Nicole Salem: Please call me Nicole.
TalP: Alright, Nicole, let’s start with your profession. What do you do for a living?
NS: I’m an archeologist on the payroll of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois.
TalP: That must be interesting. How do you feel about your profession?
NS: I love it. It’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl.
TalP: What’s your favorite part of what you do?
NS: I’d have to say the excitement of discovering things that haven’t been seen or handled in thousands of years. It’s a pretty amazing experience, to open a site; a lot of people would find it tedious, but I guess I’m one of those strange people who likes scraping away the dirt little by little to see what’s hiding underneath.
TalP: What’s your least favorite part of your job?
NS: Oddly enough, there can be some pretty big egos in the field which can be a challenge to deal with.
TalP: Tell us about your family. Are your parents alive?
NS: Yes, they’re both still alive. My dad was an Army aviator when he was younger and when he left that, he went into construction in Chicago. Mom was a housewife most of our lives, until we got into school, at which point she started helping Dad out at the office. They’re pretty amazing people.
TalP: How about siblings?
NS: I have a younger sister, named Janie.
TalP: What’s your relationship with her like?
TalP: Complicated? Care to elaborate on that?
NS: I love my sister, but we’re so vastly different that it’s hard to get along with her. When we were young, we got along really well, but it seemed like when I hit college, Janie decided that I abandoned her or something and started acting out.
TalP: Siblings can do that sometimes… Speaking of your childhood, where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
NS: My parents still live in the family home in Evanston, which is where we grew up. It’s a little upscale suburb outside of Chicago. Overall, I’d say I had a happy childhood.
TalP: What were you like in school?
NS: (laughter) Remember Hermione from Harry Potter? Yeah, that was kind of me, except my hair was better behaved and I didn’t have buckteeth. Admittedly, I was a bit of an obnoxious overachiever in everything I did.
TalP: (laughter) Well, let’s also not forget that it was often Hermione’s nerdiness that got Harry and Ron out of trouble. So, do you have any tattoos or scars?
NS: It’s not really a tattoo or scar, but when I was chosen by Sekhmet, a mark in the shape of her sigil appeared on the back of my left shoulder. It looks like a tattoo though so I guess that counts.
TalP: Do you have a significant other?
NS: Significant other? (laughs) That’s a very diplomatic way of asking if I have a girlfriend without directly asking if I’m a lesbian.
TalP: Okay, okay, guilty. I don’t assume either way. So, are you seeing anyone?
NS: (more laughter) Well, that’s kind of a personal question, but I am seeing someone. He’s a pretty amazing person… he’s really inspired me to push beyond my normal boundaries and grow into a much better person.
TalP: Sounds like he’s very special.
NS: Oh, he is. That’s all I’ll say about it, though.
TalP: Fair enough. So, do you have any children? If no, do you want them?
NS: Wow, with the personal questions… No, I don’t have any children. Honestly, I’ve never given it much thought, but I don’t rule it out.
TalP: Alright, stepping away from the personal issues, what do you like to do for fun? Do you have any hobbies?
NS: I studied martial arts in my youth, and made it into the competitive circles for a while. I parlayed that into collecting ‘primitive’ weapons and learning how to use them.
TalP: Do you prefer books or movies? Favorites?
NS: Both. I’ll read or watch just about anything that’s really well written. I love old-school sci-fi like Heinlein.
TalP: Do you have a favorite food or drink?
NS: Growing up in Chicago, I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of foods growing up. I’ve always been particularly fond of Italian and Polish, though.
TalP: So, let’s go into a few more esoteric questions… What quality do you like most in a man?
TalP: What quality do you like most in a woman?
TalP: What scares you most?
NS: Um… spiders.
TalP: On what occasions do you lie?
NS: (smirking) When people ask me about my greatest fears.
TalP: (laughter) Touché. Alright, then who do you admire most in the world?
NS: Wow, that’s a tough one. There are so many to choose from. I guess I’m going to have to say my friend Aramair. She’s the kindest, gentlest woman I’ve ever known, but she’s also tougher than people think. She’s also absolutely brilliant and a talented doctor on top of all that.
TalP: Do you support any charitable organizations? If so, why those particular ones?
NS: No formal charities, but when I’m not out at a dig somewhere, I’m one of the researchers the Field prefers to send out to visit schools and children’s groups. I also help out with occasional overnights for kids at the museum. As you might imagine, I have a vested interest in encouraging a love of history in kids.
TalP: That definitely makes sense. Bearing all that you’ve said in mind, what do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
NS: Well, that’s hard to say. I suppose I would have to say my acceptance as NuruSekhmet. It wasn’t without its controversy and stress, but it’s really been a turning point in my life.
TalP: Yeah, I’d say that’s a pretty intimidating proposition. So, what are your goals for the future?
NS: That’s easier: defeat the bad guys, live happily ever after.
TalP: Well, if there’s any such thing, I’d say you deserve it if you beat the bad guys. One last question: If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
NS: Wow, I really don’t know. I’m not really a sit on the couch and veg kind of person. Probably just spend time with my friends and family.
And there you have it, our interview with Dr. Nicole Salem. Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for future interviews!