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An Interview with Author Nikki McCormack

Nikki McCormackNikki lives in the magnificent Pacific Northwest in the USA with her husband, two horses, two cats, and one slightly crazy dog. She feeds her imagination by sitting on the ocean in her kayak gazing out across the never-ending water or hanging from a rope in a cave, embraced by darkness and the sound of dripping water.

Tell us something about your book. The basics: what’s it about?

Dissident is about Indigo, a young woman whose father was put to death for treason. She is stuck in an abusive engagement and must hide most of her extraordinary ascard power from a country that fears and regulates such things. When she decides to help a handsome stranger who is trying to overthrow the current emperor in a neighboring country, she embarks on a journey that will help her learn how to use her great power. Along the way, she is faced with many choices, some of which could send her down the same path as her father, and she must decide how to handle the secrets she is learning about her own country. Amidst the chaos of war, she could find the courage to free herself from her situation, but doing so without making herself a traitor to her own country may be harder than she thought.

What drove you to write this particular book?

Part of this book came to me in a dream. I woke up with a clear understanding of the two major characters in the book. I knew their history, their goals, and the obstacles they were facing. I sat down to write it because it was the story I wanted to read. After writing the first drafts for a full trilogy, I stopped, and I wasn’t sure if I would ever do anything with it. Now, given the reception it is getting with readers, I am very happy with my choice to bring it out into the world.

What’s your writing regimen? Where do you do your writing?

I do most of my writing in my little home office. It was carved out of the attack in the original house and has a lot of quirky ceiling heights and some fantastic built in shelves where I keep writing books, journals, and briefcases full of old book ideas. On occasion I do write at coffee shops to get away from the house and the chores that like to hover over me when I’m writing at home.

Who are your greatest writing influences?

Meredith Ann Pierce’s book, The Birth of the Firebringer, was the book that captured my imagination and first inspired me to write after I read it at about the age of 12. I have also taken a great deal of inspiration from C.S. Friedman for her successful cross-genre work, Anne Bishop for her fantastic ability to immerse her readers in a strange world without too much explanation, Mercedes Lackey for her deeply moving Last Herald Mage trilogy, and, more recently, George R.R. Martin for his impeccable world-building, plotting, and character development. I also find myself turning often to Neil Gaiman for inspiration, though more for his actions and commentary as an author and person than for his writing (though I do greatly enjoy that as well).

Is the book in any one particular genre? Is it a genre that’s familiar to you?

This particular book is the first in the Forbidden Things epic fantasy series. As someone who loves world building, fantasy–epic fantasy in particular–is my favorite genre to read and work in.

How did you come to self-publish? Did you try to get published traditionally?

I was published traditionally with my debut novel, The Girl and the Clockwork Cat. Most of the work the publisher did revolved around finding good cover art, editing, and formatting. The really hard part, the marketing, I have done most of myself. Finding quality cover art, editors, and formatting were all things I felt like I could probably manage myself so I talked to my agent and told her I wanted to take Dissident back and try publishing it myself. I’m still working with my agent on some projects, but I’m forging ahead with the self-publishing. I now have four books out and am well on the road to my fifth release, Apostate, the third book in the Forbidden Things series.

What self-publishing service did you use? Happy with the service?

Right now I am self-publishing through Amazon Kindle Direct and using Createspace for my print books. I’ve been happy with both services so far. I would like to expand distribution through some of the other services to get my books available through Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and others, but right now I’m taking advantage of some of the exclusive perks Amazon offers authors to try to help build audience.

Would you self-publish again?

Yes. I’ve traditionally published one book and self-published three at this point. I don’t think I would go with a publisher aDissident by Nikki McCormackgain unless it was a really good deal that came with a hefty bit of marketing effort on the publisher’s part.

Any words of advice for those looking to self-publish? Any big missteps/successes?

It’s really hard building an audience. There are a million websites out there telling you how to go about it and none of them have that magic formula that is going to make you an overnight success. If you’re in it for the long game, be ready to put a lot of time and investment into promotion. All that promotion can take a lot of time, so make sure to set aside time to write and edit new work. Most importantly, put out a good product. Don’t skimp on editing or cover art. Respect yourself and your readers by putting out quality work that you can be proud of representing.

What’s next on the horizon for you as an author?

I’m working toward publishing the third book in the Forbidden Things series this spring followed by the third book in my young adult steampunk series sometime this summer. Later in the year I will be introducing a new fantasy series that I’m very excited about.

Thank you SPR for having me on here. If you’re interested in the book, I have a sample chapter and purchase links available on the Dissident page on my website.