My note: Thank You to the Canmore Library for featuring me for the month of February, I've copied and pasted the interview here for your reading convenience.
Did you know that there are over 100 authors who call Canmore their home? We are so excited to shine the spotlight on local authors for our newsletter subscribers!
We are thrilled to introduce Christine Nykoluk as our local author spotlight this month! She has written for both work and pleasure for over 30 years, writing in a variety of styles. In early 2023, she published her first historical fiction novel Heart Stones – A Ukrainian Immigration Story of Love and Hope. You can read reviews of her book and check out her Blog Page at www.christinenykoluk.com.
Read our interview with Christine below!
What led you to start writing?
I worked as a field-based Rangeland Management Specialist for the federal government for 23 years and there was a need for writing in my work group. I viewed this as a great opportunity. I wrote rangeland management reports using field data I’d collected, newsletters for our clients (ie. translating science into “everyday language”), and near the end of my career, I designed and taught range management related courses. I was also a “ghost writer” for other land managers so that their innovative vegetation management techniques could be shared with a wider audience. A professional communications group assisted me in all this.
After I retired in 2012, I started researching my paternal grandparents’ immigration and I realized that their story was unique – they were separated for nine years during and after WWI. I’d earlier thought that writing a novel would be a good lifetime accomplishment but I knew that only a compelling story would enable me to see it through. I explored my grandparents’ experience through historical fiction written with abundant dialogue – thus Heart Stones: A Ukrainian Immigration Story of Love and Hope was published in early 2023.
What advice would you give to any committed writer?
Write from a subject matter expertise if you can (when you are beginning), most workplaces need good writers, and it usually pays better than publishing a novel! Your time spent writing may even be pensionable. It’s a way to practise your craft and helps you cultivate an audience for your work.
Write every day if possible, it keeps your characters and subject matter alive. Be sure to read Stephen King’s book “On Writing”, it is the best book I’ve read on how to write a novel. Join a writing group so that you can have your work critiqued. This is very important.
Engage your audience by including an emotional element in your story, it helps keep readers interested.
How do you get your creativity flowing?
I simply make an effort to begin and then my creativity follows. I firmly believe that the most important step is simply getting words onto the page. Just write without evaluating, there’s plenty of time for editing later. Editing is a different process than creating. I typically try to write for an hour, but it often turns out that I write for longer.
I read books in a variety of genres and I try to be open to anything that I see or hear during my day – anything is fodder for my next scene. I pay attention to how people talk and act and I try to identify a person who exemplifies the character I am trying to create and then I “copy” them.
Give a shout-out to a fellow author.
I’d like to mention three of my favorite Canadian writers:
Harley Rustad – I enjoyed his book Lost in the Valley of Death and I love listening to him speak about writing.
Louise Penny – I’ve read all of her books, I enjoy the way she constructs her characters and mysteries.
Richard Wagamese – his book Embers made a big impression on me.
What aspect of writing have you most improved in over time? What resources helped you most in this area?
I decided to learn how to write dialogue for fiction. I paid close attention to how authors I admired wrote dialogue, and I asked my writing group for feedback, to make sure that my dialogue sounded natural. Nikki Tate and her online Writers on Fire group helped me so much. I couldn’t have completed my novel without them!
Using the voice function in Word also helped me to edit dialogue. Hearing is different than reading it.
Place a hold on Christine's book Heart Stones today! You can order it through interlibrary loan at libraries in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Be sure to search her website for where you can buy her book, download a free copy of Chapter One, plus ideas for Book Clubs.