Nicole O’Dell has worked as a youth director, a Bible study leader, a counselor at a crisis pregnancy center, and served as a camp counselor for more than a decade. However, it’s the memory of her own teen years that drives her passion for helping young girls face the toughest decisions in their lives. Nicole’s interactive books—and her radio show—take on topics like peer pressure, dating, purity, drugs, alcohol, modesty, and popularity.
The author of six books and a contributor of more than 200 devotional writings for other books, Nicole is also the mother of six children and married to the guy she calls her “American Idol.”
With six children, including triplets, how do you find time to write?
Well, I’m definitely a work-at-home mom—which often means a retreat to Panera for some quiet. It’s not always easy, but my husband and I have committed to making sure I have certain hours to write or do other writing-related work. We try very hard to protect those hours. It doesn’t always work, and family comes first no matter what, but we do our best. So far, so good.
How long have you been writing? Please tell us a little about your writing journey, how you got started, what led to the sale of your first book, etc.
I’ve been writing for publication since 2007. I began by submitting devotional readings to some books for women that Barbour Publishing compiled. I wound up contributing a total of over 200 readings to seven books.
During that time, while I was also waiting for my triplets to come, I contracted and completed my first two YA books and haven’t stopped since.
How does your faith play into your writing?
Everything I write handles a faith-based issue—usually dealing with teens and peer pressure whether I’m writing for the teens or their parents. I believe that it’s my calling, but, since it’s also my passion, I couldn’t do it any other way if I wanted to.
Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?
Remember those triplets we spoke about in the first question? LOL! I mean, really, I didn’t expect or plan to expel three human beings from my body at the same time. But, WOW, what a blessing!
Plus, six months of bed rest and six weeks of uninterrupted time in the hospital gave me a lot of time to think about what I needed to do. It was definitely a time of deep reflection and prayer.
Let’s talk about your new books, which are two-in-one interactive novels for young adults (Barbour Publishing, April 1, 2011). Please tell us about them.
Sure. All six of my Scenarios interactive fiction books for girls are releasing in a 2-in-1 format on April 1. Books 1 and 2 (Truth or Dare and All that Glitters) are in the 2-in-1 called Dare to be Different. Books 3 and 4 (Magna and Making Waves) are in the 2-in-1 called Risky Business.
And the never-before released Books 5 and 6 (High Stakes and Essence of Lilly) are in the 2-in-1 called Swept Away. In High Stakes, seniors and best friends, Amber and Brittany, are neck and neck in a good-natured competition for a car being given away by a local business. In Essence of Lilly, sophomore Lilly Armstrong is always looking for ways to escape the confines of her unhappy home. She “invents” youth group activities just so she can hang out with her boyfriend, Jason—the only one in Lilly’s life who makes her feel special. What happens when Amber and Lilly are faced with making difficult choices? Readers help Amber and Lilly make the difficult decisions by choosing between alternate endings, and then see how their choices create consequences with life-altering results.
What is an interactive book?
It simply means that the reader gets to make a difficult decision for the main character. The alternate endings allow the reader to follow her choice and its consequences through to the end where a contract and prayer guides her to a commitment for her own future choices.
What’s next for you?
Diamond Estates is a new series I’m doing with Barbour. The first book, The Wishing Pearl, releases on October 1.
Sixteen-year-old Olivia Mansfield can’t wait to escape the confines of her home, which promises nothing but perpetual torment and abuse from her stepfather. When poor choices lead her to the brink of a complete breakdown, Olivia comes to a crossroads. Will she find the path to ultimate hope and healing once she moves into Diamond Estates?
Diamond Estates is modeled after my own experiences at Teen Challenge, a residential facility for troubled teens. This is the book of my heart—I’m so excited about this one and the two others to follow in 2012, The Embittered Ruby and The Shadowed Onyx.
Another new series, Drama Ensues, is set to be released in June 2012.
Drama Ensues is a fun series that tackles the issues in a completely different way. There’s even a website and blog in place already. Check it out at www.dramaensues.com and keep watch as it develops over the next year.
Book one, The Understudy is a Ventriloquist, will release June, 2012, and is the story of Jayde Henrick, a driven teen with a message–and you’re going to hear it one way or another. She volunteers at the crisis pregnancy center, authors a blog, and acts in school plays. Books 2 and 3 of this series are planned to release in quick succession.
You also host a radio show. Please tell us about the show. What age group do you target?
Teen Talk Radio is so much fun! I’ve been doing it for almost a year and have loved every minute of it. I get to talk to exciting guests about fun topics and heavy issues. At Teen Talk Radio, it’s all about choices! Big or small, major or minor, there’s a moment before every decision when a teen can alter the course of her life. We cover topics like peer pressure, dating, purity, drugs, alcohol, modesty, popularity, the future, and anything else that comes up.
We target teens (mostly girls) anywhere from 11-17, and their parents or anyone else involved with youth in some way.
It airs live at 10pm EST at www.choicesradio.com where you can also peruse the past podcasts and download any of interest to you. The show is also available as a podcast on iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/teen-talk-radio/id372833535?ign-mpt=uo%3D4.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Popcorn! I just love the taste and it’s like an every-three-sentences bite. Oh, and gummy bears. Again—great taste, and a bite every three sentences. ; )
This website features both music and literary guests. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
In my dreams, the shower, and my car. I have been in choirs and have had some fun experiences, but never any soloing or anything like that. I leave that to my husband who is my American Idol.
What kind of music do you listen to when you’re relaxing with the radio or an mp3 player?
Christian—mostly worship music. I love Third Day, Casting Crowns, Kari Jobe, Delirious, Chris Tomlin…
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
Quirky, peppy, perky. . .with a message in there somewhere.
Are you a major or a minor chord?
Minor chords are melancholy, somber, and kind of weepy—to me anyway. I’m a positive person with a hopeful outlook. Sometimes I might face a situation as a minor chord, but quickly transition to major.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
The strong female lead on the outside, but on the inside I’m the little girl in heels who wonders if people would take her seriously if they knew. : )
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets (or a favorite pet from your childhood).
As someone who has struggled with severe allergies all my life, I have to admit that I’m not a huge animal lover. I like them, and have had dogs from time to time—certain breeds. But even the supposed hypoallergenic ones cause me mild problems so I can’t really bond with them.
Thank you, Nicole! It’s great to have you at DivineDetour!
Thank you so much for having me! This was a fun interview!
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For additional information about Nicole and her books, visit her website at www.nicoleodell.com.
Friend Nicole on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nicole-ODell-Scenarios-for-Girls/116292016349, or follow her Tweets at http://twitter.com/Nicole_Odell.
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