Claire: Please can you tell us a little about yourself?
Nina: Oh, dear. I always feel like a deer in headlight when asked this question. There’s so much to tell, it’s hard to know where to begin. I grew up in Southern California, but now live in Georgia, I worked in academic public relations for decades but now write novels. In lots of ways I feel like a cat with nine lives. My writing career feels a lot like I’m beginning yet another new chapter.
Claire: When and why did you start writing?
Nina: I started writing as soon as I could hold a crayon, but didn’t turn seriously to fiction writing until about six years ago. I have a degree in journalism, worked in public relations for many years, and wrote for magazines and newspapers. More recently, I had my own small communications agency specializing in public policy framing. Fiction-writing, however, is a whole different animal and I’m still learning the complex craft of it.
Claire: What inspired you to write The Queen of Swords?
Nina: Would you believe me if I said Twlight? I started writing the book that after several rewrites ended up being The Queen of Swords after reading the Twilight saga. As much as I liked the books, I thought it lacked the elements that make a vampire a vampire: mesmerizing sexuality, fascinating history, observations on humanity, blood-drinking. So, I set out to write the kind of book I wanted to read and eventually ended up with The Queen of Swords.
Claire: You obviously did a lot of research into witchcraft and vampires, did you enjoy it?
Nina: I love doing research. Probably a little too much. I learn so many cool things I want to put them all in the book, so I have to be careful to pick and choose the things that enhance the story without detracting from it. A big challenge for me as a writer.
Claire: Do you have any other projects going on?
Nina: I’m so glad you asked. As it happens, I now have two completed manuscripts “out there.” One is another paranormal romance with a Scottish faery vampire hero titled The Knight of Wands. It will launch a four-part series called The Knights of Avalon. Each of the books tells the story of a different Knight of Queen Morgan Le Fay, who rules over an Amazonian colony on the mythical island of Avalon. Like The Queen of Swords, the books will feature divination, mythology, magic, and Scottish history, though the series is not related to TQOS. In The Knight of Wands, both the hero and heroine are astrologers. In the second book, The Knight of Cups (my WIP), the hero reads tarot cards and uses BDSM role-playing to keep a rein on his emotions. Who will publish the series is a question mark right now, but I hope to have an answer soon. I also have a political thriller—very different from my paranormals—releasing on August 30. Publisher is Crushing Hearts & Black Butterfly, a sister imprint of Vamptasy. Also in the works is another paranormal/urban fantasy about a merman who gets caught in an oil spill and a possible sequel to The Queen of Swords.
Claire: What books do you like reading?
Nina: My first love is literature. What can I say? I love gorgeous prose, deeply drawn characters, and superb storytelling. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of historical romances. I’ve never read much in the romance genre until I started writing novels that fall under that umbrella, which is probably why my books don’t stay within the lines. I write what’s in my heart, not what I think will sell. That might also explain why it took me six years to find a publisher for The Queen of Swords. It’s not a mainstream romance book by any means.
Claire: Do you have any favourite authors?
Nina: I have two who rise above the crowd of authors whose work I adore and admire: Diana Gabaldon and Jane Austen. I’m also quite fond of Anne Rice as an author.
Claire: Do you have any advice that could help wannabe writers?
Nina: Don’t give up, be humble and professional, and work hard to hone your craft and promote your books. The market is crowded and noisy. It’s extremely difficult for a novel to be heard above the din. Mine’s getting incredible reviews and still is way down in the rankings—something I’m working hard to change at the expense of new writing!
Claire: What do you like doing when you’re not reading?
Nina: When I’m not completely consumed by promotion mode, I write almost every day all day long. I also make historic dolls and do home staging at times for my sister who’s a realtor. I lead a quiet, reclusive life for the most part. My only friends are on Facebook.
Claire: When did you start feeling like an author?
Nina: You might as well ask: do I feel like an author yet? I think it was when my book went live on Amazon.com. Now I feel I can confidently call myself an author. Now, if I can confidently call myself a bestselling author one day, even better.
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