat.
We didn’t always hate each other. Emmy Roper has always been Camp Springs, Georgia’s pageant princess. We used to compete side by side until fifth grade, when I won the crown and she got first alternate. Emmy considered it an act of war, and even though I quit competing, she’s hated me ever since.
I take in her freshly bleached roots and immaculate hot pink nail polish. Why anyone would want to be a living Barbie doll is beyond me.
“Mom probably won’t want a bunch of people in the house,” I say, glancing pointedly between Jason and Emmy.
“She’s working late. It’ll be fine,” he says, putting his arm around Emmy. Emmy giggles and flips her hair over her shoulder, eyeing me, daring me to say something.
“Well, I don’t want her in the house,” I say.
“Tough shit.” He tightens his grip on her and leads her into the house.
The screen door screeches and bangs behind me, the last one in. If it was just Rachel and me, we’d go to my room. Since Jason brought his fan club, we make ourselves at home in the living room because the last thing I want is Emmy Roper in my bedroom, touching my stuff.
Heather: Even though Outside was a serious topic, there were times when I laughed out loud. Does Emerson Hills also have humor in it or is it just totally scary?
Nicole: I meant for Emerson Hills to be a comedic horror. I’m a fan of movies like Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead and Jennifer’s Body. I don’t like super-intense horror. If there aren’t moments of hope and a laugh or two, I usually can’t handle it.
Heather: What was the hardest part of writing Emerson Hills?
Nicole: Developing the romance at a reasonable pace and keeping it relevant. I always struggle with that, though. I’m a fan of the slow-burning romance, but have a hard time writing it myself.
Heather: Okay, last question: What can we expect from you in the future?
Nicole: I’m working on two projects simultaneously. Literally one sentence at a time… One is a contemporary romantic thriller that takes place in the same universe as Outside. The other is a supernatural angels/demons type thing that I plan to make into a series. Finding time to write is a serious challenge though. I’m probably going to have to take some vacation days or call in sick if I ever hope to finish anything!
Heather: Thanks so much, Nicole! I hope Emerson Hills is a huge success!
Thanks again, Nicole!