Nikki Andrews has worked as a picture framer, community activist, and stable hand, but in her real life she’s a writer and editor. She writes cozy mysteries, of which Framed is her latest, as well as sci fi, YA, and assorted short stories, songs, and poetry. She edits freelance and for two indie publishers. In her spare time, she makes jam, serves as a river monitor, and falls off horses and mountains. She has been known to make train noises in front of the local planning board, and is still waiting for her Formula One Ferrari with driving lessons from Fernando Alonso.
SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:
#1: What do you enjoy the most about writing?
Who was it who said, “I don’t enjoy writing. I enjoy having written”? Seriously, it’s not that bad. I love that moment when the words explode out of my fingers, the characters urge me on, and the story grows into a living world all by itself. It does happen. It’s called “flow,” and it also happens to me when I’m gardening or stitching or making music. It’s like that moment of unity with a horse, a perfect turn at speed, singing in harmony, or summiting a mountain.
#2: What was your earliest writing experience?
I’m told I made up a song about ladybugs when I was five. I’m not sure I remember that, although it’s definitely the kind of thing I’d do. The one I remember is a song I made up as I walked through the woods to my aunt’s house. I was so annoyed at forgetting the words that I made up new ones on my way home. I still have a piece I wrote in fifth grade, describing an afternoon ride with my beloved mare, Irish. My teacher scrawled across the bottom, “This is beautiful!” Unfortunately, it was years before I realized I could do it again.
#3: Describe a day in your writing life:
Not every day goes like this, but a lot of them do: Check my bedside notepad and decipher any notes I may have left overnight. Get DH off to work, sit down in my jammies and bring up yesterday’s efforts. Shower with my characters. Jot down whatever comes to me. Take care of whatever chores need doing. After lunch, if all goes well, I settle down for a couple hours with my work. Edit some other folks’ work. After supper, review and make notes for tomorrow. Sweet dreams.
#4: What authors influenced you and how?
As a kid I devoured Walter Farley’s books about the Black Stallion. If he influenced me, it was to write what I love. I stole my brother’s Hardy Boys books when I could. I never was much for the girly-girl books my mother thought I should read. Later, Ray Bradbury entranced me with his imagination and his breathless, rapturous writing. Is there a pattern here? Adventure, mystery, otherworldliness? Stephen Jay Gould and Carl Sagan for clarity of thought, Tony Hillerman for spare rich beauty, Anne McCaffery for people skills, the Indigo Girls for romance. (Have you read their lyrics? Your heart like a dam when it breaks. Fantastic.)
#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?
~Yes, I can write.
~Yes, I deserve the time to write.
~Yes, it’s real work.
~Yes, there is always more to learn.
~No, the book will not sell itself. Promotion is absolutely necessary.
#6: Describe your writing method:
Throw it on the wall and see what sticks. Outlines do not help me, although for my longer works I usually have a mental map of where I want to go. Songs and poems are gifts from the universe; short stories lure me out of my daily routine, bouncing just out of reach until they turn around and pierce my heart with their unexpected conclusions.
#7: Tips for aspiring writers:
~Learn your craft. Yes, this does mean boring old grammar. You can’t build a house until you know how to hammer a nail.
~Read and reread. The first time, read for pleasure. The second time, read to understand why it pleased you. Take notes of what worked and what didn’t, and apply the information to your own work.
~Submit to critique from strangers. Find a group or partner, either live or online, and generously share both your own work and your critiques of theirs. You’ll learn more from people you don’t have to live with.
~Write and rewrite. Do it again. Then do it over.
~The first manuscripts should probably stay in the desk drawer.
~Trust your editor.
About Nikki’s Book Framed, a cozy mystery now available from Wild Rose Press:
- When a long-lost painting turns up at Brush & Bevel, a decade-old mystery is reawakened. What really happened to artist Jerry Berger and his model Abby Bingham? Was it a murder-suicide, as the police proclaim, or was it something far more sinister? Gallery owner Ginny Brent and her loyal staffers, Sue Bradley and Elsie Kimball, each take a different path to unravel the mystery. Together, their discoveries start to form a cohesive whole. But as they get closer to the solution, they discover to their horror that art is not the only thing that can be framed.
“Were they lovers?” Jenna asked, wide-eyed. “You always hear that about artists and their models.” Then she blushed.
“Oh, no! Jerry never had any interest in her as a woman.”
“But they died,” Jenna prompted, absorbed in the story.
Ginny nodded. “Ten years ago last winter. They went missing during a snowstorm. The police went nuts trying to find them. At first, everyone assumed they had just run off together, but it wasn’t like that. Mike, her husband, really stirred things up, insisting something had happened. He forced the cops to look into it.
“It took the authorities about three weeks to find them. A hunter came across them in the snow.” She looked rather sick. “The coyotes had been at the bodies, but it looked like he killed her and then himself. Mike moved out west and never came back.”
She sighed and returned to the present. “All of which means you may have a gold mine on your hands, Jenna. Let us clean it up, verify it is what I think it is. There may even be a signature under all the grease and smoke. Would you feel better if we came up with an agreement about what happens then?”
Sue and Elsie excused themselves and went to the workshop down the stairs from the gallery. “I’d forgotten he killed himself,” Sue said.
“Don’t you believe it,” Elsie replied. “Jerry wouldn’t hurt a fly. That was no murder/suicide. It was a double murder.”
Other(s): The Wild Rose Press: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=5515
Framed will be available on all vendors on April 18, 2014
Connect with Nikki:
Fan email address: firstname.lastname@example.org