Nicole Hardy, who is well known to West Seattlites as a server at Circa Restaurant is a published author with poetry and other books to her credit. Her latest book, about to be released is Confessions of a Latter Day Virgin, which tells the story of how she came to deal with the doctrine of her faith's decree of celibacy as she grew older and chose not to have children.
West Seattle author's memoir of faith vs. identity is deeply personal
"Confessions of a Latter Day Virgin" will be featured on a northwest book tour
West Seattle's Nicole Hardy was 35 years old, and a virgin. Not because she was unattractive, or had health problems or had no sexual feelings.
She was a practicing Mormon and Mormon's remain celibate until marriage.
In the Mormon faith, doctrine decrees that the family unit means women must have children. Hardy chose not to have them. But the conflict she felt about her faith and her celibacy kept her in a kind of frozen adolescence, aging out of the church's "singles ward" and led her to write an essay, published in the New York Times.
That essay, "Single, Female, Mormon, Alone" drew praise from many circles for its honesty, frankness and for broaching a subject not often discussed. It was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. It also led to interest from publishers who asked her to write a book about it. The book, "Confessions of a Latter Day Virgin" has just been published by Hyperion and will be featured on a northwest book tour Hardy will embark on Aug. 20 as the book is released. Hardy also produced an e-book and an audio book, which she voiced.
The promotional description of the book reads:
"Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin chronicles the extraordinary lengths Nicole went to in an attempt to reconcile her human needs with her spiritual life--flying across the country for dates with LDS men, taking up salsa dancing as a source for physical contact, even moving to Grand Cayman, where the ocean and scuba diving provided some solace. But neither secular pursuits nor LDS guidance could help Nicole prepare for the dilemma she would eventually face: a crisis of faith that caused her to question everything she'd grown up believing."
Hardy is well known to many people in West Seattle as a waitress at Circa Restaurant in the Admiral Junction but she's been a teacher in the past and an author for some time. She has previously published two poetry books This Blonde and a book of Shakespearean sonnets Mud Flap Girl’s XX Guide to Facial Profiling.
She came to West Seattle 8 years ago after quitting her teaching job and said, "I answered an ad for a waitress job because it's what artist types do in the movies," and worked on her writing.
She was invited to read from new work at Richard Hugo House and "all I had was an essay i was trying not to work on," she said chuckling, " and it was really well received." Hardy believes the essay struck a chord because, "people are really curious about the Mormon Church in general and people who believe don't often reveal the complications that are involved. They either want to be bitter about it or want to be quiet about it. I think people like to get insight into a community they don't have access to. Part of it was that it was a personal story about trying to be celibate before marriage and then what happens if you're someone who doesn't get married. What does that mean for you? How do you manage the requirements of your faith and the requirements of your sanity at the same time?"
Once the essay hit, Hardy was contacted within hours by agents and publishers who wanted her to expand it to a book. She was terrified. "I didn't know if I wanted the whole world to know my most secret thoughts and feelings and struggles. As a writer I knew I had a story that no one else was telling but I think as a human being it's scary to be that vulnerable to such a large audience."
As a writer Hardy has a good imagination so, should the book ever become a movie she would favor Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron or Kathleen Heigel in the part.
Hardy's next project is already done and being pitched. It's a children's book called Average Willow, about a little girl who is convinced she's average in every way. The story is inspired by another waitress at Circa named Willow Scrivner, who is also a singer/songwriter. She and her husband Kevin have written a song that goes along with the book and, "We're hoping to do a book with a CD or a download of music to accompany it." Beyond that Hardy is hoping to write a book of essays.
For Hardy, coming to grips with the subject of "Confessions" was hard but it's even harder for her family. They're proud of her and glad her writing is doing well, but they haven't read the book. "I don't think my mom wants to read it and I think it's fine if she doesn't. My dad seems more interested, but there are scenes in there that I'm not sure he needs to read. There are certain things that parents don't need to know about their kids."
Confessions of a Latter Day Virgin is a deeply personal book so it's not surprising that it's both potentially embarrassing but also liberating. "When you don't get the life you were promised there's some grief involved in the loss of that. There's a weird stage when you have to figure out who you're going to be if you're not going to be the person you always were."