Today Nikki Leigh visits Potpourri of Writing to discuss her latest book, Lady Lightkeeper. She gives us many ideas on how she gets her ideas and writes her book. I found this almost like a mini workshop.
MEA: One of the questions I'm frequently asked as an author, "Where did you get the idea for your book?" This always interests me, too. So I'll ask you, "How did the idea for Lady Lightkeeper come 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 it’s not over.
MEA: Some writers plan their books with a rigid outline. Others say the characters sort of take over and "write" the book. Which applies to your writing? Or do you have another style?
NIKKI: I start with an outline – this is especially useful with a series where I want to tie things and people together. This also helps me to plan twists and turns in the story. However, I have no problem letting the characters take over and tell their parts of the story. I feel you can use an outline and still be flexible when new ideas hit.
I wrote the first book without an outline and it took a long time. However, the outlined books were put on paper much quicker and flowed so much better. I also do a lot of character creation to have a clear picture of them, their background and where they came from before I start to write. I really think this gives the characters and the story more dimension.
MEA: Do you have a favorite character? How did he/she evolve?
NIKKI: I really like Lizbeth. She’s been through a lot in these stories and I think her growth as a person, a mother and a wife is shown in the books. She started out as an independent young woman (not the most popular behavior in a fishing village in the 1840’s). But, she grows in a variety of ways through the stories. I throw a lot of problems at her, but she manages to get through everything.
MEA: Did you ever get bogged down with Lady Lightkeeper or your other writing and find it difficult to keep it going? If so, how did you resolve it?
NIKKI: I plan thoroughly enough that this isn’t a common problem. I’ve had to cut some of the things I planned to include when other ideas took their place. Usually, I have far more ideas than I can include, but I’ve learned to par them down to make the ideas useable. I planned to end Lady Lightkeeper at a much different place, but the end I used seems to make sense to me. But, I did include an epilogue to create some additional interest in the next book.
MEA: What would you like readers to take away from Lady Lightkeeper?
NIKKI: I think the resilient power of friendship is an underlying story in Lady Lightkeeper. I would love to have a friend like Sara and I’m not sure Lizbeth would’ve gotten through all the trials without Sara by her side. One reviewer even mentioned that the book is like reading a diary that was written by two women. The other thing I want people to get is the idea of a second chance for love.
MEA: Lady Lightkeeper is part of a series. Did these books start out as a series or simply evolve as you were writing the first book or finished it?
NIKKI: The story started out as one book, but the idea grew and grew and will now be at least 3 books and 1 short story. I’m introducing a couple of interesting new characters in the third book and they may need a book of their own in the future. Although I prefer the story from the beginning to the end, readers can read the books individually. Each book stands on its own.
MEA: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us about Lady Lightkeeper or your writing?
NIKKI: Other comments from reviewers that I really like are about the lighthouse and lifesaving details in the books. I hope people will enjoy the story, but they will also learn about the Lighthouse Service and the Lifesaving Service. There is a shipwreck and a rescue in Lady Lightkeeper and the equipment is authentic and the rescue is as I picture it after learning about the situation and the things the characters had available to help the stranded sailors. It took me a while to get this chapter right, but I felt it was important to help people understand what was involved in a rescue in the 1850’s.
A final note, I love to hear from readers. Feel free to contact me with questions or comments.
Web site: www.nikkileigh.com
Other books you'd like to mention:
Books released as Nikki Leigh
Stormy View – limited copies available from me
Widow’s Walk – Misty Cove Chronicles Book One
Lady Lightkeeper – Misty Cove Chronicles Book Two
Lilah and the Locket – Cape Hatteras Series – 1954
Book Promo 101 – Basics of Book Promotion (October 2007)
Journeys of a Lifetime – Readers Station Anthology (October 2007)
Book Promo 101 – Writer’s Resource Ebook (October 2007)
Stormy Shores – Contemporary Misty Cove Novel (November 2007)
Books Released as Shri Henkel365
Foolish Mistakes Smart Managers Make Every Day
Open a Financially Successful Pizza & Sub Restaurant
Successful Meetings: How to Plan, Prepare and Execute Top-Notch Business Meetings
Non Commercial Food Service Manager’s Handbook