Thursday, May 26, 2011
Author Interview: Nicole Zoltack
Very excited to have with us today fantasy author Nicole Zoltack. Her book Champion of Valor, the last in her Kingdom of Arnhem trilogy, was released on May 1st.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Nicole Zoltack. I used to hate my first name but now I love it. Family is very important to me - I have a wonderful and supportive husband and two adorable and precious sons. They're growing up so fast already! The oldest is just starting to learn how to use the potty and the other just took his first step! I could not be more proud.
When I'm not chasing after them or watching movies with hubby, I'm writing, reading, or editing. I write just about everything - from fantasy/paranormal to romances to historical to horror to YA and combinations thereof. I'll read anything that looks good. I'm an editor for MuseItUp Publishing and I really enjoy it.
What is your writing schedule like?
I get the bulk of my writing done when the rest of the household is sleeping - most of the time that means I'm staying up late and sacrificing my own sleep. I tend to write in spurts and can write 50k in a month if inspired. Other times, I'll go a couple of weeks or more with nothing.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I knew I wanted to be a storyteller since before I could write. I had a vivid imagination and used to make up stories all the time. My mom used to sit my sister and I down with paper and pencils, and we both grew up wanting to be writers. My stories have come a long way since those first tales!
How do you typically come up with ideas and develop them into a story?
I can get ideas from watching TV shows, movies, reading books, and people watching. (The last is a really fun activity, if you never people-gawked, you're missing out! Go to your mall and sit on a bench. Trust me, you'll be amazed at the ideas you come up with.) I've also had ideas come to me from my dreams.
Some of my stories start because I can't get a character out of my head. That's what happened with Woman of Honor. I wanted to write about a female knight and the story grew from there.
Other times, I'll have the bare basics of a plot and create characters to fit the roles (although the plot usually changes some along the way) and the story takes shape that way. It depends on the story.
Tell us about getting your Kingdom of Arnhem series accepted for publication.
I first learned of Desert Breeze Publishing through a yahoo publisher chat and talked with Gail, the editor in chief. She mentioned that she was looking for fantasy romance series. I immediately thought of Woman of Honor which was only halfway done at this point. She said to send it when I finished it and I did. A short while later, she emailed me her acceptance. I was thrilled! We worked together to figure out how the overall story for the series would go in order to make each book a fantasy romance and the Kingdom of Arnhem series was born.
Who are the authors that inspire you, and what have they taught you about writing?
I'm inspired by so many authors - J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis.... With the beauty of their words and the worlds they created, I've learned so much about how to improve my own craft.
What most attracts you to the life of a writer?
The ability to create a world. I love combining knights and everything medieval with magic and fantasy. High fantasy is one of my favorite genres to write. The magic of writing, the creativity, the imagination of it all - that's what drives me to be a writer.
What do you consider the hardest thing about being a writer, and how do you deal with it?
The hardest part is putting your work out there for someone else to read it - whether that someone else is a critique partner, a beta reader, an agent, an editor, a reader. It takes so much guts to click send on your email.
I know my story will never be good enough for publication if I'm the only one who reads it. This knowledge helps making me be able to click send to critique partners and beta readers that much easier. And once I have their okay, it's a lot easier to send to agents and down the line.
What's the best writing advice you've ever gotten?
To be true to myself and write the story of my heart. There is little to no point in writing to trends. Unfortunately, sometimes my ideas tend to fall into areas that are beginning to be at the tail end of their popularity.
Why do you blog? What advice would you give to other author bloggers?
I love blogging for the community aspect. I have met so many wonderful writer friends through blogging. You all are amazing!
My advice - if you don't like blogging or think it's work, then don't do it. Blogging should be fun, not a chore.
What are the themes you tend to write about, or genres you tend to write in?
I write a lot of romances so my themes tend to be about love. My romances are all on the sweet side, so they are all YA-friendly. The theme for Woman of Honor is that if you try hard enough and never give up, your dreams will come true. Knight of Glory's theme is that love has no rhyme or reason. For Champion of Valor, the theme is that love will always find a way.
Most of my stories have paranormal/fantasy aspects in them. Originally, Woman of Honor was supposed to be a historical (medieval) romance, but Aislinn's brother wanted a speaking role. Despite being dead. And a character forced himself into the story - a ninja-like character when a pirate would have been more befitting the time period. So I changed the world to be an alternative world. Europe and the rest of the world apart from the Americas was as it had been here. But in place of the Americas was a different, magical continent called Alethereia. That's where Arnhem lies.
What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
I hope readers will enjoy a magical medieval world where chivalry and love reign despite the evils in the world. I hope they'll enjoy their respite from their lives and think it was time well spent. I hope I move them and inspire them and touch their lives.
Be sure to leave a comment to be entered to win some signed post cards and magnets. Each comment during the Champion of Valor Blog Tour gives you an entry for the grand prize: a copy of the entire Kingdom of Arnhem trilogy - Woman of Honor, Knight of Glory, and Champion of Valor. You can find the entire list of blog tour stops on my blog - http://NicoleZoltack.blogspot.com
Thanks to Nicole for visiting with us today, and best of luck with the book. Happy writing!