S. K. Nicholls is visiting with me today to discuss her book, Naked Alliances. This book is great, and I was honored to be one of the ARC readers. Special deal for you today, it’s on sale for 99¢.
Interview with S.K. Nicholls Author of Naked Alliances
Hi, Craig. It’s freezing up here in Idaho. Park me near that fireplace in the writers cabin and ask Lisa to bring me a cup of hot cocoa. So happy to be here with you today. Oh, Otto! You’re welcome to sit in my lap, but you’re a lot heavier in real life than you look in pictures.
C.B. Please tell us about Naked Alliances, and what compelled you to write it.
S.K.: Naked Alliances is the first book in the Naked Eye Series. It’s a 74,000 word crime romp set in the seedier side of Orlando, Florida that the amusement park industry tries to hide from public view.
My husband is a crime novel aficionado. He reads three crime novels a week, and turned me onto comedy capers that tickled my funny bone. I fell in love with authors like Tim Dorsey, Carl Hiaasen, Tim Baker and Randy Wayne White. I had written a very serious historical fiction novel and needed a break, but wanted to keep writing. He challenged me to write a crime romp, a thriller with a humorous edge, and Naked Alliances was born.
C.B.: What is your book about?
S.N: In it, a lone wolf private investigator reluctantly goes undercover in a nudist resort and teams up with the unlikely custodian of a girl on the run to solve a cold case for the former mayor and bring down the mastermind of a sex trafficking ring. No possibility of encountering a concealed weapon there! With bodies piling up, Richard juggles both cases and works hard to keep his balls in the air and connect the dots before someone else dies. As his pulse-quickening quest for answers leads from the dark corners of Orlando’s Little Saigon to the sunny exposure of the Leisure Lagoon, Richard will be put to the test. Just how much will this Naked Eye have to bear…or bare?
C.B.: What themes do you explore in Naked Alliances?
S.N.: All of my writing explores social issues, from the serious to the amusing. In addition to murder, Naked Alliances looks at a crime we would all like to pretend doesn’t exist, but it is in every city and rural area in the country, sex-trafficking. As a former sexual assault nurse examiner, I witnessed, up close and personal, the extent to which our society is plagued by this crime. Honor, loyalty, the degree to which respect is owed, and justice all play a part. I took liberty with humor in the book, fielding some sexuality issues, as well.
C.B.: Why do you write?
S.N.: Because I have so much to say and nobody will listen to me talk. Writing soothes my soul.
C.B.: When do you feel the most creative?
S.N.: I have bursts of creativity. I’m not sure if that’s related to being bipolar or just the way I was made, but I get on a creative roll that will last for a few weeks, then nothing. As far as timing, I work best in the early morning and late nights.
C.B.: How picky are you with language?
S.N.: That’s a broad question. I’ve never read a crime novel that didn’t have swear words in it, unless it was a cozy. Biker dudes don’t usually ask you to please pass the salt. I’m not saying they can’t be polite, but their language, to be real, must reflect the life they live. Same is true for dialect. If a book takes place in the south, the colloquialisms and potpourri of cultures must be reflected in the writing. Naked Alliances does, so there is southern speak, patois, and with the a few characters being Puerto Rican and Vietnamese, there’s a tiny bit of Vietnamese and Spanish tossed in.
C.B.: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
S.K.: The opposite is true for me. I become my characters, and my characters become me. It’s almost like role–playing on a stage, a deeply personal experience.
C.B.: What is your worst time as a writer?
S.N.: Mid-day. I run out of steam around 2 pm and often go take a couple of hours of nap, let my head rest, get a second wind, and come back to write until 2-3 am, then take another nap.
C.B.: Your best?
S.N.: After breakfast and two cups of coffee, or after dinner and two glasses of Cab-Sav or a couple of margaritas.
C.B.: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
S.N.: Stop me? No. But depression can slow me down. When my dad died and when we lost a young man, Gabriel, who had been living with us for a while to a dirt bike accident, I went into a writing slump. I started playing Pokemon Go to get me out of the house and into the sunshine of the gorgeous parks of Central Florida, socializing with people Gabriel’s age and those older and wiser than me.
C.B.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
S.N.: Last February I had the manuscript of Naked Alliances completed and attended Sleuthfest in Boca Raton sponsored by Mystery Writers of America. We were given opportunity to read excerpts from our manuscripts. I was scared to death. Public speaking is not something I’ve done outside of my nursing career. “What if they don’t like it?” also ran through my mind.
I stood up and read my first chapter in the ten minute allotted time. We had been listening to deep, dark, gritty crime stories for an hour and mine was different. Well, the audience laughed at the funny parts, clapped, commented on what a relief it was to hear something lighter, and gave me standing ovation!
Audience and readers are everything to a writer…at least this one. Yes, the story is my baby, but when it is well received, it makes an author’s world brighter.
Sleuthfest, a writer’s convention, is open to both readers/fans and writers. In 2017, it will be held in Boca Raton, February 23-26. We would love to have you and your readers join us. It’s a fun event with keynote speakers, workshops, raffles and banquets. And the hotel serves warm chocolate chip cookies at the desk. All you have to do is ask for one.
C.B.: Is writing an obsession to you?
S.N.: Absolutely! So is Pokemon Go.
C.B.: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
S.N.: Always. I’m a firm believer in, “Write what you know.” That’s not to say you can’t do research on a topic that fits your writing. Research is paramount to any good story. But I believe that writing comes more naturally and readers notice when you are deeply familiar with your material.
C.B.: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
S.N.: My writing is reality based. Both my published books deal with real world issues. Much of my writing is prompted by reading the news or experiencing real life events. I get it, though. Writing can be an escape from the drama and trauma that is the real world.
C.B.: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?
Title: Naked Alliances
Genre: Mystery/Crime Thriller/Romp
Author: S.K. Nicholls
Publisher: Brave Blue Heron Books
Thank you for having me here today, Craig. If Lisa has the plane de-iced, I’m ready to go home now.
If you liked Chablis in John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, you will love Brandi in Naked Alliances. You can learn about Chablis here. Unfortunately, she was another celebrity lost in 2016. Readers who enjoy Florida regional writing, crime thrillers, and mysteries, books on organized crime, murder, private investigator novels, and humor will find Naked Alliances by S.K. Nicholls enjoyable.
S.K. Nicholls is a crime romp novelist that lives in Central Florida where her family has owned and operated Cypress Cove, a nudist resort, since 1964. A Registered Nurse and formerly a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, (S.A.N.E.) she has a special interest in sex-trafficking. Social issues are at the forefront of her writing that is always blended with humor. When she’s not writing, she can be found tracking down Snorlaxes, wandering city parks with the homeless, or sipping margaritas on the bow of a boat. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Florida Writers Association, Writers of Central Florida…Or Thereabouts and RRBC.