Nicki J. Markus was born in England but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
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, 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, but then I moved to Australia and finally found the drive to pursue my dreams. I had my first original work published in 2011 and haven’t stopped since.
This story took me nine months to prepare, from first idea to finished, edited book. Once the story and characters took hold of me, I simply had to keep writing. Of all my stories, under both my pen names, this remains the one closest to my heart.
What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
For me, what’s great about speculative fiction, be it fantasy, paranormal, or sci-fi, is the opportunity to be completely creative. You aren’t bound by current technology or conventions—anything goes. The only limits are the bounds of your own imagination.
Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
My characters. I completely fell in love with Loki as I wrote him, and Cassandra is a lot like me. I loved telling their stories and dreaming up adventures for them.
Your main character walks into a bar. What happens?
All the women stare and drool, while the men seethe with jealousy. *lol*
What is the most fascinating thing about your main character?
His hidden vulnerability. He puts on an outward show of confidence, but within, he’s broken, and it takes a lot for him to get over events of the past.
If I were stuck in a room with your main character, what would we be doing?
Well, I know what I’d be doing with him. *ahem* As for someone else…. You’d probably be listening to his stories. He’s a great talker and loves to share tales of his exploits.
How do you police your production? Do you have a word quota, or a page goal, maybe you work for a set amount of time? Do you place demands on yourself when you’re working? How do you meet those demands?
It depends on the story. Obviously, I need to work to a deadline for anthology calls, and have key dates by which I have to finish certain drafts. For other works, I can be more flexible, but I try to have a vague end date in mind. For example, with my current novel-in-progress, I am about to start the fourth draft. My aim is to have that done by the end of March and then proofread and submit in April.
I don’t set myself daily word count goals or anything like that. It’s too much pressure when life can sometimes get in the way. I simply write as much as I can, when I can. Although, I aim to do something towards my writing each day, whether it’s a working on new story, editing an old one, doing some online promo, or a combination of the three.
Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?
A lack of self-belief. Low sales, sudden publisher closures…. These things can get me down, because I feel like I’m putting in so much time and emotion and seeing nothing in return. When that happens, I have to pick myself up, dust myself off, and remind myself why I write: because I love telling stories. Even if just one person reads and enjoys one of my books, it’s worth it.
If you could change any one thing about the writing industry, what would it be?
This recent trend for selling novel-length eBooks at 99¢. It devalues an author’s work, and anyone who prices higher risks being ignored by readers. As an avid reader myself, I don’t want to see prices ridiculously high, but we need to strike a balance where the cost per book is fair to both the reader who wants a bargain and the author who poured hours and hours into creating the story.
If you could live anywhere other than where you are, where would it be?
Before I ended up in Australia, I wanted to move to Prague. It’s still one of my favourite places. I could also see myself in Paris. I love Reykjavík, too, but the isolation might get to me long-term, so perhaps I’d just vacation there. Or there’s always good old London, which I do miss at times.
You have a chance to hang out with any literary character for one day. Who would it be and what would you do?
I can’t decide. Can I pick two?
Enjolras from Les Misérables, because I love people who are passionate about their goals. We’d hang out in the Café Musain and discuss the revolution.
Gareth from the Vampire Empire series. We’d spend the day in swashbuckling adventures with airships and vampires.
A publishing house gets ahold of you and wants you to take over writing an established character. What is the dream? What established character would you love to write?
The first that came to mind when I read this questions was Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre, as I enjoy writing dark, brooding Byronic heroes.
If you could choose any other writer, living or dead, to be your mentor, whom would you choose and why?
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. I love her writing style and the meticulous historical research that goes into her Saint Germain books.
Nicki launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts between MM (writing as Asta Idonea) and mainstream works (writing as Nicki J. Markus). Her stories span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!
As a day job, Nicki works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.
Amazon Author US: amazon.com/Nicki-J-Markus/e/B004JM0UC8
Amazon Author UK: amazon.co.uk/Nicki-J-Markus/e/B004JM0UC8