This week’s featured author is Nicoline Evans whose book Haemans promises to be an exciting and gripping tale. It is a dystopian thriller set in Russia and mixes gothic urban-fantasy with survivalist suspense. Haemans are the supernaturally strong and morally inept descendants of a royal bloodline who have an addiction to a drug called silve cocaine and to blood. I interviewed Nicoline Evans to see what made her tick as an author:

1. When did you first discover you had a talent for writing?

I first started writing stories in middle school. In 7th grade, I wrote my first short story. From there, I focused more on poetry, primarily as an outlet during tough times in my life. I eventually learned how to express a lot in a few words (in poetry) and after I graduated college, I shifted back into storytelling. I had to re-learn how to keep things concise in this new format. 5 years later, I have 3 novels and a children’s story written. “Haemans” is the second story I wrote, but the first to be published.

2. Of all your novels, which is your favorite and why? (If it is just the one, just say why you enjoyed writing it!)

Well, it’s hard to say, Since I can’t talk about the books that aren’t published yet, I’ll focus on “Haemans”. I really enjoyed writing this story because it is dark and deep. I was able to pull feelings from my past (when I went through difficult times), and portray them onto alternate situations. I used emotions I knew and placed them upon my characters. What’s fun about it is that just because they are feeling the same things I felt at one point in my life, the way they behave and handle the feelings often vary from my own experiences drastically. So it just goes to show, no one handles sadness in the same fashion. We all have our own methods to cope.

3. Which writers do you enjoy most reading?

I don’t have one author whose collection I follow intensely. Rather, I follow genres. I love fantasy in every form. If I like a writer, I will browse their collection and explore their other stories. But for the most part, I like to experience many different writing styles within that genre. It keeps it exciting.

4. Who are the main influences on your writing?

There isn’t any one person that influences my writing. I generally create my stories based off wild dreams I have or I generate stories from old poems I wrote. I also write based off emotions, ones I’ve had myself and ones I’ve witnessed loved ones go through. So in that sense, certain people influence me in small doses. I realize you probably meant other writers who have influenced my writing, but I’m going to stick with my answer above 🙂

5. Do you believe that books should entertain or educate – or is a bit of both?

Both. In my stories, I like to entertain, first and foremost. I want people to enjoy themselves while they read my books. But I also like to make people think while they read. In the case of “Haemans” I believe it will make people look into their own souls and recognize the ways in which they aren’t too dissimilar from the characters. It will also teach them a bit about Russia, geographically. In my other, unpublished story, there is a lot of social commentary and in that case, it will make people think about their own stance on certain issues.

6. If you could choose 10 books to take away to a desert island, what would they be?

I’d bring my kindle, that way I could have more than 10 books 🙂

7. Do your characters speak to you when you write?

Yeah. I often become very close friends with my characters as I write. Sounds crazy, but I get to know them very well. Sometimes to the point where I grow sick of them and their nonsense! Just kidding, unconditional love always. My stories are my babies and I am very protective of the content and each character’s integrity. I try to create strong characters while keeping them real and flawed. It’s not always an easy combination, but that’s why you slave over your work until to get it where it needs to be.

8. Why do you think people enjoy reading your novels?

Despite “Haemans” being a very new release, so far I have gotten great feedback. I think people like it because they can relate to the characters, maybe not situationally but emotionally. And that’s a strong reason for any reader to want to get lost in a book.

9. What projects are you currently busy with?

I am busy finishing up the edits on the first novel I wrote; my epic labor of love. Started that one in 2009 and I am excited to be reaching the finish line with it. It is a fantasy adventure and it will be two books. After I get that out in a few months, I am looking forward to writing a new story!

10. In short, can you tell us a little about your background and your aims as a writer.

I hope to create worlds where readers can escape to. I want to create safe spaces for people to forget about their own real-life worries and be able to dive into the new lands and situations I invent. I know how much reading books helped when I had too much grief in my own life, so I hope to give that type of comfort back to others in my own way. I hope to help people handle the varying weights of life through my writing.

As I think I said before, I have a surfeit of “real life” around me and I love to escape into a good book – the more original and escapist the better. Now that Haemans is on my radar I am looking forward to seeing more from this young and talented writer!

An Emerging Threat

Mark Lein’s novel An Emerging Evil creates a world in which evil has cast a shadow over the islands. A scholar and a warrior of royal blood both begin separate quests to find whoever or whatever is responsible for the darkening of their world. Along the way they meet many creatures, both friend and foe, and the story of their journey is told.

I interviewed Mark about his writing and influences this week.

1. When did you first discover you had a talent for writing?

Do I have that? Early in my teen years I found it was easier to put in writing than speak what was going inside. I was very shy and writing gave me a way to communicate. I thought I had a talent for it from the beginning, but it was not until I was 28 or so that I began to receive positive feedback from peers.

2. Of all your novels, which is your favorite and why?

Well I only have the one published (An Emerging Threat)…so…that one! It is Book #1 of The Seeker’s Burden series.

3. Which writers do you enjoy most reading? Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Rex Stout, Louie La’mour,

4. Who are the main influences on your writing?

Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis. Definitely the single most influence has been the writing of Terry Brooks. I also used past experiences to build parts of the world. The Savoq and their lands are based off my time in Iraq and Kenya, while a few of the situations the characters go through are ones that closely resembled ones that I lived through.

5. Do you believe that books should entertain or educate – or is a bit of both?

Definitely both. First and foremost my novels are meant to entertain, to take the reader on a journey outside of reality. For books in general, the best education I received in my life was learned by reading. As General Mattis (US Marine) said, “The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men. Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.”

6. If you could choose 10 books to take away to a desert island, what would they be? Bible (Various), The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien), Sword of Shannara (Terry Brooks), The Last Battle (C.S. Lewis), Wild at Heart (John Eldrege), Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain), Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams), Last of the Mohicans (James Fennimore Cooper), any Louie La’mour novel.

7. Do your characters speak to you when you write?

Yes they do. As I write dialog or an experience that a character goes through, I keep finding more small details about the character that I never thought of before, small nuances and traits. It keeps me involved and interested to find out what will come out of my head next! The ever involving and living world is what keeps me coming back to my writing.

8. Why do you think people enjoy reading your novels?

I think it is the mix of relatable characters, exciting and brutal action, and the mysterious and dark enemy.

9. What projects are you currently busy with?

Book #2 of The Seeker’s Burden series, Path of Darkness. The first draft of the novel will be ready for editing the first week of February and I hope to have it published in early spring 2014.

10. In short, can you tell us a little about your background and your aims as a writer.

I have worked on a dairy, yes milking cows, as a hamburger flipper in a fast food restaurant, and as a construction worker. I have worked as a pest control technician (bug guy), I have produced a short film, I have been a Military Officer for 10 years, and I live in the always too hot state of Florida. I have traveled to Africa, Europe, and the Middle East (and exotic Canada).

My aim is first to write a book I enjoy reading. Yes, it is selfish. Second it is to create a world and experience that draws the reader into the story.

Thank you Mark, I wholeheartedly agree with that aim! These days there are so many writers who aim for a “niche” and write to a formula for a particular type of reader. Writing primarily for yourself, in my opinion, allows you to stand out from the crowd. Wishing you every success with An Emerging Threat and much more to come with Path of Darkness!