Monday, February 15, 2016

Interview with author Nikki Steele

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! My name is Nikki and I’m a recovering Romantic. Why recovering? Well I’ve never actually thought of myself as one (though my partner tells me I assuredly am). My books are all about Billionaires, but they focus very heavily on how an ordinary person (like myself) would react in those situations. I live in Australia, I studied communications at university oh-so-long ago and I now write full time for a living.

Q ~ If you were stuck in a dingy floating in the middle of the ocean, who and what would you want with you and why?
Well I write Billionaire romance so my dingy would be 200 feet long, with a Jacuzzi, a private chef and (very importantly) a cocktail bar where hunky shirtless waiters make the most amazing daiquiris. Then I’d invite Taylor Swift (because I’m sure we’d hit it off, I’m such a huuuuge fan), David Attenborough (because he knows so much he could make even the middle of the ocean interesting), Chris Pratt (because he seems really cool) and, grudgingly, my best friend too—she’d spend all her time chatting up the shirtless waiters, but I love her anyway.

Q ~ How do you think people perceive authors in general?
I made one of those ‘what people think I do’ memes that pretty much sums it up…

Q ~ What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
I’ve got two favorite quotes:

“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.” – Henry David Thoreau,


“I lit a cigarette that tasted like a plumber’s handkerchief” – Raymond Chandler, from Stephen King’s ‘On writing.’

The first quote underscores the challenge of writing a short story. In shorter fiction, every word counts—everything has to be essential to the main storyline. I think you get more of the essence of a story in short fiction, if you can do it well. It’s harder than it looks!

The second quote is a great example of that first quote - such a powerful image in just a few short words. Oh the amount of times I’ve considered having one of my characters smoke just so I could steal this line… :)

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?
Funnily enough, I actually enjoy reading fantasy novels, of all things. I also enjoy romance, but I think fantasies are better – perhaps because of the fact that when I do read romance I’m always analysing the storylines and conversations (it feels a little bit like work). But I love WRITING romance. I don’t know why, but the first time I tried my hand at a romance story it just clicked. I think it’s because of the interactions you can have in romances – saucy sex scenes and intimate conversations. You can really explore characters and motives in a way that you can’t in other genres.

Q ~ Do you have a favourite author? Do they influence your writing?
Stephen King is the author who has most influenced my writing. I haven’t actually read much of his work - I don’t enjoy horror - but his book ‘On Writing’ is one long, brilliant piece of advice on how to write well. I try to follow it whenever I can, though I’ll be the first to admit I’m woefully bad at his advice about avoiding adverbs!

Next would be Cassandra Zara, who now writes romance under the name Krista Lakes. Reading a blog of hers where she talked about writing erotic romance actually inspired me to start writing! She’s kind of like my hero – I reached out to her once via email and she actually replied with advice! *swoon*

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?
I’ve always written, on and off, for all of my life. I think I had a good year 11 English teacher which helped. But I started writing seriously about two years ago, and writing romances at the start of last year. There was no single event that lead me to it, though reading that blog of Cassandra Zara’s (see above) definitely got me thinking. The time just felt right. I promised I would give myself a year (that’s how long my savings would last) and see how things went. I’m happy to say people like my work, so I’m still writing!!

Q ~ What’s the best thing that’s happened since you began writing? The worst?
The very first time someone bought one of my books, I was jumping up and down in excitement. Someone on the other side of the world – who I didn’t even know – was reading my book! I could actually call myself a published author! If I’d only ever sold that one copy, I think I would still be happy. I also read each and every review that people post, and every email I get sent too – I get so much joy from hearing how people enjoy my books and what they think about my characters.

As for the worst? Sometimes you have days where it feels like every word that comes out of you is sludge. Those moments, after sitting at a computer for 12 hours straight with not a thing to show for it, when you feel like you’re wasting your time and you might never get another story out again, they’re horrible. A good night’s sleep always fixes it though. I always know even in those times that I’ll come out the other side and things will get better.

Q ~ What are your biggest influences in life? Who are your biggest supporters?
Definitely my partner, who edits all of my work and makes it MUCH better (trust me, you never want to see one of my first drafts).

Q ~ What are your five favourite verbs to use during a love scene?
Ha ha this is embarrassing but I have a really bad habit of saying ‘jumped’ as in ‘she jumped on him.’ In my mind I see it all sexy like, but my partner very firmly crosses out every single instance in favor of things that sound much better like ‘she fell into his arms,’ or ‘they embraced passionately.’

Other verbs I use regularly include caressed, arched, soared and slid. Those ones I’m allowed to keep :)

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release Blind Trust?
I’d love to!

It’s the first short story in a trilogy about a woman (Tiffany), her best friend (Ryan) and a handsome Billionaire (Edward). It explores a love triangle and what I think would really happen if someone tried to make you sign a sexual contract ala Fifty Shades. There are some darker parts to the series, but I think on the whole it’s a very empowering story about a woman standing up for true love and honoring her own values.

I really enjoyed writing the series – Tiffany is a blogger and I got to play around with some really fun stuff there like putting little excerpts of her blogs at the start of each chapter. These let me explore her character and how she is feeling about events in a very natural way. It also let me set up some really exciting ideas over the previous two books for this one - but I won’t say any more about that here (no spoilers!) but I’m really happy with how it worked!

Then there are the sex scenes, which are probably the steamiest I have ever written. Tiffany has always wanted to explore BDSM but never had the chance. Edward is *very* experienced, but if you’ve read the previous books you’ll know that’s not necessarily a good thing. And Ryan? Well, let’s just say Ryan isn’t out of the game and leave it at that, shall we?

Q ~ Do you prefer to write in a small town or big city setting? Why?
That’s a great question. I think both work, depending on the book, but the majority of my romances so far have been big cities just because it’s easier to bump into a billionaire in New York than a 200 person town in the middle of nowhere. I do like the gossip and how everybody knows each other in a small town though. Maybe I’ll try it for my next novel!

Q ~ Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a plotter. I just don’t get how people can sit down and start writing without any idea of where they are going (respect to those who can, though!). My stories do change as I go along and I have new ideas, of course. But I need to know where I’m going, roughly, when I start, or I find it very hard to write.

Q ~ Of the works you’ve written, which is your favourite? Is there also a character that holds a special place in your heart?
Argg! Can I have more than one? I have several favorites, for different reasons:

Services Rendered, because it was the first romance I ever wrote,

Services Bought because my partner says it has my sexiest love scene (between two girls – typical!), and

Blind Trust, (which is reviewed here) because I love how the storyline ties up. It’s very satisfying, and very exciting.

My favorite character of all time is from the series I’m currently writing, called The Puppy and the Prince. Baxter (the puppy in the story) just has so much personality and is so much fun to write.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?
Ooh yes – this is definitely a scoop! I’ve got a series I’m just about to start that I’m really excited about. The heroine is going to be the sister of a ski champion – she has body issues because her sister is younger, athletic and sexual, whereas she is curvy and not athletic at all.

She’s basically given up her own life to look after her younger sister, who doesn’t appreciate her at all.

But then she meets the owner of the ski resort, and well… love blossoms.

The series will be about the romance between our heroine and her handsome hero, and also about learning to be happy with yourself and your bodyweight, and finding the strength to be the person you want to be, not who everyone else expects.

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
Writing and publishing a book is like making love – it’s satisfying and a just a tad scary the first time you do it, and will get easier and better the more you practice. So write something! And then publish it. There really is only one thing every successful author has in common – they actually finished a book and published it.

About the author:

Amazon best-selling author Nikki Steele first began writing romantic erotica for her husband, Max. She lives in Australia, and writes about strong female characters and the billionaires that seduce them. She has two cats and a dog - she doesn't write for them, though they occasionally watch her while she works. She suspects they know more than they let on.

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