Derrick Ferguson:Who is Nicole Kurtz?
Nicole Kurtz: I'm an educator, an author and a mother.
DF:What do you tell The IRS you do for a living?
NK: The IRS identifies me as an educator. I've been in the public school system for 15 years.
DF:Tell us about your background. As little or as much as you want.
NK: I'm originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, but I've lived all over the United States, from South Carolina to California. I have a bachelor's degree in Writing and a Master's degree in Education. I have been writing my whole life and can't remember a time I wasn't writing stories either on paper or mentally.
DF:How long have you been writing?
NK: I've been writing since I was 11 years old. My first payment for writing was an essay contest I won in 11th grade. I realized then, “Wait, I can make money from this?!”
DF:What's your philosophy of writing? Do you think that writers should even have a philosophy about the act/art of writing?
NK: My writing philosophy is simple—write your truth. Honor the story only you can tell. Don't worry about sales and genre when writing. Worry about those things after the story is written and done.
DF:Do you enjoy writing?
NK: I love writing! I write all the time, on notebooks and napkins, on the backs of bills and along the edges of envelopes. Writing is how I communicate best and how I process information.
DF:Do you write for yourself or for your readers?
NK: I primarily write for myself when writing fiction. When writing non-fiction (i.e., essays and blogs) I focus on the audience and how my thesis is supported.
DF:What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Nicole Kurtz?
NK: Great question! I write futuristic thriller, so my audience are readers who enjoy those types of adventures.
DF:Tell us about Mocha Memoirs Press
NK: Mocha Memoirs Press is a small press that publishes speculative works by authors of marginalized groups.
DF:Who is Cybil Lewis?
NK: Cybil Lewis is a professional investigator in the year 2146. Independent. Focused. Committed. She investigates violations in post apocalyptic D.C. Think “Blade Runner” with a female protagonist.
DF:How long has Cybil Lewis been with you and where can we expect her to go in future novels?
NK: Cybil has been with me for over 20 years. In the future, expect Cybil to continue to solve violations in her unique fashion and may, just maybe, get the air-conditioner in her apartment fixed.
DF:Where does the story of Cybil Lewis go from here?
NK: Cybil continues to investigate violations but her personal life becomes more of a challenge for her. In addition, her partner Jane continues to evolve and thus her relationship with Cybil will change. Those are going to be interesting interactions and impacts on Cybil's business and life.
DF:You're an outstanding voice in the field of African-American Speculative Fiction. Where do you see your place in this field and where do you want to go?
NK: Wow! Thank you. My place in the field is right alongside other authors. I've been writing Speculative Fiction for nearly 20 years. I would love to continue to write, publish and find new readers. I also like to inspire new authors of color, especially those that write thrillers.
DF:You are one of the most prominent of female African-American Speculative Fiction writers. Do you see AASF writers as creating a genre unto themselves due to their unique worldview as African-American women?
NK: I do believe that as an African-American woman, my vision is different from other authors not within that demographic. However, I don't think it is a genre unto ourselves. I write futuristic thriller, horror stories and dark fantasy. While most of my protagonists are black women, the story is still good and worth reading.
DF:Are there any drawbacks to being a AASF writer?
NK: There are drawbacks to being an AASF writer in that I find some readers who proclaim they can't identify with my protagonists. Yet those same readers can identify with a shape-shifting tiger or a blue-skinned alien. I write speculative fiction, which is still a predominately white male dominated genre. So my work is subjected to misogyny and racism in the genre as I am in every day life.
DF:And what are the positives?
NK: The positives far outnumber the drawbacks. The excitement I see on readers' faces when they see a protagonist that looks like them. Or the relief when they see that I, a fellow African American or POC wrote something speculative is more than worth the occasional racist. I enjoy sharing my stories with others and I love getting feedback on those stories from readers. Those are the positives that buoy me when writing gets tough.
DF:You've hosted a lot of panels. In your opinion what are the qualities one needs to have in order to moderate a successful panel?
NK: Moderating a panel successfully is hard! LOL! It is important to give each author or panelist an opportunity to speak. Equity of voice is key when moderating. If one can provide the discussion topics ahead of time, that makes for much more thoughtful discussions.
DF:Do you like hosting panels? Why?
NK: It depends! If it is a topic I am passionate about, I do not want to moderate because I want to talk! LOL! Otherwise, I don't mind hosting panels.
DF:What are your dream projects? If you had unlimited time and money, what would you want to do most?
NK: If I had unlimited time and money I would spend time writing Cybil Lewis novels and promoting her throughout the U.S.
DF:What is A Day In The Life of Nicole Kurtz like?
NK: In a word: Chaos!
Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?
Nicole Kurtz:I love to laugh and I'm not nearly as serious as Cybil is about things. Your readers can find me online at Twitter (@nicolegkurtz), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/nicolegkurtz, and at Other Worlds Pulp (http://www.nicolegivenskurtz.com).