Name Nikki Palomino
Age Forever 21
Where are you from
I grew up in a small town that later became surrounded by Houston, Texas. In the back stood a field belonging to Texaco, two ditches and a gravel road. We’d pick wild blackberries and dream. I was ADHD so my energy surpassed the constraints of nothingness. The only place I could escape was my imagination. My parents didn’t have lots of money so books were limited to the library with a small selection. In the summer, we’d pile into the car and drive to Overland where my grandfather, a writer, lived. I’d sit on a stool in his upstairs office and watch him type. Being hyperactive at three, it was hard to hold still. When I’d let loose, he’d stare me down over his wire-rim glasses. He reminded me of Truman Capote because it was in his office library that I met the greats, Harper Lee, Eudora Welty, James Cain, Flannery O’Conner, and poets like Dylan Thomas and Sylvia Plath.
I had been tested at a clinic for my ADHD, but they discovered I was highly intelligent. That was cool until I hit school and lost my hearing in my left ear due to an undiagnosed infection. I suddenly became stupid at six years of age, dropped into a special education class and forced to read primer books that I had passed by three. So I hid the material I read. I knew To Kill a Mockingbird practically by heart. I liked the kids, labeled retarded, Down’s etc. I looked to them as my friends who would profoundly influence my life. When a teacher discovered my hearing loss as the culprit of my sudden stupidity, I was thrown back into general population where I was called retard among other things. But it was the sheer joy washing over my grandfather’s face as he wrote what made me want to be a writer. It was my life as a freak that pushed me to connect with others who were different, and later write about their struggles.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
DAZED: The Film is being submitted to 2017 festivals and has Industry showing in Los Angeles this fall. The UPCOMING non-fiction crime book The Last Gentleman Smuggler by former Texans Steven M. Kalish, one of the largest pot smugglers and money laundering masters in US history, and Nikki Palomino, award-winning author/filmmaker, rock journalist, former grunge rock musician/radio personality.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Because I couldn’t stop the words from coming. Before I could write I orally told stories to anybody who’d listen. I could make a kid believe what I said because stories excited my senses. I didn’t know I was a writer. I just knew worlds existed in my head and those worlds wanted out. The photo of Grace Metalious, author of the 1956 novel Peyton Place from my grandfather’s library, on the cover grabbed me by the soul. She sat on the front porch in a hard-back chair, typewriter in front of her on a small table. Her hair pulled back in a ponytail, she wore rolled-up jeans and a large flannel shirt. I knew then I had glimpsed into a future where words could be preserved.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Once I could write with a pencil on any piece of paper I could find, a grocery sack, the back of a price tag, anything that allowed me to put down what was in my head.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I wrote anything and everything from short stories to novels to articles about music. I observed an underbelly of heaven I had found I never judged. These different or discarded lives I believed hung by a thread we all share. We have the capacity to understand what lay in the hearts of others if we want. After years of touring as a musician or covering music I knew and saw many things which went into the DAZED novel series. Rock ‘n Roll is as complex as the people involved in making music. The opportunity opened. I didn’t think I had a story to tell. By the next day, I knew the story and why I should tell it.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Dark, realistic, nothing pretty, with layers your mind can choose to see. If you want light, you can read only what appears on the surface. If you want to dig deeper to find meaning, you have only to reach.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
DAZED: The Story of a Grunge Rocker was inspired by the music and the times. The reckless abandon of youth with heavy consequences sometimes, great rewards on occasion and the inability to process them all at once.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There by the Grace of God go I…and never say never. What is inconceivable today may hit you so hard tomorrow that what you thought you were dissipates.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My connection to Cobain, met in LA at club I think ‘90 at Coconut Teaser on Sunset. I was covering music for local rag, and he kept looking at me. I was wearing a designer French black mini that fit skinny girls tight as a glove, and I smiled at him. He came over and whispered, “Can I borrow that dress for my next gig?” I said sure. He never borrowed the dress but took my number, didn’t leave me alone and we finished the night going our separate ways. At about 4am, I get a call. He’d only told me his name was Kurt. So he says,” Do you know who I am?” I said not really. He said, “I’m Kurt Cobain.” “That’s nice. Goodnight.”
No matter what it appeared, I can tell you one thing, Kurt’s first love was heroin, not any woman or any child. I let him be numb with me until it was too bad to handle. I punched him back to life more than one time on my couch. If you look deeply at DAZED: The Story of a Grunge Rocker you’ll understand what makes a junkie with talent destroy himself. Eric Peterson (protagonist) embodies my soul, Kurt’s soul and two other lesser known junkies. Overwhelmed with talent he could not handle, Kurt longed to be free from the constraints of a monster. A bullet was his only true means of escape. Had he not died from the gunshot, he had enough heroin in him to do the job.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
An understated story that scared me more than any other was Daphne Du Maurier’s The Birds. Alfred Hitchcock changed some details. Du Maurier shows an unnatural switch of power. The birds’ instinct destroys mankind with all the deft precision of machines.
Mentors have come and gone and not just writers. Those who inspire leave their essence for which I absorb. Passion is Van Gogh slicing off his ear, Janis Joplin losing herself in Southern Comfort and not giving a shit about beauty or perfect pitch, and Mary Shelly creating ugliness to stare in the face of God.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have many favorite authors for different reasons. What I like most about a story are the words that pull me beyond the page and into the constant struggle of the characters. If I feel with my senses, then the writer has done his job.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I had a mentor who was born on a train and as a child, performed on stage in New York. She believed in my potential. Everyone has a story. That’s what supported my desire to write.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I write as a journalist, author, short fiction, films, and anything where words speak and visuals tell the story. I’ve made money, and I’ve made nothing. It is my career. It is my life.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No. It is the only story needed to be told.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I don’t remember ever not wanting to tell something that made people laugh, cry or understand. I said the words before I knew how to pick up a pencil and write.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Out of the gaps, the emptiness and darkness of life the non-fiction crime book The Last Gentleman Smuggler by former Texans Steven M. Kalish & Nikki Palomino emerges as one of the most compelling stories in twentieth century U.S. history. From the pages of this thrill-ride into the President Reagan and Bush War on Drugs with every decent American just saying ‘NO’, the gentleman smuggler lost Steve Jennings, Frank Brown and other aliases as he began to clearly see he was becoming human again as Steven Kalish, the fifteen year-old drop-out from Houston, Texas.”
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE LARGEST DRUG SMUGGLING RING EVER DISCOVERED IN THE UNITED STATES.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Every bit of writing is natural and the hardest work I do. It’s not the word count but how wiped you are after you finish.
Excerpt from DAZED: The Story of a Grunge Rocker
I unscrewed the metal cap to the empty oversized mayonnaise jar, wiped it with a tissue, and set it next to my rig. The only real illness Dr. Horowitz had claimed I possessed was loneliness. No, the pain that cut through my gut was nothing. All in my fucking loaded head. My heart thumped in anticipation for the moment my breathing would ease into dark separate thoughts and I could finally beat this dead thing inside of me out and sleep. I cleaned my works, shooting out the old blood on some wrinkled newspaper, cooked the shit, and then tied off, unafraid of me turning into a tragedy. I spiked my abused vein twice. That first normally dramatic bubble of blood brought not a thought of my past life except my son. I was going to shoot big since I’d overfilled the rig. Poor judgment, maybe, or deliberate, hard to say, but something I couldn’t help.
I could live or die with my pushing the plunger at an accelerated speed. I felt the explosion, first in the heart, then ripping through my head until it felt like my skull split into a million spikes shooting through the constellation above the dampened lifeless hole. At that, my eyes closed, and without a blink, I was gone.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I have and will when needed.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
So far the Publishers have cover designers.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The lack of time. But as Alfred Hitchcock said about suspense, a man sits on a seat in the theater. A bomb is beneath the chair. The minutes he sits unknowingly creates the suspense, not the bomb exploding. The lack of time keeps me on edge where the real meat resides.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned a body of work has to clique. The words must ring true. The rules should be thrown to the wind. Gut instinct is what resonates with the reader. Save the proper English for academia. A writer has one rule. Grab deep, hard and fast what makes the story worth its existence.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead?
Have had films made of my work. I just want someone who believes what the character believes. If he can’t, then he is useless.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
It’s hard work. It’s a curse to be blessed with talent. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. There is a reason a writer can write. He sees what else is in the mind’s frame. If he’s lucky, he catches what’s right. If he misses the mark, imagination will give the gift back. Remember it isn’t success but rejection that holds power.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury published in 1953 showed a world on a mission to burn all books. So there began a colony where each person memorized a book and then verbally passed on to the next person. Why? Because without art, humanity is doomed.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Mostly research books to understand the time period of The Last Gentleman Smuggler.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood at six years old from my grandpa’s library.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The idea we all have purpose.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Too many to name but they all gave something of themselves.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
I don’t want a headstone. What I’ve given through words I hope will be enough.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
No time for hobbies. I am fine with that. When asked if I was having fun writing, I can’t say that is true. It’s the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing what I set out to do that I guess could be the fun part.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t have a TV. I love many types of film and the newer computer series do a great job with character development.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I love any good music, all colors, forget to eat.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I am a writer no matter what else I do. I work with discarded kids who once they discover imagination, they are given permission to believe. Does it always work? Never say never.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it? Here are the places you can find DAZED, The Last Gentleman Smuggler and DAZED: The Film. You can also find articles in Punk Globe Magazine. Also an example of my short work in Flash Fiction Offensive.