I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: one of the benefits of social media is the capacity for connection, especially with people like author Nikki Vallance. We met online months ago, and her enthusiasm and positivity have somehow crossed the ocean and stuck with me. Nikki’s debut novel, Pivotal, released in 2019 from Hashtag Press. The book “is a split-narrative, relationship mystery portraying the impact of a life-changing moment on four women with seemingly unconnected lives,” and readers love the “strong women characters” and “satisfyingly different plot.” In addition to writing, Nikki is a speaker, a podcaster, and a coach, and in our exchange, she revealed to me that she’s currently readjusting her priorities to “step into her own creativity.” I think that’s something all creatives can appreciate. With all the tasks Nikki has on her plate, I’m so grateful she took the time to answer my questions.
Christina: You’re an author, a speaker, a coach, and a blogger. What role do you cherish the most? Are the lessons you learn from each of these roles vastly different?
Nikki: I find the roles rewarding in different ways and funnily enough I am currently asking myself this same question! We all wear many hats but it is not our roles which define us. We are who we are, not what we do (or don’t do). I aim to entertain, inform and inspire my readers and my clients, to make an impact with my work, however people come to know me. I aim to reach as many people as possible to make as big a difference to them as possible. I am always curious, always learning. Lately I’ve been exploring how I do this by placing my creativity and my core messages at the centre of everything I do.
Christina: Your novel, Pivotal, focuses on relationships. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration for the novel? What do you find so compelling about relationships?
Nikki: In Pivotal, I wanted to explore the impact of the significant decisions we make in our lives and how they affect the shape of who we become. By disrupting the ordinary lives of the main characters by forcing them to face an extraordinary situation, the book unpeels the layers of each character and we see how their past decisions seem to dictate the way in which they each respond in the present. I have always been fascinated by the way people think and feel. I think looking at relationships, the way people interact with each other, is a natural extension of this.
Christina: On your website, you mention that you’re “fascinated by what makes us who we are and how much control we have over our destiny.” How much control do you think we have over our destiny? Has anything happened in your life where you might rethink that point of view?
Nikki: I believe we have complete control over our destiny. Of course there are many things that happen to us, or in the world around us, over which we don’t have control. These external situations need not define us though. It is not what happens but how we choose to respond which we can control. I have always believed that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
Christina: You run the Lost Books of Lockdown on Facebook, which is “for debut authors who published a book from late 2019 onwards and feel that lockdown has prevented them from getting the coverage their book deserves AND for readers who want to discover new authors and books to escape from lockdown into their imaginations.” What made you decide to add this new venture to an already full plate? How’s it going? How have you benefited, and how can we, as readers and authors, support you?
Nikki: Having published my own debut during this time with an independent publisher, I felt there had been a lack of opportunity for new authors, especially those who had published with smaller publishers or had self published, to reach their readers. We missed out on festivals and other face to face book events and didn’t have the luxury of delaying our release dates. I knew I wasn’t on my own, that there would be other authors in the same boat and decided to follow my instinct and see where it took me. I also knew that many readers are looking for new books by authors they might not easily find outside of the mainstream market. The group is a warm, friendly, supportive community, full of booklovers, many of whom have made great connections now outside of the group (and hopefully more books have been discovered and read!) Since it began just over 12 months ago, I have also interviewed 42 authors on the Author Showcase and 9 experts for The Business of Books – LIVE. Phew! It has been great. I am now taking a break for a while to focus on my second novel and other exciting creative projects, including the possibility of a new podcast or YouTube channel into which I can stream even more shows. I have lots of volunteers to help me take the group to the next phase, whatever that looks like.
Christina: As you said, within that Facebook group is the Author Showcase. What is one of the most surprising things you’ve learned from another author? Do you have a dream author you’d love to interview?
Nikki: As I’ve mentioned, I’ve streamed 42 live interviews and learnt a huge amount from all of them. It’s great to know that we all have lots in common and share many of the same challenges. I have been so impressed with the dedication and drive they have all shown to get their books out into the world. One of the most surprising lessons has been just how tough it is for debut authors to know where their book would sit on a shelf. The issue of identifying genre came up time and time again. And I thought it was just me!
Christina: I love asking authors about other parts of their lives. Tell us what draws you to the Argentine Tango. Do you see any parallels between dancing and writing? Does dancing inform your writing at all?
Nikki: I have always loved dance since I was very young, and started ballet lessons at 3 years old. As my mum was from Gibraltar, I also have Latin blood in my ancestry and rhythm seems to come naturally. Whilst I love Salsa for this reason, it is the romance and the intensity of the Tango which attracts me. I’ve not thought of this before but both the emotional connection and the rhythm of the Tango are present in my writing. Both are extensions of me and my creative expression, my need to be seen and heard.
Christina: What does literary success look like to you?
Nikki: Hands up. I have a big bold dream. I’d like to be standing on the BAFTA red carpet as a result of one of my novels being turned into an award winning screenplay. In the meantime, success is reaching as many readers as possible with my books. This probably means the next step is a traditional book deal via a literary agent. I am also keen to encourage anyone with a creative talent to use it. There are countless successful souls who have neglected their creative spark in pursuit of a sensible dutiful path. They are feeling that something is missing, that part of them is unfulfilled. Creative thinkers, makers, writers, hiding in the wings. The world needs them to step into the limelight.
Thanks to Nikki for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an author who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you are an author who would like to be featured), feel free to leave a comment or email me via my contact page.