Today, I would like to welcome my special guest Nikki Leigh, a very enterprising and talented woman, to my blog. Nikki is the author of Lady Lightkeeper, the second book in the Misty Cove Chronicles. Among other avenues she is engaged in, Nikki is also an astute business woman who has written several non-fiction books under her real name Shri Henkel.
EDBB: Welcome to the elenadorothybowmansbookblogspot.com Nikki. It's a pleasure to have you here.
Nikki: Thank you for inviting me.
EDBB: Would you like to tell us about yourself…I understand you have a myriad of interests and programs that keep you hopping.
Nikki: I’m a fulltime freelancer. This includes writing and promotional work for various clients. I handle bookkeeping for six businesses. I own one business and am a partner in a home improvement business (I’m also a licensed contractor in the state of Virginia). My 1st book was released in January 2006 and my 12th is scheduled for release later this year. The vast majority of those were written in the last two years. In addition, I just finished my seventh ghostwriting project. I’m also the founder of the Readers Station which is a website and message board where readers and authors can connect.
EDBB: Would you like to tell us about your book… Lady Lightkeeper and how it came about?
Nikki: Lady Lightkeeper is the second book in the historic Misty Cove Chronicles. It’s the continuation of Lizbeth Sullivan Kinsey’s story. But, each book can be read individually. The first book, Widow’s Walk, started with a story idea I got from a picture that hangs in my living room. That picture gave me the idea of starting the story on the widow’s walk and it gave me a rough idea for a time period. Originally, this was going to be one book, but the story grew and grew as I was brainstorming ideas. The main brainstorming happened on a trip from Virginia to Florida for my brother’s wedding. We actually were brainstorming so well, that I missed a turn and we went about 40 miles too far before getting back on track. Then two of us brainstormed by the hotel pool one evening. There was just so much more of Lizbeth’s story that I wanted to tell – and its not over.
EDBB: Where did you get the idea to write Lady Lightkeeper?
Nikki: I’ve done extensive research about Cape Ann and I got some great ideas when I read about the history of the area. When I was in Cape Ann, I took a picture of this -www.alamy.com/stock_photography/2/1/Charlie+Borland/A5EAAA.html. Then one day I discovered the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association (http://www.gfwa.org/) and the memorial. The first time I saw this (http://www.gfwa.org/memorial/statue.html) I immediately thought of Lizbeth and her children. I think people will understand the connection when they read the book. The women of Cape Ann had to be strong and the children faced a lot of loss in their young lives. I actually dedicated Lady Lightkeeper to these women. This is a quote from the dedication –
Lady Lightkeeper is dedicated to the strong women of the Cape Ann coast who supported their men and cared for their families and the community. I worked to create a character in Lizbeth Kinsey who reflects this spirit. I should also add that the characters in this story are not based on any specific individuals, but my hope is that they embody the spirit, resilience and determination of the Cape Ann community.
EDBB: What got you interested in writing about lighthouses and light keepers?
Nikki: I’ve been fascinated with lighthouses for years and I’ve always loved the ocean. My earliest memories of the beach were when I was three and hurricane Camille was nearing the coast. As I learned more about lighthouses, I started learning about the lifesaving service and my fascination continued to grow. History, the ocean, lighthouses and architecture are some of my favorite things and my stories incorporate all of those interests. More and more people have become interested in lighthouses, but I joke that I was into lighthouses before the masses got on board.
EDBB: You live in Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley, yet your books the Misty Cove Chronicles are based on Cape Ann in Massachusetts? Why did you choose this setting instead of the mountains for your series?
Nikki: I knew people say we should write about the things we know, but I enjoy research. I’ve had the idea for the contemporary Misty Cove story for many years, but I couldn’t figure out where to set the story. Cape Cod seemed like a possibility, but after visiting the area, I knew that wouldn’t work. On the same trip, my brother and I took a day to visit Cape Ann. I heard about the area because The Perfect Storm came out that summer at the theatres and of course, I read the book. It sounded like an interesting area and I insisted that we visit while we were close. We got to Gloucester and I just felt like it was the right place for my first story. I incorporated a lot of my main character’s family history in that story and when Stormy View was finished, I got the idea to actually write the history of her family. Widow’s Walk began and it continues in Lady Lightkeeper. Besides, there aren’t any lighthouses in the mountains – I had to move my stories to the coast. (As a side note, my other fiction series is set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and I know that area very well.)
EDBB: How many visits did you make to Cape Ann to flesh out your series?
Nikki: I’ve only been to Cape Ann once on a trip to Cape Cod with my brother in 2001. But, I’ve also done a lot of research and have an extensive Cape Ann and lighthouse library in my office.
EDBB: What was so fascinating about Lighthouses in Cape Ann, Massachusetts that caused you to use them as the setting for your stories?
Nikki: As I mentioned above the history of the area caught my imagination and the story took off from there.
EDBB: In this series, which of the characters did you find difficult to portray, the one easiest?
Nikki: I do a lot of work to create my characters before I start to write and I find this makes it easier to get into their mind. I actually have a couple of characters who narrate the story. Lizbeth tells the majority of the story from her point of view and her best friend and supporter, Sara, tells most of the remaining story. A couple of scenes are told from Abigail Westley’s point of view.
Lizbeth and Sara are very easy to write. Ida, the villain, is a lot of fun to write. Abigail is probably one character that I had difficulty writing. She is a good hearted person, but she has a lot of prejudices that come to the fore in various situations. Those attitudes also stir up trouble with Lizbeth on a regular basis.
EDBB: What advise would you give a fledgling writer? Why?
Nikki: Stick with your dream and work hard to stay positive. It’s a tough profession, but its worth all the work when you hold your books in your hand. Continue to work to hone your skills. I let my own doubts and the doubts of other people stop me from writing for years. Finally, I got past those concerns and I can’t imagine not writing.
EDBB: What was it that caused you to want to become a writer?
Nikki: I’m not sure I know the answer to that question. I started freelancing fulltime to earn money, but my fiction is more a labor of love. There have always been ideas for characters and stories in my mind – my writing gives me a chance to delve further into their stories and to share them with others.
EDBB: Thank you Nikki for visiting my blog. Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
Nikki: Nikki has offered the following for all who join her in her tour.
Each person who buys a copy of Lady Lightkeeper, needs to email me a copy of their receipt. I just need a receipt that shows you bought a copy of Lady Lightkeeper and I'll enter you in the drawing for a copy of Widow's Walk. That seemed like a good giveaway since the story starts with Widow's Walk. However, if the winner already has a copy of Widow's Walk, I'll be happy to send a copy of Lilah and the Locket instead.
In addition, each person who posts a comment on any or all of the blog stops will be entered in a separate giveaway. Each comment will be entered in the drawing and at the end of the month, one person will win a copy of Lady Lightkeeper. Again, if the winner bought the book already, I'll send them another book as a prize. Any questions, let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Cape Ann is also the location my novels, the Sarah's Landing Series, is set in. It is amazing that two people who never met before and do not live anywhere near each other have used the same lighthouse for their books. It really is a small world. Elena Dorothy Bowman