Baart, Nicole

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Baart, Nicole

PERSONAL:

Born in IA; married Aaron Baart (a pastor); children: Isaac, Judah. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, writing, cooking, gardening.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Sioux City, IA. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Author and teacher. Taught high school English and Spanish.

WRITINGS:

After the Leaves Fall (novel), Tyndale House Publishers (Carol Stream, IL), 2007.

Summer Snow (novel; sequel to After the Leaves Fall), Tyndale House Publishers (Carol Stream, IL), 2008.

SIDELIGHTS:

Nicole Baart was born and raised in Iowa and lived for a time in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the hometown of her husband Aaron, a pastor. When she first started teaching high school English and Spanish, she was just twenty-one years of age, only slightly older than some of her students. Once she overcame her initial fear of teaching this age group, she discovered that she loved teaching teens and could relate to them and their problems, often acting as a sounding board. In an interview for the Becky's Christian Reviews Web site, she said: "I think that because I was young and because I could still relate to my students, I developed respectful friendships with a number of them. They would ask me for advice, and though I seldom had the answers, I loved to listen to them. And I could still very clearly remember my own teenage years and the awful mistakes that I made. I wanted desperately to save my students from falling prey to the same traps I got caught in when I was young, but so much of being a teenager is figuring things out on your own."

After the birth of her son Isaac in 2003, Baart left her full-time position but continued as a substitute teacher. She used her time at home to pursue writing, which had always been her goal. Shortly after Baart signed her first book contract, she and her husband adopted Judah Biruk, a four-month-old Ethiopian boy, and they brought him home the day after Thanksgiving in 2006. Because of Judah, Baart studies the history and culture of Ethiopia.

In an interview posted on her Web site, Baart commented on her preference for writing poetry. "Poetry has always been a love of mine because it is so immediate and raw. Rather than journal, I'll often write a poem. To me, a short story is merely the fleshing out of the emotions behind a poem and a novel is the whole enchilada. It all comes back to poetry—to the basic, almost elemental, emotion. Even when I am writing a novel I often think of it in terms of poetry. What are the feelings here? What would I see and experience if I stripped it all down to the bare essentials?"

Baart is the author of novels, including her debut After the Leaves Fall. Her faith is reflected in her writing, but she did not originally intend to write Christian fic- tion. That changed when she became a Tyndale House author. Baart celebrated by using part of her advance to create a real writing space, replacing her old computer with a laptop and the straight-backed kitchen chair with one that didn't require the use of pillows.

The protagonist of the first book, eighteen-year-old Julia, is struggling with her faith. She was abandoned by her mother when she was nine, and her father died after a long illness when she was sixteen. Julia spends a great deal of time at the neighboring Walker farm, where the large family includes Thomas, with whom she becomes close. When she visits him at college, she realizes that he is fond of another student, which breaks Julia's heart.

Julia aches to leave her small conservative town and when she is offered a scholarship, she has her chance. She finds it difficult making friends but soon finds one in Parker, a teacher's aid who is seven years her senior and who helps her with her engineering studies. Soon Parker falls for Julia and becomes jealous of her ongoing friendship with Thomas, which they carry on through e-mails. Julia isn't sure how she feels about Parker, although she does enjoy their dates and kisses.

Barbara Snodgrass reviewed the debut for the Compulsive Reader Web site, describing it as "an emotional journey. The reader feels compelled to reach out to this character, and offer support due largely to the convincing characterizations. Descriptive and detail-oriented accounts are well-crafted and stimulating making this first novel a winner." Referring to the character of Julia, Rel for Relz Reviewz online wrote: "At a vulnerable time she is reminded again of all the losses in her life and makes a decision that will forever shape her future by sending her back to her past." A Publishers Weekly contributor concluded: "Sparkling prose makes this new novel a welcome addition to inspirational fiction."

Several reviewers looked forward to the unfinished story of Julia, which Baart provided with Summer Snow. The story centers on the return of her mother and Julia's struggle with offering forgiveness, made clearer by events in her own life. In the interview posted on Baart's Web site, she notes: "The second book is much more plot-heavy. There is a lot going on and it is both exciting and difficult to balance all of the emotions and events that are stirred up in the first few chapters. It's a lot of fun for me to watch Julia grow and change through a second book."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Publishers Weekly, August 27, 2007, review of After the Leaves Fall, p. 63.

ONLINE

Becky's Christian Reviews,http://stand-firm-then.blogspot.com/ (October 8, 2007), Becky, "Nicole Baart Interview."

Compulsive Reader,http://www.compulsivereader.com/ (March 13, 2008), Brenda A. Snodgrass, review of After the Leaves Fall.

Novel Journey,http://noveljourney.blogspot.com/ (October 17, 2007), Ane Mulligan, "Author Interview: Nicole Bart."

Novel Reviews,http://novelreviews.blogspot.com/ (October 8, 2007), Ane Mulligan, review of After the Leaves Fall.

Peek at My Bookshelf,http://deenasbooks.blogspot.com/ (October 8, 2007), Deena, review of After the Leaves Fall.

Peer Review,http://mominin-thepeerreview.blogspot.com/ (September 23, 2007), review of After the Leaves Fall.

Relz Reviewz,http://relzreviewz.blogspot.com/ (November 28, 2007), review of After the Leaves Fall; (January 17, 2008), "Interview with Nicole Baart."