An interview with N.S. Wikarski

NS WikarskiI first met N.S. Wikarski when she hired me to help with one of her first books some years ago. I was immediately entranced with her unique writing style and have not been disappointed since. I think you’ll be equally engaged if you’ll take a look at this new series she’s working on now…

PJ: How long have you been writing?

NW: Since I majored in literature at school, I suppose I’ve been writing all of my adult life. However, I didn’t get serious about writing my first novel until I hit 40. It must have been part of my subliminal bucket list. Since that time I’ve penned five books with a sixth in the works and three more planned after that.

PJ: Is the writing life what you expected when you started out? If not, how is it different?

NW: Being a writer is a dream job for me because of the freedom and flexibility it gives. I can work at my own pace and set my own schedule. The writing and research aspects of the work are exactly what I expected and also what I wanted.

The part I didn’t expect was how much marketing I’d have to do. Promoting myself isn’t a task I enjoy. Writing is easy. Marketing is hard. At some point, I suppose the momentum will catch up but right now I still need to devote a good deal of time to spreading the word about my books.

PJ: The general public seems to think authors are relatively wealthy. Without prying too much, has your writing income lived up to expectations?

NW: Within a year or so it will live up to my expectations but it takes a very long time to build a fan base as an independent author. At this point, I have a steady income stream but I would like to see the currency flow a little faster.

PJ: Would you do anything differently if you had it to do over again?

NW: I think I would have placed more confidence in myself from the start. At the beginning I didn’t understand that other people’s opinions of my work are simply that—other people’s opinions. Even professionals in the field (agents, editors) are usually guided by nothing more than their own emotional reactions. Ultimately, if I’m convinced that I’ve written the best book I possibly could, then that’s all that matters.

PJ: Writing new material, rewriting, submitting new work, waiting, promoting published work…the list is large. How do you manage to divvy up your time to give adequate attention to all needed areas?

NW: By temperament, I’m frighteningly organized—a natural born multi-tasker. I think that’s what a writer needs to be given the number of plates we have to spin in the air. When I was much younger (and therefore more naive) I thought a writer could sit in a romantically shabby garret somewhere and just write.  I neglected to notice that those were the writers who usually starved to death.

PJ: Good observation! What is the single most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a writer?

NW: Getting a perceptive comment from a reviewer or reader that tells me they actually “get” what I’m doing.  People, as readers, bring a lifetime of baggage to each book they pick up. It will color their reaction to the material in a way that an author can never foresee. It’s heaven to read comments that actually demonstrate that a particular reader had their eyes open and connected with the material in my books in a way that I intended.

PJ: What is the single most disappointing thing that happened to you as a writer?

NW: Having to deal with people in the industry who don’t find any value in my work. At one time, those people were the gatekeepers of what eventually made it into print. Thankfully that’s no longer the case. In any event, I’ve learned to ignore that sort and seek out the fans who do value what I’m doing. Much to my delight, there are a lot of them out there.

PJ: What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

NW: When the first book in my Arkana series came out, Kindle Nation called me the “next Dan Brown.” Since up to that point I’d been working in a vacuum with no feedback, I was really pleased by that compliment. The Da Vinci Code is one of my favorite books.

PJ: With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

NW: I’m doing something in the Arkana series that nobody else is. I’ve taken a highly controversial theory about the lost pre-patriarchal past of the human race and fictionalized it in a way that makes those ideas accessible to a mainstream audience. The books challenge all our notions about gender relations but not in a dry, academic way. There’s murder, mystery, secret societies, exotic locations, and some endearingly quirky characters thrown into the mix. The reader is meant to come away with an entirely new perspective on the world but also be entertained in the process.

PJ: What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

NW: Virtual book tours have worked out quite well for me.  Since I have a limited amount of time available for traditional book promotion, virtual tours are a great way to increase the awareness of my work with a minimal amount of effort on my part. I’ve also found that having periodic free ebook promotions has raised the visibility of my titles on the Amazon best seller lists.

PJ: What area of book promotion is the most challenging to you?

NW: I really dislike social media. I’m a very private person by nature and I find it absolutely baffling when I read some of the comments that people feel compelled to share with the world at large. While I think Facebook or Twitter are great ways to connect with fans you already have, I don’t think they’re very effective in attracting new fans. For a long time I felt guilty about my unwillingness to tweet or blog but then I read some statistics demonstrating that those methods don’t really work to build a fan base. Then I felt much, much less guilty about my natural reticence.

PJ: Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:

Chicago Gilded Age Mysteries:

The Fall Of White City

Shrouded In Thought

Arkana Archaeological Thrillers:Dragons Wing Enigma cover

The Granite Key

The Mountain Mother Cipher

The Dragon’s Wing Enigma

The Riddle Of The Diamond Dove (December, 2013)

PJ: Where can we buy them?

NW: All my books are available in trade paperback and Kindle format through Amazon.

PJ: What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

NW: I think most people assume that writers love to write about everything all the time. They have this image of starry-eyed authors walking around in a permanent fog, pen in hand, waiting for their muse to strike. I don’t fit that image. I only write stories I feel compelled to tell. The rest of the time I’d be just as happy gardening.