Nikki Nelson-Hicks was born in Nashville, TN but lived in California, Budapest, Muscat, and stopped in a half a dozen places in between; she doesn’t really call any place home.
She’s married to a former USMC Sniper who currently does Roman reenactments, so her garage looks like the set of Spartacus vomited in there. She has two adult children. One of them is a professional illustrator and the other one is doomed to be as weird as his mother. She shares her domicile with five cats and two dogs; two Roombas have choked to death on their fur.
She is a writer of a fistful of genres. She’s written horror, sci-fi, steampunk, mystery, and has one Sherlock Holmes story under her belt (but two others in the making). Much like her past, she doesn’t settle in one trope for very long. Imagination is a big place, why settle for one story?
You have resided in so many different places, and met many different people, tell me, has this helped with character-building?
Interesting question. The answer is, of course, YES. I look back on my very first writing attempt, a space opera/fantasy thing that was a nightmarish hybrid of Star Wars, Tolkien, and Thieves World. It is terrible. I still have it, locked away in a box under my bed. I was seventeen at the time and every chapter started with someone walking down a hall. Every. Chapter. But of course! I was a high school kid and my life consisted of walking down halls to get to classrooms. I had no concept of anything outside of those beige boxy rooms.
I’m 55 years old and worlds away from the girl I was then. I have married, become a mother, and lived in different countries and different states. I’ve met people so far outside of what I knew at home, it’s amazing how different I am from her.
Here’s a quick story: When we lived in Budapest, my kids went to a school on a street called Istenhegyi Ute. My husband and I used to joke that Istenhegyi would make a great name. “Jake Istenhegyi, Private EYE!” That was in 1998. That name lived inside my head until 2014 when I was challenged to write a story for a pulp anthology that was going to be centered around chickens. And that was when Jake Istenhegyi, the Accidental Detective was born.
You write for a variety of genres, do you read the same? Or do you prefer one over them all?
I read a lot of different genres. Nonfiction. Fiction. I like to cast a wide net. It’s so much fun to see what is out there and to experience different voices and points of views.
Of all the genres, I have a special warm, sticky place in my heart for horror. Anything fantastical and goes bump in the night. I’ve always had an interest in the darker things. I was the creepy kid who could be found in the occult section of the bookstore, reading mythologies and macabre books.
A quick story: when I was 7, the school librarian refused to let me check out a book on bats because she said it was above my grade level. I had to prove I could read it. So, I did. That landed me in the gifted program. What they didn’t know is that the reason I wanted the book on bats because I believed they could turn into people! I saw Bela Lugosi did it in a movie and I had yet the capacity to tell the difference between movies and reality.
When did you have the idea to write your Sherlock Holmes novel?
I was asked by a Pro Se Press to write one. Sorry, it’s not sexy but that’s the truth. I was given carte blanche to write whatever I wanted as long as I stayed true to the Doyle Canon.
I decided I wanted to write something that gave a nod to Doyle’s belief in fairies and how that is such a weird juxtaposition to his famous character’s rationality. At the time I was also reading a book about haunted places in the UK and stumbled across a place in Norfolk called The Shrieking Pits. Legend has it that pagans held human sacrifices there and that the screams of their victims could still be heard.
So, I added those two things, plus a pinch of some Viking history and a pair of Psychical Investigators and voila!
Your blog is delightful! I enjoyed reading your little anecdotes. Have you ever written a blog
and thought: this would make a good story?
No, I really haven’t. Maybe I should. I use my blog to help just work through some ideas or states of mind that I need to bleed out. I’ll have to think about that though.
Do you have a favorite story you've written?
That’s a 'Sophie’s Choice' kind of question. I love all my children of ink for different reasons.
I love my Jake Istenhegyi stories mainly because they are such a weird, fun ride! I really don’t know where I am going with those until I sit down and start playing in my mental sandbox. It’s amazingly freeing.
I love “Rumble” because it came together so well. The challenge was to write a story about two cryptids having a fight. I proposed Mongolian Death Worms and Cannibalistic Mole People. The publisher gave me the green light and I wrote the story. When the rights returned to me, I published it under my house, Third Crow Press. I love that story. It’s so much fun. It has corporate espionage, mercenaries, eco-terrorists, shamans….plus Mongolian Death Worms and Cannibalistic Mole People.
I love Perverse Muse because it is an interesting answer to the question: Why did all the women in Poe’s life die?
I love The Galvanized Girl because it was my first attempt at steampunk and creating a kick-ass female protagonist.
I love The Problem at Gruff Springs because it was just a joy to write. The challenge was to write a story where a Wild West Hero must fight a Fairy Tale villain. I chose Alan Pinkerton versus the trolls in the Billy Goat Gruff story. The publisher gave me the green light and ran with it.
Quick story: in the first published version of that story, I named two of the characters after Sam and Dean Winchester from the tv show, Supernatural. It was an Easter Egg and I was so tickled when people emailed me about it! I took that out in the later version when I published it under Third Crow Press.
Have your family members helped with plotlines?
My husband will tell you that he has helped with EVERYTHING. And, yes, he has helped craft a few plotlines but…I still had to do the dirty work and write the bloody things!
My son helped me greatly while writing the Jake Istenhegyi story, “Road Trips, Acid Baths and One-Eyed Bastards”. He asked me, “So…what did they do with his heart?” And BINGO! I had a great plot point to play with.
My daughter, a professional illustrator, is a great editor. She can spot bad grammar from across the room. And, man, does she hate onomatopoeia. And exclamation points. She’s a monster.
What are you working on right now?
Lately, I’ve been immersed in getting Vol 2 of Jake Istenhegyi, The Accidental Detective Omnibus ready for release in October. That has been taking up all my time.
When I finally get that off my plate, I have two projects waiting in the wings. An illustrated horror story, “Crown of Feathers” about a young boy who, in an attempt to save his dying mother, unfortunately, turns her into a ravenous undead monster. I also am plotting out a
mainstream thriller, “Hand Me Down” where the past crimes of a woman come back to haunt her and threaten to destroy her family.
If you could meet any literary character and interview them, who would you choose?
I am a rabid fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I would love to sit down in a pub and talk the night away with Sam Vimes, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Captain Carrot, Rincewind, and so many other Discworld citizens.
Have you ever considered modeling the main character after yourself?
I think that is a cardinal sin that many fledgling writers commit. because, YOU ARE NOT THAT INTERESTING. Very few skin and bone people are as interesting as fictional people.
Although, I have had friends write characters based on me and it hasn’t always been that flattering. For some reason, people think I’m a serial killer in hiding or a witch.
Can you give my readers an idea about Jake Istenhegyi, The Accidental Detective Omnibus Volume 2 that is due out Oct 1st?
There are six stories published in the Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective Series.
Volume One covers the first three: “A Chick, A Dick, and A Witch Goes Into a Barn…”,
“Golems, Goons, and Cold Stone Bitches” (my personal favorite), and “Boodaddies, Bogs, and a Dead Man’s Booty.”
Volume Two covers the last three stories: “Fish Eyed Men, Fedoras and Steel Toed Pumps”, “Road Trips, Acid Baths, and One-Eyed Bastards”, and “Corpses, Coins, Ghosts and Goodbyes.”
Basically, these six stories are the origin story of Jake Istenhegyi and take the reader on a thrill a minute ride where they will read about Jake encountering Voodoo Priestess, zombie chickens, losing his best friend, getting in the middle of a catfight between three immortal sisters, golems, Boodaddies, pirate ships, treasures, goons, cannibal fish people, body jumping ghosts and alchemists willing to do anything to get the Salt of Life.
It’s family fun!
As a special treat, I am going to also include the first two chapters of Book Seven. The working title is “Gold, Cults and a Bloody Nose” but that could change.
Follow Nikki and find her books at the links below.