Feature: Nicole Nguyen

Nicole Nguyen is currently a student in the University of Houston’s College of Pharmacy. Her piece, ‘Peak’, is published in Volume 7 of The Aletheia.

Interview conducted by Adrienne Meyers, Associate Editor of The Aletheia.

The Aletheia: In ‘Peak’, you speak a lot about genetics and where the study of genes will take us in the future. Do these ideas come from topics you study in the pharmacy school, or do they spring from a more general sci-fi interest?

Nicole Nguyen: I have taken a class in genetics before, but what really made me excited to write this piece was that I could put my own spin on a popular concept. Society has always toyed with the idea of living forever, but what if it’s simply not possible? With all the medical advances, surely there would be a compromise. So, what is it about immortality that appeals to people? What I gathered is that it is not necessarily about the time, but increasing the opportunities to make memories and have experiences. Along those lines, I thought of experiences that are generalized to certain periods in a life span; awkward adolescence, declining with old age, and of course the “Peak” of adulthood. What if everyone could experience those times, and as with everything, what would be the downfalls? So in a general answer to the question, I believe that constitutes a general sci-fi interest I didn’t realize I had.

TA: What is the relationship like between your class work and your creative writing? Does the writing provide you with a chance to explore different perspectives, or does it work closely within your primary field of study?

NN: I would definitely say that my creative writing allows me to explore the line of “what if” thoughts that occasional come to mind, and while my study of pharmacy doesn’t directly relate, I notice it affects how I approach a subject. Since I’m pursuing healthcare, I like to view the situation from the point of view of the patient, or the person being affected. Considering the scenario from both sides I can address the positives and negatives of all angles and flesh out more details to make the piece more plausible.

 TA: Your writing is written in a very conversational voice. Are you writing as yourself or creating a character voice to write through?

NN: My intention was to narrate from the perspective of a typical person who is living out the aftermath of some intangible person’s design. While I didn’t rely on the factual knowledge from my classes, I did base what little scientific information I offered on how I believe patients see the aspects of healthcare they don’t understand. Similarly, here the voice belongs to a generalized character that lacks insight on how the chemical works. The narrator also speaks curtly, not giving the reader a chance to ask questions to reflect their lack of control on the situation as well.

TA:  How did you begin writing? Is it something you’ve always been interested in, or did your writing begin more recently?

NN: I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I have to be very inspired by an idea for something to actually be put down on paper. I don’t make time to write, rather if I happen to come across a concept I try and jot it down. Then when I feel like putting words together I try and decipher what my idea was and find the same inspiration. Usually the original focus of the piece is lost in side thoughts that branch out from my poking and prodding, but I like to write without restriction and see how the story molds in the end. All detours and deviations are welcome.