Monday, May 09, 2011

Author Interview: Nicole Zoltack

Hi, everyone! I'm back from my blogging break with some exciting things planned for this week. For some time, I've been considering hosting author interviews on this blog. This week, I'm interviewing not just one, but two authors. Today I'll be talking to Nicole Zoltack from Where Fantasy and Love Take Flight. The final book in her Kingdom of Arnhem series, Champion of Valor, came out on May 1st. This is one stop on her blog tour; please visit her own blog for a complete list of stops.

Sandra: Please tell us about yourself.

I'm a writer, a reader, a blogger, a reviewer, an editor, a wife, and a mother (not in that order!) I write fantasy/paranormal, romance, historical, horror, books from toddlers to young adults and adults, picture books, novels, short stories, and flash pieces. I read just about everything I can get my hands on. I love what I do and every aspect of my life. My family means everything. I'm obsessed with the Middle Ages. I think that pretty much covers everything.

Sandra: You write in several different genres. What are your favorite ones to write? What’s the most unusual combination of genres you’ve written?

Nicole: I love to write anything that involves something beyond the ordinary - so anything with a fantasy or paranormal flavor, whether it's set in today's world or a more medieval type of setting. The most unusually combination of genres? I wrote a horror short story for kids that I have yet to find a home for.

Sandra: What’s it like being both an editor and a writer? Is it hard for you to mentally switch gears?

Nicole: It's great to be both an editor and a writer. I love to help authors make their stories shine and to make it the best it can be. It also teaches me what works and what doesn't, so being an editor helps me as a writer. It's not hard to mentally switch gears anymore. I find that even when I read for pleasure, I tend to edit then too. Turning off my internal editor has been a problem lately.

Sandra: Can you tell us about the Kingdom of Arnhem series, particularly about your forthcoming book, Champion of Valor?

Nicole: The Kingdom of Arnhem series is about the final war between Arnhem and Speica. Set in an alternative medieval fantasy world, it's a fantasy romance series for young adults and adults.

Book I - Woman of Honor is about a young girl who wants to become a knight. Aislinn is willing to give up everything for the kingdom of Arnhem - her childhood, her life, even her heart. No matter the pain it brings.

Book II - Knight of Glory. Geoffrey leaves Arnhem to find her allies for the war against Speica and finds secrets, lies, and rumors that could tip the war in Speica's favor. He also finds himself torn between two very different and mysterious ladies.

Book III - Champion of Valor. Selliki loves the mage Gabrael but she is a selkie and love has never treated her race kindly when they love someone from the land. The final war between Speica and Arnhem is threatening the entire world. Lucifer has aligned himself with Speica and wants nothing less than to bring about the Apocalypse before its time. Only one kingdom will prevail; that is, if the world doesn't end.

Sandra: What inspired you to write the Kingdom of Arnhem series? Did you come up with an idea for one book first and then the sequels, or did you conceive of the entire story all at once?

Nicole: I was inspired to write the Kingdom of Arnhem series when I discovered through my research that there had been female knights in the Middle Ages. I immediately pictured a young girl asking her king to become a knight, citing the other female knights. And the idea for Woman of Honor was formed.

I knew as I wrote Woman of Honor that there was so much more here than just one story. While writing Knight of Glory, I realized that the focus of the series was on the war between Speica and Arnhem, and I knew then that the series would be a trilogy, so no I didn't conceive the entire overall storyline at once.

There are more stories I want to write set in this world - some before the series, some after. This is one world that has so many stories yet to be told.

Sandra: What inspired your interest in medieval history?

Nicole: I've always loved the ideas of knight and chivalry and honor. I know that not all knights were good, that many burned down towns and stole from commoners and all of the disease and hardships the medieval people faced. But there is something so magical about the romanticized visions of that time period. The sense that men would do anything for their women, that love was the highest call, that's what I love most about the Middle Ages.

Sandra: What types of research have you done for your stories? Can you share with us something unusual you learned from your research?

I obviously have done a lot of research into the Middle Ages, but I also do research into different fantasy creatures. I love to discover new to me mythological creatures. Before writing Knight of Glory, I hadn't know that there were different types of trolls, nor that mound trolls were called haugtrolds. I hadn't known about the Kelpie until then.

Something unusual? Going back to the trolls, I went toward Scandinavia legends to create my troll race. These trolls look more like humans than other trolls, and the women are always impeccably dressed. I also learned that there was such a thing as a wind-troll, so I combined the two to form my race. My trolls could dance on the wind and fly.

Sandra: If you were living in medieval times, what role would you like to occupy and why?

Nicole: Great question! Let me think…I wouldn't want to be a commoner, but I wouldn't want to be royalty either. I guess a noble then. However, I wouldn't mind trying to be a female knight!

Sandra: Who are your favorite authors and why do you admire them?

Nicole: Oh so many! I love JRR Tolkien - his world-building skills are unparalleled. I love JK Rowling. Harry Potter was epic. Loved how the characters grew throughout the series, and how obvious it was despite the story being told strictly from Harry's POV. I also loved the C.S. Lewis. The Chronicles of Narnia have always been a fun series to read, and I loved how he focused on the same family and their adventures in a fantasy world.

Sandra: What other writing projects are you currently working on?

So many! I'm revising an urban fantasy and a fantasy YA, both I would like to shop to agents. I'm also working on the next few short stories in my What You See is What You Get series. This paranormal YA series from Echelon Press is six short stories, about Ana who discovers that a veiled mist separates our world from the paranormal one, a mist that one few people can see beyond. Ana is one such seer.

Sandra: What’s one of the goals you hope to achieve with your writing?

Nicole: I hope to one day get an agent and to have my books sold in bookstores across the world. But on a smaller scale, I just hope to entertain my readers, and to become a better writer with each book or short story that I write.

Sandra: What’s something people wouldn’t be able to guess about you just by looking at you?

Nicole: I may be small (I'm just shy of 5 foot) but I'm no pushover!

Be sure to leave a comment to be entered to win some signed post cards and magnets. Each comment during the Champion of Valor Blog Tour gives you an entry for the grand prize: a copy of the entire Kingdom of Arnhem trilogy - Woman of Honor, Knight of Glory, and Champion of Valor.


Michael Offutt said...

Nice interview questions. Thanks for posting this.

katsrus said...

Hi Nicole. Following your blog tour. You sound like a busy lady. Wonderful interview.
Sue B

David Powers King said...

Nice! You interviews one of my followers! Good to learn a little more about Nicole and what she's up to. Thanks for that. :)

Stephanie said...

Great interview!!!

Nicole Zoltack said...

Glad you enjoyed the interview, Michael!

Thanks, Sue, I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed with how busy I am.

Thanks, David!

Thanks, Steph!

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