Photo by L.G. Patterson
Nicole Schroeder is not shy about describing herself as a bookworm.
Surrounded by books since she could read, it’s no surprise the 24-year-old Columbia native has never had any doubt about the career she would one day pursue. “I don’t even remember when it was I first decided I wanted to be an author,” she says.
Now, Schroeder’s dream is coming to fruition as she prepares to self-publish her first novel, Twisted Fate. The novel tells the origin story of superhero Playback, a young woman who discovers she has the ability to change the last decision she made. “Twisted Fate is a pretty classic superhero origin story,” Schroeder says. The hero is a freshman in college who is “still figuring out her place in the world. Whenever she discovers these powers, she’s very excited at first,” Schroeder says. “She starts to slowly realize that there’s more to being a superhero.”
While Playback’s superpower is one many wouldn’t mind trying out, Schroeder says her superhero has to learn a tough lesson — that she can’t always help everyone the way she wants to. That particular lesson is a close one for Schroeder, who was writing much of the book in the midst of the pandemic. Her brother is immunocompromised, she says, and her family has done whatever possible to keep him safe and healthy. The entire experience has changed how Schroeder approaches things in life, she says. “I think I unintentionally at first, but intentionally later on, worked that into a lot of the realizations and growth that Playback was going through in the story,” Schroeder says.
While the novel is classified as young adult, Schroeder says that refers more to the clean nature of the storytelling. She would consider the book appropriate for all, and hopes it can be something that mothers and daughters can enjoy together. “Your kids can read this, but I also want adults to read it too,” Schroeder says.
Twisted Fate isn’t Schroeder’s first foray into fiction writing. She says she’s tried to write several books in the past and has a few manuscripts in varying stages shoved in a drawer. “I think middle school was when I first started trying to write a book,” she says.
With Twisted Fate, Schroeder first started in November 2021 as part of National Novel Writing Month, an annual challenge meant to motivate and inspire creative writers. One of the differences between Twisted Fate and the unfinished manuscripts of Schroeder’s past was the extent of planning done on the story itself. “This was actually the first book that I did fully plan out,” she says as she shows the notebook where she keeps her meticulous notes, complete with Post-its filled with rewrites and changes. “I think I’ve got to
accept the fact that I finished the book because I fully planned it out.”
Her day job helped too. Schroeder is the editor-in-chief of Indie Author Magazine, where she is able to work with many talented independent authors who have successfully self-published. For her job, Schroeder writes and edits articles of interest to the new author, which conveniently tackles topics she herself needs to know about. “I am that new author,” she says with a laugh, noting that it’s been a wonderful resource for her creative writing and to learn about self-publishing. “It’s an entire community of authors who have turned this into the way they publish their books and made a living doing it.”
When self-publishing, the author is responsible for so much more than the writing itself. You also have to edit, find a cover artist, take on marketing and more, Schroeder says. “I am the person in charge of everything,” she says.
Schroeder is already planning the next steps with her character Playback. In fact, Schroeder has an entire series in mind, with seven books already semi-mapped out, at least mentally. Other than being available through online sources once published, which Schroeder plans for sometime in March, she says she hopes to be able to get it stocked at a few local bookstores, such as Yellow Dog and Skylark, as well as in local libraries.