Interview with Nicola Claire

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I'm a Kiwi, through and through. I had the wonderful luck of growing up in the North Island of New Zealand, or "The Land Of The Long White Cloud", (the Māori call it Aotearoa). I've lived up North, down South, and in the "Big Smoke" Auckland City, all of which feature at some point in my stories.

Five years were spent as a Paramedic in Auckland, so I know that city pretty well. From its spectacular beauty, to its hidden secrets, I've probably caught a glimpse of it all. And that's why I choose Auckland as the setting for most of my books. Even though I've moved on, the City Of Sails managed to give me lasting memories of a vibrant, lively, young and slightly gritty place - what more could you want for the backdrop of a good novel?

Mixed with my time living overseas in England and Germany when I was young, New Zealand has shaped me, moulded me, into the writer I am today. We Kiwis have a sense of humour, are loyal to a fault, are passionate about our country, and are pretty down to earth kinds of folks. I hope that some of that abiding love comes through in the worlds I've created in Auckland, New Zealand in all of my books.
When did you first start writing?
The first memory I have of writing a "book" was in Primary (or Elementary) School. I was so proud of that story about a naughty little monkey and still have the stapled together booklet hidden away somewhere. Throughout school I wrote countless little tales, allowing my imagination to run free from time to time, but it wasn't until after I'd had children, lived life a little, seen a bit of the world, that I felt ready to really let those creative juices flow.

My first attempt at an adult full length novel was a science fiction story about aliens. Yeah, I know, a rather big undertaking. Suffice it to say, that story will never see the light of day. But I had the bug, I wanted to get some of those fantasies swirling around inside my head out. Even if it was just for me.

So I read, and read, and read some more. I analysed what genre I liked best, and what exactly it was I liked about it. Then I worked out what others liked about that genre too. At some point it all fell together and the first four books of the Kindred Series came to mind. I just started tapping away on the keyboard one morning and didn't stop for four or five months.

All the practice runs from when I was just a little kid, throughout all the daydreaming fantasy stories I'd played out in my mind, to my failed - but highly constructive - attempt at Science Fiction, paid off. I found my writing voice and haven't looked back since.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is set in my all time favourite genre: Paranormal Romance. I'm a romantic at heart, but an even bigger sucker for the supernatural. I crave a good love story, but adore the rich and complex and imaginative worlds the paranormal can provide. I mean, let's face it, the options are almost limitless. As long as the make-believe world you're creating is really quite believable in the end.

And OK, maybe people who wield the earth's elemental powers and were created by gods is not really believable, but I guarantee the experiences they have are. And not only that, despite those fantastical and exciting abilities there is also a rich world backed by Greek mythology to give a sense of depth, and it's all rounded out with a little quantifiable science fiction to give an unusual twist to the storyline in the end.

I wholeheartedly support author J.R. Ward's premise of "plausible surprises" in my books, even the mystical needs to make sense, and preparing the reader for the shock and awe to come is an important part of the writing process.

So, keep an eye out for my new Paranormal Romance series: Elemental Awakening. Love may not always be enough, but you can be sure there is a whole lot of it in "The Tempting Touch Of Fire."
What motivated you to become an indie author?
For me, becoming an Indie Author was a conscious choice. As an avid reader myself, I was blown away with the convenience, variety and cost of purchasing eBooks on-line, compared to conventional brick and mortar bookstore options. The reading world was being transformed before my eyes and I wanted in on it.

It never crossed my mind to publish my books any other way, and nothing has changed over the past couple of years either. I am still one hundred percent dedicated to the self publishing revolution and wholeheartedly support Indie Authors worldwide.

I believe independently published books are becoming more mainstream, and with care and attention matching, if not surpassing, some of the big players out there.

But to sum it all up, there are several important things that stand out for me with Indie Author books: Convenience. Immediacy. Variety. Cost.

Downloading an eBook is easy.
Once found and purchased, you can be reading it within minutes.
Many of the independently published books out there are brilliant, and without the Indie Author revolution they would have been missed altogether or delayed in reaching their audience.
And you can't deny, Indie Author eBooks are better value for money, especially when so many give strategic copies away for free.

I'm an Indie Author and proud of it!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Well, what can I say about Smashwords?

I think the biggest contribution Smashwords has made to my success, is opening up markets that as a New Zealander would not have been available otherwise. They also taught me a lot about formatting my eBook, preparing it for publication, and the whole process around getting your book out to the masses.

Now, I'm not sure I've reached "masses", but I am sure that without Smashwords help I wouldn't have reached nearly the number of readers that I have.

So, thanks Smashwords, you guys rock!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love writing. Pure and simple. I have never had a job that has fulfilled me in the way writing books has. I feel privileged and enormously lucky to call myself an author, and to actually be able to do it for a living.

But in order to adequately answer this question, the greatest joy I get out of writing has to be split into two main categories for me.

One: The joy of getting to know a character. Of falling in love with them, getting frustrated with them. And most importantly finding out how it all goes for them in the end. I have a fair idea of where my stories are going when I start tapping away on the keyboard, but I don't necessarily know the path they will take until my characters walk it. That for me is joy. Discovering the twist and turns the story takes, as though I'm a reader along for the ride.

And two: Hearing from readers of my books. Finding out I touched them through the words of my story in some way. Made them feel. Made them moved to such a degree that they either had to tell the world, or contact me. Nothing beats corresponding with a person who fell in love with one of my books.

I write for me and I write for my readers. Everything else is secondary.
What do your fans mean to you?
One of two reasons why I write is because of the fans. Straight up, without that feedback it would be a very lonely and insular career. But when a fan posts on Facebook, or massages me through GoodReads, or simply drops me a line via email, the day brightens, the sun, whether shining or not, feels warm and my feet float a few centimetres off the floor.

We all need a little love, and I LOVE hearing from fans of my work.

It's important to me that they get what they want in the end, or as close to it as the story in my mind can allow. I listen to what they like, to their concerns for a character, or their frustrations with a storyline, sometimes smiling to myself because I know what's going to happen in the end, and I want to make it perfect for them. I can't always, but the will to do so grows exponentially whenever I get feedback from a fan. I don't know if they realise the power they wield!

Every time someone contacts me to let me know they liked my work, the desire to do the very best that I can is reinforced. So, keep 'em coming. Let me know and I promise you'll always play an important part in the final story. You'll always play an important part in why I write the next line.
What are you working on next?
I have so many stories going around inside my head, sometimes I wonder if I look a little spacey. Several current projects are taking up most of my daydreaming time, including the next Sweet Seduction book, as well as the next Mixed Blessing Mystery one as well.

But as of today, the editing and final preparation of The Tempting Touch of Fire (Book one in the Elemental Awakening series) is the piece of work that is currently on my mind. I loved writing Theo and Casey's story and can't wait to get it out there and see how readers find it. I'm super keen to get on to the next story too, having spent some of my precious editing time arcing out storylines for book two.

For me, it's important to write when the mood takes me. I find my best work is when the creativity flows and isn't forced. So although in the throes of editing a book, I did just take time out to write the first few chapters of a different series. Sometimes I can be writing up to three different books at once.

If the mood takes me, I'm there.

So, keep an eye out for new books in Sweet Seduction, Mixed Blessing Mystery and Elemental Awakening. Oh, and I'm toying with a contemporary romantic suspense story about a paramedic with a twist. Is it any wonder I look a little spacey sometimes?
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh my, that is a very long list. But not surprisingly one that is predominantly filled with paranormal romance writers - my genre of choice.

The person that influenced me the most, and made me think about putting myself and my stories out there, is New Zealander Nalini Singh. I love her Guild Hunter series.

Follow that up, in no particular order, with J.R. Ward, Karen Chance, Patricia Briggs, Kresley Cole, Karen Marie Moning, Richelle Mead, Dianne Duvall and Darynda Jones.... whew! And still there's so many more I have enjoyed over the years.

J.K. Rowling has a special place in my heart too. Love me some Harry Potter, that's for sure.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
So much.

My kids and my hubby.
The next scene to write in my latest book I've just dreamt about.
Coffee.
Catching a trout on the Tauranga-Taupo or Hinemaiaia Rivers.
Going for a walk along the foreshore of beautiful Lake Taupo.
Coffee.
Seeing if I've received any more nice reviews overnight.
The book I'm currently reading.
Going out on our boat and soaking up the sun.
Oh, and did I mention coffee?
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
With my family. I have two young, energetic and gorgeous boys. And a husband who means the world to me. Without them I couldn't write. I wouldn't have an everlasting romance story of my own to call upon, or the countless humorous moments with the kids to fill me to the brim with joy. I strongly believe none of my books would have been nearly as good as they are without my family. And that's not even considering the technical support my hubby offers. Just being with them makes my world a better place.

So, when not writing I'm doing something with them. We love to fish for trout, either on the lake at Taupo or up one of the world class fly-fishing rivers nearby. In winter we ski on Mt Ruapehu, at the Whakapapa Ski-field. In summer we swim at the end of our street in the bay. We go for drives and have picnics. The boys help me bake cakes, and we all help hubby when he's got a project on, like the chicken coop to beat all chicken coups he built a couple of summers ago.

There's always something to do, and we always do it together. My family is how I spend my down time, and I thank my lucky stars every day for each one of them.
Published 2013-08-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.