Yesterday was Women’s Fiction Day. As a woman who reads a wide variety of genres, I hope this ‘day’ is inclusive to all genres not just ‘romance’. It is quite a generalization and one that should be regarded with a pinch of salt.
Of course, we all love to read an idealized narrative with a happy ending but we are more than that. Women have interests that cover a broad spectrum of story lines and types. Gone are the days when the genteel sex was restricted to poetry and light reading. (Thank goodness).
We read thrillers, sci-fi, detective novels and mysteries to name a few. Our reading habits have changed as well as our interests and the scope of our capabilities.
So celebrate our diversity in the written word – no matter the genre.
Do you feel your previous careers shaped your narratives? Absolutely. A significant writing goal is to bring the realism I experienced as both a police officer and paramedic to the pages. Not the Hollywood or TV version, but the authenticity of both professions. The banter of partners, the sarcasm, pushing each other’s buttons, then leaving it all behind when the s**t hits the fan. The absolute, unquestionable, I have your back. When I write, I am back on the street and see my characters and their interactions. And more so, I think the characters know the plot, I do the typing!
Was it an easy transition from your professional life into writing about it? I was excited about writing fiction, but I hadn’t written fiction since high school. I thought, how hard can this be. If you write what you know, I’ve got this nailed! But for over 30 years I wrote technical documents, research papers, protocols and co-authored four paramedic textbooks.
I was in for a surprise when I submitted my first chapter in an early writing course, and the instructor said, “You obviously know your stuff, but it reads like a police instructional manual. Oops. So, over the next five years, I took writing courses to learn to write fiction. Now it is easier to write fiction and let what I know flow to the page.
Did you make a conscious effort to make a series or did you think your first novel would be a stand alone? My main character is Brad Coulter. In Crisis Point, he’s been a cop four years and getting restless. The plan was always for a Brad Coulter series. The initial premise was, what if I had stayed as a cop, and not switched to a career as a paramedic. I had a plan for at least ten novels, and initially, they would be spaced out every two to three years in Brad Coulter’s career, essentially taking him to the end of his police career.
The plan has changed, each novel will follow, time-wise, on the heels of the previous novel. The original ideas for future novels are still there, but I have added new ideas because Brad Coulter told me to.
I have also started writing a second series with a completely different premise.
Do you see many more novels in the series? Have you planned them? I am currently finishing on novel #4, 10,000+ words into novel #5 and have a rough plan for 6, 7, and 8. I’ll keep writing the series as long as readers keep loving Brad Coulter.
How many of the story lines are based on true experiences? The first three novels, Crisis Point, Outlaw MC, and Wolfman is Back, are all based on actual events that happened in Calgary. I can give a detailed background on every event. I have taken various actual events, combined them, and made it my own story, with my own characters. Crisis Point has several experiences from my time as a cop, including a twenty-minute car chase. Subsequent novels were less about what I had experienced, and more about interesting crimes based in Calgary and the details from the cops who were involved. However, I take each story and twist and turn it into my own version that may or may not closely resemble the real event.
Is there a message you want to convey to your readers, in regard to those who serve us? Emergency Services takes its toll on those who serve. Whether police, EMS or other emergency services, most who choose these careers do so because they have an overwhelming need to help people. But they can’t save everyone. And those that they couldn’t help or save will haunt them for the rest of their lives. No one is harder on themselves than emergency services personnel. If only… I should have … What if …
The men and women in emergency services go to places and do things few others would do. It’s not cliché, but they would take a bullet for each other or anyone under their care or protection. There is a side to the streets of every city that is totally unknown to most citizens—and that is good because I wouldn’t want anyone to see the things I have seen. Into the darkness of a city is where emergency services personnel are called to regularly. Truly, into the shadow of death. They go there so you don’t have to worry about your safety or the safety of your family. I don’t say this for my benefit, but for the benefit of my family, my brother and sisters in emergency services. They don’t hear thank you enough.
Did you base your main protagonist on a specific person or a combination of many? I am asked that a lot. Since the premise was, ‘What could my career have looked like if I’d stayed a cop,’ Brad Coulter started as me. Hopefully, a better version of me! But a funny thing happened. Brad had his own ideas of his personality and the direction he wanted his character to go and the changes he wanted to make as the novel, and the series progressed. So, deep down Brad is me, but what you see in the second and third novels, is Brad as his own guy.
How does your professional service life compare to your writing life? Hours worked, location etc. Writing life couldn’t be different from my professional life. For many years I worked shift work, was always sleep-deprived, and always on alert. When I was in the Staff Development division, I had regular hours, but the pace was hectic, so those regular hours often stretched several hours past “quitting” time. I attended lots of meetings and was around people all the time.
Now I am at home, write in my writing cave, and need to be forced out into the public. And I love it!
Is this the genre you are most comfortable writing in? Crime/police procedural is undoubtedly the genre I am most comfortable with. Within it, though, are a few sub-genres. I can write a fast-paced thriller, a mystery, or a character-driven plot with police or paramedic partners. I have so many ideas for stories I will never get to them all. They are all within the crime genre, but with a different focus.
Would you write in another genre? I wrote a short story in 2015 that was published in an anthology, A Positive, An Anthology of Alberta Crime. It was supposed to be a noir story, but I wrote more of a soft-boiled detective story. It was fun to write, and I have ideas for more short stories for the character. I have also been working on a time-travel story, but it is still crime-related. I guess I’m stuck on crime!
Where do you feel most comfortable and creative when writing? I have an office set up at home. Most of my writing is done there. We also have a cabin, and when we are out there, I write. My office is my favorite location, probably because it is quiet, whereas at the cabin there is always something else going on. I am also an afternoon/night writer. The afternoon part is okay, but the night part is trickier because for some reason, Valerie likes to spend time with me! On occasion, after she has fallen asleep, I sneak down to my writing cave and write until two or three in the morning.
Has your writing process changed? Absolutely. It has been nine years of trial and error – heavy on the error. But I know that was a process I had to go through, and probably every writer has to. There are writing rules/guidelines and lots of writers who will tell you the way you need to write. The rules are the opinion of a single person, and the views may work for that writer, but maybe not for you. It takes time for you to find ‘your’ process and it doesn’t matter if that fits with what others do. If you need to plot, then plot. If you need to write at midnight, then make that work. Crisis Point took seven years to get to print, Outlaw one year, and Wolfman six months. I finally know what works for me today. I’m sure that process will evolve into something different, but it will be what works for me. My advice is to find your own process.
You have received a nomination for your writing, namely Crime Writers of Canada, Arthur Ellis Awards. How important are awards to you and writers in general? The nomination came at a critical time for me. I’d been working on Crisis Point for five years and had a stack of rejections. It was either give up on getting it traditionally published, self publish, or quit writing and find a new hobby! I was close to quitting. I was so low on myself and my writing skills that the night the nominees were announced, I wasn’t paying attention when the announcement was made for the Unpublished category, I was sitting in the front row not paying attention and had my eye on a bottle of wine that I knew I could get to once the last nominees were announced. I don’t think I’ve ever been more shocked in my life, and to shock me takes quite a big event. As well, I was speechless, which is also foreign to me.
That validation was so important to me. I kept writing. All three novels have made the bestseller list and Crisis Point and Wolfman have made the list twice. I think that kind of validation is significant to every author.
If you could eliminate one task from your daily schedule, what would it be? Definitely social media. There are too many platforms with too many changing protocols and it is almost a full-time job to keep up with posting on every site. I use Facebook the most. I like to find the funniest or weirdest things and repost so that my friends will get a laugh. I’m all about the laughter and occasional sarcasm. I can’t say I think social media has helped my exposure much. And, I just don’t ‘get’ Twitter!
If your life was a movie, would it be a drama, comedy, action/adventure, or science fiction? Definitely action/adventure. I was fortunate to have a fascinating career with lots of action. But I hope there’d be comedy as well. I have a quick wit, sharp tongue, and biting sarcasm. So that would need to be there too!
Think about punctuation marks. Which one would you pick to describe your personality and why? ! If my life is an action/adventure, then it has to be an exclamation mark. Too many times I was in a position where afterwards I’d say Oh My God! Or the occasional, ‘That didn’t work!”
I was able to do things that would be a dream adventure weekend for lots of people. I shot guns, blew up stuff, played hide and seek with night vision goggles, flew in Hawks and STARS to name only a few. There weren’t a lot of dull moments.
Describe your handwriting. I should have been a doctor. My writing is a cross between cursive and printing and most of it illegible. I’m sure if you took a sample of my writing to the drug store, they’d accept it as a prescription for something. I thank my stars that in grade nine, rather than take French, band, or drama as an option, I took typing. And I mean typing on a Selectric typewriter. Who knew that it would be the best option class I took and through policing, EMS, and now fiction writing, that one course has been so valuable! Strangely the most critical course was not algebra!
Do you have any tips on creating an author platform?
You saved the hardest questions for last! I wish I had the magic answer to that. I am fortunate, in no small degree, to have worked for over 40 years in emergency services and that helps my writer credibility. I genuinely write what I know. My background gives credibility to what I write and separates me from the majority of crime writers. I bring a different feeling to the novels—that of actually have been there. So that is my niche that I need to use for my platform.
I like to make presentations and have a pretty good following at When Words Collide Conference in Calgary and the Creative Ink Festival in Burnaby BC. So, I use that to my benefit.
However, despite a lot of ‘friends on social media and lots of promotions of my novels and those of other authors, I haven’t seen a jump in e-book sales.
I will stick with it because I think who I am and what I write are intimately connected. I have seen an increase in interest in the Coulter series now that I have three novels. I think one of the best ways (and this was advice from Jonas Saul) was to keep writing and get the books out there.
The question was about tips. I’d say you have to find a niche for yourself—something that separates you from other authors in your genre. Success comes from taking a different path as well. Two author friends had success where they didn’t expect it. One had pretty much given up on writing crime and delved into fantasy, which took off and then her crime novels were accepted for publication. Another author added a non-fiction book (Adam Dreece and 5 Critical Things for a Successful Book signing). I’m not sure how sales are going, but it is a remarkable book and now he has tapped into another market.
After years of abuse and rejection, 19-year-old Evelyn Kingston is ready for a fresh start in a new city, where no one knows her name. The esteemed Billington University in sunny Southern California seems like the perfect place to reinvent herself—to live the life of an ordinary human.
But things at Billington aren’t as they seem. In a school filled with prodigies, socialites, and the leaders of tomorrow, Eve finds that the complex social hierarchy makes passing as a human much harder than she had anticipated. Even worse, Billington is harboring a secret of its own: Interlopers have infiltrated the university, and their sinister plans are targeted at chimeras—like Eve.
Instantly, Eve’s new life takes a drastic turn. In a time filled with chaos, is the world focusing on the wrong enemy? And when the situation at Billington shifts from hostile to dangerous, will Eve remain in the shadows, or rise up and fight?
Jenna Moreci is a new adult author, vlogger extraordinaire, nerd-incognito, & alleged cyborg. She specializes in writing adorable, romantic goodness punctuated by moments of extreme violence and bloodshed. Her sanity is questionable.
Some of Jenna’s other talents include prolific cursing, spilling/dropping things, accidentally making people cry, and drawing. Author Links:
What is the title of your most recent book?Between The Cracks She Fell.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?
This is my fifth book – all my books have been published by Inanna and I love being one of their authors. They have such a commitment to giving voice to stories that unafraid to explore the tougher things in life.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. I hope to show the complex interplay between real life and religion, to show what happens when our lives derail though no fault of our own and we are left to pick up the pieces. There are times in all of our lives when we feel terribly alone and abandoned by all that we put our trust into – I wanted readers to come on a journey with me and a young woman who falls between the cracks and has to make some difficult choices, some of which involve murder.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Actually yes! The idea for the entire book came to me when I was talking to a new friend and I discovered that he had been disfellowshipped by the Jehovah’s Witness church. His family, even his twin sister, swore never to see him again unless he repented and to this day (that was seven years ago), they have stayed true to their word.
I was very moved by this and I asked him if I could write about it, imagining his life, have him as my muse. He agreed and I have kept him in the loop of all the twists and turns of the book. None the book is reflective of his life, apart from that religious aspect.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
Great question! I love my evil male villains. Hans in A Glittering Chaos, Rydell in The Witchdoctor’s Bones, Mickey in West of Wawa, and now, Lenny in Between The Cracks She Fell. Why? Because they are such enormous fun to write! I swear I might have multiple personality disorder because I really feel as if I have lived their fragile and evil lives. They are only secondary characters but I love them so much.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would change the beginning in The Witchdoctor’s Bones. I would start with more action and less narrative and dialogue introducing the characters.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? Chocolate-covered peanuts! South African coffee called Ricoffy. Chocolate-covered pretzels are also good, along with rum-flavoured toffees!
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? I think the reward is having made the deadline! I’m usually so tired by that point that I fall into bed and crash!
Have you ever hated something you wrote? No. I do think I am improving as a writer though and for me, that’s the most important thing. But I would never hate anything I have written because it was written in a time when that was the best I could do. And I am always proud of myself for trying. So many people out there want to write but don’t (because yes, it’s hellishly hard), so I am always grateful to myself (and to the words) for trying to say something.
What book do you wish you had written? I wish I had written The Night Stages by Jane Urqhart.or Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.
What genre is Between The Cracks She Fell?I am genre-less! But if pressed I’d say it is literary fiction with elements of crime and noir.
How do we find your books, blog and bio? All info here:
Bio and links:
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has been a Canadian citizen since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.
Lisa de Nikolits is the author of five novels: The Hungry Mirror (2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and long-listed for a ReLit Award), West of Wawa (2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick). A Glittering Chaos tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction. Her fourth novel, The Witchdoctor’s Bones launched Spring 2014 to literary acclaim and her fifth novel, Between The Cracks She Fell will launch in Fall 2015. Lisa has a short story in Postscripts To Darkness, Volume 6, and flash fiction and a short story in the debut issue of Maud.Lin House. She will also have a short story coming out with the Mesdames of Mayhem, in the anthology, Thirteen o’Clock, also in Fall 2015.
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has lived in Canada since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has also lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.
Lisa de Nikolits is the author of five novels: The Hungry Mirror (2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and long-listed for a ReLit Award), West of Wawa (2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick). A Glittering Chaos tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction. Her fourth novel, The Witchdoctor’s Bones launched Spring 2014 to literary acclaim and her fifth novel, Between The Cracks She Fell recently launched in Fall 2015. Lisa has a short story in Postscripts To Darkness, Volume 6, 2015, and flash fiction and a short story in the debut issue of Maud.Lin House as well as poetry in Canada Woman Studies Journal (Remembering, 2013, and Water, 2015).