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Faculty Profiles

Nicole Mazarella

Nicole Mazzarella, M.F.A.

Associate Professor of English

On Faculty since 2002

Nicole Mazzarella is a fiction writer who has published in a variety of forms, including a novel, short stories, flash fiction, a documentary and short films.  Her novel This Heavy Silence won Christianity Today’s book award for fiction and the Christy Award for first novel.

She has taught creative writing for over twenty years and her specializations in teaching include  cultivating habits of creativity; writing in the midst of personal challenges and suffering; engaging in spiritual practices that nourish the artistic life; and developing a portfolio in multiple genres for a range of professional opportunities.

Her writing experience also includes journalism, web design, and marketing. She leads writing workshops in a variety of venues from arts camps to churches. She has been invited to judge writing competitions for various awards and publication. She has been featured in the Chicago Sun-Times, Moody Broadcasting’s “Primetime America,” and several other television and radio programs.

Her time spent outside of the classroom with students enlivens her teaching, from taking them to writing conferences to leading Wheaton in England, to advising two student literary journals: Kodon and Sub-Creation.

M.F.A., Creative Writing, Fiction, Old Dominion University, 2001
B.A., Journalism, Asbury University, 1997

  • Literature of the Western World
  • Screenwriting
  • Writings of Contemplatives
  • Creative Writing
  • Contemporary Fiction
  • Travel Writing
  • Literature of the Modern World
  • Associated Writing Programs

Author Interview - Nicole Mazzarella
Novel Rocket - Authors Helping Authors Launch

I don’t know if “typical” exists now that I have an eleven-month old baby. Typical includes reading Goodnight Moon every night to lull my daughter to sleep, stepping on Cheerios every time I walk into the kitchen, and laughing at my daughter’s joke of saying “Da Da” when I ask her who I am. Does my typical day include writing? Most days do. Even if I don’t write every day, I work out aspects of my novel every day. As I’m driving, walking, vacuuming, or standing in line, I’m also imagining conversations between my characters, considering the plot, or trying to figure out the back story of a minor character. I do sit down almost every day for at least a half an hour to get these ideas on paper. This usually happens during my daughter’s naptime or late at night ...
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Keynote Speaker

The Masterpiece Arts Camp
Writing and Literature Conference at Brigham Young University – Idaho
40th Anniversary Conference for Chicagoland Church Librarian Association

Selected Chapel, Retreat & Church Presentations

Literature and Faith Chapel Speaker. “We Wait.”  Asbury University.

Discipleship Ministries Retreat. “Wonder.” Wheaton College.

First Presbyterian Church.  Wheaton, IL.  “The Poetry of Faith: Word, Words, and the Search for the Sacred.” Sunday Education Series.

Selected Writing Workshops

Karitos Conference for Christian Artists.

Lemont Public Library

Selected Speaking Engagements

“Finding Faith.”  Chicago’s Printers Row Panel.

“Author Book Talk.” Gordon College.

“Conversation with Two Novelists: Vinita Hampton Wright and Nicole Mazzarella.” River Glen Presbyterian Church. Naperville, IL.

Nicole has given readings from Hawaii to Boston at bookstores, public libraries, churches, and most interestingly a hair salon in the town where her novel was set.

Selected Academic Presentations

Associated Writing Program (AWP).  “The Limit (or Light) of Spiritual Belief: Across Genres”, Panel with Scott Cairns, Janet Peery, Josh Allen, and Farideh Golden.

Associated Writing Program (AWP). “Episodic or Epiphanic Fiction.”  Panel with Erin McGraw, Jack Harrell and Josh Allen.

Associated Writing Program (AWP) Multiple Pedagogy Forums.

Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching.  “Cultivating Writing Habits” & “Cultivating Attention” (Peer-Reviewed Conference on Teaching.)

Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing. “Publishing Student Literary Journals.”  Workshop led with Brett Foster.

The English Articulation Conference.  “An Excursive Approach to Creative Writing.”  The University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

International University Teaching.  “Students Teaching Students.” Vaxjo, Sweden.

Core Courses

  • CORE 101: First Year Seminar

Writing Courses

  • ENGW 103: First Year Writing
  • ENGW 213: Creative Writing
  • ENGW 333: Travel Writing
  • ENGW 336: Fiction Writing/Criticism
  • ENGW 444: Writing the Short Story
  • ENGW 444: Flash Fiction
  • ENGW 444: Writing and Community Art
  • ENGW 444: Novella
  • ENGW 444: Writing Longer Works
  • ENGW 444: Novel Writing
  • ENGW 494: Senior Seminar

Literature Courses

  • ENGL 102: Literature of the Western World
  • ENGL 105: Literature of the Modern World                          
  • ENGL 335: The Development of the Short Story
  • ENGL 355: Romantic Literature
  • ENGL 433: Literature and Place

Independent Writing Projects
Screenwriting; Playwriting; Writing Magical Realism; Advanced Fiction Writing & Theory; Interactive Fiction; Spiritual Autobiography; Writing Fairy Tales; Travel Writing

The question "who speaks?" drives much of my literary research as I explore the relationships between the author, narrator, character and reader and the role of the Christian artist as speaker. This question has also influenced my pedagogy as I seek creative ways to empower students to participate in their education.

My fiction explores the influence of place on identity, the role of women, aging, the mysteries of grace, and the nature of forgiveness.

This Heavy Silence  - Novel

  • Winner of Christianity Today’s Book Awards for Fiction
  • Winner of the Christy Awards for First Novel
  • Starred Review and “Best of” the year. Library Journal.
  • Diepe stilte. Kampen: Uitgeverij.  (Dutch translation of This Heavy Silence)

“What I Meant to Ask.” Antioch Review - Flash Fiction

 “Weeding.” Cimarron Review – Short Fiction

 Flesh. (Associate Producer and Writer) - Full-length Documentary

In this Tower Talk, Nicole Mazzarella delves into the habits of thinking that prepare one to face the blank page, whether one is writing a novel or a business proposal.


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