Please welcome Nikki Logan to Reading Reality today. Nikki comes to us all the way from the West Coast of Australia. She’s not just here to tell us about her latest book from Entangled Publishing, Wild Encounter (review coming up on Friday) but she’s also going to give us just a glimpse into life down under. And not city life, but life in a part of the country we don’t usually hear much about. Her description really brings her world to life.
Some of the description of the way people live makes it sound a bit like Alaska without the snow. (Maybe for our next move…)
Marlene: Welcome Nikki! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Nikki: Sure. I’m an Australian writer who also works in the wildlife/conservation industry. I live over on the West Coast of Australia with my man and two dogs, two cats, four birds, four frogs and three fish. I’ve written contemporary romance (category length) for a couple of years and am really happy to now also write Rom-Sus for Entangled/Dead Sexy.
Marlene: It’s pretty clear from your blog, and from your books, that you definitely have a love affair with nature. When and how did your romance with nature begin?
Nikki: I can’t remember a time that I didn’t identify with wild places or creatures. I was always a really animal-y kid and that has never left me. When I studied film at Uni it was with the intention of become a natural history filmmaker, I really wanted to show people what so inspired me about the natural world. That didn’t happen (I ended up going into commercial production and video distribution for a decade) but I’ve kind of ended up where I wanted to be, just via a different route. So very happy with that.
Marlene: For those of us who live in the U.S. especially in the cities, your life in Western Australia seems like a great adventure. Would you be willing to tell us a little bit about what it’s really like?
Nikki: Perth is the world’s second most isolated capital city after Honolulu (devastated to discover we’ve been bumped from first place!). Check it out on a map and you’ll see that the nearest other capital is 2,500kms away. Western Australia also has a really small population relative to its size. Imagine everything west of Denver (USA) with only 2.2million people in it, but then imagine 2million of those only being in Los Angeles and the other 200,000 spread out across the rest of that space. You can go for days, out there, without seeing anything other than wildlife. Fantastic. But also dangerous if you get in trouble.
This isolation means we have quite a unique social culture within Australia (which we love and embrace, btw, we don’t see it as a minus). We have a massive coastline all to ourselves and so a big boating/fishing/water-based leisure culture. We love to dine, walk, and play on, in or beside oceans and rivers and seafood is a huge part of our dining experience.
We also have a really big ‘back yard’ culture. People have expansive outdoor kitchens here with flash BBQs and we sit out with our family and friends or we hangout in sprawling home theatres or beside clean, crystal pools and enjoy each other’s company more than some of the more ‘happening’ east coast cities where going out straight after work and not getting home til late is really common. We have more hours of sunlight than any other city in Australia and boy do we use it.
The south-west of WA is all about forests and temperate agriculture and wine and caves and tourists and leisure and ‘tree-changes’. The far north of WA is all about red, ancient landscapes with a whole different weather system, dramatic land- and sea-scapes and extraordinary creatures. And, in between the two, we’re all about desert and resources and the grazing industry (our state lives and breathes on cattle, sheep and what gets dug up out of the earth).
We have a really unique sub-culture here called FIFO to support our massive mining industry. That means that a big percentage of our population (men mostly) work in remote areas of the state on mines or oil-rigs or whatever, so they fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) on rosters like 9 days on 4 days off because it’s cheaper for the companies to fly their staff all over the state every day from the City than to accommodate them in remote towns. If you walk into the business lounges of any airline anywhere else in the world you’ll find it filled with well-dressed business types. Walk into one at Perth airport and its full of steel-capped boots, king-gee shorts and tanned, masculine legs
So that’s my home. Enormous, resource-rich, sparsely populated outside of the city, abundant with wildlife and ancient landscapes, hot in summer and warm in winter, and very, very sunny. I love it.
Marlene: Now, could you describe a typical day of writing? Are you a planner or pantser?
Nikki: My writing sign is Pantser with plotster ascending I have a general idea of what I’ll be writing about and while I’m capable of developing a story arc/outline I seem to be incapable of sticking to it. So I just resign myself to lots of go-overs (and some do-overs) while the story takes shape from my subconscious.
Marlene: What made you choose to write romances that incorporate your love of nature? (It’s a terrific concept!)
Nikki: Write what you love. The old adage. I knew I wanted to write stories set in or about wildlife and when I first started looking at the whole nature-based thing there wasn’t anyone doing that overtly. I didn’t know if that meant there wasn’t a market of just that no-one had turned it into a brand. So I held my breath and went for it. I do firmly believe that having a clear and unequivocal brand helped me to sell to Harlequin originally because they ‘got it’ straight up. And now it’s really awesome (from a business perspective) to have that clear brand to help guide my decisions. Sometimes you could go two ways and can’t decide but only one of them will support the brand and so it helps make that decision easier.
But it was a compromise because to have that brand I knew I’d be effectively writing myself out of some of the bigger selling market places (with the glamorous settings and very urban stories).
Nikki: A wild, danger-filled ride. A fantasy romance grounded in reality. Lots of wildlife. Lots of sweat and angst. Lots of blood (which was very exciting for me to write!)
Marlene: What projects do you have planned for the future? What is next on your schedule?
Nikki: I write full time (5-days-a-week) and I work my day job the other two and so I have a very full schedule. It means I have a few things on the go at once but in between the contemporary romances I’m fiddling with two more rom-sus ideas, one is a sequel to Wild Encounter (featuring MI6 operative,McKenzie) and the other is a paranormal set in Indondesia.
Marlene: Now can you tell us 3 reasons why people should read your books?
Nikki: For the escape. For the wildlife. For the compelling, relatable characters.
Marlene: Who first introduced you to the love of reading?
Nikki: My mother with her enormous book collection. My most enduring memory of her is her perched at the kitchen bench, cup-of-tea by her side, elbows on the counter, book in hand. She always read and so reading was such a normal pastime in my house, growing up. But both my grandfathers were also great storytellers and so I definitely got the story-teller gene from them.
Marlene: What words of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Nikki: Learn the business. Talent is no longer enough. Perfected craft is no longer enough. Whether you traditionally publish or self-publish the rules are the same, you need to watch the market, watch the trends, read up on the issues and see what’s working for other people. If you don’t want to approach this as a business then just make sure you always keep writing as that gorgeous thing you do on the side. The thing you do for you. The moment it becomes work you have to change your mindset.
Nikki: Orson Scott Card – Enders Game. I picked it because it was the first book (well, series really) that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Card is such a gifted storyteller (personal politics aside) and linguist and his stories exemplify the best of genre fiction — engaging, entertaining, memorable.
Marlene: Morning person or night owl?
Nikki: Both. As required
Nikki, I want to thank you for an absolutely fantastic interview. You’ve been terrific!