Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.

 

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

Hello! I’m Nikki Nelson-Hicks and I turn 53 in July.

Fiona: Where are you from?

Originally? I was born in Nashville, TN. I’ve been from a lot of places since then.

Fiona: A little about your self (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

Wow, condensing 52 years into a few sentences without boring you too much. It’s a trick but here it goes:

I’m a Gen Xer latchkey kid that you could find crouching in the Occult section of the public library. When I was 11, I created a Monster Hunters Club that sponsored a Cryptozoology exhibit for the science fair. I was supreme dork. I believed in everything.  As time went on, my belief systems grew more jaded and I became what I thought I’d never become: a skeptic. I am a weirdly valued member in paranormal groups. You always need a Scully to balance out the Mulders.

I’m married to a former USMC sniper and mother to two spawn, The Girl (a talented artist and writer) and The Boy (too smart for this world and often an asshole but I love him…but, man…he’s an asshole).

I went back to college in my thirties. It’s a different kind of college experience when you are the same age as your professors. I got my AA and planned to go back for a bachelors degree but…meh….who has the time or money? I didn’t need to sit through more math classes, struggle and waste time to do what I wanted to do: write. It was a major epiphany for me to realize I didn’t need anyone to give me permission.

I’ve had a lifetime of crap, dead end jobs. Perfect for a writer.

I was born in Nashville, TN and never expected to live anywhere else. Ha! Yeah, goes to show that you never know. I have lived in California, Budapest, Hungry, Muscat, Oman and travelled to all sorts of places in between.

We moved back to Nashville in 2004. My husband retired from the USMC and his father was struggling with Alzheimer’s and my sister was having medical issues so we came back home. It was a stressful move. No jobs. No home. I remember having lots of panic attacks but, it all worked out.  It wasn’t easy and there were lots of mountains to climb but, as of today, in 2017, we’re doing well. In February 2017, we moved into our dream house. It took us 30 years, but we finally found a home.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

In November 2017, 18th Wall Productions released my story in their Cryptid Clash collection, RUMBLE.

The story answers the question of what happens when a shady corporation lands a mining company smack dab in the middle of a battleground between Mongolian Death Worms and Cannibalistic Mole People. Shenanigans ensue. It’s good fun.

I am currently working on the final instalment of the Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective series. It’s the sixth story and I’m wrapping up a lot of loose ends and setting Jake and many others free. It’ll be available on Kindle and in print sometime in Spring 2018.

Before Jake #6 comes out, I plan on releasing a short story, Gunn Takes a Gander. It’s a short adventure starring Barrington “Bear” Gunn and his sidekick, Melinda Page in a time before Jake Istenhegyi. It was first published in the New Legends of Pulp Fiction anthology but I thought it would be a nice way to start some buzz for Jake #6.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing short stories to win the admiration of a man.

My 9th grade English teacher.

I loved him with all the passion a 14 year old virgin could muster.

In turn, he funnelled all my creative forces into after school theatre classes and writing courses. All in all, it was a fair trade. In one of those classes, I met a boy that a decade or so later I married. So, I guess my kids have Mr. Shearer (my unrequited love) and Mr. Roberts (my first acting teacher) to thank for being here today.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Ugh. I try not to think of myself as a Writer with the capital W. The burden of that title constipates me.

I write stories. Some are good, some are better than others and some flat out stink.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

The first book that was published? It was a challenge. Tommy Hancock, editor in chief at Pro Se Press, came up with the idea to do an anthology called Poultry Pulp.The only rule was the story had to involve chickens somehow in the plot. Real chickens, not cartoon chickens with tommy guns. (He was at a convention when he got the idea. I wouldn’t be surprised if alcohol wasn’t involved.)

He asked if I wanted to be involved and, like most of my life changing moments I said, “Sure, why not? Could be fun.”

The character of Jake Istenhegyi was created years before when my family and I lived in Budapest, Hungary. The school my kids went to was on a street called Istenhegyi Ut and we thought, “Huh, isn’t that a cool name for a private detective? Jake Istenhegyi, Private Dick.”

When I was challenged to write the chicken story, I decided to finally use the Jake character and bam, “A Chick, a Witch and a Dick Walked Into a Barn” was born.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

After two bottles of wine.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

I’m a hybrid pantser/plotter although I am trying to focus more on the plotting aspect as I want to write more detailed, intricate stories.

The only common thread for all my stories is that each and every one gets their own journal. The journal is like a uterus. It’s where I concoct, bake and conjure up the story. I use simple notebooks that I buy in bulk at Back to School sales or fancy leather bound books if I find one that suits the theme of the story. Either works but it is imperative that each story get its own egg.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Considering the cast of characters I’ve been writing about lately have included zombie chickens, insane immortal alchemists, golems, swamp monsters, hybrid fish people, body hopping witches, Mongolian Death Worms and cannibalistic mole people,  none.

Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

I did go to New Orleans after the first few Jakes were published. It was fun to try and find the places I had created. To lay my fictional map over the real one.  But, no, I don’t do much travel.

However, I do research. Even though my stories deal with very bizarre creatures and weird situations, I do a lot of research. I try to keep my occult facts accurate. Luckily, my love of the morbid and macabre has been a lifelong one so I have many books in my own personal library but Google and the public library are still godsends.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

Jeffrey Hayes has done all my covers for the books published by Pro Se.

Gunn Takes a Gander cover was done by Brenna Gael.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

A few years ago, I was on a panel where a question similar to that was asked. We were asked what how socially responsible did we consider our stories? My friend, Logan, gave a long, pithy speech about how he wanted his series to help bridge the gap between the major established religions and his own pagan worldview. Then it was my turn. I said simply, “My stories are romps. They exist to entertain you, to give you a diversion when you are waiting on the bus, eating lunch alone or sitting on the toilet. I don’t have any higher aspirations than that.”

So, no. Currently, the stories I have out there in the wild are purely entertainment. If anyone gleans anything from them, that is entirely of their own making.

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?

 My favorite writer is Terry Pratchett. I love his Discworld series, such a beautiful blend of satire, wit and storytelling. I have always believed that master storytelling should be a story that can be accessed on three different plans of understanding: basic good fun, insightful commentary and mind blowing philosophical conundrums. A good story can be enjoyed by a child. A great story by an adult. A brilliant story is loved by both. Pratchett hits that with his Discworld stories. I want to write with such simple clarity someday.

As for writers that I am currently fond of, the short list is Todd Keisling (Seriously, watch out for this guy), Mercedes Yardley (work is darkly lyrical), Mandy Haynes (she writes modern day Southern Gothic. Imagine Flannery O’Connor if she was more of a barhopper), Jeffrey Thomas (his book, Punktown, still haunts me), Anthony Rapino (another one to watch) and Will Madden (The Killbug Eulogies are out of the box. Brilliant writer.)

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

Hard to pin down just one but, if I must, I would have to give credit to the Nashville Writers Group. I was one of the founding members back in 2004, when it was just 5 of us meeting up at the Bongo Java and now the NWG has hundreds of members. Through that group, I met people that became not only supporters but great friends. I highly recommend all writers to find such a support system.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

When I think about the nuts and bolts of the business of writing, yes. I expect to be paid for my work. However, I try to always remember that there is some magic involved in the process of creating something from nothing. We are creators and, in that vein, I consider writing a calling.

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

The story (prefer to call them stories; Book sounds so grown-up) I’m working on right now is the last of the Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective series. The one thing I would’ve changed is I would’ve started with a plan, some kind of outline as to where and what Jake Istenhegyi was leading up to as a story arc.

The first Jake story was supposed to be a one time thing but when that anthology didn’t gel, Pro Se Press asked if I wanted to turn it into a series. And, me being me, I said, “Okay, sounds like fun.” NO IDEA WHAT I WAS GOING TO DO OR HOW TO DO IT. Typical Nik.

Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

See above. I’m an organic writer, a very by the pants kind of storyteller. I learned I need to find a way to be more of a plotter if I want to do longer storylines. It’s crazy stressful trying to figure stuff up when you start hitting the 20k mark.

Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

Ha! Weirdly enough, on the last episode of the TV series, Grimm, I realized that the lead actor would be a perfect Jake Istenhegyi. His name is David Giuntoli.

As an interesting side note, when I was asked submit a picture of Jake Istenhegyi to Jeffrey Hayes for the cover art, I googled “Hungarian Hot Guys” and chose a porn star whose name I forget. SO, in short, the model for Jake is an East European porn star.

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?

If I could go back in time and give myself advice it would a simple one: Trust yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need a degree from a fancy college,  have read X numberof books, done X number of things before you can call yourself a Writer.

Ugh. That damn Capital W again.

Just write. Have fun. Find a tribe. Don’t worry.

One caveat: A friend and I were having this discussion the other day and we came up with this conclusion. If you want to make money at this gig, then create for the masses. If you want to make art, then create for yourself. Only the very, very, very, VERY lucky make money with art. (and most of them are dead and never see a penny)

Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

I would tell them: Thank you. Every time someone sends me an email or message that says they liked my story or that it helped them get through a tough time or that it made them laugh, it made my day. I spend most of my time inside my head or crunched up over a keyboard, tossing stories out into the void. It’s good to hear the ripples.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I’m a bit of a book slut; I read many books at one time.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

First grade. 1970. Me and three other kids were taken into a room and given a manila envelope. Inside was a book. The cover was some kind of weird shellacked fabric. The title was Tip and there was the picture of a brown and white terrier dog with a red ball. Turns out, a librarian had seen me reading a book about bats in the library (I don’t remember the name of the book only that it had a section on bats. I liked bats because I thought they magically turned into people during the daytime.) so I was tagged to be in an advanced reader class.

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

My sense of humour is, to put it bluntly, dark. I think it’s a defense mechanism. It’s how I deal with the existential reality. I put a mask on the Boogie Man and laugh at what polite society thinks is off limits. I’m a hoot at funerals, hospitals and tense family moments. Trust me on this.

However, I draw the line at mean, snarky humour. My rule of thumb is that if you pull a prank and BOTH of you aren’t laughing at the end of it, it’s not funny. You’re a jerk. Never punch down. Always, ALWAYS punch up. That’s the first rule of satire and comedy.

Crying, that’s a whole other can of beans. All it takes is a true moment. That’s what gets my tear ducts flooding. A simple, true moment caught on film, music or in ink.

Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

I have a very strict rule against meeting heroes. I’ve done it and it NEVER ends well. Perhaps, I’m just cursed.

However, I think I’d like to meet Houdini. I read a biography about him and he seemed like a complete egomaniac. People like that fascinate me.

Or Heron of Alexandria. That man was a genius. Not that we could communicate very well. #languagebarrier

Or Hypatia of Alexandria. Our minds work in completely different ways. I am always astounded by mathematics because it completely twists my brain.

Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?

I’m teaching myself to paint. Acrylics, right now. I’m not very good but it’s fun. It makes me use different parts of my brain. It’s a more spatial work out.

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I like to keep my television fun and light: Supernatural, Lucifer, Wrecked, Rick and Morty, Walking Dead, Doctor Who, Speechless, Big Bang Theory, Archer. I’m big on DVRing stuff. I am SO far behind on most of these shows.

Lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts. I like Welcome to Night Vale, Lore, My Favorite Murder and Last Podcast on the Left. I’m always looking for new ones.

Fiona: Favorite foods, colors,  music?

I like Purple. I’m not a foodie. I eat to live; I don’t live to eat. If I didn’t have to eat, I’d never eat again. (I have digestive issues) And I like music but I’m not an audiophile. I like all sorts of stuff.

Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

Sleep, watch lots of crap tv and read. OR paint.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?

Here lies Nikki Nelson-Hicks. A friendly wolf among sheep.

Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

I’m very active (maybe too active) on Facebook where you can find me as Nikki Nelson-Hicks

I have a twitter account @nikcubed

A blog, www.nikcubed.blogspot.com

My Amazon author page,  www.amazon.com/author/nikkinelsonhicks , where you can really keep up with stories that are coming out and events I am attending.