1. Where were you in your writing career 5 years ago?Hmmm… can I answer for four years ago, instead? Here’s why… Four years ago, practically to the day of this blog I walked out of my day-job to begin six-months of long-service-leave on full pay. I decided that I would go mad with six months off and nothing to do and so I determined to write a book—a non-fiction about my crazy, cross-dressing Grandfather, lol—but I thought that I should probably start with something easier. Fiction. Romantic fiction.
In short, four years ago I was full of the passion of wanting to write, full of years of experience with other kinds of writing, but had absolutely no idea how the industry worked, how competitive it was, or how steep a learning curve I was about to embark on.
My own personal Everest.
Those six months were life-changing. I gave myself tendonitis because I was spending hours and hours without break fully immersed in the wonderful world I was creating, I hardly left the house (was great for the bank balance!), my dogs were the happiest I’d ever seen them, and I decided in the middle of it that writing was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. In fact I couldn’t believe I’d gone forty years without realizing that.
But you know what…? Just one year before that I was neck-deep in a job I thought I loved, living with unhealthy amounts of stress as though it was normal, had given up my more creative, fulfilling role for a higher-paying management position, and I think I was slowly dying there.
So much can change in six months…
2. Where did you get the idea from for this particular book?My books always come from things I observe or experience. Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong came from two places – one happy, one devastating.
I live in a coastal suburb and for a couple of years I watched a DIY motor-boat slowly taking shape on the verge of a nearby house—the guy was building it by hand. Then one day I saw that very distinctive boat on the TV news being hauled to shore after being found floating empty out at sea. Turns out the family went boating and got into some trouble and only one of them survived—the woman. I felt such a personal connection to her (though we’d never met) and I obsessed about how a woman would survive losing both her children and the man she loves…what that kind of loss would drive you to. And how you would ever, ever let yourself love again.
And so my emotionally and physically scarred heroine was born and I gave her a stranger’s past. And her island sanctuary (which is where I imagined the poor woman must surely have retreated to—away from life, away from all the reminders).
Then I needed a good reason for a hero to be thousands of miles out to sea and come across her island. Years ago I did a brief stint I did at the WA Maritime Museum where I worked alongside scientists who used to go diving every week along Western Australia’s ‘Shipwreck Coast’. I always thought it was so incredibly cool that they got to hang ‘gone diving’ signs on their doors. While working there I learned about the wreck of the SMS Emden which conveniently lies on the reef edge of the island that I set my book on. Australia’s most remote, uninhabited island…
And so my damaged heroine and my shipwreck hunting hero were born…
3. Where do you hope to be in 5 years time?Celebrating my 25th Harlequin Romance and maybe writing other things on the side. I’d still love to write that non-Fiction about my grandfather… and I have this idea about my dog…
So many ideas… so few fingers…
Oh and I’d love to be in a timber house deep in a forest somewhere… my partner making timber furniture and me writing books… *sigh* That might take ten…
4. Which was the last book you read that you wish you'd written?I’m on a bit of a M.L.N Hanover binge right now (the ‘Black Sun’s Daughter’ series). I really resent having to put it down to go write or clean or to the day job… I just get so engaged. I do hope to write paranormal one day and I just love the ease with which Hanover handles exposition, world-building and action.
And I love how pointlessly determined he is NOT to make it a romance but the romance between his heroine and the man who’s not supposed to be her hero just keeps leaking through… heh…
5. Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?All the books that sucked me into their pages..?
My father was an original ‘MadMen’ type. He came through the ad trade in the 50s/60s and was one of the leading creative directors on the west coast. He always said that he was going to write a book when he retired…’one day’… But he died at 53 and he never got to do it. So me deciding to take the risk and really focus my efforts on getting published (and staying published) is partly about not wanting to be sitting on my cloud in thirty years regretting that I hadn’t.
6. Do you find writing love scenes giggle-worthy or cringe-worthy – or neither?
I love to write sex scenes and I’m always having to shoulder that bedroom door closed in my books. Sex scenes flow as naturally for me as any other ‘action’ sequence, I think because I’m very visual. So no, I don’t cringe or giggle. I enjoy.
I write for both RIVA and Cherish in the UK but I always have to be conscious that the RIVAs still need to sell as ‘Romance’ in the US (in the all important bible belt) so even my RIVAs aren’t as sizzling as some others.
‘Shipwrecked’ was originally full of ‘monkey-sex’ because I wanted Honor’s sexual re-awakening to be a metaphor for her emotional re-awakening, but Kim Young (at the time Snr Editor for London’s M&B office) said ‘Nikki, this is romance, we WANT the emotional re-awakening’. After I finished a *forehead desk* moment I rewrote it without the sex but the steaminess is still right through it. Especially the underwater scene….
(Maybe I could sell the un-cut original of that scene on eBay!)
7. What's the most romantic moment of your life so far?I have very ‘earthy’ views about what constitutes romance. Romantic dinners, flowers, jewellery just don’t excite me at all because I don’t really care about those things. But when my other half does something for me that shows that he KNOWS me, or he does something simply because he knows I’ll love it…. That’s romantic.
When I first sold to Harlequin he immediately went out and designed me the most awesome vertical picture frame which my books can be mounted in so that they seem to float behind glass. To me that’s romantic because it meant that he wanted to share what was so special to me…. And he gave me the gift of his talent and his time, not just some dosh dropped on a nice bunch of flowers.
8. What do you wish you'd known about being an author before you were pubbed?You know that learning curve on the yet-to-be-pubbed side of the fence….? The really steep, frustrating, infuriating, confusing one…? The moment you scrabble to the top of that and get ‘the call’ there’s another one EXACTLY LIKE IT on the other side.
You start from the beginning all over again, and your two-book deal looks pretty paltry against authors writing their 50/60th novels and New York Times bestsellers and people with movie deals. Ugh. And so fighting those doubt-demons never ever ends because there’s always something you don’t know.
Being an author is a commitment to continuing education… It’s not a destination.
9. What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?A Peter deVries (Writers’ Schedule) quote: “I write when I’m inspired. And I see to it that I’m inspired at 9am every morning.”
Writing is a business. Not a right. Not a reward. And Lord knows it’s not fair. But it’s worth it.
10. Tell us about your latest release.Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong is my April RIVA release (not yet scheduled in US as far as I know). This was the first category/series romance I ever wrote and so it holds an extra special place in my heart.
It’s about a damaged woman hiding out from the world and the sexy, younger, whirling-dervish hero who lures her back to life.
11. What’s next for you?
Personally I think my Cherish books and my Rivas are pretty similar so if you were thinking about popping a toe into the Cherish waters… Why not try one FREE over at M&B’s www.everyonesreading.com – my Cherish ebook Their Newborn Gift is there 100% free (don’t be put off by the ultra pink baby! Hot rodeo hero, reclusive heroine, outback Australia)
Shipwrecked with Mr Wrong is available direct from Mills & Boon, and also from Amazon UK. Buy links are also available on Nikki's website at www.nikkilogan.com.au