Noelle Sickels Historical fiction Historical novels Historical fiction about WWII Historical paranormal thriller Teaneck NJ in the sixties Out of Love The Shopkeeper’s Wife The Medium Walking West In domestic Service Zone 3 Barefoot Productions Time Was Reminiscences by senior citizens Noelle Sickels Poetry Noelle Sickels Anthologies Noelle Sickels Memoir Searching for Armando
Although Noëlle Sickels has written four historical novels, she never set out to be a historical novelist. In fact, she never set out to be a novelist at all.
Noëlle’s mother had been a writer in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, somehow finding time to write despite the responsibilities of a home, a husband, six children, several pets, and, eventually, a full-time job as well.
“I used to sit in the yard outside her bedroom window and listen to the clatter of her typewriter, or perch unseen at the top of the living room stairs when she read her stories aloud to friends.”
But none of those stories were ever published, and at some point, they were stuffed into a plastic bag and shoved to the back of a closet, where Noëlle discovered them after her mother’s death in 1980. Hoping to get her mother’s work published, Sickels incorporated the stories verbatim into a memoir about her mother’s life. That very personal project never found a publisher, either, but by then, Sickels had caught the writing bug, and she began to create fiction of her own, initially short stories, and later, novels. After having four novels published, Sickels returned to the seminal project of telling her mother’s story in SEARCHING FOR ARMANDO, a triple biography of her mother and her two fathers.
Sickels’s first novel, WALKING WEST, set in 1852, grew out of her fascination with women’s diaries of the westward migration. The plot ideas for her other novels, all set in different time periods, also emerged out of compelling real-life stories from past eventful eras.
“I’m interested in how large historical events or social conditions play out in the individual lives of ordinary people. My characters wrestle with how to be true to themselves while engaging in complicated relationships with friends, families, and lovers, and while responding to the demands of their time in history and their time of life. The germ of every story is my imagining a specific person in a particular circumstance. I want to carry readers into other lives and other times, to show how the challenges of being human were different and how they were the same.”
Sickels has had poems, essays, and stories in numerous anthologies and literary journals, including “In Domestic Service,” winner of the annual fiction award from the journal Zone 3. She adapted her short story “4-1-1” for a Los Angeles stage production by Blue Sphere Alliance, and another story, “The Kiss,” was included in a taped collection by the journal Kalliope.
Noëlle Sickels is a native of northern New Jersey, the setting of two of her novels, THE MEDIUM and OUT OF LOVE. She lived for some years in Philadelphia, which is the setting of THE SHOPKEEPER'S WIFE, but now she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and a fat, affectionate cat, just down the road from her son, his wife, and their two young children. Sickels is a retired teacher who never taught in a traditional classroom. Her students have included migrant workers, emotionally disturbed adolescents, pregnant women, senior citizens, and pre-schoolers. She holds degrees in education and sociology, which turned out to provide a good foundation for a historical novelist, even an unintentional one.
“Plus, I have the usual writer’s vices/virtues of being an automatic, inveterate observer and a curious listener, sometimes even an eavesdropper.”