I know I'm in my own little world, but it's OK.
They know me here...


Thursday, June 23, 2011


We head to the far west of Australia! So strap on your wings and let's go meet my latest guest...

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a Western Australian writer published through Harlequin and writing for their ‘Romance’ line (Sweet in Au/NZ, RIVA and Cherish in the UK).

I write nature-based romance in that all my stories/settings have a nature flavour to them. I work for a wildlife organisation by day and have always loved nature so it was a natural fit for me to include it in my stories.

When did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
My journey was comparatively short from the time the words ‘Chapter One…’ first came from my fingers to signing a contract.

I’ve written for work most of my life (copywriting, magazine articles, press releases etc) but it wasn’t until 2007 when I had 6-months accumulated leave that I decided to write a novel (rather than go mad with no project over such a long time). I ADORED that six months in my little ‘garret’ with only my characters and my dogs for company, the most life-changing period of my life.

My first book was a single title set in Africa with a bit of an intrigue thread but it’s a bit of a clumsy hybrid and so while it was winning comps etc it wasn’t getting a lot of meaningful interest from publishers. I discovered/joined Romance Writers of Australia in August 2007 and quickly realised everything that was wrong with my work.

I decided to try category romance instead to see how comfortable I was with the shorter length. I loved my first shorter-form romance and entered it in a couple of comps before busying myself writing another in the 2008 RWAust online event ‘50K in 30 Days’.

Not long after my first book won an opening chapter comp and got the interest of the (then) Senior Editor for Harlequin Romance, Kim Young who asked to see anything else I had. I sent her my (hastily polished) 50K book and after a few weeks she got back to me with an offer for that and my next book.

So my journey was really only 18 months long. Yeah, I’m one of the ones who skews the averages.

What do you think it is about your genre that readers find so fascinating?
Contemporary romance continues to be really popular but I think that my readers are responding to my natural settings and nature-based story arcs as much as the unfolding romance.

There’s only so many ways you can spin the conventional contemporary story tropes and so finding a fresh angle is important. Particularly when you’re up against the rich world-building and fascinating story possibilities of fantasy, paranormal and intrigues. To me, contemps should be just as rich with the world-building in order to arouse more parts of the readers’ brain.

Can you tell us about your latest release?
Coming up in July I have a double-whammy with A KISS TO SEAL THE DEAL coming out as a Cherish in the UK (my home market) side-by-side with RAPUNZEL IN NEW YORK for the UK’s RIVA. I’ve never been a shelf-mate to myself before, feels very odd!

Southern coastline of WA
KISS is set on the south coast of Western Australia and pits an overall-wearing heroine who sifts through seal vomit/faeces for a living against a disconnected hero whose farmer father has just died. My heroine was on the verge of signing an agreement with Dad to give over a bunch of land to the seals and then in walks my contract lawyer hero and it all goes to…seal poop.

RAPUNZEL is the first story I’ve written for Harlequin outside of Australia, set on Manhattan. I set it there because I wanted my heroine to study urban raptors from her high rise apartment and NY has plenty of both. I really wanted to modernise a fairytale but the Cinderella/Ugly Duckling thing have been done to death. So I picked Rapunzel and created a socially isolated heroine in a modernised ‘tower’ and a prince charming with a heap of baggage of his own. And some recent tragedy. What’s a fairy tale without tragedy.

Dunedin Peninsula, NZ
Can you share a few fun facts about the geographic locations where your novel takes place?
A KISS TO SEAL THE DEAL is set in WA’s south coast but it's based on the research of a friend of mine from Dunedin in New Zealand. Her family’s farm is right on the tip of this amazing peninsula and when her research thesis was accepted (studying the foraging patterns of New Zealand Fur Seals) she only had to drive a kilometre to the boundary of their property and clamber down the rocks to the water’s edge to do her study.

I moved the story to WA simply because it’s a part of the country I know well and I thought I’d be better able to tell a convincing tale, but having now taken my stories outside of Australia I regret not setting the book in Dunedin and using the real Cape Saunders colony of seals.

RAPUNZEL IN NEW YORK: Raptors (or birds-of-prey) are the super-survivors in heavily urbanised areas. Peregrines and other hawks hunt smaller birds and make a really good living off of New York’s abundant pigeons.

In the absence of trees they make their roosts on bridges and television towers and high-rised window ledges and there’s many websites dedicated to them. I ‘borrowed’ a pair and moved them into a nestbox on my heroine’s window ledge but the parks and bridges around Morningside Heights in Manhattan are filled with urban raptors.

What was the easiest and hardest parts about writing the book?
This goes for any book I write. Easiest part is always the opening scene. Most of my books are conceived scene-first and then I just explore the idea and see where it leads.

Hardest part of all books (for me) is coming up with a credible internal conflict. I strive to find conflict already within the story/characters rather than labouring them with some kind of extreme background or motivation. Sometimes a conflict can come from an extreme event but I like the conflict itself to be very relatable and human.

What’s the worst writing mistake that taught you a valuable lesson?
I didn’t realise how dreadful this was until months later but I contacted Aussie author Tracey O’Hara out of the blue (I didn’t know her) and asked her if she’d read my manuscript simply because she worked for the Federal Police at the time and I had a Fed character in my book.

OMG *blush*. She was very gracious and kind in declining my generous offer to waste a heap of her time, and ages later it dawned on me how very inappropriate that was. Fortunately, Tracey is either very forgiving or has a short memory because we’re friends now, but it’s still something I cringe on looking back.

Are there any particular settings or sorts of characters you’d like to use in a future book?
Oh don’t start me…. I had a week’s writing retreat at a lighthouse and so would love to set a story at one. Something about all that solitude and danger.

I’d love to have a crack at a goth heroine. And a badboy. An actual badboy. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for all the people and places queueing up waiting for their turn. I’ve done remote islands, rooftops, the Kimberley, cave systems, wildlife sanctuaries, eco-resorts, whale-rescue…

What’s next for you? What are you working on?
As I write this I’ve left my poor heroine and hero bundled together in a crushed Honda wedged on a cliff-face in Tasmania. He’s a search-and-rescue type hero (something I know you can relate to, Kylie!). Oh, S&R, my kinda guy! LOL

I wanted to explore the phenomenon of the intensity of relationship that can form when people either work closely together or are in some kind of crisis together. It would be so easy to later write the feelings off as not ‘real’ but I wanted to look at what happens if they were real and neither of them did anything about it. It’s a story about second chances and sacrifice.

Do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you’d like to share with unpublished authors? Find-and-Replace is your friend. Learn how it works. Change your life.

Kate Dickson is a mad-keen mammologist, studying a colony of fur seals which live on a difficult-to-reach beach at he base of a bluff. The bluff is part of a property recently inherited by Grant McMurtrie, a city lawyer intent on shutting down their access to protect the land's resale value. To finish her study and get the seals protected status, Kate needs a piece of information only Grant has. And he's not sharing.
Grant was never farmer-material. How ironic that the fate of the farm he turned his back on now rests in his hands. He's got nothing against the seals--some of his fondest childhood memories involve them--but he definitely isn't interested in helping a bunch of greenies tie his land up in restrictions that will prevent him selling. Falling for Kate definitely wasn't on his business plan.
Giving her what she needs to finish her study and make her career means he could lose his father's property. But protecting his farm will render her life's work meaningless.
Unless they can find a way for everyone to win.

Viktoria Morfit has built herself a safe, convincing life in her Manhattan apartment following a tragedy in her life five years before. Her latest project is to attract a pair of peregrine falcons to the nestbox she's installed on the ledge of her highrise apartment, giving her back a little bit of the nature she misses so much since she quit rockclimbing.
Landlord Nathan Archer has no idea how badly Tori relies on the handful of walls surrounding her, any more than she knows what kind of a childhood he endured in the building she thinks so highly of. He's planning on razing every last brick to the ground and burying his memories along with it, but the more he discovers about the gentle Tori and her whacky bunch of neighbours, the harder it's going to be to put his demons to rest.
When the chips come tumbling down will Nathan be able to set aside the misery of his past to protect the beautiful peregrine falcons and the wild, passionate Tori who both call his building home?

Nikki website has more information about her and excerpts of her books! Check it out! 

Nikki's Books:


  1. Its a good thing you're so nice or we'd hate you for skewing those averages :)

    Looking forward to your next books!

  2. Great to learn more about you, Nikki. Unfortunately I only "discovered" you several weeks ago and after reading "The Soldier's Untamed Heart" you are now on my list of favourite writers! A wonderful, heart-warming story so very, very well written. I'll sure be buying your new releases but also hoping I can find your others books I've missed.

  3. LOL, Kez!

    Oh, what a lovely compliment, Mary, and how's that for instant fandom, Nikki! I love it when I read anecdotes like this - thanks for sharing Mary! :-)

  4. Kez - haaa... thank you. The knives might be out otherwise.

    But seriously the one thing I do try to impress on people whose faces crumble when they hear that (or others who assume writing is pfff-easy based on my example) is that I wrote for a living my whole life, including plays and screen plays as theatre and film student. So I had a whole bunch of inherent fiction skills (and narrative structure) which gave me an enormous shove on the learning curve.

    Mary - bless your cotton socks for saying so! I do sometimes wonder if my stories just go out into a void. I don't get a lot of reader feedback (except for friends or fellow RWA members) so it is so lovely to know they're being read and enjoyed.

    Pretty sure Book Despository (free shipping!!) still has my back list avail in hardcopy. If you get stuck finding anything write to me.

  5. Great interview Nikki - and a marvelous call story. And good for aspiring authors to know it doesn't have to take a millenium to get the 'call' :)Looking forward to reading your new book.

  6. Hey Nikki, nice to see you here at Kylie's blog! Loved learning all about you :) And lucky me is well acquainted with your wonderful books! I won some a while back and have been hooked ever since :)
    Kylie, thanks for having Nikki as your guest.

  7. Ladies, great interview. I love seeing all your covers lined up like that, Nikki. Makes me so happy to see a Bootcamper doing so well. You are an inspiration. I can't wait to read the published version of A Kiss to Seal The Deal, after having read some of your early draft.
    BTW - just love the Rapunzel in New York cover.

  8. Great to hear our wonderful locals have a loyal following of fans! :-)

    Eleni, I love sharing the book covers in a mini-portfolio.

  9. Hi Helen, nope...doesn't have to take a millenium. But def helped that I was such an active competition enterer... I stand by my theory that with the regular submission process your story has to appeal to about six people (a heirarchy of editorial assistants and then an editor then a senior editor then the head of acquisitions). But when you win or final in a comp you skip straight to the editor (or Senior in my case) desk. This greatly increases the chances of your voice appealing.
    So important to get your work out there.

  10. Ms Serena and Ms Eleni - so lovely to see you both here, as well. Rapunzel was my first non Aussie setting and I was a bit nervous about it, but am really happy with how it came out. In fact will be doing another US-set book this year (part of a continuity).

    Eleni, the cover is even more glorious in person. Kind of matt and shiny at the same time...

  11. LOL - my security word for that last post was 'Tamest' - are they trying to tell me something?

    Kylie - thanks so much for having me. I just love your first cover, it's going to be really hard to top when #2 comes out :) I've also always chuckeld at your website tagline ('It's okay, they know me here')...

  12. Nice post Nikki,

    And great to learn something more about you! Love how wildlife and conservation feature so prominently in your books =)

  13. Nikki, always a pleasure to host our great, local talent! And yes, will be interesting to see the book cover for #2! LOL

    Hi Mel, Nikki's posts on the LoveCats make for a great read to. I love her one on raptors in NY.