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Interview with Nicole O'Dell

Nicole O’Dell is a mom of six–which includes a set of toddler triplets. She is the author of a bunch of YA books, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series and the Diamond Estates Series, with the release of the first book, The Wishing Pearl on 10/1/2011. Nicole has recently been signed to a four-book deal with Kregel Publications for her Hot Buttons series in which she helps parents talk to their teens about those important hot-button issues. Hot Buttons: Dating Edition and Hot Buttons: Internet Edition release in May, 2012, with two more in the Fall of 2012 and even more to follow in 2013. She’s also the host of the Teen Talk Radio at You can find her books and links to all the fun social stuff at

Congratulations on the release of The Diamond Estates Series. Your Scenarios Series focused on troubled teens, but this new series moves into a home for troubled teens. Can you tell us what prompted this new series?

The Diamond Estates series is loosely based on my own experiences as a resident of a Teen Challenge center when I was a teen. Most of the stories come from either my own life or the lives of girls I met when I was there. Just as the stories of trouble and pain are a conglomeration of all the girls I met at Teen Challenge, so is thread of redemption a picture of what I saw God do in the lives of the residents over and over again.

This is the book (series) of my heart.

Other than spending time with your adorable kids and “cool husband”, what do you like to do for fun?
Sleep. ☺

Actually though, my favorite day would be if my husband and I packed up our bikes and drove into downtown Chicago to bike the lakeshore.

Sounds like fun! How do you weave the spiritual aspect into your storytelling when the character isn’t a believer?
Would you believe that it’s never something I plan? I never, ever work it into the plot ahead of time except for the points where I know the book needs to turn a corner. Other than that, the lessons and the spiritual threads are always organically part of the natural growth of the character as she develops in front of my eyes.

I like it that way. I feel like it’s less about me as a writer and more about me as a vessel.

A SOP (seat of the pants) writer, good for you! You are so involved with the teens—you write these novels, you blog, you speak and you have something called Teen Talk Radio. Can you tell us about Teen Talk Radio?
Oh, it’s so much fun! It’s an issue-based, online, radio-podcasted talk show for teens. We chat about everything important in the lives of teens, and even some fun stuff. It airs live on Thursdays at 10pmEST at (podcasts are available there) and it’s available on iTunes.

I love that I get to talk to the coolest guests each week. It’s like a breath of fresh air in my busy schedule!

With six kids, including three-year old triplets, a weekly radio show, and ten books releasing in the next fourteen months, how do you find time to write?
I don’t know, really. It just all seems to come together. Recently I’ve had a few struggles because of family illnesses, my hubby starting a new job, problems with my house, etc. But none of that is a surprise to God.

As you know, I adore your writing style. When I open one of your novels, it’s like a good friend is talking and I become entranced with your story. What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
Aw, you’re so sweet, Heidi. I really appreciate that. It’s always hard to identify your own voice, you know? It’s nice to know that my writing sounds like me, which is going to be different than yours. Love that diversity!

Lately I’ve noticed that my writing has taken on a new level of inner dialogue or introspection. It’s been interesting to see that kind of develop on its own. As for a style…I really don’t know. I think if a stranger read my first book and then followed it with THE WISHING PEARL, she might not realize it’s the same author. lol

I know you taught at an online writing conference for teens called NEXTgen in August. Tell us how that went and when the next one will be.
It was AWESOME! Shellie Neumeier put that together, and she did an amazing job. I was so impressed with the numbers of teens who showed up to learn, on purpose, in the summer! Way to go, Shellie!

I’m not sure of any details for the next one, but I can’t wait to participate!

Any parting words?
Thanks so much for this interview. It’s so nice to be able to pull up a chair and think about the hows and whys of what I do. I also want to thank you all for reading. Books will never die, whether on a digital screen, a piece of paper, or an audio track, as long as there are people like you who love a good story.


Thanks for sharing with us, Nicole!

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