TheColu.mn’s Spotlight on the Arts features artists and organizations that have had an impact on the arts in Minnesota. If you are an artist or arts organization and would like to be profiled in our Spotlight, simply fill out our introductory form.

This week’s Spotlight on the Arts features Adam J. Nicolai, a novelist in the fantasy and horror genres. He’s the author of such books as Rebecca, Alex, and the epic series Children of a Broken Sky.

He’s been taking the self-publishing world by storm. His first novel, Alex, hit #13 on the Kindle Horror Bestseller list and #1 in Ghost Horror. It was the #3 top-rated novel in Kindle Fiction based on customer reviews and was the top-rated novel by customer review for several months in Horror, Thriller, and Suspense.

Tell us about your form of art, performance or work.
I’m an author who writes in a lot of different genres – Suspense, Horror, and Fantasy so far. For my stuff that’s based in the real world, I focus on keeping things as honest as possible. My second novel, Rebecca, is about a young, single, lesbian mother struggling to reconcile her sexual identity with her religious faith. A number of Amazon reviewers lambasted the book as “anti-christian,” but many others recognized that it wasn’t; it was simply honest. The conflict between religion and sexual identity is something I hope to explore more in future work.

Where and how can the general public view, participate in, or purchase your work?
My website – www.adamjnicolai.com – has links for all my work. Currently my e-books are exclusive through Amazon and can all be found there.

Tell us a little about your inspiration. What inspires you?
My mother was single and lesbian, and while I’m heterosexual, learning that she was lesbian forced me to re-evaluate everything I’d learned at the Assembly of God about homosexuality. Ultimately I couldn’t reconcile the fact that I still loved my mother with the idea that she’d be going to hell just for being who she was. After I had my own children, I started imagining what it must be like to be condemned by your church simply for being who you are, and the seeds for Rebecca were planted. I also debated for two years in high school and coached and judged for several years after that, which is why Rebecca’s main character is a debater. I love that activity and I wanted to illustrate how it can influence the way we think.

Tell us about one piece, work, or performance about which you are particularly proud?
My first novel, Alex, has gotten over 500 5-star reviews on Amazon, but I’m more proud of Rebecca. As a married, heterosexual father, it was a challenge to write the perspective of a young, lesbian, single mother, but several reviewers have commented on how accurate the voice is, and how well the difficult themes (religion, sexuality, post-partum depression) are managed. The thing that was interesting to me in writing the novel was how I was able to draw on my heterosexual experience in the church to make it feel real. Homosexuality is easier for the church to condemn – they can put a name to it and they can point at specific people – but in my experience, they make out all sexuality to be a thing of shame. When I started writing, I overlaid my own experience of that constant shame with the main character’s unique situation, and found that heterosexuals and homosexuals who have been sex-shamed by their churches actually have quite a few things in common.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Thanks for your time and especially for your work on thecolu.mn. I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen here. I’ve been really proud of Minnesota these past couple years, but there’s still a lot of work to be done!

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