The Dreamer by May Nicole Abbey – Author & Character Interview

Welcome to Author “May Nicole Abbey” 

Caroline Gregory and Shawnette Nielson were born in Southern California to a tight-knit family.  Caroline earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Brigham Young University in 1999, supervising and managing a bookstore during and after college.  She currently has three children’s picture books that are in the process of getting published.The first, Puppy Stew, can be found in the link below.  Now a stay at home mom, she resides in Oklahoma with her husband and four young sons.

From an early age Shawnette realized that she had a flair for the unusual.  At the age of 13 she started gymnastics only to switch it out for wrestling on the boy’s team her sophomore year in high school.  After graduating she held a variety of jobs from construction to pig farming and worked as a nanny in the summer months.  Although in essence a tomboy, Shawnette always longed for a feminine role model in modern media.  At the age of 21, she went to St. Louis, Missouri to serve a mission for her church.  She now lives in Arizona with her husband and three children.

Frustrated with the morals and messages found in much contemporary fiction, unable to find heroines with which they could relate, and discovering many of their family and friends felt similarly, Caroline and Shawnette teamed up to write a wholesome story that contained page-turning adventure and passion, but with a strong, moral message of God and honor.

The sentence, “I had a dream once that I flew” came to Shawnette’s mind one summer afternoon in 1997.  Rushing around for a pen and paper, and unable to find either, she finally settled for a computer with a printer that was out of ink.  The words tumbled forth without control and Shawnette’s fingers flew to keep up.  Thus was born the beginning of “The Dreamer”.  In later years, she read those first few pages to her sister Caroline, and together they developed the character of Rachael as well as the adventurous  path of growth that she goes on.

The journey continues for Caroline and Shawnette. Characters invade their thoughts, demanding for stories to be told, and these sisters answer the call gladly.


Please tell us in one sentence only why we should read your book.
Action, suspense, comedy, romance, developed characters who experience growth and fulfillment, this book has it all and it is squeaky clean.

Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects.
This book is the first in a series. This story, these characters, Rachel and the captain, are complete and finished at the end, but elements of the book, and a specific character mentioned, are the main players in the next one. It is called “The Scholar” and we are nearly done. And we have things planned out for for a third: “The Pauper.” Who am I kidding? We have ideas for the next set of three books! Ideas never stop coming!

Can you see yourself in any of your characters?
I can definitely see some of myself in Rachel. She is flawed, first of all, and so am I. But she is very analytical, even in situations that should be dictated by instinct rather than analysis. She wants to comfort the captain when she learns of his tragic past, but doesn’t quite know how to do it, asking him “May I say that I’m sorry for the difficulty of your youth without causing you more pain? Or should I not embark on the subject at all? Or … or is it possible that my sympathy might ease some of the lingering suffering?” Instead of just showing sympathy, she over-analyzes and confuses herself. My sister, Shawnette, would just instinctively show compassion, but I often talk myself out of it.

Which authors have influenced you most? How?
I speak as a team, both my sister and I, and I think the authors that influenced us together, books we’ve read and discussed and dissected, are a little known group of authors that we believe deserve a little more attention: the harlequin authors from the 1950’s to the 1970’s. Specifically Mary Burchell, Jane Donnelly, Narina Hilliard, Elizabeth Hunter and so on. Is that cheesy? But we learned a lot from reading these authors, how to illustrate character, how much conflict is enough or too much and how to write interesting dialogue.  These books also illustrate relationships between men and women that are clean, dignified, sweet and compelling. We love them!

If you had 24 hours alone how would you spend it?
This is a total dive into fantasy because I haven’t been alone for 24 hours since before I had children. But if, in some other dimension, I found myself alone for 24 hours, I’d take my computer and type a story. Think about it: 24 hours of straight creation!! I can only dream of it! I would neglect food, water, sleep. I would type and type, and it would feel like 10 minutes when it was over. As it is, I snatch 30 minutes here and there, interrupted constantly through it all. But there’s no other way I’d have it. I love being a mom.

Who or what inspired your last book?
The idea came from Shawnette. The words, “I had a dream once that I flew,” the first and last words of our book, came to her over ten years ago. She searched frantically for pen and paper, could find neither, so settled for a computer with a printer that was out of ink. She shared the idea with me, and we began to weave Rachel’s story. We lived almost a thousand miles apart, and on holidays and vacations, we’d pick up her story again and continue to develop it. We wanted a story of healing, of characters with depth and flaws, who were admirable and likable. We also wanted adventure and excitement, a full compelling story. Pirates and buried treasure, a villain and a hero, rescue, sacrifice and love. We wanted a book that had it all.

What drew you to writing this genre?
Shawnette and I are a couple of softies. We adore love stories. I think it’s the genre with the most potential for full character development, the story focused a little less on action and plot than other books and more on personalities, what molded the characters into who they are, what makes them behave a certain way, their flaws and their strengths. And also what they need for fulfillment. Humor, too, can be displayed through characters. Some people are just funny, whether they know it or not.

Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1?
My sister and I are totally different in this regard: Shawnette has a fairly good idea of the story, but she throws herself into it and flies by the seat of her pants more than I do. I am a planner! I like to have every scene planned out from beginning to end in order to start. This works to both of our advantages. She writes more free-flowing, more naturally than I do, her conversations feeling more spontaneous. But because I’m such a planner, I can write a well-rounded story, tie up all loose ends, and make sure everything gets resolved. It’s why we work so well as a team.

How do you come up with the character’s names/personalities?
We want the name to fit the character. For instance, the hero is tough and even ruthless, but he has a core of goodness and longing for stability. We named him Tucker. Another character in the novel, Captain Fredrick, “pirate, thief and irrepressible fortune-hunter,” is bold, suave and funny. We wanted a name that was friendly but just a little formal. It’s not always easy to match the name to the character, but we wanted them to be natural and as close to their personality that we could get.
When we created the story, we thought of what the characters could be good at and what they’d be bad at in the situations they were in, and then we thought of ways they could help each other, how one person’s strength could be another person’s weakness. We love stories of healing, and wanted the characters to heal each other. We also wanted humor and tragedy, goodness and wickedness, and this we tried to illustrate with certain characters.

How do you juggle writing and family life?
It is not easy. But we have a formula we try to live by: put the big things first. We write on the peripheral. Our lives first belong to our children and our families, then secondly we write. This means a lot of late nights, a lot of interruptions, and sometimes things move very slowly (or not at all). But it’s surprising how much we can get done if we stick with it and be patient.

Describe your book in five words.
Love. Adventure. Time-travel. Inspiration. Humor.

Do your characters really talk to you?
Yes, in a way. Sometimes I try to put words in their mouths that they refuse to say! I have to back up and try again and again until I get it right. It’s kind of like I’m getting to know them as I write, that they already exist and I’m just trying to discover who they are.

About how long does it take to write a book?
This one took ten years! We started talking about the second book probably five years ago and we’re nearly done. Hey, maybe the next one will take half that amount! We’re improving!

TV or Movies? Movies. I like things to be finished and competed.
Hot or Cold? Hot. I think I’m cold blooded.
Black or White? White. Black shows lint like crazy.
Night owl, or early bird? Night owl.
Print or Ebook? Print. But ebooks are growing on me.
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate all the way!
Regular or Diet? Diet. Gotta try to keep some semblance of a waistline.
Coke or Pepsi? Coke
Horror or Romance? Romance, Romance, Romance!
Action or Drama? Action. Dramas rip my heart out.
Pizza or Pasta? Pizza. Easier the better.
Skittles or M&Ms? M&M’s.
Sweet or Salty? Sweet. Like Romance (am I obsessed?)
Summer or Winter? Summer. Winter with socks and gloves and jackets makes my life so much harder.
City or Country? Country. I like space and quiet.
Harry Potter or Twilight? Harry Potter for its depth of story and moral theme.
Gum or Breath Mints? Breath mints. My jaw pops.
Spontaneity or Planning Ahead? Planning ahead. Shawnette is spontaneity.
PC or Mac? PC. I know PC. I don’t like change.
Beach or Pool? Pool. It’s cleaner.
Shoes or Sandals? Sandals. Will it sound lazy if I say they’er easier to put on and take off?
Cats or Dog? Dogs. Not only am I allergic to cats, but I have a problem with pets I slave over acting like they’re doing me a favor.
Cause or Effect? Effect. I don’t see myself as an instigator. If I am, it’s against my will.
Heads or Tails? Heads. Heads always wins it seems.
Truth or Dare? Truth. It’s safer.
Text or Talk? Talk. I have to hear someone’s voice to know their mood and how to respond.
Introvert or Extrovert? Intro all the way. If I could live in a room with a computer and a book, I would.


If you could travel in a time machine, would you go back to the past or into the future?
Time machines… how droll. An unnecessary over-complication to the time travel process, but we won’t get into that now. I would choose the past, of course! There is no limit to what one could do: right wrongs, change technology, catapult the present itself into the future!  But there is no ‘if’ about it, you know. Not any longer. Of course one’s mission might be thwarted in the process: a delicious villain, a cantankerous hero, a shipload of blood-thirsty pirates.

If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?
I cannot answer this at present. The memory is still too fresh, the wound too new. I can only say I am never the same after knowing this person, after seeing a glimpse of eternity at this harrowing scene of death. I saw the gates, faintly but they were there. It is our meeting place. We plan to meet again there.

If you were a super hero what would your kryptonite be?
I would be Brainiac, and my kryptonite would be a dark haired, ill-tempered gentleman with the social graces of a water buffalo and the heart of a lion. The introduction to him might upset all my carefully laid plans.

Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.
I rise at dawn. The ship is in full swing by the time I awake, the captain already hard at work. I track him down, pen and paper in hand, and record the various working of an eighteenth century nautical vessel. If I can, I squeeze from him a word or two about his tragic past or his tormented present and record it carefully in my notes. If I make it through the day without instigating mutiny or being kidnapped by pirates, I congratulate myself.

If you had 24 hours alone, how would you spend it?  
What ‘if’? I have spent that – and more – alone regularly and gladly. Not that I ever considered reading Basic Theory in Reflection Seismology being alone. Of course, in 1714 on a ship of hardened sailors, things are a little different. Society and customs being what they are, I must practice more caution to remain safe, and being alone is not always an option. Captain is a great asset in this regard, pretending to his crew we have a romantic relationship. Insists I never leave his side. I am okay with this.

What is your favorite way to spend a rainy day?  
Calculating soil erosion.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I enjoy chivalrous treatment. I would never admit it to my colleagues, of course, but I like how the captain rises when I enter a room and takes my arm when we walk together. I cannot help but enjoy this awareness and concern. Perhaps these gestures contain a wholly different meaning than I’d ever before been aware. Or perhaps my hormone levels are just off.

What is your biggest challenge as a writer? How did you overcome it, or how are you working to overcome it?
Pirates, without a doubt. My writing is constantly interrupted because of these marauders of the sea. And the law abiding sailors are hardly better, their leering expressions and sour smells. Yuk! Captain only exception. Somehow I have never minded his company. Perhaps that is my second biggest challenge: staying focused when with him.

Most embarrassing moment?
Being caught off my guard and used as a tool to nearly instigate mutiny. Not my finest hour.

Scariest moment?
The same. Picture it: a ship full of sex-starved sailors in the middle of the ocean, a lone woman, and a single captain duty-bound to protect her. Cunning and strength unparalleled. Best man I have ever known… as a colleague and guide of course. Perhaps we share a mutual respect? Maybe I flatter myself, but the captain has suggested I infuriate him less than other women do.

TV or Movies? Neither. I’m too busy writing my notes.
Hot or Cold? Cold. It reminds me of the ocean.
Night owl, or early bird? Both. I need very little sleep.
Print or Ebook? I write all my notes with a pencil and paper. What do you think?
Horror or Romance? Textbooks for me.
Action or Drama? Drama. I’ve lived action. It’s very distressing.
Pizza or Pasta? It makes no difference to me. I pay no attention to what I eat. It is merely fuel to aid my work.
Sweet or Salty? Salty! Like ocean water.
City or Country? City. All work, all important activity is there. And it is necessary for the captain’s career.
Harry Potter or Twilight? I never read fiction. Such a waste of time.
Spontaneity or Planning Ahead? Planning ahead, as far in advance as possible.
Shoes or Sandals? Sandals are not regarded highly in 1714. I’m afraid it’s shoes for me.
Cats or Dog? Cats. I have no patience with animals, and cats are less effort.
Cause or Effect? Cause! I am the instigator, the action. The reaction is left to the captain.
Heads or Tails? Heads. All I do is think, think, think.
Truth or Dare? Truth. Information is everything.
Text or Talk? Text. I’m afraid I’m not very good with conversation.
Introvert or Extrovert? Extrovert, but with serious ambition.

The Dreamer by May Nicole Abbey

A dream in the night. A leap of faith. A quest for truth and treasure.

From term papers and instant coffee to blood-thirsty pirates and buried treasure, Rachel Madera, a gifted university professor, finds herself travelling through time on a journey of discovery and danger, all because of a simple dream. Despite the threat, Rachel is undaunted, certain she holds the keys to unlock the mystery of a Pharaoh’s treasure… and alter the course of history.

The only thing that stands between her and peril is Captain Mallory Tucker, a man with a tragic past and intractable moral code. Born of the sea, he is among the leading mariners of 18th century Europe. But the derelicts who make up his crew and the capriciousness of the ocean have taken their toll, and Captain Tucker is tired and jaded. The last thing he needs is a precocious young woman dropping onto his ship and creating havoc. But he’ll fight to the death for her honor, her beliefs… and her love.