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Interview with Nikki Nelson-Hicks

She was born in Nashville, TN but lived in California, Budapest, Muscat and stopped in half a dozen places in between; she doesn’t really call any place home. She’s married to a former USMC Sniper who currently does Roman reenactments, so her garage looks like the set of Spartacus vomited in there. She has two adult children. One of them is a professional illustrator, and the other one is doomed to be as weird as his mother. She shares her domicile with five cats and a pair of dogs; two Roombas have choked to death on their fur.

She is a writer of several different genres. She has been called “the undisputed Queen of the Warped and the Weird” and “the lovechild of Flannery O’Connor and H.P. Lovecraft.” She’s written horror, sci-fi, steampunk, mystery and has one Sherlock Holmes story under her belt (but two others in the making). Much like her past, she doesn’t settle in one trope for very long. Imagination is a big place; why settle for one story?

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I spent the night in a room where four children were murdered with an ax.
To be more specific, they were murdered BEFORE I slept in the room. They were killed in 1912. Just to make that absolutely clear. I’ve never killed any kids except in stories.

Q.2 Tell us about your latest book release?
The last book I released in February 2021 was an anthology of horror stories called Stone Baby and Other Strange Tales. It’s available on Amazon.

Q.3 When did you decide to write The Accidental Detective Omnibus series?
It started as a challenge. I was at a convention, and a publisher was getting stories for an anthology he wanted to produce called Poultry Pulp. The challenge was to write a short story in the pulp genre, but the plot has to revolve around chickens. And I said, what the hell? And took him up on it.

I had developed the character of Jake Istenhegyi but had no story for him. I decided that this could be fun, just a quick little one-off story. Chickens made me think of voodoo. Voodoo makes me think of New Orleans. Voila! I wrote A Chick, a Dick, and a Witch Walk into a Barn. Unfortunately, the anthology never came to pass.

Fortunately, the publisher liked the story so much that he asked if I wanted to make it into a series. And like most things in my life, I just fell into it. I wrote six stories for that publishing house, and when the rights reverted back to me, I decided to rewrite, reedit and revise the Omnibus stories.

Q.4 How do you come up with the name of your books?
Most of the titles come up with strange, weird happenstances. For instance, the first Jake story, A Chick, a Witch, and a Dick Walked into a Barn, was my husband's brainchild. We were brainstorming titles, and he just spun it out, and it stuck.

Another title for Jake's story came up while talking about the story with a friend. He asked, “So, what’s it about?” “Goons, golems, and cold stone bitches.” BOOM! There’s the title. By the way, that is my favorite Jake story. Others like The Galvanized Girl, Rumble, The Perverse Muse… just popped up in my head because they fit the story.

Q.5 If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t wait for anyone to give you permission. Read good books. Read terrible books. Find a tribe. Don’t buy the bullshit that you need to get a degree to be a writer.

Q.6 How do you select the name of your characters?
Jake Istenhegyi has the most concrete story. When we lived in Budapest, my children went to a school on Istenhegyi Ute. My husband and I thought it was a great name. We joked, “Jake Istenhegyi, Private Eye!” That was in 1998. I didn’t write the first Jake story until 2005. I sat on that character like an egg! Other names I glean from obituaries. I collect interesting obituaries, and I have books that I often pluck names from when I need one.

Q.7 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
I currently have 10 books out there. Which is my favorite? That’s Sophie’s choice kind of question. I love all my stories. I guess I’m most proud of Sherlock Holmes and the Shrieking Pits, mainly because I love the idea that I have a story in that universe.

Q.8 How long does it take you to write a book?
Depends on the story. Once, I was asked by a friend to write a story for his steampunk/superhero anthology. I told him I didn’t know much about steampunk, but I would give it a go. When did he need it? IN SEVEN DAYS. And I did it. I wrote the story in 6 days. It wasn’t great, and when the rights back to me, I re-edited it and republished it under the title Revenge of the Blood Red Maid.

Other stories take a bit more time because of research. Sherlock Holmes and the Shrieking Pits took about six months because of research and editing. My Jake Istenhegyi stories took about 3-6 months because of research and editing. The story I am working on now, Crown of Feathers, I am in research hell. I think this one will be a year-long project, but I think it’s going to be a really great story.

Q.9 What were your feelings when your novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
Mixed. The first cover that the publisher made for Jake Istenhegyi was TERRIBLE. Awful. Omg. It looked like something on a bodice ripper romance. Completely NOT Jake Istenhegyi. I contacted the publisher and complained. He tried to pull contractual powers to use whatever cover he wanted since he bought it, and I told him that was his prerogative, but I would never write for him again.

So, I got a new cover, and it was BRILLIANT. As a matter of fact, when I reissued the Accidental Detective series under my own house, I used the same artist, Jeffrey Haynes, that the publisher used. He is my go-to artist for Jake and Sherlock Holmes stories.

Q.10 Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
My goal is to get representation and make my way into one of the Big Five publishing houses. Indie publishing is great. I love the freedom to do what I want and put out whatever stories I want to, but it would be nice to see my stuff in bookstores.

Q.11 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
Probably the weirdest thing I do is wear hats. I have fedoras, a deerstalker hat, beanies, skullcaps, baseball caps. Something about the compression on my skull helps my monkey mind ADHD brain to focus.

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
It’s been my experience that many of the times I’ve suffered from writer’s block, it was because the spine of the story was broken. Something in the story was OFF. So, I have to go back and see where it went off the rails. Sometimes, that means a complete rewrite, especially if I realize that I’m telling the wrong character’s story.

Q.13 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I don’t find it difficult. People are people, more or less. I do find it very illuminating to tackle problems from different viewpoints as gender might dictate.

Q.14 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
I am a huge devotee of Terry Pratchett and each of his Discworld stories. I am especially fond of The Watch series. Sam Vimes is the best character of all time. I love Pratchett because his stories delightfully crafted cutting satire on politics, religion, and society. BUT he is never preachy.

Q.15 How does your family/friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
I’ve never had any problem being the Weirdo in the room. It’s never been an issue for me. My husband has said that I’m not the easiest person to live with when I am deep in a project because…I’m not here. My brain is always on the project. I think that makes him feel lonely.

Q.16 How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I’m an organic writer in that I let the story grow from the problem/plot. I have a graph of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and Dan Harmon’s Story Circle on my desk to keep me on target.

Q.17 What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Read a lot of different genres. Find a tribe of people that will help you find your voice. Write crappy stuff. You never know when you’ll hit gold.

Q.18 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Garden or travel.

Q.19 Who designed your book covers?
A. Jeffrey Haynes
( did the Jake Istenhegyi and the Sherlock Holmes cover.
Todd Keisling ( did the Rumble cover.
Brenna Gael ( did the cover for Gunn Takes a Gander.
I purchased all of the other covers on, which is a great resource for authors on a budget.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
Recently, someone told me that he wished he were as successful as I have been with my writing. That took me by surprise. I’m successful? When did that happen? Why didn’t anyone tell me? So, I sat back and started thinking about what the meaning of success is and how to recognize it. I found that every time you finish a story and you put it out there into the world, it’s a success. Whether or not it makes you a penny, it’s a success. Creating a world out of NOTHING is freaking magic. And it should be celebrated, every time, as a success.

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