Interview: Nicole Bailey, author of Faye and the Ether

Interview: Nicole Bailey, author of Faye and the Ether

Welcome to another author interview on BookishEnds! I had a lot of questions for the lovely Nicole Bailey, and she was gracious enough to answer them. Keep scrolling to read the interview, a summary of Faye and the Ether and find the links to purchase the books. Faye and the City in the Sea, book 2 in the series, publishes December 29th.

  1. What was the process of writing this book like?

I should preface this by saying that Faye and the Ether is the very first book I’ve ever written. And by first I mean I’ve never written more than a few paragraphs of a story before this one.

So my process of writing this one has been different from writing the sequels, which have all been much more organized. 🙂 

With Faye and the Ether, I first had an image come to me of a girl looking out at the sea and longing for it in a way that was beyond human. So then I started asking myself questions: Why is she longing for the sea? The answer: She’s a selkie, but she doesn’t know it. That led to the question: Why doesn’t she know it? And my answer was: she’s been hidden in the human world. Then I wondered why? And who is going to find her? (Which introduced me to a fierce but good-hearted protector who would seek her out.)

So at first it was impressions and a lot of questions I kept mulling over. A few characters unraveled themselves as I muddled through this process (Merri, Alec, and Daron’s father were some of the earliest ones.) And then I pieced together the Ether world and all of its mythology.

During this process I was writing random scenes down as they came to me so I didn’t lose them. Once I felt I had a firm grasp on the world, I took all those random scenes and pieced them together and wrote the first draft of the story. 

  1. What made you decide to write this book?

I’ve always wanted to write, but never followed through. In fact, when I told my mom I was publishing a book her response was: that doesn’t surprise me. You were always making up stories growing up.

Fear got in the way for me writing for a long time. (What if people hate it? What if I embarrass myself? What if it’s a huge flop?) 

Then, around the time I had the idea for the story buzzing around my mind, I buddy-read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert with a friend. The book is all about creating for the sheer joy of it, making for yourself, putting away fear and just going for it.

So I told myself I would write Faye and the Ether for my personal joy, but I would never, ever, not ever share it with anyone. Ha! (The lies we tell ourselves.) 

Once I got past the worry holding me back, the story flowed. Now I always try to write my first drafts with the idea that I am writing this solely for my happiness and enjoyment. (Thinking about readers is what the editing stage is for. 🙂 )

Oh and sharing the story with others has been one of the best parts!

  1. What do you want readers to take away from your book?

I think every reader will come to a book with different perspectives and in different places. So I hope each reader can take what resonates for them. That said, if I could pick a few “takeaways” they would be:

-You are braver than you know
-Bravery is showing up scared and doing it, anyway
-Your voice matters
-There is a place in the world for you as you authentically are

  1. Did you always envision this book as a YA novel?

Absolutely. There’s something about young adult novels and the growth and coming of age aspect I love (both to read and write.) That said, the series veers more towards NA as it continues and the characters age. 

  1. Were there any books, articles, or other media that inspired you?

I have always loved fairy tales and mythology. I’m the oldest of eleven siblings (not a typo) so I did a lot of reading aloud to younger siblings growing up. My mom bought us books of folktales and mythologies from around the world, and I know those played a role in shaping the story.

Another thing that inspired me is my college studies. I’m one credit short (how I wish I had finished that credit, ha!) of having a minor in Asian studies and a lot of that was studying mythology and folktales. 

While many readers point out the Greek mythology in the book, there is actually a lot of Asian (and other worldwide mythology) in it. I based the bird types around FengHaung (a mythological figure from both China and Japan). Water dragons are from Asian mythology as well.

Selkie mythology in particular is pretty light content wise. You won’t find chapter books full of selkie stories. Most of the folktales around them involve a selkie going into the human world and having their cloak stolen. That said, there is a gorgeous movie called The Song of the Sea that features selkies and other Celtic myths and even though it’s a children’s film, I cannot recommend it enough.

  1. Who’s your favorite mythological figure?

I’ve always liked the noble mythology figures as they seem rare. Where many of the characters in mythologies are self-serving or horrible (I’m looking at you, Zeus), a few stand out for their integrity. In Greek mythology, Prometheus fit this for me, and I loved weaving him into the books.

  1. Who was your favorite character to write ?

My favorite character was (and continues to be) Alec. I love his wit and he brings a lot of levity to different moments.

As far as POV characters, I think I enjoyed writing Daron and Faye equally. They have different ways of viewing and approaching the world, which made it a lot of fun to bounce between the two of them.

  1. Did you find writing dual POV to be challenging?

Actually, I didn’t! I’ve had several readers comment on how distinct the different POV’s in the books are. When I’m writing, I feel like I click into each character’s perspective as I write from them.

Even the analogies I use change based on the character. Faye is constantly comparing things to the ocean, for example. For whatever reason, this comes naturally for me.

In fact, there have been a few scenes that I initially had from Daron’s perspective and then swapped to Faye’s instead. It surprises me how much the entire feel of the chapter changes based on which character it’s seen from!

  1. There’s some unconventional romance that happens in this story. Did you come into the story knowing how you wanted the romance to turn out or did you discover it along the way?

At the very beginning, when I was just letting the ideas for the story come to me, no, I didn’t know. That said, I figured it out really early. In fact, the conversation Faye has with Daron after their trip to Trinity Peaks is very similar to the “conversation” I had with Daron in brainstorming the book. 

I like to let the characters come to me “as they are” and not try to fit them into a predetermined mold if possible.

One thing that has surprised me is that many readers expected a love triangle in the book. That response startled me. That was never, ever something I had considered. The pair that ends up together was always the end game for me once I started writing. (And they are also one of my favorite parts of the entire series.) 

  1. Did you edit out any scenes that you wished had stayed in the book?

There was a scene that had four of the characters (Daron, Alec, Faye, and Poppy) going to a dancehall in the city. It was a lot of fun, but I don’t regret it being cut. It didn’t have enough purpose to stay, so out it went.

In the second book, Faye and the City in the Sea, however, there was one cut scene that I will forever feel sad over. However, it was in the best interest of the book as a whole, so I don’t regret it; I just mourn it. Ha!

  1. What are you currently working on?

I’m polishing the third book of the Faye series to go to the editor in January. When I finish that, I will work on the first draft of book five (which will be the last book in the series, sad!)

I have also just started a new series. All I can say about that one for now is that it plays with mythology again, it’s in a new world separate from the Ether, and I think readers will love the characters. (But I’m trying my best to ignore it for now and stay focused on finishing the Faye series. It’s difficult, though, the siren’s call on this one is strong!) 

  1. Did you start writing this book knowing it would be a series?

I did! I didn’t know how long it would end up being, though. Originally, I had planned for it to be three books. And so, the ending of book three has a “soft ending.” But then I had this image of one of the characters in their new world and I realized the story wasn’t done yet.

In fact, book four is my favorite of the series so far. 🙂 

Faye and the Ether Summary

For as long as I can remember, the sea has called to me, luring me to explore the secrets hidden beneath its cresting waves.

Faye is tossed into a current of uncertainty as she deliberates over her college choices. More than anything she wants to study by the sea, forever chasing the line where the ocean meets the horizon. But she finds herself dragged down by the riptide of her and her mother’s financial restraints. How can she be true to herself when anchored by her world’s limitations?

As the leader of the deadliest group in the Ether, Daron is at the top of his game. Yet there is one thing he’s failed at time and again—finding the human-raised Ether. It’s a known fact amongst his team that success on that particular mission would change their lives in unimaginable ways. Yet Daron couldn’t comprehend how true that was… until he saw Faye.

Guided by Daron, Faye enters a world she never knew existed. One filled with mythical creatures, struggling to coexist. As Faye wrestles with where she fits in this magical realm, secrets are revealed that turn the tide once more.

Inky darkness is seeping ever closer. Can Faye and Daron work together to save Ether and themselves? Or will the world be crushed under a wave of evil?

From author Nicole Bailey comes a young adult adventure filled with magic, intrigue, and the inner well of strength that flows through us all.

Where to Buy

Series on Amazon | Book 1 on Amazon | Book 2 on Amazon

Thanks so much for reading my interview with Nicole! You can find her on Instagram or on her website. This series is amazing so far (and I can’t wait to see the covers for the next books), so if you’re interested make sure to check out my review of Faye and The Ether.

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