Lisa: Nike, welcome to Living Our Faith Out Loud. Tell us what you love about the last two books you wrote, and introduce us to the hardest character to portray.
Nike: The last novel I wrote was DARKEST HOUR and the one before that was PERILOUS
SHADOWS. What I love about them is that I took a risk with both of them. They are a departure from the first two novels in the series which were classic historical whodunits with feisty heroines and stalwart heroes. DARKEST HOUR's heroine is a much more demure lady, a widow and mother of a small boy. Lucinda Byrne is the sole support of her son and her aging grandparents. Unlike my previous heroines, she doesn't jump headlong into situations, but rather faces them with grace and composure. She's highly competent and relies on that to get through. In my previous novels the heroes have been true-blue. However in DARKEST HOUR, medical examiner, Hank Jansen, initially presents himself as a bit of a masher which is quite different from the first two stories. While PERILOUS SHADOWS does indeed have a heroine who charges directly into the fray, it's a psychological mystery rather than a straight whodunit. Many of the characters, even secondary ones, carefully guard their deep, dark secrets. Discovering who the killer is depends upon understanding the psyches of the various characters as much as following the clues.
The hardest character to portray was Kiera Devane, the heroine in PERILOUS SHADOWS, who carries a great deal of inner pain. She won't let anyone in, and still I have to show who she is. She's tough as nails on the outside and yet I have to make her likeable.
Lisa: Nike, what two things have you learned about the publishing world now after these novels that you would like to pass on to other newbie writers?
Nike: Be true to yourself. Don't let anyone convince you to change your voice. That said, the newbie writer still has to learn the craft of writing fiction. I suggest taking a few of the many free writing classes that are offered. American Christian Fiction Writers offers a wide variety of courses. I just took one on Motivation, Conflict, and Goals that was wonderful. I don’t think writers should stop learning from others and honing their craft just because they've published. The other thing that's crucial is to read the top authors in your genre. Writers at all stages in this game can learn so much from reading the work of excellent fiction writers.
Lisa: Share something about writing the last novel with us that readers won’t find any other place.
Nike: Who would've guessed it, but I love writing grandparent characters. In DARKEST HOUR I wrote about the heroine's arthritic grandmother and fell in love with the dear lady. I had to do a bit of research on arthritis and was admitted to a closed Facebook group specifically for that disease. That was so enlightening, but the group talked about new drugs which were not available in the mid-1940s. So, I had to do some medical research from that time period.
Lisa: I love those older folks, too. Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Nike. Best wishes with all of your work.
About Nike Chilemmi:
Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (penciled might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.
She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. BURNING HEARTS, the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, finaled in the Grace Awards 2011 in the Romance/Historical Romance category. GOODBYE NOEL, the second book in the series released in December, 2011 won the Grace Award 2011 in the Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller category. PERILOUS SHADOWS, third in the series released July, 2012, and DARKEST HOUR, the fourth in the series released in February, 2013. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning).
Visit Nike's website.
Visit Nike's Amazon Author page for links to buy the books.
About the new book: Darkest Hour
A petite widow, medical secretary and sole support of her young son and grandparents, is framed for the murder of her boss. Wealthy village residents conspire with the DA to indict her and stop further investigation. The medical examiner thinks the shooter was a tall individual. When his report is shoved aside, he starts his own side-investigation trying to clear her and in the process he falls in love with her.
Lucinda Byrne lost her husband and parents at sea. When she discovers the body of her boss, his A-List society fiancée, backed up by her powerful family and a corrupt DA, accuses Lucinda of murder. She struggles on shielding her five-year-old son, her feisty grandfather and arthritic grandmother from the ugliness of her situation. She mistrusts the dapper ME, thinking he's a ladies' man, but soon realizes he may be the only one in her corner.
Hank Jansen, the county ME who's had his share of pain and loss, doesn't know if this little widow was in on the murder, but he knows by the trajectory of the bullet she's too short to have pulled the trigger. His professional opinion ignored, he begins his own investigation and at least one cop accuses him of an ethics violation. He certainly can't deny he's fallen head over heals for the accused, and also is crazy about her son. A huge problem is there's a leak inside the investigation and the murderer is always one step ahead of them.