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We are writers mainly from Australia and New Zealand who write speculative fiction with romantic elements. Be it fantasy, paranormal, dark urban fantasy, futuristic and everything in between.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Darklight On...Nicky Strickland: Q & A

Today's Darklight On... is with Nicky Strickland. Welcome Nicky!

How did you come to write speculative fiction? 

It just happens. Any story that spills out of my brain has a fantastical element to it. Either the setting (like an alternate Brisbane where mermaids live) or the way events happen (a 21st century woman ending up in 1st BCE Rome).

Are you a plotter? Pantser? Or somewhere in-between? 

I like the term skirtser. It’s a little bit of each. I definitely do not plot like some writers I know *grin* however I do need to have at least a ‘mud-map’ for the story. It’s a bullet point list of events that must happen during the course of the story. How it happens, I leave that for the characters to show me. J

Who are you favourite authors? 

Yoinks. The tough question and so many (though tougher would have been asking for books). In no particular order a short list would include, Paulo Coelho, Euripides, Kim Wilkins, Lilith Saintcrow, Aristophanes, Jim Butcher, Joss Whedon, Kelley Armstrong. If I could grow up to be even a shadow of any of these writers, I’d be a happy girl  J 

What are you currently reading? 

I read 3 or 4 fiction books at a time. Managing Death by Trent Jamieson, The King’s Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniells, The Girl with No Hands and other Tales by Angela Slatter. I’m also going through a J.D. Robb glom at present.

The non-fiction books being read are Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and a couple about everyday life in Ancient Rome. 

You attended both the RWAus conference last year and WorldCon – how did you find these experiences in helping you as a writer? What was your favourite moment? 

Any interaction with others who also write helps development. To be able to talk about genre (romance and/or spec fic) and have other people ‘get it’, and you, is priceless. I love how the internet allows for friendships and support networks to develop but nothing beats connecting with others face-face. Writers generally by nature are a bunch of introverts and, I know for me, the conferences are a way to have an intense social time with other like-minded people. I leave invigorated and full of vim to get on with my storytelling (even snatching minutes in my hotel room on occasion).

It is a wonderful gift and creates many favourite moments. A very special one for me was to have my two worlds merge together when the paranormal romance group were able to meet up for a day during WorldCon. 

Do you have a favourite spec fiction movie or TV series? 

This question is as tough as favourite authors! So many to choose from, not to mention the rather lengthy list of shows I’ve yet to watch (ie Sanctuary, Fringe, Being Human....)

Fairly common knowledge is I’m a fangirl when it comes to Joss Whedon. So, Firefly, Angel the Series, Serenity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse and of course Dr Horrible’s Sing-along-Blog are all up there as faves.

TV shows....I’d have to give a nod to Supernatural (Sam and Cas are a close tie for me, you can all fight over Dean), Farscape, Blood Ties.

Movies....Underworld 1 & 2, Hellboy 1 & 2, The Fifth Element, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (both the old & remake).

I know I’ve missed so many, many more. 

Do have a favourite of your characters? 

If you promise not to tell my main characters...I’m very partial to Seda. He’s a secondary character in my Elemental series. Seda is a seadog (think seahorse the size of say a spaniel) who is a companion (and something more) to the very temperamental mermaid princess. I’ve imagined giving Seda a graphic novel offshoot story....but we won’t tell the others that.

What are you working on currently?

I like working in 3s. The plan for this year is...

Edits on Fire Walker, the 1st book in the Elemental series.

Writing the ‘dirty draft’ for WIP referred to as Vestals.

Planning, er I mean my version of planning, the 2nd book in the Elemental series. This is the mermaid one (she’s been waiting a long time – she was gipped a few manuscripts ago).

The Elementals is a series of books where the four elements are squabbling siblings, the disasters they create and the job their keepers have in trying to restore order to the planet.

The Vestal story is a historical with time travelling about a 21st century girl empowering the Vestal Virgins during the civil wars of the Roman Republic. It’s one of (for now) three stories I have involving time travel/historical periods. 

What is your favourite part of the process of writing? 

I love the creation of a new world and the characters coming to life as I play in my art books. I use an A2 art book along with colouring pencils and/or cray-pas to learn about the world, the characters and their stories. Once I have something I can work with, that is transformed into the bullet point ‘mud-map’. The anticipation of how the story is going to unfold I find exciting.

I also really enjoy, in that painful only-writers-get-it way, having written the ‘dirty draft’. When I go into the zone it is wonderful. As many writers (or artists in any medium really) know, the zone can sometimes be elusive and the words have to come out more like teeth.

I can say definitively I am learning to appreciate the art of editing. Back in the early days of writing, I used to get the dirty draft down and hit delete. As far as I was concerned the story was out of my head....I don’t do that now  J 

You are a creative person also being an artist. What type of art do you do? And can we see any pieces? 

Took a long to get my head wrapped around it but I’ve finally accepted the fact I am a creative person. Having said that, I’m certainly not the artist like our own Eleni!

I dabble in calligraphy. It all while on maternity leave, (before the baby, who is now 16, came along) as an outlet. I wasn’t writing yet. I love playing with layout designs, fonts, borders, colour choices and of course the illuminating letters. I have only a couple of pieces on digital camera as many of the pieces I do tend to be gifts. The image here is the card I made for my father-in-law’s 70th birthday. 


  1. A skirtser eh? :-) Now there's a term I haven't heard of until today - interesting interpretation!

    I hear you on the conferences bit, Nicky. A lot of fun and incredibly invigorating!

    Do you work on one WIP at a time or do you have multiple ones going and you jump from one to the other?

    And Joss Whedon - legend. That's all I have to say about him.

  2. Awww thanks Nicky - though I feel I'm more of graphic compositor rather than an artist. Still I hear you on being drawn to creative things.

    Skirtser is unique. I remember being impressed by the term when you first told me about it.

    I too read many books at a time. I think my brain needs time to absorb - or maybe I'm just scatterbrained ;-) LOL - don't answer that!

    Good luck with your WIPs. They sound wonderful.

  3. Hi Kylie, thanks for dropping by.

    This year I'm experimenting with my WIP schedule. In the past I've written one, edited one while also planning the next one. Elementals has a rough 5 book arc planned out. I can edit one, write one I know that. Whether I can write two side by side, I'm unsure.

    Don't stone me for this but I tend to dirty draft fast, so I'm going to experiment with writing two WIP concurrently. They are in different worlds so we'll see how that goes.

    Re Joss Whedon. Exactly :-) (was awesome to go listen to him last year at the Opera House....as my other half said I had to share the same room and oxygen as the man LOL)

  4. Hey Eleni, thanks for coming by. I'm drawn to so many creative things (though knitting and sewing are completely beyond me).

    I like to think of my reading as a buffet....(that way we can ignore terms like scatterbrained). Having said that, I know for a few books (J.R. Ward's Brotherhood, Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunters & J.D. Robb books) I'll sit and read without taking breaks....

    Re the skirtser word - I really do not own pants (what are these things called jeans LOL) and I really do fall between the two definitions so figured why not a skirt :-)

    Thanks re the WIPs....I'm looking forward to living underwater and in ancient Rome.

  5. Great post Nicky,
    and gorgeous card!
    I wonder if reading two or more books at a time (guilty!) is why we also tend to write at least 2 ms' at a time?

  6. Hey Nicky - love that - skirtser. I'm gonna use that from now on :)

  7. Hi Mel, thanks for the compliment re card. I've never thought of it like that re our multitasking skills....Will see how I go with writing two and get back to you :-)

    Hi Nicole! I like the term and added bonus - it's a short descriptor :)


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