An Interview with Belinda Nicoll: Author, Freelance Writer & Creativity Coach
Sylvia: Welcome Belinda. Please give our readers an introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Belinda: Hello Sylvia. I’m originally from South Africa, expatriated to the United States in 2001, and have been a citizen since 2010. I have a BA degree in Communication and Sociology and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I work as a freelance writer and creativity coach, and I wrote a memoir “Out of Sync“, a story about my expatriation and how that change impacted my life and relationships.
Sylvia: Very interesting Belinda. I’ve always wanted to explore parts of South Africa… so beautiful and diverse. What inspired you to write your first book?
Belinda:I considered myself truly independent at the age of forty, after my marriage of twenty years had come to an end, my youngest was getting ready to leave home, and I was on the brink of professional success. But an unexpected romance soon came my way, an adventurer who was pursuing his next job opportunity abroad. Within a year, we got married and moved to the United States, where we arrived at JFK International Airport on the morning of 9/11. As his career took off, I struggled with a rigid immigration system that denied me rights I’d always taken for granted. Over the next ten years, as our host country confronted fundamental change of its own, our marriage buckled under the strain of our disparate experiences. My book became a way out of desperation.
Sylvia: I definitely understand how you feel about your book. It’s the words within the pages of the book that can be a source of healing. I used to write poems to help me deal with my emotions. Is there a message in your memoir that you want readers to grasp?
Belinda: My story explores the continuum of change: the passage from adventure to chaos that’s accompanied by emotions ranging from excitement to desperation. I grew up during apartheid and associate my adolescence with the black uprising in the late 70’s, a time of immense social reshaping in my country—I see a parallel between that rite-of-passage and how my new found emancipation at forty was thwarted by forces of change in post-9/11 America. While I wrote “Out of Sync” at a time when I doubted if I’d ever fit in with the world again, I’ve come to understand that we’re all in one way or another estranged from others, sometimes even ourselves. I hope my map of the world will help readers realize that they’re not alone, and that we all play a role in making this universe the way it is. I believe we are capable of healing and reconnecting.
Sylvia: Yes, I believe time and prayer can heal all wounds. I read reviews by your readers on Amazon. I must say, all 17 reviews were highly rated which is a great testament for your work. In particular, I liked what one reader wrote…
“I sat down and read Belinda’s book in one sitting. It is well written and engaging. Her childhood experiences in South Africa interspersed with her challenges and conflicts in America give it an added depth. It is about self-discovery and tenacity. Keep trying to figure it out and you will… Eventually. I enjoyed following her through the process and you will too. What will she do next?” Kathleen Pilugin
Congratulations on your success! Do you have any advice for other writers?
Belinda:Writing a book is like any other goal-setting—you’ve got to approach it mindfully. Ask yourself: Do you really want the outcome? Do you know how to get it? Are you prepared to give yourself a chance to get it? Do you believe the desired outcome is possible? While many mentors would advise aspirant writers to just write what comes into their minds that is only the first step in the process. If you want to create a fine book, whether it’s a memoir or novel, you’ve got to be willing to learn the tricks of the trade. I believe a good second step in the process, after you’ve constructed your story, is to contemplate how it fits in the broader context of life and how society might relate to it. I believe writers can only serve themselves if they serve their readers too.
Sylvia: What marketing techniques have you used to sell your books and which ones have been most successful?
Belinda: I promote my book on my coaching website and blog—My Rite of Passage—where I talk and teach extensively on the topic of “change.” I’m active on various social media platforms and belong to a number of writer’s networks; I see my blog as the engine that drives most of those marketing efforts. I once opted into the KDP Select Program that allows you to offer free Kindle downloads for a set period of time, and I often offer giveaways on Goodreads. I always encourage readers to post reviews on at least one of the three online retailers that sell my book: Amazon (worldwide), Barnes and Noble (U.S.), and Kalahari (South Africa). I enjoy attending book clubs and other events to read from, and answer questions about, my book. Thanks to being a self-published author, I’m in no rush to sell Out of Sync; it is a story that can be read anytime, anywhere, and, most importantly, I’m not beholden to a publisher’s marketing budget, so I have a relaxed approach to marketing.
Sylvia: Great marketing tips. Thank you for sharing with our readers. Why should we buy your book?
Belinda:The modern world is undeniably preoccupied with the implications of globalization: on topics ranging from “people working/living abroad” to “a new global world” the Google search engine returns between 50,000,000 and 1,820,000,000 results. As testimony to this trend, the juxtaposition of post-apartheid South Africa and post-9/11 America roused a great deal of interest when I read excerpts from my manuscript at a symposium on immigration as a vital issue of our time. Having said that, I believe “Out of Sync” is a great companion to people, expatriate or not, who have ever felt at odds with themselves or the world.
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Belinda:I feel most relaxed working in my study, especially in stormy weather, which definitely sparks my creativity.
Sylvia: What projects are you currently working on?
Belinda:I’m working on a novel that is set in South Africa and the United States and spans five generations. I’m also writing a book about creative writing techniques that are based on a life coaching model.
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
Belinda:My power word is “change.” It’s been argued that “the only constant is change.” Although it can be the root of conflict, chaos, and destruction, I have learned that it also implies survival and growth.
Sylvia: I like that power word… change.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” President Barack Obama
Belinda, thank you for sharing your story. Please share your social media and book contact information.
Belinda: Thank you as well, Sylvia. Its been a pleasure. My contact information is below.
- Book on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ajfoq58
- Website: http://www.myriteofpassage.com
- LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/belindanicoll
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/BelindaNicoll
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org