DSP: For starters, tell us a bit about you, we like to get to know our authors as a person!
Nicole: Hello Ashley! Right, well, I'm a part time writer, part time real life worker who lives in a townhouse in Melbourne, Australia, with two kittens, two housemates and a fairly revolving door of friends coming in and out. I can generally be found in front of my laptop, with a cup of tea in one hand, a book in the other, incense burning somewhere in the room, and music playing at a not too loud volume. (I am a courteous housemate, after all!)
DSP: Nice to meet you! So tell us, where did you find the inspiration for your most recent book?
Nicole: I love telling this story: I actually got the idea that ended up being Gothic from a dream I had. It's getting to be quite the cliched answer, these days. *smiles* I can't actually say what the scene in the dream was, as that gives away spoilers for the second book (which is, of course, coming soon!) but suffice it to say that that gave me my three main characters. I sat on the idea for almost a year before starting to actually write it, though. It was my Honours year at university. The only reason I started writing when I did was because I just needed something that was a little less dry, a little more fun, and there you have it: Gothic appeared on virtual bookshelves within a year of the first draft!
DSP: So, do you have any kind of ritual for writing? Such as, you have to write with music on, or you can only write when you’re completely alone, etc.
Nicole: I am actually very much like a sports player when I get on a good run of writing: Superstitious as hell! It doesn't much matter which room I start writing in, who is around, what music is playing, etc. What matters is that, once I have a good day of writing, I keep my laptop on that table, I keep that time of day free, I do the best I can to make sure that my “real life” work works around the writing I need to do, and I keep myself in that space day after day until the creative juice of that area dries up. Then I try to find a new place and repeat the process. This has happened in most rooms of my house, as well as several local libraries and, occasionally, a cafe.
DSP: Who is your favorite character in your book, and why? How about the character you had the most trouble with?
Nicole: Aww, I don't even know where to start with this one! I guess Elliott is my favourite, because he has such a complex story. I never have a problem writing an Elliott scene, there is always something for him to be doing. The problem I tend to have is keeping myself from making the Shadows of Melbourne series into the Elliott Huntington show. The character I have had the most trouble with is... Renee, sometimes. It's difficult to stay on the right side of the line between keeping her true to character and making her “too” silly. Meredith is also difficult at times, because I forget that she's always around but, like Elliott, there's almost always something Meredith can be doing.
DSP: Now, when you sit down to write a book, a paragraph, or whatever you‘re working on at the moment, do you just sit down in front of the computer, or do you need an outline of some sort? Is there any other prep you need in order to organize your thoughts either before you write or in the process of writing?
Nicole: This really depends on whether I have to fit my day job into these preparations. I usually work in the mornings so, on my drive back from work, my mind often floats around making a mental list of things I want to write, edit, promote. Stuff like when I'm going to find time to fill out these interviews gets organised then, especially when I'm in the middle of a good run of writing. Promotion still needs to get done otherwise I may as well not write anything. But at the same time, I don't want to cut into my inspiration to write. On the other hand, full days of writing are always started with reading a book in bed for about half an hour before I go downstairs to put on the kettle and make a pot of tea. Sometimes I try to clean the space around me as well while the kettle boils. These activities give me the same space as the car drive home from work to order my thoughts and figure out what exactly I want to get done in a particular day.
DSP: Do you foresee any more books to continue this story? If so, do you think we can get a taste of what’s to come?
Nicole: Oh yes! At the moment, I'm guessing between 6 and 8 books for the Shadows of Melboure set. Of course, there will be more trouble for the werewolves and more focus on the vampires, as well as a completely new supernatural species that nobody is prepared for!
DSP: Other than this most recent story, do you have any ideas for different books that might be published in the future? Care to give us a teaser?
Nicole: I have just sent back final edits on Revelry (Shadows of Melbourne #2) back to my publisher, so that should be coming out in the next month or so. I'm going through Smoke & Mirrors (Shadows of Melbourne #3) right now before handing that to my publisher for a contract, and I've just started making up notes for the book that will become Harsh Light of Day (Shadows of Melbourne #4). So, many many things coming up for this series! There is also another love interest coming up for Dahlia, though she's not going to just forget about Elliott too quickly. It's a twist on the love triangle that I have quite enjoyed writing, and can't wait to share in the next book.
DSP: Who is your greatest inspiration to write? What person makes you believe in yourself, and how?
Nicole: There are many authors out there whose books inspire me again and again but, ultimately, the person who most makes me believe in myself is my fiancee. He reads over all the books I write, goes on walks with me and listens to my crazy ideas, makes suggestions, helps me with pacing on the more action based scenes. He's a strength and an inspiration and lucky doesn't quite cover what it is to have him in my life.
DSP: Do you have any aspirations to be similar or comparable to another author? Why?
Nicole: Patricia Briggs writes a tight paranormal/urban fantasy series in her not particularly well-known Mercy Thompson series which I absolutely think everyone should be reading. Why... because this isn't a woman whose every action is dictated by the people who love her. She's independent and feisty and remains so even when the men in her life are trying to tell her what to do. Because the writing is amazing and convincing and gives you a full idea of the world beyond this single character and her friends. Because it seems as though Briggs is writing a story she wants to, rather than one she thinks will sell. There are lots of reasons. She's just amazing.
DSP: What has been the biggest high since becoming a published author?
Nicole: Watching everyone buy my books. *laughs* Actually, getting to talk about the stories in my head with friends of mine because they have actually read my stories was pretty heady. I'm so used to just being that writer in the corner, with all these stories on her laptop that nobody has ever seen!
DSP: Have you named the computer you use for writing?
Nicole: Katherine. Why yes. Yes, I have.
DSP: Has becoming an author changed you, or the way you think about certain things? If so, how?
Nicole: Not really. I give a lot more time to my writing now than I used to. Before, other things would get priority and I would realise it had been a month since I'd really sat down and written something. Writing isn't just a hobby, it's a craft that I hope to turn into a lifestyle, so it has to be prioritised.
DSP: What is your greatest fear about being an author?
Nicole: That the next book won't get contracted? Or that I'll get writer's block before finishing Shadows of Melbourne right now, actually. This is my first attempt at a series, and it's going well so far. I just hope it continues to.
DSP: Which of the characters in your book do you feel is the most like yourself, and in what way?
Nicole: There is a character who doesn't appear until the end of book two, Revelry, who has a passing resemblance to me. But I wouldn't make her a main character. I tend to base my characters more on other people I know.
DSP: From the first word to the moment it became available for purchase, how long did it take you to write and publish this most recent novel?
Nicole: So, if we count from the first dream I had, 22 months. If we count from the date I started writing, closer to a year. I was very lucky in that I had someone who I knew wanted to look at my work as soon as I started writing again based on some smaller works I had published a number of years ago.
DSP: Are you planning to bring sexy back?
Nicole: When I used to write, I wrote a lot of erotica and, I'm embarrassed to say (not really) that it killed off my sex drive! I didn't really come back into writing to bring the sexy back this time, but if sexy comes into a scene, I'm certainly not going to run the other way!
DPS: If you could be any cartoon character for 24 hours, who would you pick and why?
Nicole: Jessica Rabbit. And do you have to ask? *grins*
DSP: Would the 8-year-old version of yourself kick your ass or praise you for what you’ve done with your life?
Nicole: Hah! She'd be so happy. She'd spin around in circles, before getting dizzy, and then run out into the kitchen to tell my mum that see, all that time she spends reading and writing in her room really isn't just a waste of time!
DSP: What is the last song you listened to?
Nicole: That would be Florence and the Machine's Rabbit Heart (Raise it up) because I LOVE her. And it's on my iPod.
Excellent!! This has been an absolute pleasure, working with and getting to know Nicole has been a total blast. Her work is awesome, her personality is hilariously fun, and I can't wait to read more. Watch out for this firecracker, she's coming out swinging, and there's no end in sight to her success. Even though you don't need it, good luck in all your endeavors, Nicole!!