Monday, October 09, 2006

Make-Believe Mondays With Nikki Poppen

Today on Make-believe Mondays I'd like to introduce Nikki Poppen. Nikki writes regency romance for Avalon. (Nikki also happens to be married to my agent, Scott Eagan.)

Nikki, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

Nikki: I have four projects going now. I have a three book series that I hope will become a follow up to the three book series I have at Avalon. The first series was a regency era series. This next series is set in the 1880s. The first book is currently entitled “Newport Summer” and it’s a ‘reverse’ of the usual American heiress goes abroad to bag a title. It’s about an earl, Gannon Maddox, fourth Earl of Camberly. He needs a bride with money fast so he auctions off everything of worth from his home (like the Earl of Marlborough) and sets sail for Newport and one final gamble to save Camberly from bankruptcy.

I really like the idea of doing the story from the male-being-on-the-quest standpoint. I think that’s rather fresh. I know I like books that are a bit more hero focused. His big tag line in the synopsis is “Gannon Maddox had looks and a title. He just needed the fortune to go with it.” I also like the idea of telling most of the story with the American Victorian setting. I get to show off some different Victorian research that doesn’t get highlighted so much in the English Victorians.

The second book is “The Madcap” and it is about an American heiress out of San Francisco—her name is Marianne and she’s hilarious and daring. Her big tag line in the synopsis is “She wasn’t the type one brought home to mother. No wonder he loved her so much.” The Third book is about Gemma (she doesn’t have a last name yet)called “The Carlton Caper.” It focuses on a woman masquerading as a man who infiltrates the sacred bastion of The Carlton Club.

OK, that’s a great project, but here’s a super important project to me that will take awhile to get done but I am very committed to it. I am working on a historical fiction piece called ‘Freedom’s Mistress’ about the Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew. She was a southerner, living in Richmond during the war and she spied for the Union. An amazing story. My academic background is in southern history and rhetoric so this is very dear to me.

Debra: They all sound wonderful!

As a child did any particular book or author pull you into their imaginary world?

Nikki: Tolkien!! Does everyone say this?

Debra: Well, not everyone, but quite a few do. From the responses I've had, I'd list it in the top ten.

Nikki: I absolutely loved Lord of the Rings. I’ve been in love with it since the fourth grade. I had posters and even bed sheets with Lord of the Rings characters on them. I can honestly say I’ve slept with Aragorn.

Debra: Oh what dreams you must have had!

Nikki: Viggo Mortenson looks just like the Aragorn on my bedsheets. I was very sad when they finally wore out when I went to college.

I loved the world of Middle Earth, but mostly I loved the characters. I recognized early (no kidding) that each of the 9 in the Fellowship represented one of the choices anyone might make in the face of world altering events. It was fun to think about who was I most like. I’ll leave it there since I could go on for ages. Anyone into that discussion can e-mail me and we can continue from there.

Debra: I might just have to take you up on that.

If there were no categories for books, no reader expectations to meet, and you could create the wildest work of imagination that you could think of what kind of story would that be?

Nikki: I would write about women who travel through time and participate in history. Sort of like the American Girl series only with time travel. I would write about a history professor who travels back to the late 1850s and has the opportunity to stop the Civil War or at least postpone it for ten yearsShe’d be Jewish, she’d fall in love with a handsome plantation owner’s son, who the local villain has a homosexual fetish for, they’d make a marriage of (she and the planter’s son) convenience to keep him out of jail for aiding escaping slaves, and take things from there. I might even make a three book series out of that.

Oh wait—I have written this book. Oh wait, it has won awards but alas there is no genre for this. It’s not time travelly enough for the science fiction people. It’s not paranormal enough for the paranormal people. It’s not historical enough for the history people because a) it’s not set in England b) there’s no kilts in it c) it’s not on a dusty wagon train where we eat nothing but beans and biscuits for months on end with half breeds.

Debra: We just need more publishers who are willing to publish fresh and unsual stories.

Nikki: I do mean that in good fun. We’ve all got at least one of those manuscripts under our beds. It’s my favorite book out of all the manuscripts I’ve written and I have not given up on this gem. Someday it will have a place and when it does—whooee watch out world.

It just goes to show that writing is about passion and one should never give up on their passion. It keeps us alive.

Debra: Absolutely!

Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination, and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?

Nikki: If you need to write, do it and don’t worry about what anyone thinks, unless you want it published. Publishing is all about audience analysis. But good writers can be good writers without a big commercial contract. Write for your friends, write for your family. Write for yourself and vanity press it. It’s all good if you feel good. Don’t be pressured into thinking commercial publishing is the only way to go or let that be the only standard of judging your success as a writer.

Debra: Nikki, thank you for joining us on this Make-believe Monday to share a bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

You can visit Nikki at

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