“Nadine” is a French name that means “hope,” and hope has become my mantra for life. I’m Nadine C. Keels: a dreamer, an introvert, a romantic, a passionate soul, and a stroke of God’s genius with an appreciation for literature, performing and visual arts, and pastas with lots of sauce.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’m a lifelong bookworm, and my love of writing stemmed from the books I read as a child by authors like Beverly Cleary. (I couldn’t read enough about Ramona Quimby.) Hence, I’ve been writing stories for fun since I was about seven or eight years old. Then, during the few days of a horrific experience I had when I was thirteen, a novel saved my life: John Nielson Had a Daughter by Ruth Livingston Hill. Probably not what scores of people would call a spectacular book, but I needed to read it right when I did. My purpose for writing books (beyond writing for my own pleasure) was awakened in that experience. I now write to help people: to bring hope, to change minds, to expand imagination, to provide entertainment, and to save lives, all of which other authors’ books have done for me.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a little tricky to pin down. If people asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d tell them, “I want to be a singer,” an occupation I imagined would include fame and glamour with it. I was a shy child without tons of friends, so whenever classmates or other peers of mine overheard me singing something to myself and would gush over me with surprise and delight upon finding I had a nice voice, I liked getting that attention and admiration that reading and writing books didn’t bring me. However, when it came to what I truly loved the most, my nose could be found buried deep in books: at school, at home, during car rides, in bed while I was supposed to be sleeping. So, books eventually won out over my emptier childhood fancies about being a professional vocalist. The first time I recall verbally, decidedly responding to the “What do you want to be?” question with the answer “A writer” was when I was twelve years old. I started considering myself to be publishable at seventeen, when I wrote my first novel, Yella’s Prayers.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
The Movement of Crowns is a novella series of royalty, romance, war, and hope, set in the fictional kingdoms of Diachona and Munda. The three books center on an indomitable princess, a beautiful prankster, and a young, untried ruler of a powerful Realm: three people whose destinies are entwined. An epic journey awaits each of them, after which they’ll never be the same.
What inspired you to write this book?
I began drafting scenes for the first book, The Movement of Crowns (which I thought for years would be the only book) back when I was a high school senior, inspired by the thought that although my generation was young, we weren’t precluded from aiming toward greatness. It took over ten years of growth, both as a person and as a writer, for me to be able to convey the story as I see it, and I wrote and published Crowns in 2012 in Love & Eminence: A Suite of Stories. It wasn’t until the spring of 2013 that I got the idea for a sequel. The “other side” of the Crowns story came to me, pretty much all at once, one afternoon. Out came The Movement of Rings. After that, I thought one more book would round out and top off the Crowns message nicely, so I wrote The Movement of Kings.
Do you have a specific writing style?
To make one stylistic note, I’m a poet and a lover of words, and when I construct a long sentence or use a couple more adjectives in a paragraph than another writer might use, it’s intentional. I understand the importance of concision, of not being redundant or wordy for the sake of wordiness, but we live in a media-driven culture of quick sound bites and 140-character limitations, where “idk,” “smh,” and “lol” have become what we frequently fall back on to express ourselves in writing on a regular basis. I believe there should still be books where readers can delve into the magnificence, the depth and height and breadth, of language. Sometimes taking the scenic route and enjoying the ride in literature is a great way to paint a compelling, lasting picture for reading audiences and thinkers, something I find and appreciate in much of the classic literature I read—something I don’t want our society to lose. I don’t yet have the command of language I’d like to have one day, but I’m working on it.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
When I originally began drafting scenes for The Movement of Crowns, the title was And So, They Ran. However, as the story really started to evolve and mature in 2012, and some of what were going to be pivotal “running” scenes weren’t going to make it into the final story, the book needed a new title. So, I took the Crowns name from a fitting line in a piece of my previously published poetry/spoken word:
the firsts, the lasts, what each new season brings
the changing of times, the rise and fall of kings
the movement of crowns, of scepters, of rings
prologues, epilogues, inductions, eulogies…
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are so many sub-messages that I put in for different readers to catch, but the main idea I want to get across is that your destiny is a perfect fit for you, and you can walk deeper into it step by step, never throwing your hope away.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I wouldn’t say that much in Crowns is taken directly from my external life experiences or solidly based on people I know. This series has served as a landscape for me to lay out some of my internal life: hopes, convictions, loves, and my belief in the overall beauty of the human story.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
Beverly Cleary was my earliest major influence. Some of my warmest childhood memories are of reading Cleary’s work, as she made so relatable what her young characters were thinking and feeling. L.M. Montgomery, with her beautiful descriptions and timeless characters, let me know through her work that my partiality for books was going to carry on right through my adolescent and teenage years, even if hanging out and talking on the phone would have been considered “cooler” pastimes for a girl in my neck of society. Ruth Livingston Hill, of course, showed me just how pivotal a book can be in the life of a reader. Then there’s my pastor, Dr. Edward Donalson, III, who, through publishing his own work, helped me to gain the much needed sense that having my work published was a possibility—not just an “I wish, maybe someday” possibility, but a truly attainable one. After all, there’s a difference between conceptually knowing that you’re a publishable author and knowing that you can and will be published.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
I don’t have a personal writing mentor, but I do consider myself to be mentored through what I read, especially from authors of classic literature: Henry James, L.M. Montgomery, Jane Austen, John Milton, to name a few. The motivation to keep pushing myself forward in the craft of writing comes from reading the works of people who’ve gone down in history as masters of the craft.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I design my own book covers. Trying my hand at graphic design is my consolation to myself for never becoming a great artist or painter. (Smile.) Also, cover designing and video editing for my book trailers gives me extra opportunities to reflect on and to engage with the material I’ve written or am going to write.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
My main piece of advice that I repeat for any writer is simple: know the specific reason(s) why you, the individual, write, so that you’re writing (and living) on purpose. Be able to clearly articulate your purpose for writing to yourself and to other people. Whenever you experience discouragement anywhere in your writing, publishing, or book business process, you can revisit the reason(s) why you write, which will motivate you to keep on doing what you’re doing, and to do it well.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Always, thank you for reading! Books do so much for those who read them and, consequently, for the world. It’s up to authors and readers to keep the value of literature alive on earth, and we can and will, if we keep on reading and writing for the need and the love of it.
Book: The Movement of Crowns Series