Barbara Nickless interview with David Alan Binder

posted May 9, 2019, 5:36 PM by David Alan Binder

Barbara Nickless interview with David Alan Binder


Her bio:

Barbara Nickless is the #1 Amazon and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the award-winning Sydney Parnell crime novels featuring a railway cop and her K9 partner. About the series, Jeffery Deaver promises, “you'll fall in love with one of the best characters in thriller fiction.” Barbara’s essays and short stories have appeared in Writer’s Digest, Criminal Element, Penguin Random House, and other markets. She also teaches creative writing to veterans at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.


Hank Phillippi Ryan, Anthony, Agatha and Mary Higgins Clark award winning author of SAY NO MORE


Her links:



1.     How do you pronounce your name? 



2.     Where are you currently?



3.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

It can be easy—in the midst of rankings and reviews and sales data—to forget what drew you to writing in the first place. If you became a writer because you love books and stories, then make sure you nurture that love. Consider joy as a better measure of success than dollars.


4.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

I never met an interesting bit of research that I didn’t want to use. So, my novels become a bit like Mulligan stew. Mulligan stew was—and still is—made in hobo camps (known as jungles) out of whatever good things the hobos had on hand. Thus, my research on railroads and hobos led to railroad cops (bulls). And my research on war led to military working dogs. I just have to be careful not to add too many ingredients to the novel I’m writing. J


5.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

It’s wonderful that authors have so many options now for publishing. Traditional works best for me because I would be hopeless when it comes to all the things indie authors have to deal with—covers and formatting and hiring good editors, etc. I’m grateful that my publisher, Thomas & Mercer (Seattle), handles all of that for me. But a lot of my indie friends love the amount of control they have when they self-publish.


6.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

Write the best book you can. Focus on that above everything else. That way, no matter how the book does—whether you sell it to a traditional publisher or publish it yourself—you can be satisfied that you gave it your all. Writing a book should be about doing your personal best.


7.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?

If you want to be traditionally published with a bigger publisher, an agent is a must. I signed with my agent after pitching to him outside an elevator at Thrillerfest—literally an elevator pitch. Conferences are a great way to meet agents face-to-face to see if they’re interested in looking at your novel and if the two of you are a good match.


8.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be so specific that this most likely will not have been seen elsewhere)?

There are two kinds of “time” when it comes to writing novels. The time that passes within your story. And the time that it takes you to write the book. The book might cover three days, while it could take three years to write it. As much as possible, spend time on your novel every day so that you can keep a sense of continuity. When you dip in and out of your WIP (work in progress), it’s easy to fall out of touch with the arc of your story and the characters.

9.     What was one of the most surprising things you learned with your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

I thought it would be great to have a deadline—that a due date would make me feel like a real writer. Now I know that deadlines just frustrate me. But they’re part of the writing life.

10.                        How many books have you written?

I’m working on the fourth book in my Sydney Parnell series. But I wrote two novels before I sold that series. One I’ll go back to. The other, probably not.


11.                        Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

We’re all told that twists have to completely surprise the reader while also being perfectly logical. Not an easy thing to pull off! What has worked for me is to plant seeds early on that might lead to a twist. If I don’t use them, I just delete them.

12.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

The railroad setting for my books is unusual. Jon Land was kind enough to call the books “blisteringly original.” My detective’s territory is 100 feet wide and 35,000 miles long. But by teaming Special Agent Parnell with a homicide detective, I can move the stories in and out of the world of railroads.


13.                        What saying or mantra do you live by?

When the work feels overwhelming, when I’m on the first word of a 100,000-word novel, I remind myself to eat that elephant one bite at a time.