Q&A with K.S. Nikakis

q & a

Please give a cold dead welcome to our next victim… (I mean guest!) on the blog this week… the lovely Karen Simpson Nikakis!


TheEmeraldSerpentv1So, what have you written?

The Kira Chronicles trilogy (fantasy) was published by Allen and Unwin (2007-9) and I had the rights reverted to me in 2013. Oddly it seems to be still out there on the US Amazon site: http://www.Amazon.com I

am going to tweak it a bit and relaunch the trilogy as the six book Kira Chronicles Series on Amazon late 2016 to early 2017. The Kira Chronicles trilogy (as new and used)(pbooks) are on Amazon: Book 1: The Whisper of Leaves: http://amzn.com/1741755042; Book 2: The Song of the Silvercades: http://amzn.com/1741758939; Book 3: The Cry of the Marwing: http://amzn.com/1741759374 Various prices. These are also available in most libraries.

Dragon Tales (reference book) explores the purposes dragons serve in different types of narratives. It draws on my Masters thesis and was published by Heidelberg Press in 2010. Available from publishers: http://www.HeidelbergPress.com.au; Ph: +61 3 9459 8827

Ten Little Mushrooms (a children’s app) was launched by Zero Cut Entertainment in 2016 under the pen name of Chrys Andreas. Night Owls and Crabby the Crab are also contracted to Zero Cut Entertainment. Enquiries: zerocutentertainment@gmail.com

The Emerald Serpent (fantasy) is my first independently published novel and was launched on Amazon in October 2015. The Emerald Serpent (ebook) is on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B016GGTUXO for USD $2.99. Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRy7LF2m8sQ&feature=youtu.be

Walking the Writer’s Road, the Gifted Traveller and Campbell’s Hero Quest (reference book chapter) in: Giftedness Illuminated by Creativity (Nikakis, S. Ed.), Heidelberg Press, 2015. Enquiries: http://www.HeidelbergPress.com.au; Ph: +61 3 9459 8827 Also other book chapters and conference papers/academic publications mainly on Tolkien and Joseph Campbell.

I’ve had short stories published in Zahir and Aurealis, and poetry published in Centoria and Poetrix, and many reviews with Aurealis Xpress, but I’m time poor and now focus entirely on novels.

I blog reasonably regularly on Goodreads and Facebook.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?WhisperCoverSmall

The main character in The Emerald Serpent is Etaine, who is true Eadar. The Eadar are slighter than humans and have white skin, black hair and emerald-coloured eyes. They also carry their memory in their blood. When Adam’s folk (humans) arrived on their shores, the Eadar innocently interbred, so even true-Eadar have some human blood, and this disrupted the Eadar’s blood memories. A third group arrived, the Fada, religious zealots intent on violently replacing the Eadar’s gods with their own. When true Eadar join, they regain their memories of their gods and how to serve them. Etaine joins with her true-mate Cormac but he doesn’t Remember. As a result, Etaine is horribly injured by the Fada and is then intent on murdering as many of them as she can. To have any chance of defeating the Fada, she must have the courage to turn away from killing and trust Cormac again.

What are you working on at the minute?

I’m on the final edit of the first book of the Hunter duology: Heart Hunter. It will be launched in the next couple of months.

I am also working on an angel series that has been going for a while but was interrupted by NaNoWriMo in 2013 (which produced The Third Moon – contracted to Satalyte Publishing); and NaNoWriMo in 2014 which produced The Emerald Serpent (launched on Amazon, Oct 2015).

What’s it about? 

The Hunter duology is about a Sceadu female hunter called Fleet. She is skilled, strong and fast, and thinks she’s going to marry her agemate Ashin. But while Fleet is on hunt, Ashin marries Fleet’s ex-best friend and the Sceadu’s new wisewoman, Siah. Siah sets Fleet an impossible task: cross the impassable mountains and bring back something that will return water to the Sceadu’s, frigid, ice-locked lands. Fleet believes Siah is sending her to her death, to remove her as a rival for Ashin’s affections, and refuses to go. But in a fit of angry frustration, she breaks the hunter’s sacred code of Talabraith, and in atonement, sets out into the mountains expecting only death.

Fleet’s quest allows her to see with other eyes; to understand that words might mean many things; and that love is not what she thought. And of course, there is a twist in the end.

What genre are your books?

I’ve coined the term ‘deep fantasy’ to describe them as they don’t fit paranormal, dystopic, epic or high fantasy. I’m interested in deeper philosophical or metaphysical questions that underpin fantasy. I’m not much interested in gore; medieval castles; multi-layered political intrigues or miserable future worlds. I focus on just a few characters’ hero journeys in brilliantly drawn secondary worlds. And there is always romance and a positive ending.

SongCoverSmallWhat draws you to this genre?

Fantasy has the capacity to deal with really fundamental issues and the human yearning for a purposeful/meaningful life, in new and refreshing ways. It draws on the power of myth and movies like Fury Road, Avatar and Episodes 4, 5 and 6 of StarWars show just how potent and engaging these mythic elements are. Modern life is extremely cluttered and I would find it boring to write about characters who had to go to school or who got stuck in traffic jams.

How much research do you do?

I don’t draw on existing myths or stories, so I only research very specific things. In Hunter Book 1: Heart Hunter, Fleet and her fellow hunter Tor build a snow cave, so I Googled a couple of methods. The Emerald Serpent is set in the Caledonian Forest in northern Scotland as it was thousands of years ago, so I read up on the trees and animals. My Masters is in the purposes of dragons in selected narratives, so completing that meant I became familiar with a lot of mythic motifs. My Ph.D was on Campbell’s hero

quest applied to a female hero, so again I’m familiar with the full depth of the 17 part structure. Despite that, as a pantser, I don’t set up a novel structure before I begin. I don’t think about initiating incidents, or the final ordeal either. I let the story take me where it will. But in draft 2, I’m looking at what mythic elements have emerged from my unconscious and try to make them more powerful. As well, I started my working life as a secondary English and Geography teacher; I used to ride horses; and I’ve done a lot of walking. So I already know a lot about how landscapes and weather systems work; about horses; and about what it’s like to walk a very long way. This has proven very useful.

 When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve always liked English and writing creative essays at school, but it never occurred to me to be an author. It never entered my head that books were written by people who did it for a living. It had no relationship to me at all. Actually I’m quite astounded to admit this now. When I was doing the Masters, I became interested in Carl Jung and went to a lecture series about him. It opened a door in my head and I spent the next six weeks on a high writing Book 2 of The Kira Chronicles. It was 22 years ago and I haven’t stopped since. I read somewhere that Sara Douglass started writing when she found a tiny toy battle axe on a seat in a waiting room. I envy people who started writing at 14 like Isobelle Carmody. They have had so many years to hone their craft.

Why do you write?

A rational question with no rational answer! Bits of dialogue come to me, or whole scenes. I have to find out the rest of the story. It’s like the ether has tossed me a glittering piece of jig-saw puzzle. I can’t rest till I have the whole picture. And I fall in love with my characters. I ache for them; I tut-tut about them. I can’t just abandon them. I have to know!

Do you write full-time or part-time?CryCoverSmall

I work full time and have a 3 hour commute (on a good day). I write at night and on weekends.

Where do your ideas come from?

Words, images and music are important triggers for me. I have scrapbooks full of pictures that have resonated and seeing a particular image can completely change a character. Music will give me whole scenes and the emotional tone. Individual words will have lovely shapes and sounds I want to explore. I’m also interested in human nature, such as the line between the human and the divine (which is explored in the Angel series).

The Hunter Duology started from a single word: sceadu, the archaic form of the word shadow. In Jungian terms the shadow is the part of the unconscious where we lock away things we don’t like about ourselves; and in geographic terms, a rain shadow is the landward-facing side of a mountain range which receives less rainfall than the ocean-facing side. So sceadu (shardoo or skee-ar-doo) was not only a word I liked, but one which gave me the elements of the story.

The Third Moon (contracted to Satalyte Publishing) came about because I’ve always been intrigued by Jung’s notion of the collective unconscious. There is mounting evidence that memories are encoded genetically and passed down through the generations. The Third Moon is set in the far future where a young man of indigenous Australian descent is haunted by memories of his ancestors’ dispossession.

The Emerald Serpent was a NaNoWriMo project, which being November, meant I was pretty tired. For the first time I decided to draw on an existing myth rather than concocting something from scratch. The Tuatha de Danaan interested me but I decided they would not have fled to the bleak dampness of underground, but to another dimension. I’ve always been interested in the story of St George slaying the dragon, which is an analogy for Christianity destroying pagan religions. So I put the two together. I am interested in the sometimes awful consequences of innocent actions too. The Eadar had no idea they would destroy so much of their culture when they intermarried with Adam’s folk, and it isn’t Cormac’s fault that he doesn’t Remember, but the consequences are catastrophic.

What are your thoughts on writing a book series.

My angel series will be 6 books. It started as a trilogy but I think series suit independent publishing on Amazon better. I’m also finding it less onerous to write 60,000 words than 110,000 which is what I usually write for each book in a trilogy. There is more cost in covers if you are independently publishing but you get a quicker sense of achievement and get parts of your story out there more quickly. This is important when you are working alone without the support and backing of a commercial publisher and their marketing team.


Thanks so much for coming to join us this week Karen! Please be sure to follow her and check out her books!

Website: http://www.ksnikakis.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ksnikakis

 Twitter: @ksnikakis

Lnkedin: http://www.Linkedin.com/Dr Karen Simpson Nikakis

Book Links: The Emerald Serpent has a book trailer: this is the penultimate version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRy7LF2m8sQ&feature=youtu.be Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/KS_Nikakis

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