This is part of a new series of interviews featuring indie authors. These interviews will drop once or twice a week. If you’d like to be part of this series, please contact me at Sarah (at) bookwormblues (dot) net. Please support the authors by clicking on the affiliate links in the interview, spread the word, and, of course, buy their books.
We’re all in this together, you know?
About the Author
Nicola Cameron is a married woman of a certain age who really enjoys writing about science fiction, fantasy, and romance. When not writing about those things, she likes to make Stuff™. And she may be rather fond of absinthe.
While possessing a healthy interest in sex and romance since puberty, it wasn’t until 2012 that she decided to write about them. The skills picked up during her SF writing career transferred quite nicely to speculative romance. Her To Be Written work queue currently stands at around nineteen books, and her mojito-sodden Muse swans in from Bali every so often to add to the list, cackling to herself all the while.
The bulk of Nicola’s titles are SF (Degree of Resistance, Two to Tango), fantasy (Empress of Storms, Palace of Scoundrels, Lady of Thorns, Red Robin and the Huntsman, A Boon By Moonlight) and paranormal romance (Shifter Woods: Howl, Shifter Woods: Roar, Shifter Woods: Snarl, Trickster), as well as one historical romance, Behind the Iron Cross. As of 2018 she also started writing contemporary romances such as To My Muse and will be continuing this under the name Natasha M. Stark.
As for writing in general, Nicola plans to keep writing until she drops dead over her keyboard or makes enough money to buy a private island and hire Rory McCann as her personal trainer/masseur, whichever comes first. Because it’s important to have goals.
First things first, tell me about your books.
King of Blades is the fourth book in my Two Thrones series (started by that written-on-a-bet Empress of Storms). It’s autumn in the beautiful island kingdom of Hellas as King Matthias of Ypres and Queen Danaë reunite for their first wedding anniversary and the upcoming birth of their twins. But even as the Hellene capital celebrates with a week’s worth of spectacular athletic games, a pair of unexpected visits complicate the royal couple’s romantic interlude, and a concerned Danaë begins to wonder if her king is growing tired of her.
Meanwhile, Danaë’s brother Darius reunites with his lover Lars, only to learn that the handsome Ypresian officer has life-changing news of his own. When a series of strange accidents begin to plague the palace, Darius and Lars must join forces with the master Aeris mage Petyr Epilonious to investigate them—before the next one kills Darius.
What makes you and your books unique? Shine for me, you diamond.
I love writing truly entertaining stories with a ton of banter, capable heroines, supportive heroes who will fight tooth and nail for the people they love but step back if that person is the expert who’s needed at the moment (there is a reason why I adore Brendan Frasier in The Mummy), passionate sex scenes that also advance the plot, and the occasional real world issue that hopefully makes people think while they’re being entertained. If someone feels like reading one of my books was time well spent, my job here is done.
What are you working on now/any future projects you want to talk about?
The rest of this year is going to be a dead run for me as I publish King of Blades on 10/27/2020, Cross Current (Olympic Cove Book 4) on 11/24/2020, and Uncertainty Principle (Pacifica Rising Book 2) on 12/22/2020. But that wipes out my backlog, and I can start fresh in 2021 with the sequel to Shadow of the Swan, The Crimson and the Black (yes, another series. I am a masochist, clearly).
Sarah’s note: I’m tired just reading all that.
Let’s celebrate. What’s one of the best things that’s happened to you as an author? Don’t be shy.
I’ve gotten the opportunity to chat a number of times over Twitter with Louis Herthum, whose performance in Westworld inspired my dystopian SF romance Degree of Resistance. He’s a kind and lovely guy who’s been very tolerant with this wacky romance writer from Plano.
Let’s talk about CRAFT
What about self-publishing appeals to you? Why did you choose this particular path to publication?
I actually started self-publishing on a bet, of all things. Back in 2015 there was a small kerfluffle on social media where a romance writer with some really strange views about the business was conducting a public argument with other writers. In the end, she essentially dared people to write an 80,000 word novel, get it edited, get a professional cover for it, and release it in six months.
To this day, I don’t know why I said, “I’ll do it in six weeks.” But I did. I pulled out a 3K fragment of a story that dated to when LOTR: The Two Towers had just come out (what can I say, I thought Bernard Hill was smokin’ as Theoden) and spent the next four weeks pulling together assorted fragments of old D&D campaigns, an elemental magical system, and my favorite kind of love story, then two more weeks learning how to format ebooks and hiring the amazing Jay Aheer to do the cover while the book was being edited. That was Empress of Storms, and not only was it my first self-pubbed work, it’s also my only work to date to earn five figures.
Today, I self-pub because it gives me the freedom to write in any subgenre I feel like, and promote a book the way I think it needs to be promoted. I also love having complete control over my edits and covers, and I even enjoy the marketing aspect of the business.
Tell me about something odd you do when you write? Something about your particular process that is distinctly YOU.
I use Scrivener, which allows you to split your screen and display two documents at the same time, and I have to have pictures of my characters (usually actors that I mentally cast as the characters) next to the book document. This has gotten me a couple of strange looks back in the day when I could still write at Starbucks.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched while writing a book?
The nightlife and underworld of Berlin during the Weimar Republic. One of the more interesting anecdotes was one about Anita Berber, a German dancer and actress. Her daring nude performances, drug addiction and bisexuality made her infamous, and one of her favorite highs was to mix chloroform and ether in a bowl, dipping a white rose into the mix and nibbling the petals. One time when she thought a nightclub audience was ignoring her performance, she stormed offstage, climbed onto one of the nightclub tables and urinated over the nearby clubgoers.
Also, while doing research for my current WIP I’ve learned that chariot races were the ancient world’s equivalent of NASCAR.
Sarah’s note: If you want to read a fascinating book about drug use in the Weimar Republic between World War I and World War II, and then add some drug use and Hitler into the mix, check out this book.
Tell me about an unexpected thing you’ve learned, and how you’ve worked it into your book.
I always liked Greek mythology, and while researching something else I stumbled across a pair of twins sea gods named Bythos and Aprhos, who were essentially sea centaurs – the upper body of a man with the lower front of a horse and the tail of a fish. Greek god genetics are a trip and a half, I can tell you. They stuck in my mind, and when I decided to take a crack at ménage fantasy romance I used them as two of the three leads for my first novel Storm Season.
Let’s talk about BOOKS
Tell me about the most recent book you’ve read.
Mary Bennet and the Bingley Codex, by Joyce Harmon. It’s a marvelous Regency fantasy where Mary Bennet finds a book of spells in her brother-in-law’s library, becomes a mage, and goes off to have adventures.
What book would you like to see turned into a movie, and who should play the leading roles?
I know this is tacky but I don’t care – I would love to see my book Shadow of the Swan turned into a movie, and I’d cast Florence Pugh as Louisa Wallingford, J.J. Feild as Sir Henry Carstairs, and Josh O’Connor as King Avery (aka the Swan King).
Hobbies & all things WEIRD
When you aren’t writing, what can you typically be found doing?
Making sterling silver jewelry in the garage. And by making I mean using an oxy-propane torch, sterling wire and sheet, loose gems, and a buttload of tools to hand-fabricate some really cool jewelry. Still need to learn how to bead set faceted gems but that will probably happen sometime this winter.
How do your non-writerly hobbies influence your writing?
They’re literally part of my writing process. Whenever I’m working on jewelry, knitting, crocheting, quilting, etc. that keeps my hands busy and my mind free to work on sticky plot points, play around with story ideas, or hash out what the next book is going to be about.
What’s the soundtrack to your life?
Florence + The Machine’s How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.
What’s your favorite swear word and why?
Motherfucker. Sorry, but it’s true. It’s just very satisfying to scream when I drop a tiny gemstone in the garage or spill an entire bottle of pop over the kitchen.
Sarah’s note: Preach.
Any final thoughts?
There will be a future. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, what with **waves at the world** but barring an asteroid impact it will come. Hang in there, vote (this is for everyone, not just Americans), wear a mask and wash your hands regularly, tell your loved ones how much you love them, make a plan for getting through the next couple of years, and take as many mental relaxation breaks as you need.
And if you buy my books as well, hey, there’s your mental relaxation right there.