Please tell me a bit about yourself.
My name is Nichole and I am a paramedic and author from Toronto, Ontario. I love animals, reading, and writing. I have been a paramedic for 5 years, and I had my first book published this year! I write for an online publication to raise awareness on first-responder mental health and PTSD. I am currently working on publishing my second children's book.
What inspired the premise of Fluffy the Hairless Cat and the Midnight Mouse Mission? How did this story come to be?
My children's book series, Fluffy the Hairless Cat, was inspired by my beautiful sphynx, Fluffy. He was more than my pet... He was my soulmate. Unfortunately, on December 9th, 2020, at only 3 years old, Fluffy passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly from a cardiac defect called, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). I wrote this book to bring my Fluffy to life, to honour him, and to raise money and awareness for HCM research. This is a cause I now hold close to my heart.
Tell me more about Fluffy.
Fluffy had a human-like personality. He was very clumsy, silly, playful, cuddly, filled with all emotions, and hilarious. He had big blue beautiful eyes. He was my everything. He was so precious to me. My heart and world are shattered by his absence. I miss him more than anything. I was so lucky to have him in my life.
I know this story is quite personal for you—what else about this book makes it important right now?
This story is not only personal to me because of my Fluffy, but because it raises awareness and donations for HCM research. This cause is very important because advancing HCM research can and will save our pets lives.
What do you hope children and parents take away from this story?
This story follows my sphynx, Fluffy, as he goes on a midnight mouse mission to catch the sneaky house mouse, Arnold. This story captures Fluffy's silliness, clumsiness, and determination to go after what he wants. Through action, humour and adventure, Fluffy teaches both children and adults to recognize what you value most in life. We often forget the importance of appreciating what we already have... This is what I hope both children and adults can take away from my book.
What scene from the book is your favourite, and why?
I love the scene where Fluffy gets stuck in the railing of the stairs. The illustrations, by Kristina Dutton, in this scene are funny and adorable. I find this part of the book quite humorous because it is so true. Fluffy would often get his big behind stuck in the railing of our home stairs. He would call out to me with multiple "meows" in the middle of the night for me to come save him. I think he thought he was fit and thin, when really, he ate one too many treats!
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What was the most challenging part of writing/creating this particular story? And tell me about the process of funding the story’s publication through Kickstarter.
The most challenging part of the writing and creation process of this story was finding an illustrator who could create what I envisioned in my head. I needed this story to capture Fluffy's personality and looks with accuracy. This story meant everything to me and was written through my time of immense grief, so I needed an illustrator who could help me bring my Fluffy to life. I was so thrilled when I found Kristina Dutton, because she went above and beyond to help me make this book happen the way I needed it to.
The Kickstarter process was a lot of work. My initial print run of 1500 books was going to be expensive, so I used the Kickstarter platform to make my book available for pre-order prior to official publication by Alchemy Blue Press. The pre-orders helped me to fund the first print run of my book. The process was very tiresome and a lot of work, but in the end, it paid off.
How was it working with your illustrator, Kristina Dutton?
My experience working with Kristina Dutton has been fantastic. We have partnered together for all future Fluffy books in the series, and so our partnership has been nothing but wonderful. We worked through the formatting and printing hiccups we had together, and in the end, we came out with a beautiful final product. I look forward to continuing to work with her.
For the other children’s writers out there in my audience, could you share a little advice?
Just keep writing. Your first draft is always going to be terrible. So, just keep writing. When you finish your first draft, start again from the beginning, and just continue to write. It is a long process of writing, re-writing, editing, and re-writing some more. If it was easy, everyone would be a published author. So, do not give up, and do not get discouraged. Just keep writing. Eventually, you will have your final draft that makes the ups and downs all worth it.
How has the current pandemic changed or shaped how you write, how you publish, and how you market your books?
The pandemic has shifted a lot of my marketing and selling to be done online. Due to bookstores and in-person events being closed for the most part, I have shifted my marketing gears to online advertising and selling. I do hope to attend in-person events soon, but for now, due to restrictions and health, I will be selling directly from my website.
What’s next for you?
My first book is Fluffy the Hairless Cat and the Midnight Mouse Mission, which is the first in the series. I have the third book written, and am working on a second one right now. I am planning to release the sequel in 2022.
Tell me an interesting fact about you—something outside of the world of writing, and something maybe not everyone knows about you.
I love to swim competitively! I was on a swim team my whole life, and even as an adult, I still swim. I went to Masters Provincials two years ago and qualified for Japan Masters Worlds (did not attend, but hope to in a pandemic-free world one day)!
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