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Monday, February 6, 2012

INTERVIEW: NICKI J. MARKUS

Long and Short Reviews is pleased to welcome Nicki Markus whose latest book Day-Walker is available. She also has a new book, Time Keepers, which has just been contracted and will be released later this year. I asked her to tell us a bit about Day-Walker.

"It is a vampire paranormal romance. This piece started life after I was watching some vampire films and began to wonder what lengths vampires might go to in order to walk in the sun. I’d had a few short stories published by a small e-publisher, but I decided to take Day-Walker to Silver Publishing. Happily, they liked the piece and published it as an e-book. It has all you would expect from a vampire romance: a dashing hero with a secret, a heroine who loves him anyway and plenty of action. But I hope it also offers a fresh look at the vampire myth, making it a little different from some of the other stories out there."

Nicki had the rights to her short stories returned to her last year when her original publisher changed direction. After that, she decided to rework an earlier four-part mini-series into a short novel. Time Keepers, an adventure romance full of supernatural creatures and time travel, is the result of that. It will be published by Silver Publishing as well.

"Now I am just deciding what project to start work on next," she told me. "There is another piece I could rework—a fantasy with dragons and magic—or I also have an idea for a new piece that is more of an Urban Fantasy. Hmm. Only time will tell, so watch this space!"

She recently read The Night Circus by Morgenstern and seriously loved it.

"It is so original and fresh," she said. "I was completely captivated by the story."

"What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?" I asked.

"Usually I am fond of music. I love having a CD on in the background and adore singing along to my favourite musical theatre tracks. But when I am writing I prefer complete silence. I can’t have anything playing in the background or it will distract me and I’ll find myself stopping work to sing along or—even worse—I’ll start typing the lyrics into my text and only notice an hour later! In the same vein, I find I can only write when I’m alone in the house. If my husband is here he invariably has the television on or a computer game going and I know I will not be able to write anything with that noise in the background. So, yeah, silence is golden when it comes to me and writing."

Being an author was always high on her list of "things to be when I grow up."

"It is a dream I have come back to time and again at different ages. In between, I had a few other ideas as well," she explained. "For a while I wanted to be a professional singer/actor and even auditioned for drama school. But I soon realised that, while I was good, I wasn’t great and I saw it was not going to happen for me. Later, after my first degree, I took a PGDip in Translation, thinking that would be a good path for me. But then I ended up meeting my husband and moving to Australia where my European languages were not as useful as they’d been in the UK. So now I am looking at pursuing editing as a career instead. But, writing was always there—my longest standing dream and one that is slowly coming to fruition."

"What do you like to do when you are not writing?"

"Wow, that is a question that is both easy and hard to answer at the same time. I am one of those people who are constantly attracted to new things. I could probably find a new hobby every week if I put my mind to it. That is great and means I gain experience and knowledge in a wide variety of things, but it also means I end up stretching myself rather thinly. You see, once I take an interest in something it is here to stay. It’s not that I flit from one thing to another, rather that I take on more and more. At the end of the day, I may never become highly proficient in any of my hobbies, but I enjoy learning a little about a lot of things.

"Anyway, at present I have a few things ‘on the go’. I am studying for a Diploma in Editing and a Higher Diploma in Publishing, so I am busy writing assignments for that. I am also doing some editing for Silver Publishing while looking for a new full-time job. I have around 40 pen pals from around the world and writing to them takes up a chunk of my time. Then of course I love books and I read at least a little every day. In between all that, I like to work on my languages (French, German, Czech and Italian), pursue my interest in photography, do some cross stitch (I’m currently working on a huge canvas based on a Waterhouse painting) and keep up with my online commitments. Oh, not to forget that I love going to the theatre and the cinema and I try to squeeze in some music practice (singing, piano and flute) when I can. Whew!"

Nicki is originally from Wilmingham, a large village in the county of Kent in the south-east of England.

"For those unfamiliar, think of it as a bit under London since the capital was just a 45-minute train ride away from me," she explained.

Wilmingham is a pretty quiet place, but close to the town of Dartford, a major commuter route for those working in London. In high school, she kept mostly to herself because she really didn't fit into any of the established groups. She wasn't in the 'cool' crowd, because she liked classical music and musicals and was a good student. She wasn't quite a 'nerd', though, either...so she admitted the high school wasn't great for her.

"Luckily I came into my own a bit more once I got to university. It was really only in my early twenties that I began to form closer friendships," she said.

In 2007, Nicki left England to backpack around the USA and Australia for a few months. In Adelaide, she met the man who was to become her husband. He sat next to her on a bus one day and asked her out. They soon fell in love, then went through a long immigration process so she could stay in Australia.

"Apart from one three-month-long trip home, I’ve been here ever since," she said. "To be honest, I don’t really miss Wilmington at all. But I do miss London: the bustle, the shops, the theatres. I also miss being so close to Europe as I used to adore having the occasional long-weekend in Paris or Prague. And all the history—everything is so ‘new’ here in Australia. But the quality of life here is better and overall I am happy with my move. Corey and I got married back in October and next year I’ll be eligible for full citizenship, so I am pretty much settled here now."

Nicki told me that, without any doubt, when it comes to her writing she's a pantser.

"I’ve never been one for plotting—I even wrote my university dissertation without a plan," she explained. "It was funny as a plan had to be included, so I had to go back and fix that after doing the bulk of the writing. I generally start with an idea and I run through the story in my head. Sometimes I know the ending in advance; sometimes I haven’t even worked that out until it happens. I have a rough idea, but then I prefer to see where the characters take me."

"If you were stranded on a desert island and were only allowed to have five modern conveniences with you, what would they be?" I asked.

"Well, I’d better take my Kobo so that I’d have plenty to read—at least until the batteries died! Then I’d take a little handheld fan because islands tend to be hot and I absolutely loath the heat. Of course I’d need my mp3 player, to listen to music in between my reading. A tablet computer would probably be good too, just in case I could pick up a wireless signal and get Internet! I’m lost without my Internet connection. Finally, I think I’d take some toilet paper. I’ve never been much of a camper and if I were forced to use leaves, I think I’d take my chances on the open seas!"

"Do you use a pen name?" I wondered. "If so, how did you come up with it?"

"Yes and no. When I started writing I was still unmarried, but the wedding was coming up so, in preparation for the future, I chose to use my soon-to-be married surname in my pen name. Officially I am Nicola, so Nicki is just an abbreviated form. The joke comes in with regards to the ‘J’. I actually have no middle name, but all of my husband’s immediate family have middle names beginning with ‘J’. When I first ‘came on the scene’ they used to joke I couldn’t join the family unless I had a middle name beginning with ‘J’—so I put it into my pen name for them... and the wedding could go ahead!"

These days, she's still passionate about books and theatre...even though she doesn't have quite the choice of productions in Australia as she did in London.

"There is still some great stuff on and I go whenever I have the time and money to spare. I’ve been looking ahead at the schedules for this year and there are some really amazing productions coming, so I hope I’ll make it to one or two of them!"

"What are your favourite TV shows?" I asked.

"I would have said at first that I don’t watch much television, but then I thought about it and realised there are actually quite a few shows I enjoy: True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Doctor Who, Supernatural, American Horror Story, Being Human (UK), Blood Ties, Moonlight, Alias, Brittas Empire, Red Dwarf, Yes Minister, Blackadder, Lost, Dark Angel, Buffy, Angel.... Mostly supernatural, as you can see, with a bit of comedy and drama thrown in for good measure. I do also love period dramas!"


About the Author:
Nicki J Markus was born in England in 1982, but she now lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her husband. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages. She has completed a BA (hons) English with French from the University of Greenwich, London and a PGDip in Translation from the University of the West of England, Bristol. She is currently studying for diplomas in Editing and Publishing.


Nicki J Markus launched her writing career in 2010 and her fiction work has been accepted for e-book publication by both Wicked Nights Publishing and Silver Publishing.

In her spare time, Nicki J Markus also enjoys many other creative pursuits including music, theatre, photography and sketching. She also has a keen interest in history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling and travel.
Find the author online at:
http://www.nickijmarkus.com

www.facebook.com/NickiJMarkus
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4567057.Nicki_J_Markus


When Darci spots a mysterious stranger at her latest concert, she is instantly smitten. Will is the perfect gentleman and seems to be everything she has been waiting for. But Will has a terrifying secret and soon Darci finds herself in grave peril. Will her love for him give her the strength she’ll need to prevail against overwhelming odds?


Will is drawn to Darci Madison from the moment she steps out onto the stage. He knows he shouldn’t approach her, knows his secret could put her in danger if he gets too close. But he also realizes that he cannot live without her. When his enemies learn of Darci’s existence and emerge from the shadows, Will must fight to save the woman he loves ... even though it may require the ultimate sacrifice.


For deep in the night, creatures are stirring in the darkness; creatures that long to infiltrate the light.

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