Please join me in welcoming J Nichole Parkins to the spotlight!
Have you always had a passion for writing?
Always. My mom tells me I used to harass her mercilessly to write down stories that I’d create as a pre-schooler. I wrote all through school, but never realistically considered pursuing it as a career until last year. Once I discovered self-publishing I’ve been moving ahead at full steam!
Does what you read influence what you write and what are some of your favourite authors/books?
A lot of what I write is inspired by things that I see in everyday life. The struggles that people go through, the stories hidden behind the everyday façade that we all wear. I work with heavy topics because those are the types of stories I see and hear. During my day job I work with at-risk populations and often deal with tough issues: infant mortality, abuse, neglect, women struggling to feed their children. It stays with you. Writing is a way I can deal with it personally and attempt to help others at the same time.
Trying to pick favorite authors is like asking me which of my children I love best! I have a constantly evolving list of authors I read but some of my current favorites include Rachel Vincent, Patricia Briggs, Kelley Armstrong, and similar urban fantasy writers. In the indie community I’m currently Facebook stalking Lynetta Halat, Carey Heywood, Lexi Martin, Tijan, Penelope Ward, Penelope Douglass, and Penny Reid. There are so many awesome indie writers out there! I add to my list almost daily.
What are your biggest inspirations?
My biggest inspiration is the world around me. Even the simplest interaction has a story - you just have to find it. I am inspired by the struggles of the clients at my day job, the fight that a lot of them have to go through just to survive. I’m inspired by their stories, the pain they’ve overcome. The woman on the corner who is waiting for the light to change, the man on the motorcycle weaving erratically through traffic – they all have a story. It’s up to writers to discover it; to coax that story to life.
Do you have a technique in how you choose characters and/or locational settings?
I don’t pick characters, they pick me. They creep out and tap on my shoulder and whisper in my ear. They slowly reveal who they are and what their story is.
Settings are usually inspired by where I’ve lived. But rarely I see something on television or hear about a location from someone’s travels, and use it in a story. I tend to exercise my artistic license when it comes to locations though. For instance, I blurred two cities together to create the location in the Burned series. I set most of the books in Tampa, but I added parts of surrounding cities in to fit my character’s needs in the story.
Do you listen to music while you are creating your masterpieces?
Always. If I don’t have music I have a very difficult time writing. I use it to set the mood, but also to block out all the extraneous noises. I have three kids so there can be a lot of noise in my house. Depending on the scene I’m working on I can listen to anything from heavy metal, indie rock, country, electronic, to classical. I have very eclectic tastes.
What do you do to stay motivated and avoid writer’s block?
My motivation hasn’t been an issue; I am a very determined person when I set my focus on something. Pretty much a bulldog, I hold on until I reach my goal. I do get stuck sometimes, especially when my characters don’t want to cooperate or do something that doesn’t fit with my plot - which is often. When that happens, I typically go for a swim or a walk or find something physical to do. Sometimes I pace around the house like a crazy person talking to myself, driving helps too. A lot of my ideas occur when I’m driving to pick the kids up from school – you know – when it’s almost impossible to actually write your ideas down. Luckily there is a nifty memo function on my phone. I also bake when I get frustrated or stressed so if I have an abundance of cupcakes around watch out!
How has becoming a published author (independent or traditional) changed your perspective on life and is it everything you expected it to be? (If you are not published yet – what changes do you foresee?)
I’ll finally accomplish a life-long dream: becoming an author. I don’t foresee a lot of changes happening otherwise. I’ll continue writing whether my books are financially successful or not.
What are your biggest challenges as an author?
Making time to write! Like most of us I’m juggling several things at once: a day job, three young children, and a household. I am very fortunate that my job encourages us to have a life outside of work and is very cooperative with my crazy schedule. I work long days so I am able to have at least a day off a week to devote to writing. I also write at night after the kids are in bed and on the weekends when I can squeeze it in. My family has been very supportive, which makes everything easier.
Do you have any pets?
I have two cats, Zeta and Cleocatra. Cleo is almost a year old and loves to “help” me write. More often than not that “help” is attacking me as I type but sometimes she’ll just sleep on my desk. Zeta is an old girl and prefers to lounge by my feet.
What hobbies do you have outside of reading and writing?
Reading! I read almost obsessively. Thanks to the Kindle I bought this year I have hundreds of books at my fingertips. It’s probably my favorite purchase next to my laptop. I also love to swim, go on adventures with my kids, and I used to love riding horses, but there’s not a lot of spare time for that anymore!
Where is the most exciting/memorable place you have been in the world?
I am fortunate to live where most people vacation. I am minutes from one of the best beaches in the world, Siesta Key Beach in Florida. After vacationing here years ago, we ended up relocating. It is stunning. I still can’t get over how beautiful it is.
Tell us about your latest work in progress or most recent published work…
I am publishing my first book, Burned, September 30th. It is the start of an urban fantasy/paranormal romance series by the same name. Burned focuses on Kyra, a shifter with some unusual abilities, who has had a rough life and has an attitude to match. She is recruited to help solve a series of unusual murders by diving into the dark underbelly of Tampa. Kyra ends up biting off more than she expected, and has to make some tough decisions. Decisions that might cost her everything.
I also have several New Adult projects and a Contemporary Romance in the works. Check out my website or follow me on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with my progress. I am also on Pinterest where I keep my inspirations for characters, scenes, etc. and Spotify where I keep playlists for each book.
Thank you for having me Johanna!