Willcox Local Sci-Fi Author Bill Nolan

Bill Nolan is a 66-year-old science fiction writer from Willcox. 

WILLCOX — After receiving a Writers in Residence grant earlier this year from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Elsie S. Hogan Community Library is hosting two local authors for a program providing one-on-one help for individuals looking to make their ideas for a book a reality.

Additionally presentations aimed at teaching a different aspect of the writing process are being provided by each of the authors.

Assistance is being offered inside a small private room in the back of the library on Mondays and Tuesdays starting at 1:30 p.m. and lasting until the last person leaves.

The presentations are on Fridays at 2:30 p.m. inside the library. For the exact location of the presentations call the library or check Facebook.

The assistance and presentations are being offered in person, but according to the head librarian Michelle Leyvas, “if they need a Zoom class then we can provide that too.”

Local science fiction author Bill Nolan is hosting the first round of classes that began on Feb. 1 and will run through to the end of April.

The second round of classes taking place between May 3 and July 31 will be hosted by local author Ann Stratton. An article on Stratton will appear in a future edition of the Herald/Review.

According to the city of Willcox Facebook page, “this project is supported by the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.”

“They actually reached out to me, because they needed two authors when they submitted the grant request. So they picked me and the other woman,” Nolan said.

What Nolan hopes to accomplish

“Well I just really enjoy talking to people about writing, grammar and all that stuff,” Nolan said. “Maybe somebody will buy my book, and who knows?

“One of the things that I can do for people is read their work and critique it for them, let them know how that’s going.”

Nolan has a masters in English and writing from Western New Mexico. Prior to that he attended Michigan State in the 1960s, earning a degree in child psychology. Although Nolan said at the time there was “absolutely no career that you could have with a bachelor’s degree in psychology,” he later went back to school at Grambling University after being inspired by his higher-ups at Cochise College to get a degree in film studies.

“It was actually great at Grambling, because I was teaching film studies at the (Cochise) college (Willcox Center) and they noticed that I didn’t really have any related degrees to film studies and they told me I should probably get one,” Nolan said. “So I went ahead. I transferred a whole lot of credits. I didn’t need to take very many. I already had at that point I think 180 some undergraduate credits needed to graduate. Then I got a degree in cultural and media studies. Then I was teaching film studies as well as English.”

Nolan’s heroes

Literary heroes inspired Nolan.

“Well, there’s a couple of science fiction writers that I really like,” he said. “Issac Asimov and Robert Heinlin. I like some of the philosophers. ‘Walden Pond’ and ‘Sand County Almanac’ by Aldo Leopold.

“I like Tom Clancy’s work a whole lot. He kind of originated the whole idea of the techno thriller. So his work was always a go-to. One of the things I like about his work is the first couple of chapters tell stories about what appears to be completely unrelated events and people.

“Then eventually, as the book progresses, all of those things end up tying in. So I’ve got a similar thing in my book where the first chapter is frequently kind of these nets of what appears to be unrelated storylines, but it turns out they’re not unrelated.”

Charles Dickens is another Nolan favorite. He got the rare and “neat” treat of using a quill pen that Dickens had used while he was visiting the Charles Dickens museum in London with his wife, Sarah.

Nolan has been a published author since 2012, when the first science fiction novel in his series was released. He had been working on it for several years.

Nolan didn’t realize who the main character in the book was until after he started writing.

“The fourth book in my science fiction series, there’s a name Valerie,” he said. “Obviously, Valerie’s the main character. When I started writing the book, I had absolutely no idea Valerie was going to be the main character. She doesn’t appear in the book until about a third of the way through and suddenly she took it over out of nowhere.

“One night I wrote about 40 pages just as fast as I could type. It was like it was already in there waiting to get out and that was when I realized she was going to be a major character in the book.”

A female following

Nolan has an eclectic variety of fans, but women seem the most drawn to his science fiction work.

“I write very strong female characters,” he said. “So a lot of my fans are female, because of that. I have a lot of local people who buy my books and read them. So that’s nice.

“Then I have some very avid fans who will email me constantly about when’s the next book in the series coming out. One guy said that he was reading them again for the seventh time and he decided to read them in chronological order. The reason he said that is because the third book I wrote is a prequel. So he was going to read the prequel first and then the other three.”

The inspiration for strong female characters comes from his wife, Sara.

Valerie from the fourth book was based on a young woman he knew with the same name, after getting her permission and confirming that the character would not be like her.

Several of the other characters in the book are named after his grandchildren.

“Especially in fiction and especially in fantasy and science fiction, you need to write a series,” Nolan said. “People want to follow the same characters over more than one book.”

Writing a book usually takes Nolan about a year from start to publication.

“I’m writing another sequel in my science fiction series,” he said. “I have a lot of characters that I could expand on and I write very strong female characters. When I get going I can write as fast as I can type. The words just flow.

“A lot of that’s because I think about what’s happening in my book all the time. Then every once in a while I sit down at my computer and I’ll write a bunch. Or I’ll sit down at my iPad and write a bunch.”

Nolan’s wife has co-authored several books with him. His other books cover a variety of subjects ranging from astrophysics to weight loss.

“I’m interested in almost everything. You just never know,” Nolan said.

When he is not writing, Nolan loves to read nonfiction and astrophysics books.

Information on Nolan’s sci-fi series and pictures of his main character, Valerie, can be found on his Facebook page “Bill Nolan-author.”