The Write Way Café welcomes aspiring author Nikki Weston, whose writing took off during a ride in a taxi from hell on a hillside in Sri Lanka.
When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
The first time I really wanted to try was 2008 on my honeymoon (sure, I was in love with my husband. And also, Stephen King’s The Stand). There we were, bouncing down a Sri Lankan hillside in the taxi from hell, I turned to my husband and said "You know, I could write a book." Ever the pragmatist, DH says in an exasperated voice, "Would you ever stop talking about it and just do it?" Seems I must have mentioned it to him once or twice before that, or maybe he wanted me to do it before we both got killed in aforementioned taxi.
Tempted by the Italian Tycoon is a contemporary category-length story set in Italy. Most of my stories "belong" to my heroes, and this Italian real estate developer is no exception. Luca DiMauro fights through throes of grief for ownership of a decrepit mansion that London student Stella Sullivan calls home. He’ll do anything to get it—including losing the woman he loves. But destroying the place can never destroy his pain of the present or the past.
How do you do research?
Eeek! Research and I don’t get along. In fact, I do as little research as I can get away with. And when I can’t, I turn to the Internet. It is generally for geographical references or getting my facts right on things like legal matters. I set a timer and when it goes off, I move gleefully back to Word! My settings are based on, or inspired by, the places I’ve been lucky enough to visit over the years, including Australia and New Zealand, the USA and Canada, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, and all over Europe. All beautiful spots, gorgeous enough to live on in my mind ;-).
Where did the idea for your story come from?
Back in December, I had to hang my hat on a long and demanding Suspense manuscript. To say it was a chore is an understatement. It pulled the life and soul out of me, and darn it, I wanted to enjoy my writing again. So I decided to take a modified version of "my story" – that of my husband and I, and our long-but-ultimately-smart split, years before we married. Clueless as to how to bridge the gap of a two-year split of absolutely no contact, I reverted to the only approach I knew – swilled a drink in a Dublin bar at the work gathering we were both attending, strode over to him, and asked him if we could go somewhere to talk. Note: "talk" is an exaggeration of what we did. In fact, it’s a downright lie.
Why did you pick the setting you did?
Mostly to tie in with the publisher I’m targeting (Harlequin Presents), but as the story progressed, my kick-ass Alpha Italian hero seeks isolation, in more ways than one. My Cinderella heroine hails from lovely London, and rediscovering her strength reflects the robust feel I have always gotten from my nearest neighboring capital.
Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
I believe that main characters should always carry the best and the worst of real people. So yes, my heroine’s courage would reflect my own (see aforementioned striding to retrieve my husband), my hero’s smarts and wit reflect that of my husband. Physically, my hero was inspired by awesome Australian Formula 1 driver, Daniel Ricciardo. Yum!
What do you consider your greatest writing strengths? What gets in your way of writing?
I have taken many MANY classes over my seven years of writing. I believe that if I continually write and continually learn craft, my work will strengthen. I love examining the human psyche and asking why the heart wants what it wants. When I grasp that kernel, I bust it open every way I can. I also love reading Deep POV, and endeavor to write in this way. My greatest weakness? That’s easy: plotting. Overthinking the plot, ditching the plot, turning plot on its head, ditching it again. So I work at it. And my critique partners work on it with me.
Do you have a favorite playlist for when you write? Classic, rock, pop, none of the above?
It’s not a playlist per se, but I find quiet (preferably sleeping) children really help.
What is your likely choice for publication, a publisher or self-pubbed?
Right now, due to my eagerness to write and my reluctance to learn either formatting or Amazon contracts, I am targeting traditional publishing. The software nerd in me (and the proofreader) will one day welcome self-pubbing, but right now there is only enough time in my life to get the words done and write the odd submission letter.
Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
Simple: the kitchen table, 5 a.m. Or the kitchen table for 30 minutes after lunch when the kids nap. Or the kitchen table for an hour at 9 p.m. On a great day when I have a husband or a childminder, I have a huge desk upstairs crammed alongside our bed. Craft books on the left, toiletries on the right, printer stuck underneath, a tiny foldaway seat slanted on top. I decided this year after Nationals that my writing would have to fit around the family, or rather that there would always be stuff in my life but writing had to be part of it. No excuses, I was going to make it happen. However, I try to keep weekends free for my delightful family. I have started the habit-building writing challenge of "Don’t Break The Chain," a challenge that can start off small. It aims to help you write a little every day, crossing out the day on a calendar that displays in a prominent place. It has taken away my fear of the prospect of the day’s words, so that the habit is easier to keep than it is to break. Right now, my chain is unbroken at 34 days, looking forward to keeping her intact ;-)
What are some of your favorite books and why?
Naked in His Arms by Sandra Marton was my very first Harlequin read. And what a read! I read it at least three times for the action both in and out of the bedroom. Margie Lawson’s Deep Edits class introduced me to writers who were new to me, like Harlan Coben and his Hold Tight thriller. And my beautiful friend Johanna Gohmann gifted me my first Nora Roberts novel, my beloved and much read Sea Swept. In my more naïve less confident days, I tried to emulate these writers, their books. Now I learn from them.
Who is your favorite book boyfriend? Why?
Cameron Quinn in Nora Roberts’ Sea Swept, the first in her Chesapeake Bay series. Unapologetically male, Cam makes a racer’s ultimate sacrifice by putting family before his career.
Who are your greatest support people for writing?
My writing colleagues on the (so-called) Procrastinators’ group, a loop that is part of RWA’s From The Heart chapter. Warmth and enthusiasm propelled me to volunteer to moderate this amazing group of women, and it has yielded me two amazing critique partners. All are highly talented and hardworking women.
If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
Lead singer in a Blondie tribute band. Note, not ACTUAL Blondie. Too much fame! I just want to get up on stage and sing in French ‘til last drinks (and wouldn’t being blonde be such a bonus!?)
What line from a book left an impression on you and/or your writing?
In To Kill A Mockingbird, remember Scout’s line, "Hey Boo"? This line—a simple phrase, spoken in kindness—reflects the courage and conviction that only a child can bring to the most tense of scenes.
What is the quirkiest thing you’ve done to your character/s?
I must confess, I avoid quirky. I fear I’ll go too far and my readers will be like "Huh? What just happened there?" But give me a few more years, a dollop of confidence, and an editor who can handle "far out," and I promise you, I’ll come up with quirky a’plenty!
Thanks so much for having me, Write Way Café! Keep up the great work! Best for now.
Nikki Weston pushes through self-doubt on a daily basis to write romance novels with a splash of heat. An Irish native, Nikki loves meeting anyone who love emotions and the human heart as much as she does. An acute allergy to plotting forces her to study craft as much as she can stand, all while aiming for publication.
A keen member of RWA, Nikki is proud to serve as loop moderator for From The Heart’s Procrastination loop online. In real life, she housewives in the Dublin home she shares with her husband, two young sons, and a mountain of Lego.