Nicole is one of my favorite authors. The Cybil stories are addictive and have more energy than the first cup of coffee in the morning.
Introduce yourself and tell us a little about why you’re visiting the blog today.
A: I’m Nicole Givens Kurtz and I’m visiting today to discuss my upcoming release, Cozened: A Cybil Lewis Novel.
What inspires your stories?
A: Strong women inspire me. Life inspires my stories. “Strong female” is a very conscious effort on my part. I went this route because I’m a woman, but moreover, I wanted to depict women doing in fantastical stories what we do in real life. We’re strong, talented, and multi-faceted in our abilities. So why wouldn’t we be all those things in fantastical stories? We would! Cybil is the most independent character, because she had come to rely on very few people. It makes her a challenging character to write, but it also allows for deeper exploration too. Far too often in speculative fiction, it’s the male saving the universe, or the white character saving the day. I wanted to see the women, but moreover women of color doing the saving, solving the case, and being awesome. Because we can and we do.
Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?
A: Jane is my favorite character because without her, Cybil would most likely be dead. Jane is the grounding that Cybil needs. The calm, realistic voice that speaks up and notes the things that Cybil may miss due to her rushing in where angels fear to tread personality.
Nicole, you’ve been writing for quite a while now. What are some things that you’ve learned on this journey from aspiring writer to writer with multiple titles under your belt?
A: Learn the industry, and be fearless. Many times I failed to listen to my instinct, but instead let fear and in some cases, intimidation, cause me to miss opportunities. There are so many avenues for success, but you have to learn those roads before you travel. I leapt right in and found myself in some scary places, publishing wise. My advice is to talk to those in the industry, trust but verify, and be fearless in your belief in your craft and where it can take you.
Tell us about your upcoming projects.
A: I’m currently working on a short story in the Lawless Lands Weird Western Anthology and my novella, Akuba: The Devourer will be released in 2017.
Read on for an excerpt of Cozened.
Something about seeing someone smeared over Freedom Square with its historic quotations and long dead implications made me shudder. It wasn’t right.
The shiny moonlight revealed glistening drops that led off from the man’s body on to the impenetrable trees that dotted the pavement along the square. A reminder of a time when the United States wasn’t a jigsaw puzzle of territories, the vegetation had part of continuing Thomas Jefferson’s law to keep D.C. beautiful.
Now, no one even flew their vehicles this close to the ground unless landing.
“What the heck?” Without even realizing it, I’d drifted over to the violation scene once more for closer inspection. My eyes squinted as they tried to focus on the substance.
“Stop!” A regulator resembling a brick wall with a tan jumped in front of me just as I reached the liquid trail’s beginning a few feet from the cautionary beam. Between the beam and the brute, they’d managed to keep all citizens out of the violation scene. Beneath his uniform, muscles bulged against the fabric, threatening to rend the material.
“You’re not authorized to be here!” The monstrous regulator’s deep voice sounded like it had been modified from an audio file. Lips firmly pressed together and trunk-sized arms crossed over his chest, I knew immediately that my usual sweet-talking charm wasn’t going to melt his ice.
“Well, Regulator Tom said…” The lie formed on my tongue and slid off like a snake.
“I said what?” Daniel quipped from behind me.
I groaned. I needed to see those stains closer.
“She’s leaving, Ron.” Daniel frowned at my actions, no doubt. He grabbed my arm and directed me over to a somewhat secluded spot several paces away. “Are you trying to get me fired?” he asked heatedly once we were out of earshot.
“You invited me here!” I removed his hand from my arm. I turned slightly away from him. His fingers brushed my arm in a half-hearted attempt to reclaim it.
“If the captain finds you here…”
“I know. So why wake me up just to jerk my chain?” I didn’t want to argue with him. Daniel’s arguments could go on for eternity, even if I’d died midway through the debate.
“No, but go home. I’ll let you know when I get more.”
I didn’t quite know how to respond to that and retain my dignity, so I stood with my arms crossed and my face fixed at pissed.
“I needed you to ID him, all right? You keep telling me you don’t know who he is, though the look on your face tells me you do. Since you won’t make the identification, I’ve got to put you back with the citizens.”
With his hand on my shoulder, he moved me toward the crowd of hungry spectators. Perhaps it was more guiding than dragging. I seemed to gravitate to my wauto. I didn’t tell him or anyone about the inky dark spots. No doubt the regulators’ vioTechs would locate and misinterpret them. This wasn’t my case and I wasn’t getting paid. Home sounded better and better.
I paused before getting into the pilot’s seat. Behind the caution beam, doctors removed chunks of the body into a body bag and hauled it away on a levitating dolly. Flashes from digital cameras lit up the early morning sky. The cool air seemed to suck all the strength out of me.
No matter how often I saw it, regardless of what form it took, it made me reflect on just why I did this kind of work. The loss of human life always unnerved me. Well okay, not always. When someone is trying to silence you truly permanently, then no, I don’t weep for the bastard who eats the other end of my laser gun.
Yet, this accident dropped a sharp stab into my emotional soft spots, the ones I usually keep covered with my own internal Kevlar vest.
As I sank into my wauto’s leather seat, images of him swirled across my vision like contact lenses—suctioned on, refusing to let go until the tears washed them out. I didn’t cry, not then. I wanted to, but I couldn’t.
The body no longer resembled a human being, but a battered hunk of meat.
Once he had been handsome, healthy, and one hell of a lover.
His name had been Carlos Rodriguez.
NICOLE GIVENS KURTZ is the published author of the futuristic thriller series, Cybil Lewis. She also writes horror and dark fantasy. Her novels have been named as finalists in the Fresh Voices in Science Fiction, EPPIE in Science Fiction, and Dream Realm Awards in science fiction. Nicole’s short stories have earned an Honorable Mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future contest, and have appeared in numerous anthologies and publications.