Manatee High School 1995 graduate Nicole Quigley has made her mark with her published novel, "Like Moonlight at Low Tide," which hit stores in September.
Quigley's novel is about a young girl, Melissa Keiser, who is growing up on our very own Anna Maria Island. Melissa is bullied all through middle school, and later moves to Pennsylvania. When her mother's most recent relationship falls apart, Melissa moves back to Anna Maria in the middle of her junior year of high school. She dreads the start of school, but realizes she has blossomed into someone beautiful. Unexpectedly, Melissa has everything she has ever wanted, or so she thinks. Melissa must learn about the ups and downs in life and how to live each day to the fullest.
This book resembles parts of Quigley's own life. Quigley was bullied throughout middle school. When she entered high school, the bullying stopped, but the old feelings stayed close to heart. This inspired her to write the novel.
"The bully wasn't the enemy," Quigley said, "but the lies I began to believe about myself were."
According to Quigley, bullying occurs when a child or teen experiences the trauma of being attacked or hurt by another child. Quigley also said you know you're being bullied when others are working to make you feel like an outcast.
During her time at MHS, Quigley worked in the drama department with Mrs. Gardiner. Although, she was never on staff at the Macohi, Quigley received a paid job at the Manatee AM/Sarasota - Herald Tribune as a columnist.
"They weren't advertising an opening as I recall, but I loved the page and sent some writing samples to the editor. He called me into his office and said, 'So you think I should hire you?' I was so scared that I could barely say yes. He gave me a paid column on the spot," Quigley said.
Quigley said her most influential teacher at MHS was Jon Scott, who is currently an art and English teacher here at school. He was her English teacher. Quigley also said Scott helped her persevere with her writing and encouraged her every day. She mentioned him in the back of her book. Barbara Murray and Peggy Gardiner were also very important to Quigley while she was at MHS.
"I could not be more proud of Nicole," Scott said, "I'm highly flattered, and it humbles me that someone as talented as her would think so highly of me." Scott also said that there is still bullying going on at MHS, and he believes that a book like Quigley's will help spread awareness of the topic.
Although, not much of the novel correlates to Quigley's personal life, when she reached high school she got involved in extracurricular activities, and learned about true friendships and real love. In the novel, Melissa has a similar awakening. When asked what advice she had for students, Quigley responded,
"Words are powerful, they can be used to hurt, and they can be used to heal. Talk to a guidance counselor or parent. The first step is getting the bullying to stop, and there's no benefit in suffering if you don't have to."
Quigley stated that she had always wanted to be an author, but never thought she could do it until just a few years ago. She also said that one of the biggest challenges of being an author is making the book as interesting as the distractions outside of reading such as phones, Facebook, iPods, etc.
Quigley's goal is to reach out to students about bullying. She said a lot of people could relate to bullying situations.
"You're not alone," Quigley said, "a lot of people can relate to feeling like an outcast, and that they can't measure up. Teens do have value and self-worth because God made them that way."
Quigley attended Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. She received her degree in communications/public relations, and worked in her field in Washington, D.C. after college. Two of her writing idols are Francine Rivers and Donald Miller.