Nicole Conway is an author and freelance illustrator from North Alabama. Currently she lives in Valdosta, Georgia, with her husband. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Auburn University, and is a member of the SCBWI. Her most recent work, FLEDGLING, was released in October 2013 as the first installment of her new children’s fantasy series: THE DRAGONRIDER CHRONICLES.
Literary Juice: Your book, Fledgling, a fantasy about a boy who embarks on a dangerous adventure to rescue his instructor, has received outstanding approval on Amazon. What do you feel readers find most appealing about this book?
Nicole Conway: Based on the reviews and feedback the book has received so far, I feel that people are very drawn to the characters. The main character, Jaevid Broadfeather, isn't what you’d imagine a hero to be. He’s not big or strong. At the beginning of the book, he isn't even very brave. But it’s his journey and his experiences with his new friends that begin to shape him into someone worthy of being called a hero. I feel that his journey is one all of us can relate to.
LJ: You are also the author of Dervyshire Park, a paranormal romance, which is a completely different genre from Fledgling. In what ways was the process for developing the plot and characters different for each book? Did you adhere to any strategies or formulas for these books respectively?
NC: Dervyshire Park was my first novel, and definitely a shot in the dark for me. I didn’t know anything at all about the publishing industry when it was released. It was a learning experience, but a very valuable one. Since then, I've definitely become more focused, but I don’t adhere to any strategies when writing. I do keep a journal where all my books, characters, and details are tracked, but I try not to limit myself to a strict formula. My philosophy has always been that if something isn’t fun to write, then it isn’t going to be fun to read. Each book is like an adventure for me, as well.
LJ: Which genre are you most comfortable writing? Why?
NC: Children’s fiction is, without a doubt, my favorite genre. I absolutely love writing children’s books. They are just a blast to work on. I guess my inner child has never really grown up!
LJ: What is the biggest challenge you face when writing? How are you able to overcome these challenges?
NC: Life has always been my biggest challenge when it comes to writing. I’m one to have a million irons in the fire at the same time, and life always gets in the way. My husband’s career is very time consuming for both of us, and it requires us to pick up and move every year. It’s insanely stressful. But for me, writing has always been a coping tool to help me deal with stress. So I always make time to write, even if it’s only an hour or two.
LJ: Have you ever received outside criticism concerning your writing? If so, how did you handle this criticism in a way that has benefited you positively?
NC: Of course I’ve received criticism! That’s just part of being an author, though. We put a piece of our hearts out there for the world to criticize, and so naturally there are some people who just aren’t going to agree with everything we present. When dealing with criticism, I try not to take it to be destructive even if it’s meant to be taken that way. I try to take it as an opportunity to improve and do better the next time.
LJ: The sequel to Fledgling, Avian, is set to debut this summer. Can you give us a little sneak peek into this book?
NC: I’m so thrilled that people have enjoyed Fledgling so much, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot left in store for Jaevid and his friends.
In the sequel, we’re going to start delving deeper into Jaevid’s past, and uncovering all the buried secrets that have shaped his destiny. We’re also going to get our first glimpse into the horrors of the gray elf kingdom of Luntharda, which is something I've been eager to write about from the beginning. This year of training will present a whole new spectrum of challenges for Jaevid and Felix. It will test them in ways no one will be expecting.
When reading this book, my hope is that readers are going to start to see how much Jaevid has started to change from a frightened little boy into a man—both physically and emotionally. I’ll be posting a special, unedited preview chapter on my author page in January. Avian will be a whole new adventure, and I can’t wait for people to read it!
LJ: If there is one lesson you hope readers can learn from your stories, what would it be?
NC: I would hope that my readers, especially the children who read my work, would learn not to judge people based on face value. You can’t tell what someone has been through, what their destiny will be, or who they really are just by how they look. This is a mistake that even I am guilty of making. It’s so easy to judge others, but doing that doesn't just hurt that other person. It closes a door for you, as well, because that person might have something amazing to offer you in a friendship or relationship that you’ll never get to experience if you are quick to judge them.
Fiction by NICOLE CONWAY
Paperback: 296pp; Kindle-$.99; Paperback-$8.95
About this Book: Jaevid Broadfeather has grown up as a wartime refugee, hiding from the world because of his mixed racial heritage. He feels his future is hopeless, until a chance encounter with a wild dragon lands him in Blybrig Academy—a place usually forbidden to anyone but the rich and royal. But Jaevid’s case is special; no dragon has voluntarily chosen a rider in decades, so the proud riders of Blybrig must begrudgingly let him join their brotherhood despite his bloodline. Lieutenant Sile Derrick, a sternly tempered man with a mysterious past, becomes his instructor and immediately takes a peculiar interest in Jaevid’s future. While struggling through the rigorous physical demands of training, things begin to go awry. Jaevid witnesses the king’s private guards kidnapping Sile in the dead of night. When none of the elder riders are willing to help him, Jaevid begins a dangerous adventure to save his instructor.