Author Interview: Nikki Turner
1. What inspired you to become a writer?
My first career was in the theatre and I’ve been working for twenty years as an actress. About 5 years ago I got tired of the constant castings and attendant rejections. I had written theatre scripts and always enjoyed the process, so it seemed a logical next step to try my hand at writing a novel. I wanted something that I would have control over and that I enjoyed doing. I soon realised I’d picked another industry that’s just as full of rejection. Over the course of five years I’ve written four books and it’s only the latest one, The Vulture King, that has finally been picked up for publication. It’s been quite the learning curve.
2. What's your favourite book of all time?
Do other people find this easy to answer? I honestly have no idea. Different books have had such a big influence on me at different stages in my life. If absolutely forced, I’d pick Persuasion by Jane Austen. I first read it at school and no matter how many times I reread it over the years, I still find it such an amazing character study. I just have to mention how much I adore Terry Pratchett too, but I can’t pick a favourite of his books. I love them all.
3. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Practise your craft. Very few people sit down and write a masterpiece on their first try. Read books on writing. In fact, just read a lot in general, you learn so much from your favourite authors. I also found it really helpful finding a group of writing friends on Twitter. They have read and critiqued so much of my work, kindly and constructively. I think the biggest growth I experienced as a writer was when I found this trusted group of people.
4. What is the most frustrating thing about being an author?
That you are still so much at the mercy of the gatekeepers of the publishing industry. Yes, I know many people successfully self-publish but the idea has always terrified me. I have always wanted to walk this road with the support and guidance of a publisher.
5. What's your favourite movie?
The Princess Bride. There are lines in that movie that still absolutely crack me up. Plus, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” is a catchphrase in my family.
6. What's better, dogs or cats?
Dogs all the way. And even better if they’re rescue dogs.
7. If money was no object, how would you spend your life?
I’d live on the Greek island Skopelos and swim in the Mediterranean every day that I could. The rest of the day would be spent writing before ending off with fresh seafood and wine at a beach restaurant. That’s my version of heaven. Oh, I’d love to own a theatre too. I’d write plays and hire all my friends to act in them.
8. Do you draw from personal experiences when you write?
Definitely. My eldest daughter has ADHD and my youngest is unilaterally deaf. So, I write fantasy featuring characters who are differently abled as I believe it’s important for kids to see that we all have the ability to do extraordinary things.
9. What is more important? Strong characters or a strong storyline?
I don’t believe one is more important than the other. If it’s all storyline, then why do we care? If it’s all characters, that gets boring pretty quickly. It’s the balance of both that makes an exceptional story.
10. What advice would you give to first time writers when submitting their work to publishers or literary agents?
Don’t give up. Keep working on and improving your writing. So perhaps nobody wants your first book but maybe the second or even the third is the one where you really nail it. Also, get other eyes on your work. Find people to beta read for you and send in a draft that is as polished as you can possibly make it.
Orphaned Aram has survived alone for five years, his only friend a thieving magpie, who acts as his eyes. For in the Carrionlands, magic comes at a terrible price. It costs you your sight, hearing or voice.
When he rescues a voiceless girl, Bina, from being sacrificed to the Vulture King, he is taken in by an underground resistance group. They reveal that Aram’s mother is alive, but the king is using her and other slave magicians to fuel his unnaturally long life.
With his mother’s magic being rapidly drained, she doesn’t have long to live. If Aram can find the Radix, a hidden magical power source, there’s a slim chance he might be able to save her. But to get there, he must cross the Barrens where every living creature is out to kill you. That’s if one of his new companions doesn’t betray him first.
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Nicole Turner is a Cape Town based author and actress. After graduating from the University of Stellenbosch with an honours degree in drama and English, she has worked as an actress, choreographer and scriptwriter. She currently runs a musical theatre production company, teaches drama and writes books filled with magic and adventure. Since she was little, books have been her refuge and more than anything she wishes that magic was real. She and her husband Jon live under the benevolent dictatorship of their daughters Sophia and Abigail. Her hobbies are reading, dancing and adopting as many dogs as she can sneak into the house.