The Writer’s Pet: Nicole Blades and Have You Met Nora?

Nicole Blades on her most recent novel, Have You Met Nora?, and her adorable dog Murphy.

The Writer's Pet: Murphy, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel belonging to Nicole Blades, author of Have You Met Nora?
Murphy, photographed by Nicole Blades.

No. 7 in the series The Writer's Pet by Zazie Todd PhD.

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About to marry into one of New York’s richest families, Nora seems to have the perfect life. But she has a big secret–for years, she’s been “passing” as white–and it looks like it’s going to come undone. In this suspenseful book, we learn what Nora will do to protect herself. Taylor Jenkins Reid says Have You Met Nora? is  “a deft and searing commentary on identity and race.”

Nicole Blades told me about Have You Met Nora?, where she gets her writing inspiration, and her adorable dog Murphy.

The Writer's Pet: The cover of Have You Met Nora by Nicole Blades

What is your dog’s name? 

His name is Murphy

Type of pet?

He's a black and tan Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 

What do you love most about your dog? 

He's such an adorable, sweet dog. We have a hard time remembering what life was like before he joined our family. But what I adore most about Murphy is the utter joy he's brought my son. Especially now during the tough road of the global pandemic, having a furry buddy for my son to cuddle with and play with has been a lifesaver. Truly heartwarming to see them together.

What makes your dog happy? 

Murphy loves love. Pet him, make your lap available to him, love him up, tell him he's a good boy, and he's your bestie forever. 

The Writer's Pet: Nicole Blades' dog Murphy looks at her while she writes on her laptop.
Photo:Nicole Blades

Does your dog help or hinder your writing? In what way? 

Murphy helps, mostly. He's a very chill kind of dog, so he doesn't get in the way of work. I always like that he'll come upstairs to my office to check on me from time to time, make sure I'm all right. If I'm working in the living room on the couch, he's all too happy to come join me. I have to sometimes maneuver around because he'll try to compete with my MacBook for lap space. However, if there's a squirrel or other dog walking by our large bay window, it's on! Murphy starts barking like mad. That's where the hindrance comes in. But can you blame him? It's a squirrel.    

"Then I’m off to another world, thinking up characters and situations and trying to answer those what-ifs."


Tell me about your book.

I've just finished revising my latest novel, and I'm very excited about it. I cannot wait to share more about it soon, soon. I'm that kind of writer (superstitious, I guess) who keeps writing projects very close to the chest. I don't like to let the steam out of the pot while it's cooking. I also just finished writing something else that's a brand new genre for me. My beta readers absolutely loved it, so I'm very encouraged. 

My most recent book, my third published novel, is HAVE YOU MET NORA? It is a modern day story of a young biracial woman from very humble beginnings who has been passing for white and affluent for nearly 15 years. But someone from her past--who knows her secret--pops up in her present and threatens to unmask her, setting up her incredible deception for complete implosion. The question is, how far will Nora go to protect this ideal version of herself?

The Writer's Pet: Nicole Blades' dog Murphy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, wearing a birthday hat
Photo: Nicole Blades

What inspires your book ideas? 

This may sound corny, but it’s the truth: I draw inspiration from life and wonder. Stories I read in magazines or that hear straight from the source, someone who went through an experience, will often send my mind off on its own journey with tons of questions and dreaming up the answers. For example, say I read a fascinating magazine story about someone ruined by heartbreak. I might start to wonder, “What if this happened instead,” or “I wonder what would a person go through if they were dealing with this but 10 years in the future.” And then I’m off to another world, thinking up characters and situations and trying to answer those what-ifs.

What’s your ideal scenery while you’re writing? 

A window right by the desk is a must. And it needs to look out at something. Brick walls or cruddy, leaking air conditioning units do not count as something. Give me a real vista. The desk in my home office is smack dab in front of the window, and it looks out to the gorgeous tree. One of these days I should investigate what type of tree it is, because it’s been reliable and lovely for going on nine years now.  

"I always like that he'll come upstairs to my office to check on me from time to time, make sure I'm all right."

Name your local/favourite independent bookstore that has your book for sale.

The town we live in is sadly lacking an indie bookstore. I have a secret dream to open one here in the near future. We have a B&N and that's it. I had a book event at Wesleyan RJ Julia a few years back, and it was lovely. Even though there's a good 27-minute drive involved, I've come to consider it my air-quotes local indie bookstore.  

Have You Met Nora? is available in my Amazon store and was featured in my summer 2018 reading list.

The Writer's Pet: Nicole Blades (pictured) on her book Have  You Met Nora? and how her dog helps her writing

About Nicole Blades: I'm a novelist, speaker and journalist. With more than 20 years in the journalism game (yes, I started at 7... just leave it be!), my work has been published in The New York Times, Runner’s World, Women’s Health, Writer’s Digest, Health,, and more. My novels, HAVE YOU MET NORA?, THE THUNDER BENEATH US, and EARTH’S WATERS, are out there moving around in this world at bookstores and libraries and on people’s bookshelves, which continues to make my heart sing. I'm a mother, wife, dog-mama, and Certified Personal Trainer. I'm also what's known as a Professional Canadian, and books are Beyoncé.

Website: Follow Nicole on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Follow Murphy on Instagram.

Zazie Todd, PhD, is the award-winning author of Wag: The Science of Making Your Dog Happy and Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy. She is the creator of the popular blog, Companion Animal Psychology, writes The Pawsitive Post premium newsletter, and also has a column at Psychology Today. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband, one dog, and two cats. 

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