Departure Mirror: Tell us a little about your Departure Mirror poem.
Nicole J. LeBoeuf: “Reasonable Accommodations” began during one of my Tuesday “poetry playtime” sessions. (I try to spend a little time freewriting every day, and Tuesdays are specifically for poetry.) Inspired by an upcoming submission theme, I was focusing on shapeshifters. But not werewolves. I love me some werewolves — I adore Carrie Vaughn’s series about Kitty Norville, DJ for the Midnight Hour — but I wanted to explore other weres, especially prey species. Imagine the plight of a were-deer, trapped in the nine-to-five work-a-day world without benefit of an understanding boss. Deer are mainly nocturnal, but humans aren’t, and the moon doesn’t just start being full when we can see it. Poor thing’s gotta have a terrible time when career fairs fall at exactly the wrong time of the month.
DM: How did you become a writer?
NJL: I’ve never not been a writer. From as early as first grade, when our teacher gave us spiral notebooks and told us to write at least one page a day, I’ve been writing stories and poems. I dictated them to patient babysitters with typewriters until I learned to type them up myself. I ran my Brother Type-A-Graph (does anyone else remember those?) out of its little ballpoint pens more frequently than my parents could keep up. And, critically, I got the sort of adult feedback that confirmed “Yes, you can do this. Keep doing this.” I may have been embarrassed within an inch of my life to walk in the door and hear my Mom reading one of my poems aloud to a friend, but even while I wished for the earth to swallow me up, I got the message loud and clear.
I was extremely fortunate in high school that two of my English teachers were professional writers themselves. When I asked them, “How do I get my stories published?” they asked me, “Are you ready for rejection?” Well, I said, if I’m not, I’d better be. They introduced me to the ins and outs of proper manuscript submission and pointed me toward the library’s huge doorstop copy of the Writer’s Market. I only avoided falling prey to publishing scams because those two amazing humans inoculated me with solid information.
DM: What else are you passionate about? Tell us about it.
NJL: In November of 2011, I lost my heart to roller derby. I attended Day 1 of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association championships in Broomfield, Colorado — just a few bus stops down the road from me in Boulder — and my heart just leapt out of my chest and landed on the track. I had to learn how to play to get it back. That’s how I ended up training with and playing for the Boulder County Bombers under the name Fleur de Beast.
Roller derby in the United States is on indefinite hiatus while we weather the COVID storm, and you can imagine how jealous I am to hear about games being played in those countries that have done a better job keeping case numbers down than we have. I’ve been meeting up with current and former leaguemates for trail-skating dates, keeping ourselves responsibly distanced and adding facemasks to our required protective gear, but it’s not the same. I miss getting to hit skaters! I miss having those bruises!
DM: Do you have anything you’d like to promote?
NJL: My very short story “The Soup Witch’s Funeral Dinner” was podcast by Cast of Wonders earlier this year. It was just amazing to hear a narrator as skilled as Adam Pracht bring the tale to life. You should click the link right now and go take a listen.
That story was originally part of my Friday Fictionettes project, which is basically me experimenting with Patreon. Theoretically I release a new piece of very short fiction there every first through fourth Friday for subscribers to read or listen to. I say “theoretically” because I’m about four weeks behind schedule right now. Hopefully by the time this Author Spotlight goes live I’ll be caught up or at least closer to it. A quarter of the archives are unlocked posts — the monthly “Fictionette Freebies” — so please don’t hesitate to visit! More people watching means more pressure for me to hit my deadlines.
I’d also like to mention the Atthis Arts anthology Community of Magic Pens, in which you can find my short story, “One Story, Two People.” It’s about fountain pens and a friendship that transcends time. Atthis Arts is an indie publisher, and, like all indie publishers, especially now, they could sure use your support.