We’re thrilled to bring you an interview with Nikki Loftin, author of The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, and other forthcoming books. I’m sure you’ll be just as excited as we were to read her answers to our questions.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, since I was nine. Before then I wanted to be a vet, but I discovered I was afraid of blood. So… writing. I’m not at all scared of fictional blood!
When did you start writing?
My first published poem appeared in the local newspaper when I was nine or ten. I was hooked on writing for publication – even if I did give it up for a long while when my kids were very young.
If you weren’t a writer, what would your job be?
Oh, wow. I love working with kids – I loved my years as a teacher. I might teach writing! (Does that count?)
How long did it take from finishing your first book to when it was actually published?
I finished the first draft in June 2010. It appeared on the shelves in August 2012. It felt like forever to wait!
Did you get many rejections?
Some, but not as many as a lot of my friends talk about. I already had my agent, so I wasn’t querying from scratch. My agent sent it to a few editors – and it landed very quickly on the desk of an amazing person who I adore working with at Razorbill.
Do you find it hard to stop revising? Or do you have a definite ending point?
I find it hard to START revising! Seriously, I love drafting a new book – and I detest revising, even though that’s where the magic really happens. I have a formula for revisions. First, I send it to between 3 and 6 writing critique partners. (Revise revise revise.)Then, my agent gives me notes. (More revisions, lots of chocolate.) Sometimes I have to revise again during the process of submitting to editors. Of course, once an editor chooses your manuscript, there are months more of revisions ahead!
For you, what is the hardest part of writing a book?
See above: Revisions.
What made you decide to write for children, and how is it different from writing for adults?
I thought I was going to write books for adults – but the stories that came to my mind were all middle-grade level, mostly fantasies and humor. So I decided to go with the muse and try my hand at kid lit. It’s working out very well!
Do you think the character of Molly, in your book, really is a wicked stepmother, or does she have some good in her?
I’m going to plead the fifth on this one. If I ever end up writing a sequel, an answer to this question probably would spoil the next book!
How much input, if any, did you have into the art in the book?
A little bit! The artists sent me a few different versions of the playground illustration to choose from. I let my son help – he loved getting to pick!
Did your children read the book? If so, what did they think of it?
My kids had it read to them by me, more than once! They loved it, even if a few parts were a bit scary for my youngest (who was seven at the time). They’re both my number one fans and supporters, and I feel super lucky to have them for my first readers.
What advice would you give young writers?
Read as much as you can, in as many different genres as you can. What you read now will play a huge in part in what you write later. You may be the Next World’s Best Mystery Writer – but if you only read non-fiction or romance, you may never discover your hidden talents.
Do you have any subjects that you’re dying to write about, but haven’t yet?
Any new books that will be coming out soon? I have a new book called Nightingale’s Nest coming out in early 2014. I love this book – it’s full of magic and mystery, and darkness, too. I’ll have another book out a year or so later (to be decided!). I play with new ideas all the time, mostly re-imagined fairy tales, but any topic that combines scariness with magic and a bit of humor is what I love to write.
What is your favorite word?
Murmuration. My LEAST favorite is moist. Ick.
What inspires you?
My kids, other people’s books, long walks, music, memories, letters from my readers… everything, it seems like. I am still in love with the world, like I was when I was a kid – and it gives me so much to choose from.
Who is your favorite author or book (children’s or adult)?
Ooh, hard one. I’m not going to list living ones, since I have a LOT of friends who are writers! LOL I adored the Pippi Longstocking books, by Astrid Lindgren. And I have a soft spot in my heart for Dante. Is that weird?
What authors influenced you when you were first starting out?
The Grimm Brothers, of course! I read a lot, but in particular? I studied Robin McKinley’s fairy tale re-inventions, and read Shannon Hale pretty closely, too.
What are your hobbies when you’re not writing?
I play with my kids or my dogs! I also love to do Zumba (aerobic dance plus world rhythms), in-line skating or bike riding, reading (of course!), and baking. In fact, I bake whenever I’m stressed – so when I’m on deadline, my house smells amazing!
Thanks so much to Nikki Loftin for taking time out of her busy writing schedule to take part in this interview. We’re all REALLY looking forward to her new books!