Everyone, please welcome Nicki J Marcus who is here to help us get our Halloween fix of vampires.
First of all, please would you introduce yourself to anyone lurking here?
I was born in England but now live in Adelaide, South Australia. I have loved both reading and writing from a young age and am also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
I launched my writing career in 2011 and divide my efforts not only between MM (Asta Idonea) and mainstream (Nicki J. Markus) works but also between traditional and indie publishing. My works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into my mind!
As a day job, I work as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in my spare time I enjoy music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. I also love history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel; all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for my writing.
What made you decide to start writing?
As a child, I loved books. My sister would ask to play with her dolls, and I would ask to read. From as far back as I remember thinking about such things, I wanted to write, and I was always gifted with languages and creative subjects (I hated maths and science), but it was something I kept putting off, thinking I wasn’t good enough. In my late teens/early twenties, I started publishing some fan fiction and received encouragement from readers in regards to that, but then I moved to Australia and finally found the drive to pursue my dreams.
What do you think makes for a good hero and/or heroine?
Flaws. I think any character needs to have character traits to which a reader can relate. I struggle to connect with heroes and heroines who are too good to be true. It’s easier to feel for them, and with them, if we can see something of ourselves in them. No one’s perfect, as they say.
What do you think makes for a good villain?
Like heroes and heroines, I think it’s best if a villain is a well-rounded character. Cartoonish villains work in some scenarios, but for the most part, I prefer to be able to understand the villain’s motives. Why are they doing what they’re doing? Can we have some sympathy for them, even if we don’t agree with them? That’s the sort of villain I like to see: someone whose reasons I can appreciate and comprehend.
Which do you find easier to write: series or standalone stories?
Generally, I’d say standalone. I have occasionally written a story in which the characters and/or the plot had/have the potential to continue, but on the whole, most of my tales reach logical conclusions and it doesn’t make sense to try to stretch them further. The characters have said what they needed to say and done what they needed to do. Plus, by then, there are usually new ones pestering to have their story told.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Bringing the characters who chatter in my head to life and being able to share them with others.
Do you write your stories in order from start to finish or do you write out of order?
Always in order. I couldn’t imagine writing bits here and there. That said, once I have a rough first draft, I sometimes realise that I need a certain scene earlier in the text to foreshadow something or make a plot element clearer, so I will return and add that in at that stage.
Do you plot out the stories before you start writing, or do you let the characters take over? Or is it a bit of both?
When I have the initial idea for a story, I jot down character notes (full profiles if it’s a novella or novel). I also note some key plot points, but that’s the only planning I do—I prefer to see where the characters take me.
Which of your own characters is your favourite and why?
In MF, it’s Loki in The Ragnarök Chronicles. That remains the work closest to my heart, even nearly two years on from publication. Loki is hugely important to me and I completely fell in love with my version of him the moment I started penning his tale. He’s so mischievous, yet, at the same time, he has a darker side and a burden of guilt that make him complex and engaging.
In MM, it’s Saul in Souls for Sale. Interestingly, he’s similar to Loki in some ways. On the surface he’s fun-loving and witty, but once you get to know him, you see there’s more to him. He really grows during the course of the story, after he meets and falls for Tom.
Where do you get your ideas from?
It varies. My shorts tend to be written in response to anthology calls, so you get a prompt and work from there. Some I have ideas for straightaway. Others I have to mull over for a few days. With my novels and novellas it tends to be more organic. For The Ragnarök Chronicles, the opening lines came to me in a dream and the story grew rapidly from there. Dreams, or thoughts I have as I drift off to sleep, are great sources of inspiration for me. Other times I may watch or read something that sparks an idea or gives birth to a character.
What kind of research do you do?
It depends on the story. If I give my character a certain profession, I do a little online research to pick up a few key details on that so it comes across correctly. If I’m setting the work in a less familiar locale, I check street names etc. For contemporary tales it’s fairly light. However, when I’m writing historical pieces I often research online and in books to make sure I keep things as period-accurate as possible in terms of descriptions of things like clothing, homes, society etc. Not to mention the language, especially in dialogue, which I try to keep era-correct.
What are the best and worst things about being a published author?
The best = sharing my stories with readers.
The worst = trying to promote my works and find ways for readers to see them amidst the huge number of books on offer out there. That’s harder than writing the story!
What is your favourite genre to write/read?
I do both pretty widely. The only things I really avoid are chick lit, crime thrillers, and true crime. Some of my favourite genres are literary fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. In reading, I also love classics and non-fiction (mostly history) texts.
If you were a shape-shifter, what animal would you be?
Hmm, that’s tough. Maybe a cat. Or an owl. Wolves are also cool, but I don’t want to be too obvious! 🙂
If you could travel through time to the past, do you think you’d survive in your favourite time period?
Yes, I think so, as I would know what to expect. I’d miss some things, like the Internet, but other than that, as a young lady of high birth (I like to assume I’m wealthy in the past), I would still be able to pursue most of my interests. The lack of flushing toilets might take some getting used to. Still, the maid would empty my chamber pot. 🙂
If you could have any magical power at all, what would it be?
Does immortality count as a power? I’d like to be immortal. I dread old age and death, not least because there are still so many books I want to read and things I want to do. It’s probably why I love vampires so much—never age and never die.
What is your favourite character from fiction (not including your own characters)?
Only one? It’s hard when the choice is so vast, but if you force me, I’d say Saint Germain in the series of historical vampire novels by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. I never grow tired of reading his exploits.
Do you enjoy films and/or TV shows? Which are your favourites?
I do enjoy both. I love so many, it’s hard to list favourites, so I’ll be more general. In TV, I watch some drama shows (both English and foreign language) but have a preference for paranormal and fantasy series. My filmic tastes are wider. I love drama, especially period dramas and European cinema, but I’m also an MCU fangirl and like a good fantasy/paranormal movie. With films, it often depends on my mood. I only like a few top-quality rom-coms and don’t watch things like Westerns, but otherwise I keep my options open. Good story, good script, and good acting are my three main criteria.
Do you like to travel? What are your favourite places to visit?
Absolutely! Although I don’t get to do it so much since moving to Australia, seeing as everywhere is now so far away. I still love dear London, but other favourites are: Prague, Paris, Melbourne, and Reykjavík.
Is there anywhere you would like to visit which you have not had chance to yet?
So many places! I’ve still not been to Russia or any of the Baltic States. I’d love to see Vienna and Salzburg, Warsaw and Budapest. Plus I’d like to return to see more of Northern Italy and Southern Spain. Oh, and Croatia and more of the Greek islands. Not to mention the southern states in North America, as I only did the top of the country on my previous trip. See why I need to achieve immortality?
If you could meet anyone at all, from either the past or present, who would it be and why?
Another tough question as several come to mind. Sissi of Austria, as I feel a real affinity with her. Robespierre, because I find him fascinating. Or John André, to discover if he was as charming as they say. I tend to be drawn to the more tragic figures, as you can see.
Do you like history? If so, what is your favourite era and why?
I love it! My all-time favourite era (in fact it’s the setting of the story I’m promoting here today) is Georgian/Regency England (incorporating the American and French Revolutions). I love the social upheaval at the time (so much was happening around Europe then). I love the manners. I love the fashions. I love the literature and artwork of the time. It was a real period of innovation that eventually led into the industrial revolution of the Victorian age.
I am also fascinated by the Anglo-Saxon period, Ancient Egypt, the early Victorian period, and Medieval/Tudor England.
What are you working on at the moment, and what are we likely to see from you in the coming months?
Well, I have an MM short story releasing on 1 December from Dreamspinner Press as part of their 2016 Advent Calendar. That is a contemporary romance called Santa for Hire. I also already have several MM works (a novella and two anthology pieces) scheduled for release in early 2017.
At this time, I am waiting to hear back on a few other MM and MF stories that are currently under consideration with publishers, so I hope a few of those might be picked up too, and I am finalising two more MM shorts and one MM novella for submission before year’s end, as well as drafting what I hope will be my first MM novel-length work. Phew! I like to keep busy!
Please tell us about your latest book.
Nicki J. Markus
28 October 2016
Heat Level: 1
A family estate falling into ruin. A young woman thrown into an unfamiliar world. Two brothers at odds over their secret. And an ancient malice that threatens destruction and death.
December 1822, Wiltshire, England
When Catherine goes to live with her highborn cousin’s family at Brougham Hall, she expects restrictions on her previously free lifestyle and comments on her lack of social grace. What she does not anticipate is the loss of her heart, nor a web of dark family secrets that threaten the safety of everyone in the house.
Vampire twins Hal and James are Lord Grovely’s guests. Though close in some respects, the different approach each takes to his vampiric nature puts a strain on their relationship. Having hoped for a pleasurable sojourn, they find themselves drawn into an unfolding drama in which their brotherly bond will be sorely tested.
Fireborn Publishing: http://firebornpublishing.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_bookx_info&cPath=4&products_id=270
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M5GJXGJ
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M5GJXGJ
Use Promo Code: 8VJLDMWH
Writing the Regency
The Regency era continues to hold a strong fascination for readers and writers alike. Why is this? For some it’s the Jane Austen ideal: perfect manners, beautiful clothes, and polite romance. For me, however, it is the social upheaval of the time that most draws my attention. The late Georgian era, into the Regency, was a time of revolutions and revolt, of innovation and change. So many of the great figures I admire existed during this period, and that’s what constantly brings me back to it as both a writer and a reader. Naturally, I do love the romantic ideal too, and dream of my own Mr Darcy or Mr Rochester!
For me, writing the Regency is about showing passion within the social restraints of the time, and portraying something of the life of the period. In Brougham Hall this is a snapshot of impoverished country nobility at a small Christmas house party: a family with dark secrets at its heart. I hope readers will enjoy the blend of genres—historical, paranormal, and Gothic—and will fall in love with the hero as much as I did while writing him. In line with the Gothic overtones of the tale, Hal has a darker aspect than many Regency-novel leading men, but who doesn’t like a little bad boy streak now and again?
The country dance ended and the orchestra struck up a new piece. It was one she had never heard before, so she focused her attention on the musicians, interested to see how the song would progress. They were only a few bars into the introduction when James Carrington appeared at her side.
“I do hope my brother is not the only one who will have the pleasure of standing opposite you this evening, Miss Houghton. They are about to commence a waltz. Would you do me the honour?”
“Oh, Mr Carrington, I am afraid I am unfamiliar with both the music and the steps.”
“The waltz requires only one simple step and you will quickly accustom yourself. I am told I am an excellent teacher when it comes to these romantic pursuits and will gladly show you.”
“That’s most kind of you; however—”
Before Catherine could finish her sentence, James Carrington slipped his arm through hers and dragged her forward. She looked about her. She could not refuse to dance with him now they stood with the other couples—that would be unforgivably rude—but she prayed for some intervention. Across the room, she caught Henry Carrington’s eye and sent a silent plea. He started and straightened, taking a step in her direction. But it was too late. The orchestra completed the opening bars and the dance commenced.
Where can we find you and your books on the web?
Amazon Author US: http://www.amazon.com/Asta-Idonea/e/B00RMGGVYO
Amazon Author UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asta-Idonea/e/B00RMGGVYO
I am offering an eBook copy of my MF PNR short story Canção do Amor to two lucky readers. To be in with a chance to win, please comment on this post, telling me your favourite historical period. I will review comments across all participating blogs at the end of the tour and will randomly select the winners, whom I will contact privately by 6 November, as well as announcing them on my FB and Twitter feeds. (Prize value US$0.98 / GB£0.99)
LM reminds everyone to check the Terms & Conditions if you are entering the giveaway here.