Local author finds success with first novel

“The House of Bradbury” is Nicole Meier’s debut

By Kim Himstreet, The Bulletin

What: Author Nicole Meier reads from and signs “The House of Bradbury”

When: 5:30-6:30 p.m. June 14

Where: Barnes & Noble, 2690 NE U.S. Highway 20, Bend

Cost: Free admission

Contact: www.barnesandnoble.com or 541-318-7242

Bend’s Nicole Meier feels as though she should pinch herself these days. Her debut novel, “The House of Bradbury,” was released May 10 and has already been touted as one of 20 must-read books by the likes of Redbook magazine and sheknows.com .

“The reception so far has been very gratifying — it feels surreal,” said Meier.

Growing up in Southern California, she had always wanted to be a writer. “I made up little newspapers and handed them out to my family and wrote a lot of short stories,” Meier said. This early love of writing led her to study creative literature at college and then work as a contributing travel and lifestyle writer and blogger.

“But for a long time, I didn’t think I could really call myself a writer because I wasn’t published and didn’t have a big name,” said Meier.

That’s all changing now.

“The House of Bradbury” tells the story of struggling writer Mia Gladwell, who buys the former home of renowned science fiction and mystery author Ray Bradbury. Mia hopes the home will inspire her both professionally and personally, but as her life becomes even more complicated, she soon questions whether the move was a mistake.

The concept for the book first took shape when Meier saw a story about the Bradbury house being put up for sale after the “Fahrenheit 451” author’s death in 2012. Meier was familiar with the neighborhood and the exterior of the house because her sister lived nearby.

Meier had been a fan of both Bradbury’s writing and the way he supported and mentored many other authors. But it was as she pored over pictures and articles about the man and his house that the concept and setting for her story clicked.

Unfortunately, Meier never had the opportunity to meet Bradbury or venture inside the house herself. The eventual purchasers demolished it, and a new home is being built on the site. However, she was thrilled when one of Bradbury’s daughters let Meier know she approved of the book.

Meier said her novel is pure fiction and — with the exception of Ray Bradbury and his house — she tried not to base any of her characters or the events in it on personal experience. She feels this gives her more freedom for character and plot development.

She spent about 12 months writing the story, and then the process of having the manuscript accepted by a publisher, followed by editing and marketing, took another 12 months. That’s actually lightning fast compared to the typical timeline for a first novel. Meier also feels very fortunate that her publisher, SparkPress, allowed her to have a lot of input into the book’s title, art and marketing.

Meier has a piece of advice for other aspiring novelists: “Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not a writer,” she said. “If you have the passion, it will come to the surface.”

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