Welcome to author Nellie H. Steele – we took her away from watching her pets. Or maybe she was teaching. Um, she could have been writing. Nevermind, welcome!
Do you write under a pseudonym? If not, have you ever considered it?
Yes! Nellie H. Steele is my pseudonym! It’s less about secrecy and more about separating my nonfiction work from my fiction work. My day job is a college professor in Statistics and Data Science. I have several publications under my real name for workbooks and technology guides teaching how to use various statistical softwares for introductory statistics and beyond. It can be confusing for readers to search for you and find two completely different topics! So, I use a pen name for my fiction and my real name for my teaching guide.
What comes first for you, the plot or characters?
The characters. All of my novels are character-driven. When I say that, I mean they literally lead my story. I start with the idea of a character and then a situation they may be in. I then let the character come to life and drive their actions throughout the story. Sometimes, I can really change the story’s trajectory! In one of my more recent releases, I had fully intended for one character to die early in the story, however, when I began to write, this particularly character clung to his life! I ended up completely changing the story (he lives!) and the entire direction of the book and series for him!
How do you select the names of your characters?
My first character was named after my maternal grandmother. After that, I began to name the characters what I felt fit with them and their personalities. I start by looking at lists of baby names (in general or those popular in the time period and location I’m working in). In general, I have an idea of their personality and traits, of whether I want their name to be common or unique, what I want their name to convey (strength, simplicity, etc.). I’ll make a list of names that I feel could fit and I’ll leave the list sit for a few days. As the character takes shape in my mind, one of those names will stand out and I’ll know that’s the name for this character.
Can you hear your characters talking?
Yes! I often describe my writing as more like recording conversations with my characters. They tell me what happened, and I describe it. It’s like watching a movie in my head of their lives which I then record in written form.
Were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one? For how long?
I’m still *technically* a part-time writer! I have a full-time career as a college professor in a completely unrelated subject! I absolutely love both “jobs” so I’m content to continue splitting my time at the moment!
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write with the TV on. People are sometimes surprised by this. Lots of writers like quiet or solitude, but I write with my family in the room and the TV on. When I started writing, my first book was intended to be a surprise, so in order to avoid any suspicion, I had to train myself to write “under everyone’s noses.” As a result, I got used to writing with lots of noise!
Nellie H. Steele lives in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with her family and her many fur-babies. Nellie is an Indies Today award finalist for Best Book of the Year 2020 with Cleopatra’s Tomb. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys teaching Statistics at a local university or watching her dogs and cats play in the yard.
Nellie is the author of the Cate Kensie Mystery Series, a cozy mystery series following the adventures of Dr. Catherine Kensie, a history professor turned Scottish Countess, and her beloved dog, Riley, as they navigate their new lives in their quirky Scottish highlands castle, solving mysteries along the way! She is the creator of the Shadow Slayers series, a suspenseful series with a supernatural twist! Follow the Shadow Slayers through time as they fight to banish darkness from the world. Nellie also writes an adventure series, Maggie Edwards Adventures. Follow Maggie Edwards as she travels the world solving mysteries and finding unique treasures!