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Friday, December 7, 2018

Weekly Author Fridays featuring Nicki Pau Preto - Author Interview

It's officially December and I am very much in the festive/holiday spirit!  It's Friday and we all know what that means!  Today, I am excited to feature Nicki Pau Preto, author of Crown of Feathers this week!

About Nicki
Nicki is a young adult fantasy author living just outside Toronto, Canada. After getting a degree in visual arts, a masters in art history, and a diploma in graphic design, Nicki discovered two things: She loves to escape the real world, and she isn’t interested in a regular nine-to-five life. Luckily, her chosen career covers both.

What made you start writing? 
Unoriginal answer: Harry Potter. J. K. Rowling made it look so easy, which is actually quite laughable, because Harry Potter has to be one of the most complex and meticulously plotted series ever written. Ignorance is bliss.

How long have you been writing? 
I have been writing for a little over 10 years. I decided I wanted to be a writer near the end of high school, but didn’t write a full book until I was 23.

Can you tell us a little about your book? 
Crown of Feathers is about two orphaned sisters who dream of becoming legendary Phoenix Riders, even though they’re believed to be nearly extinct. After her controlling sister Val betrays her, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even though that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks. Over time she earns the respect of the Riders, particularly fiercely honest and honorable Tristan, but then her sister turns up, threatening to reveal Veronyka secrets that will rip it all apart. But a much greater threat is approaching: the empire has learned of the Phoenix Riders’ return, and intends to see them destroyed, once and for all.

How did you get the idea for writing Crown of Feathers? Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing? 
Most ideas tend to be a convergence of several different things. I knew I wanted to write a “girl dressed as boy” trope, because it’s an all-time fave, and I wanted to write about sisters who wound up on opposite sides of a war. Then, with all the Game of Thrones excitement, I thought there would be an upswing in dragon books. I wanted to write something fiery and exciting like that, but maybe a bit more unique. Then I thought of phoenixes, and everything came together!

Who is your favorite character in the book and why? Or, which character was the most fun to write and why? 
I think I have the most fun writing side characters, because as a reader, we can never really know their thoughts or motivations. The character Trix, for instance, is delightfully strange and cryptic, and I always enjoy writing her snappy dialogue. The character Sparrow is also a lot of fun, because she has this amazing mix of youthful innocence and blunt honesty. Both of them walked onto the page fully formed, and I didn’t do a lot of planning to make them feel real. They just were, and begged to be written.

What scene from Crown of Feathers are you most excited for readers to experience? No spoilers though! 
This is a hard question! I’m super excited for readers to get to the scenes with Tristan and Veronyka. I think that, besides the sisters, Veronyka’s relationship with Tristan is the heart of the story.

How long did it take for you to finish writing the book? 
It took me about 8 months to outline, draft, and revise the book before I started looking for an agent, but the idea had been living with me for about a year before that. I worked on the book again with my agent for about a month, and then we sold. After that, many more months (about 6) of work with my editor until it was ready for typesetting and proof reading and all the final steps of publishing. This is fairly fast for me. I worked on my book before COF for about 3 years.

Do you have a writing routine? 
I’m super lucky that I work from home as a freelance graphic designer as well as an author, so I can make my own hours and schedule my day depending on deadlines and shifting priorities. I tend to write better in the morning, before the rest of the world crowds in and distracts me, or late at night, when it feels like the world is asleep again. In the morning I write with tea, and sometimes in the evening I pour a glass (or two!) of wine. When I write I usually light a candle (mood lighting) and listen to epic music soundtracks (Game of Thrones is a personal favorite).

What was the hardest part of writing? 
Focus, I think. It’s hard to devote yourself to something that takes so long to be finished. Most work and other forms of art have a more immediate payoff. It takes months to feel payoff on a book, so you have to keep pushing even when it seems like the finish line keeps moving farther and farther away. That’s also why it’s so important to set smaller, more achievable goals (like daily word count) to break the larger task up into manageable chunks. 

What’s the next step in your writing career? 
Finishing book 2! Then, who knows. I’ve got lots of ideas cooking, but I’m a fantasy fan at heart, so I think most things I write will be within that Sci-Fi/Fantasy spectrum.



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