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A little about me

Bio, Projects, Enthusiasms

I grew up in a Mennonite family in California and Oklahoma. My love of books started in junior high school, where I discovered the delights of the ‘Classics’ series of novels in the school library. I was captivated by Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Last of the Mohicans, and Anna Karinina. I read through the little collection there and immediately hit the larger city library, although I didn’t actually finish Moby Dick until my second attempt several years later. (It was worth it, especially the three chapters contemplating the color white.) To be honest, I never got through War and Peace; each character has at least twelve different nicknames – I couldn’t keep up! My favorites of all time include Voltaire’s Candide and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

My passion for historical fiction came out of the admirable writings of Edward Rutherford and Diana Gabaldon. A few years ago I thought it would be a good idea to try writing a novel myself – how difficult could it be? OK, it’s more of a challenge than I anticipated, but it’s also fun, and has opened up doors to whole new worlds. My current project, The Cherry Stone, comes out of my Mennonite background, and is based loosely on my great-grandparents’ participation in the great Land Rush of 1893 and subsequent homesteading in Oklahoma.

A fun diversion from the hardships of homesteading is Prairie Gold, a novella based on the exploits of 19th century English aristocrats, careening across the western United States in search of adventure.

I studied German and Sociology at Goshen College, Indiana, and have a teaching qualification from Exeter University, U.K. I teach English and German, and serve as Operations Manager of my local Baptist church, where I occasionally lead worship and speak. I really appreciate my church family, who inspire my Moments for the Soul.

Steps Toward is a series of Bible reflections, the first of which, Steps Toward Generosity, was written jointly with my father, Ted W. Nickel. The second, Steps Toward Belonging, has come out of the difficult period of social isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I enjoy playing saxophone and guitar (‘enjoy’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘excel at’), and I’m married to Graeme, a wonderful and tolerant man. Together we’re walking our way around the English Southwest Coastal Path, and we keep mentally and socially fit through Scottish Country Dancing. We have a wonderful family, including our gorgeous little granddaughter.

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