9 Nov 2015

Author Interview / Nicole L Rivera

Christianity meets Potter-fandom in this new devotional

Nicole L Rivera, Creative Team Manager for the Harry Potter fansite, MuggleNet, marries faith with fandom in Finding Unauthorized Faith in Harry Potter. A Christ-follower for ten years and Potter-fan for fourteen years, Nicole set out to write a thesis exploring the parallels between the Bible and the Harry Potter series for her Master of Arts in creative writing. She didn’t expect the four-hundred-plus page essay to become a series of ebooks and now a book in a variety of formats.
Nicole has been fascinated with Harry Potter since the summer before her Junior year in High School. By now, she’s re-read the series many times. Once she discovered Christ and began to study the Bible, the parallels between her favorite story and her new favorite story sparked her interest in seeking the Christ-narrative and messages in modern-day tales and using those tales as a way to better understand the Christian faith.

Nicole explains, “I originally entitled this book, The Parable of Harry Potter, because I believe the Harry Potter story is a parable of Christian values and of the Christ-story, whether intended by the author or not. I hope my book will serve as a tool for Harry Potter fans to grow deeper in their faith, or explore faith in Christ for the first time. I consider this book like the great house of Hufflepuff. All are welcome."
You can find Nicole's Potter-related articles at www.mugglenet.com/author/nicole and connect with her and stay up-to-date on her latest projects through her website, www.nicolelrivera.com.

Finding Unauthorized Faith blog: https://potterwars.wordpress.com/ 
Preorder this book here -  https://potterwars.wordpress.com/the-book/

1. If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why? 
Hmmm... That is a hard one. The most obvious answer would be J.K. Rowling, but they say that once you meet your heroes you may be disappointed. Part of me would rather not have the magic spoiled. The other, probably larger part, would jump on the opportunity in a second. 

If I was granted the use of the Resurrection Stone, I'd go with Jane Austen. We don't even have to write anything, I'd just love to hear her give a lecture on her life and writing philosophies. 

2. What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write? 
I actually have a to-do list flow chart for my day. I start with exercise (which, let's be honest, is really just stretching) and I read while I'm doing this. Got to hit that Goodreads reading goal, lol. Then I move on to what I call "God Time" where I read my Bible, pray, etc. I also work on my PotterWars: Finding Unauthorized Faith post for the day. 
Next is "Skills" time where I flip through my vocabulary words on my Kindle and work on an in-depth analysis of one of my favorite books. So far I've gone scene-by-scene through the Twilight series, and I just started re-typing and taking notes on Prisoner of Azkaban. I find re-typing books I love helps me to get more into the author's head and analyze how they write and structure their plots. 
After all that is done, I move on to the actual writing time. Right now I'm working on planning out characters for a fictional series I'm working on. One thing I've learned from Rowling is to be a meticulous planner. I plan on taking several months, possibly a year, to get all my plans in place before writing the series. Although I have worked on a few scenes. Once I've done all I can for my current WIP for the day, I switch gears and get into writing, editing, managing mode for my job at MuggleNet. And usually later in the evening I work on marketing (which is a must for all authors if you want people to actually read your books). 
I finish my days around 10pm usually with reading and smoothie sipping. Sometimes that turns into baking cookies and watching Star Wars, depends on if I've had a rough day or not. 

I also have a few side jobs I fit into this schedule because, you know, the power company won't let me pay in stories. ;) 

When and where? Anywhere and at any and all times. I have Evernote ready to go on my phone so I can stop whenever an idea pops into my head. I also work on my plots in my head as I go through the day so that when I hit the laptop (whose name is Maci) I am ready to go. I think, to be a writer, you have to be a writer 24/7, even when not writing. You should be either working on a plot in your head, reading a book while dissecting the craft of the author, or hunting for words and unique names and descriptions. I also dissect and ruin every movie and TV show I watch with my husband. I'm getting better at keeping my mouth shut, but it's hard when I get around my family because we all try to predict the plot five minutes into whatever we are watching (drives the Hubby crazy). 

3. What is the hardest part of the writing for you? 
Always feeling like I want to do more of it but not having enough hours or having to do pesky chores (grocery shopping, grrr). Also, marketing can be a drag when it feels like you are putting yourself out there and no one is responding (or very few people are). 

4. When and why did you first start writing? 
Birth? Lol. I've always been a story lover, I just didn't realize it was my calling until I was 23 (after getting a degree in accounting, spending a semester in law school, and another semester in business school). I've also been writing stories, poems, plays, letters, since I could actually write. The only time I got away from writing as often was during a rocky couple of years in my early twenties, but I still wrote a bit here and there. Right after I got married and hit the what-am-I-going-to-do-with-my-life wall, that is when I felt called to make writing my full-time gig. Or at least focus. 

5. How did you come up with the idea for the book your book? 
I actually didn't. Finding Unauthorized Faith in Harry Potter was a paper I wrote for my masters in creative writing (I actually completed this degree). It was my professor, Ken Kuhlken, who came up with the idea. He has his own publishing company, Hickey's Books, and offered to publish it. We started by publishing the book as seven separate e-books. These did fairly well, so we did a ton of editing down (all the e-books put together were over 400 pages), and now the physical (and e-book) compilation is set to release on December 10, 2015. 

6. Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now? 
Yes. Right now, because I can't just read one book at a time, I'm reading Lady Susan by Jane Austen, Avengers: Solo Avengers Classic by a slue of comic book authors from Marvel circa 1987-88, and Complete Guide to Money by Dave Ramsey. 

7. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Write. Be strong and courageous. Be a Gryffindor (brave), a Slytherin (cunning), a Ravenclaw (constant learner), and a Hufflepuff (hard working—go Puffs!). Never stop learning and improving your craft. Study your favorite stories (they say JK read Emma 27 times while she was planning the Potter books). You've got to know stories. Know how you want to write and why you want to write that way; the only way to do this is to be a story scholar—read seriously, ask questions of the stories you watch/read, pull them apart until you see how they tick. 

And, from JKR herself: Planning, planning, planning. 

But first and foremost: never stop writing.