Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she’s left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published by Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Daily Science Fiction, Nature: Futures, and various other anthologies and e-zines.
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- Can you remember if there was a moment when you decided you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t remember the exact moment, but looking back in my records from my childhood, it’s easy to see that writing was always an interest of mine. In first grade, I’d just watched The Wizard of Oz for the first time, and I somehow came up with the idea of having my friends and I perform a play based on it. I used my mom’s computer to write a script and presented it to my teacher, who decided to turn it into a class project. I still have the original script I wrote.
- What inspired you to write your first book?
I was living in Michigan at the time, and my second son had just been born. I’d been trying to find a creative outlet, which wasn’t exactly easy, being a stay-at-home-mom with two children. My local library was sponsoring a short story contest, and I decided to try my hand at it. I wrote a short story about time travel — specifically about a woman who had gone on a vacation in the past and, while she was gone, had a sort of selective amnesia that made her forget about her real life in the present. I didn’t win the contest (and looking back now, I see how rough that story really was!), but it inspired me to explore some of these ideas I had about time travel tourism, memories, and the professionals whose job it would be to help wayward time travellers who got stuck in the past.
- How did it feel to finish your first book to a publisher? What was the most terrifying thing about submitting your first book?
When I first submitted that short story to my local library’s writing contest, it was a big step, since that was the first thing I’d submitted for publication as an adult. With THE CONTINUUM, it was another big step, since it was the first time I’d finished a book-length story, and I’d already spent months revising it. But I knew that I wanted to try to get it out into the world, to at least see if it was something that I could accomplish.
- How did you react to having to edit or make changes to your “baby”?
This has gotten easier over time. My original draft of THE CONTINUUM had the events taking place in strict chronological order — first all the “Past” events, then all the “Present” events, then all the “Future” events. — rather than following Elise’s personal timeline as she jumps around from past to present to future and back to the present again. As a newbie writer, I thought this was clever, and it took a while for people to convince me that it wasn’t the best way to tell the story.
My editor at World Weaver Press, Rhonda Parrish, was a great partner during the revision/editing phase. It was clear throughout the entire process that she didn’t want to change my story but to help me make it the best version of itself that it could be.
- What is the hardest part of being published for you?
I absolutely love all the encouragement and support of my real-life friends and family, but it’s still strange for me to talk with non-writers that I’ve known for years about my work. Writing is such a solitary pursuit and many of my extended family and acquaintances didn’t find out until recently about my career in fiction. It’s been a bit surreal, having the people I know “in real life” reading things I’ve written. My husband and I jokingly refer to it as “crossing the streams.”
- What is your idea of a perfect date?
Dinner at a good Mexican restaurant, then back home for movie-watching on the couch. I’m a bit of a homebody, but I can’t resist a good dinner out.
- What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Find some writer friends! Whether in-person or online, find some writers who are on the same skill level as you are, who have similar aspirations and drive. They will become your best friends as you navigate the waters of writing and publishing and experience the ups and downs.
- If you weren’t a writer, what other artistic outlet do you think you’d have?
About a decade ago, I nearly started a photography business. I’d done a handful of weddings and other events and served as official photographer at a previous workplace, but when it came down to it, I didn’t have a lot of interest in the business side of photography and have much preferred to just keeping it as a hobby.
- Do you have a secret skill that you can share with us?
I make awesome spreadsheets. I’ve always been an organized person, and I attribute a lot of that to my mom teaching me how to use Quattro Pro when I was six or seven years old. I have budget and accounting spreadsheets, story submission spreadsheets, story structure spreadsheets, goal spreadsheets, and various other spreadsheets for all areas of life.
- If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
Time manipulation! I’d not only be able to slow it down to accomplish all the things I want to do and savor each moment but could also fast-forward through the boring parts (waiting in lines, folding laundry, etc)
Elise Morley is an expert on the past who’s about to get a crash course in the future.
For years, Elise has been donning corsets, sneaking into castles, and lying through her teeth to enforce the Place in Time Travel Agency’s ten essential rules of time travel. Someone has to ensure that travel to the past isn’t abused, and most days she welcomes the challenge of tracking down and retrieving clients who have run into trouble on their historical vacations.
But when a dangerous secret organization kidnaps her and coerces her into jumping to the future on a high-stakes assignment, she’s got more to worry about than just the timespace continuum. For the first time ever, she’s the one out-of-date, out of place, and quickly running out of time.
“Nikel is a solid writer with vivid description, an imaginative future, and a command of accurate historical speech.” —Unreliable Narrators
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“The spinning slows. Suddenly, everything stops.
My legs flail, searching for solid ground, until I plunge abruptly into dank, smelly water. I gasp, and my mouth fills with brine. I’m being dragged in one direction, but instinct pulls me the opposite way. I kick against my heavy skirts and break the surface. For one dizzying moment I’m utterly confused. The concrete slabs of the nearby docks sharpen my fuzzy memory.
I Extracted while on the gangplank—a gangplank that doesn’t exist in 2012. This is exactly why our travellers are encouraged to use pre-approved Extraction locations. The Wormhole dumps travellers at the same place they’ve left from, which can make for some awkward (or dangerous) entrances.
Across the way, Marie does a frantic doggie-paddle towards the steel rungs leading up to the dock. With labored strokes, I swim after her, clutching the sphere in one hand. When I reach her, she’s still clinging to the bottom rung, too exhausted to climb to safety.
“Hang on.” I slip my Wormhole Device into my handbag and pull my dripping body up to the dock. Water streams out around me, forming a dark puddle on the concrete. The evening sun, balancing on the very edge of the horizon, casts an eerie glow on the water.
“Okay. Come on up—”
My encouragement is drowned out by the sound of retching. Lovely.
I clench my jaw to stop my teeth from rattling and focus on retaining my professionalism—not easy, considering the mucked-up circumstances.
Finally, Marie starts up the ladder, ascending tentatively, with gasping breaths. When she’s close enough to grab my forearms, I pull her up with much grunting and tugging. Her eyes widen as she takes in the industrial warehouses, giant cranes, and sprawling parking lots that seem to have appeared instantaneously.
“What have you done?” Her voice rises in pitch with each word.”