Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Christine Nolfi: a professional writer confident about her style

In my pursuit of the meaning and importance of writing style, this week I am turning to veteran Christine Nolfi, best-selling author of Second-Chance Grill, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge and Treasure Me. Christine is also a founder of BestSelling Reads, a cooperative promotional group of writers of "new fiction."

Christine has definite views on the writer's style.

How would you describe your own writing style?

A combination of short, staccato sentences blended with longer, closer-to-literary passages. The combination is wholly intentional, a surefire way to evoke emotion in the reader.

Are there any authors whose style you admire? Do you try to emulate them?

I’m particularly fond of Ann Patchett’s style, but I don’t emulate her or other authors. I’ve been writing for many years. My literary voice is well established.

Are there authors whose writing style you dislike?

I dislike any prose that’s choppy, disjointed or poorly edited.

How important is your writing style to you? Are you happy with your style, or are there aspects of it you try to change during rewriting or editing?

After years of study, trial and error, critique groups, literary agents and much revision, I’m very happy with my writing style. Now when I sit down to begin a story, the entire process feels organic.

What are the important elements of your style? What are you trying to achieve?

An author receives the incalculable gift of the reader’s attention. Add in the modern world, with all the distractions and thrills of mass media, television, film — even the texting feature on your cell phone. Given all of that, I strive to create visual images on every page. Conflict rises, chapter by chapter. And I never forget to pack emotion into every sentence, and the novel’s essential structure.

Your style uses a lot of dialogue. What do you do to ensure your writing is authentic and believable?

I rehearse each scene out loud, becoming the different characters at different turns. This used to frighten my children. They’d arrive home from school to find Mom staring at the Mac and babbling dialogue. Now they’re grown and take my eccentricities in stride.

How can readers identify your writing style? Are there particular words or kinds of words that you tend to favor? Sentence structures? Or is it more in the story, the pacing or the characters?

I suspect readers first recognize my characters as something arising from Nolfi novel. Then the dialogue, which can veer from comedic to poignant in the blink of an eye. Writing style? The combination of short sentences and long passages are a dead giveaway.

Do you think your genre imposes certain restrictions on writing style?

Not at all. I write contemporary fiction, which covers the gamut of human experience. No, you’ll never find horror or erotica in my books. But you will find elements from many other genres — romance, mystery and suspense especially.

Do you think your audience responds to your writing style, consciously or unconsciously?

If fan mail carries proof, I’m sure of it. No doubt the response is both conscious and subconscious.

Why did you add discussion questions to the end of Second Chance Grill? Is this something you do with other books?

Book clubs welcome ready-made questions and I’ll probably supply them in each new release. The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge also has a discussion section. I’ll tell you, devising the right mix of questions for each book was arduous. I worried about missing important issues, or placing too much emphasis on others.

How important do you think writing style is to an author's commercial success?

I think readers in every genre have certain expectations. As an author, you must meet those expectations for any hope of success. In the case of contemporary fiction, readers demand a writing style rich in emotion, with striking visuals and deep symbolism. They don’t want a surface read. If they aren’t quickly immersed in the story and the conflict, they’ll move on to another novel.

Do you think your style will change in the future? Is there something different you would like to do in terms of style in a future book?

With each new book written, I sense my style veering closer to literary. Readers will decide if I’m making a wise decision. Someday I would like to try my hand at something different — a fantasy, perhaps, or science fiction. Or something gritty. Presently I’m editing my next two contemporary fiction releases, and will write the third installment of the Liberty Series over the summer. Perhaps I’ll find time in 2014 to try something new.

Christine Nolfi owned a small public relations firm in Cleveland, Ohio. She closed the firm after traveling to the Philippines to adopt a sibling group of four children. She has been writing novels full-time since 2004. Her debut Treasure Me is a 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards finalist. Her most recent book, Second Chance Grill was released in October 2012. Her works continue to earn high marks on GoodReads and Amazon.

You can find out more about Christine, her books and her blog at

Follow Christine on Twitter @christinenolfi

Check out her GoodReads Author Pageher FaceBook Author page, and her Amazon Author page.

And don't forget to check out her books!

Second Chance Grill:
at Barnes & Noble

Treasure Me — 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards Finalist
on Amazon 
at Barnes & Noble

The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge
on Amazon UK
on Barnes & Noble


  1. 'An author receives the incalculable gift of the reader’s attention.' That sentence just moved me, because it is a gift - one to be truly cherished. Thanks for the reminder, Christine.

  2. Enjoyed the interview, Christine! It's great that you know your own voice so well and know how to use it to connect with your readers. Everyone who picks up your books should feel confident they're getting a great read!

  3. Scott, many thanks for the interview. Martha, it's easy for all of us to bemoan the work involved in creating our latest opus, but aren't we blessed that, well, readers want to read our words? Raine, many thanks for reading along!

  4. Christine raises several excellent points about writers discovering their own style and remaining true to it. Once readers become familiar with an author's "voice" they have certain expectations about each book they purchase by that author. As Christine points out, successful authors meet those expectations. Great interview, thanks!

  5. Terrific interview and compelling answers. I struggled with finding my voice and when I did, the writing process became less work and a real joy. Looking forward to reading your work, Christine.

  6. Patricia, I couldn't agree more: once readers become familiar with the author's voice it's imperative to continue with the same. Unless, of course, an author states clearly that her latest release is in a genre different from what her established audience expects.

    Javier, no question--it is a struggle to fine one's voice. Now that you've found yours, readers will thank you!