Derrick Ferguson: We’ve been through this before but no doubt there’s a lot of people who will be reading this who don’t know a thing about you so: Who Is Nicole Givens Kurtz? Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?
Nicole Givens Kurtz: I am originally from Knoxville, Tennessee (Go Big ORANGE!), but I currently reside just outside of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I’m a public-school teacher by day, a writer at night and a mother 24/7.
DF: It’s been a year and four months since I last interviewed you. What have you been doing since then?
NGK: So much has happened in the last year! An anthology I submitted a story to, was named as a Bram® Stoker Finalist in Horror Anthology (Sycorax’s Daughters), I’ve sold a few short stories, and finished a new urban fantasy series that I’m currently shopping around. I’ve also had the pleasure of attending BlackTasticon in June and some other pretty amazing events this year.
DF: I asked you in our last interview if there was an audience for Nicole Kurtz. Have you found your audience yet? Or have they found you?
NGK: Alas, my audience remains a bit elusive. I’m still working on refining my author brand, and also increasing my in-person presence. I write a lot of different types of stories, and for that reason, it may be difficult for me to find an audience that are “Nicole Givens Kurtz” fans, but rather they like specific things I write. For example, I do have “Cybil Lewis” readers, and “Minister Knight” readers, etc.
DF: How is Mocha Memoirs Press doing?
NGK: Mocha Memoirs is going through an overhaul in terms of direction. It’s not entirely new, but we are refining our model. Publishing is always changings and we’re shifting with the sands, too.
Our tagline is Bold. Fearless. Fiction. We want to continue to amplify marginalized voices in speculative fiction. We opened our submissions doors two months ago and are actively seeking novellas and novel-length submissions.
DF: What are you working on now?
NGK: Currently, I’m revising a romance novella for Falstaff Crush, the romance line of Falstaff books. After that, I plan to finish revisions on my second urban fantasy series. There are short stories and short story collections I’m also putting together, including on for Cybil Lewis and my weird western short stories.
DF: Who is Cybil Lewis?
NGK: Cybil Lewis is a private inspector in the future who investigates violations (crimes) for those who are afraid or don’t want to go to the police. She’s like a female Shaft in dystopian Washington, D.C., following her own moral compass, and getting the job done. She’s by far my most personal and favorite character out of all of those that I have created over the last 20 years.
DF: In the year since we’ve talked, has the prominence of female African-American Speculative Fiction writers grown? Diminished? Stayed the same?
NGK: It has exploded in the year since we talked! There are so many African-American Speculative Fictions writers that I struggle to keep up and to read others’ works! There’s just so much and that’s not a complaint! It’s so encouraging that younger African-American girls and boys and read books in speculative fiction with protagonists that look like them. They’re the heroes and heroines, the super powered people in those stories and that is beautiful.
DF: How do you see your role in the community of female AASF writers? IS there a community of female AASF writers? And if not, why isn’t there one?
NGK: There’s a community of AASF writers, but I don’t belong to an “official” one. I have a solid group of AASF authors who support each other, work together to network and share ideas, and push each other to be great. It’s something African Americans have always done, especially black women. We’ve taken care of things when we need to and for the community. Over the years, I have found and been gifted with really intelligent and brilliant AASF who may be further down the road in their career than me, but who reach back and mentor. Linda Addison does this as well as Tananarive Due and others.
DF: Who should we be reading these days? Who are you reading?
NGK: Right now, I’m reading Daniel Jose Older, Tomi Adeyemi’s, Eden Royce, and Sherrilyn Kenyon. Everyone should be reading and supporting independent authors! My currently reading list has independently published authors on them, and honestly, I met some amazing authors at Blacktasticon. If you’re into comics, you should read Robert Jeffery’s Route One, and William Satterwhites’ Stealth. There’s so much good reading being put out by small presses and independently published authors.
DF: How was Blacktasticon 2018? How much fun did you have?
NGK: Blacktasticon 2018 was a warm hug! It was mind-blowing, stimulating, and a huge creative bump for me. I did have to pinch myself several times as I sat on panels with my writing heroes. Sheree Renee Thomas, Linda Addison, John Jennings are the stars of black speculative fiction and I couldn’t believe how generous they were with their time, with their knowledge, and that was what really made the event for me. This community of individuals coming together to talk about speculative fiction through the lenses of Afro-centric beliefs, ideals, and historic context. I learned so much. My soul was fed. No other convention does that in the way that Blackstasticon did.
DF: For someone who hasn’t read any of your work, what should they start with and why?
NGK: For those who haven’t read any of my work, I would start with SILENCED, the first Cybil Lewis novel. It’s such a great story, and it’s a pretty good example of the types of stories I tend to tell. Of course, my writing has changed a lot over the years, but that’s the best representation of my writing style.
DF: Where can people find out more about you and your work?
DF: Anything else we need to know?
NGK: I’m giving away a free copy of my Cybil Lewis short story, “Recruited,” when people sign up for my newsletter. Interested parties can go here: https://nicolegivenskurtz.com/newsletter/
Thank you, Derrick for the interview. It is always a pleasure.