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Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Blog Tour Interview & Giveaway - The Heart's Journey Home by Nikki Jackson

http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2015/09/vbt-hearts-journey-home-by-nikki-jackson.html


The Heart's Journey Home
Author: Nikki Jackson
Genre: YA Fiction

Book Description:
It’s summer vacation, and all seventeen-year-old Tori Logan wants to do is hang out with her two best friends, practice her mixed martial arts and go to FBI spy camp. Summer means freedom (mostly from adults) and Tori plans to fill every spare moment of her last summer before graduating from High School with all the fun things she and her best pals can come up with.

Tori, whose mom died of breast cancer when she was young, has always relied on her own strength to get by - especially because her Archeologist father tends to leave her behind with his live-in girlfriend while he gallivants around the world on digs.  Thankfully, Tori can take care of herself. She knows exactly who she is and what she wants to do with her life. Her Lakota Sioux grandfather, a former Navy SEAL, trained Tori in self-defense from a young age. Now, as a teenager, Tori excels at mixed martial arts and the use of various weapons.  During the summer she will be attending an FBI sponsored Summer Camp which she hopes will lead to her dream job – becoming an FBI serial killer profiler.

With her two best friends at her side, Tori believes she can handle anything. And with summer vacation stretching before them, the trio plans to find plenty of adventure.

But while Tori is determined to be independent, life has other plans for this fierce young woman, and they include coming to grips with some hard - and surprising - truths about both her past and her future.

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Author Interview

1. Tell a little about yourself. What you do when you’re not writing? What are your aspirations for the future?
I’m a regular nine to five working stiff, a contract worker for General Motors.  If there’s a challenge to writing that’s it.  How do you find time to write when you work full-time or for that matter if you’re a full-time student?  I’ve discovered there’s no time to find, you have to make the time.  Writing has to have such an urgency that you build it into your life the same way you factor in eating and sleeping (and dvr’ing Scandal, Empire or The Voice then making the time to watch.).  You have to get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later.  You have to pen a few words while you’re waiting in line somewhere or getting an oil change.  I kid you not, The Heart’s Journey Home was penned on the long plane ride to Thailand, on the long drive to New York and while doing missions in Peru.  Writing can’t be your ‘other life’ or some on the side hustle, it has to be the present life you live in the midst of everything else.  Otherwise how will you ever finish that first book?  And then the next one and the next one.

2. When and why did you start writing?
I really took an interest in writing when I was a kid, about eight years old.  It was the olden days when elementary schools had a library on-site and you went as a class once a week.  You picked out a book and you had to write a book report and then read the report in front of the class.  I fell in love with books then and I fell in love with writing too.  During summer vacation my mother expected my two sisters and I to read books so we walked the few blocks to the public library once a week.  They had this great kids section and I fell in love with my first book series there - The Boxcar Children.  They were a group of siblings who rode around in train boxcars having adventures.  I read every book in that series and it was a done deal.  I decided at the ripe old age of eight to be a writer.  Books had such an effect on me.  I was just a regular poor Black kid living a rather uneventful life.  My parents really couldn’t afford to do much with five kids in the way of paid entertainment so books became the great escape and adventure I so craved.  Ultimately, I wanted to have the same effect on people that reading books had on me - escapism, fun and adventure. 

3. Have any particular novels or writers influenced your writing?
Anyone reading this who knows me is probably groaning about now – “if she says To Kill A Mockingbird…”  I have to laugh, I love To Kill A Mockingbird.  It’s a great book and a wonderful movie.  I challenge anyone who hasn’t seen the movie to check it out.  Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch is a stellar performance.  And the idea to have the narrative voice of the book be a kid (Finch’s daughter Scout) was brilliant.  To Kill A Mockingbird is a great read and movie six ways from Sunday.  The author Harper Lee won a Pulitzer Prize for this book.  How is that not an author’s dream!  I stand by this – you can’t write great books without reading them first.  Sure, read your fun favorites and as a writer definitely read books in the genre you plan to write for, but to be well-rounded you’re going to have to read the classics too.  Such works as: Lord of the Flies, Gulliver’s Travels, The Catcher in the Rye, Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Robinson Crusoe, The Color Purple and the Diary of Anne Frank to name a few.  You should read authors such as – Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, George Orwell, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain and Jules Verne.  I’ll go on record with this – if you want to be a great writer be a versatile reader.  

4. Give us some backstory behind The Heart’s Journey Home. Where and when did you write it?
The Heart’s Journey Home was a straight-up labor of love.  From conception to finished book on the kitchen table took about three years and I wrote it everywhere – from my office during lunch to Panera Bread to my home away from home LaQuinta Inn.  Practically the whole first year was taken up with research alone.  There’s tons going on in the book!  I believe it’s the author’s singular responsibility to make their work as believable as possible.  As a reader the very thing I hate is to read something totally implausible or to read something that’s out of time or sequence, a mistake the writer wrote in because they didn’t do the proper research (or any research at all).  The Heart’s Journey Home takes place in 2009 which meant I had to use 2009 clothes, cars, cell phones, TVs and movies.  I had to research the popular music artists kids listen to and I had to make sure my characters weren’t listening to any post-2009 songs.  The main character is part Lakota and she’s extremely proud of it.  Well I had to do some extensive research on the Lakota tribe just to get a sense and feel of them as a people and culture so I could write a character that didn’t offend them.  I finished a book not too long ago and I actually felt insulted.  The characters were one dimensional caricatures – the angry Black chick (really?!), the anorexic White chick, the typical jock, so on and so on.  I saw every twist and turn from a mile out and I hate contriving something for effect then dropping it with no explanation – Aggg!  Look, not only am I asking the reader to financially invest in my book, but I’m also asking them to set aside precious time they could use doing something else to read my book.  I and all writers owe it to the reader to give them the best product we can.  The Heart’s Journey Home is a series.  I want the reader to hang with me until the last page of the last book, and I want them to feel that their time with me was well spent.   

5. What was your favorite part of writing The Heart’s Journey Home?
Illustrating for the reader the tight loving relationship between the three main characters – Tori, AJ and Kalea.  They simply love each other.  They’re loyal to one another, protective of one another, and they just love being together.  My church has a large teen population.  I love watching them.  They are so friendly and animated and they hug each other a lot!  They get all up in each other’s face just laughing and talking loud – there’s just a sense of pure joy about that.  Like – I’m alive and you’re alive and we’re alive together!  That type of joy.  I really wanted to capture that with my teen characters.  The pure joy of being alive and together. I also wanted to capture how supportive teens can be with one another.  Tori has home issues and AJ has a health issue and Kalea has a geek issue but they’re so present for each other.  They lean on one another and their relationship is the one really safe place each teen can be and express themselves, regardless.  That’s precious.

6. What does your writing schedule look like?
A totally unstructured hot mess!  If I wasn’t talking to you I’d be writing.  Writing for me is more a collection of stolen moments than any real type of planned schedule.  I try to get to the office an hour early so I can write.  I eat lunch at my desk so I can write.  I go to Panera’s for a caramel latte and I write.  I go check on my dad and I write.  I’ve written on a train and in a plane, at the DMV while waiting to renew tags, doctor’s office, waiting to have work done on my car, in a van while riding to a village on a mission’s trip.  If I find myself sitting for more than ten uninterrupted minutes I’m going to have to pull out the notebook and start writing, which is why I have my pad and pen on me at all times.  And yes, I’m old school.  I have to write out what I’m creating first then type it up later. 

7. Which fictional character would you like to take to dinner and why?
Wow, I have a lot of favorite fictional characters that I’ve read over the years that I’d like to chat up during dinner.  How about a dinner party?  Seriously though, if I have to pick just one I would want to talk to Dr. Victor Frankenstein.  Dude, what were you thinking!  Nothing about this was going to end well.  But then do we writers not have the same desire, to create something living out of something inanimate?  Frankenstein sewed together body parts and we sew together words.  We work and anguish and give ourselves over to the madness of writing with the hope of bringing a story to life.  Perhaps it would be a good conversation after all.  Frankenstein and I speaking from our own perspective yearnings, the insatiable craving to create. 

8. Besides your lead, do you have a favorite character in the story?
That’s a tough one.  I guess it would be Awinita Kingfisher, she’s a friend of Rachael Cleary (the live-in girlfriend).  She comes on the scene and really challenges Rachael’s whole mind-set with regard to the messed up relationship she has with Tori.  She’s like that great aunt that has all this wisdom and who’s always right and who you just want to smack in the head but you can’t, so you’re just stuck listening to her.

9. What is one of the most surprising things you've learned as a writer?
As labor intensive as it is, writing is the easy part of the process.  Getting someone to actually read your book is the real challenge, especially for those of us who self-publish.  Unlike the regular publishing houses we don’t have the big publicity department.  As a writer who intends to self-publish you know in the back of your mind that publicizing the book will be up to you but you’re so into writing that you really don’t think about it too much.  Now, that’s all I think about.  The Heart’s Journey Home has been out for about a month and a half now and I’ve been working as hard to sell it as I did writing it.  I guess I’m surprised that the hard work of producing a book isn’t over yet.  Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my book on your site.

10. Any advice for aspiring authors?
Sure writing is hard work but make it a labor of love. Don’t be discouraged by bad or negative reviews of your work.  Believe in yourself and your creative ability more than you expect anyone else to believe in you.  Breath, eat, sleep and dream this.  Never ever give up your dream and desire to be published.  And respect the reader.  Do the research, invest, don’t be lazy, put your very best work out there and leave nothing on the cutting room floor.  

Write.  Write. Write.


About the Author
Ever since she was young, Nikki Jackson has loved reading and the way that books allow you to journey on wonderful adventures without ever leaving the comfort of home. She decided at a young age that she wanted to become a writer to enable others to experience the magic of books—and The Heart’s Journey Home is the result.

In addition to writing, Nikki Jackson is a contract worker for General Motors. She and her husband currently live in the Detroit metropolitan area.

Author Links:


***GIVEAWAY***

$25 Amazon / B&N Gift Card.


Blog Tour Organised by:

26 comments:

  1. Who is a character from a TV show or a book that you’ve always resonated with?

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    1. Leroy Jethro Gibb, NCIS. Ex-Marine, Naval investigator who heads a team. He's dedicated, right down the middle, focused, determined. He has a code that he lives by - right or wrong. He will kill for you and die for you. He's no nonsense and true. I love that type of character - in a male or female. Also, he's got a bit of age on him, has gray hair and he's a serious coffee drinker too :-)

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  2. Thanks CBY for hosting a stop on my book tour! Looking forrward to spending the day with you!

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  3. I've read To Kill A Mockingbird, but I haven't watched the movie. I'll have to do that. I do try and read a variety of genres though. It helps keep things interesting. Thanks for the interview :)

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  4. Thanks Amber for stopping by. The movie To Kill A Mockingbird is just great, you would love it!

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  5. Great interview, sounds like a great book, thanks for sharing!

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  6. Thanks tons Eva, it is a great book and despite its size it's a quick read!

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  7. Great interview, Nikki! It's hard to find time for all of things we want to do!

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    1. Girl you're preaching to the choir there. I've learned this though, plan something, put it on the calendar, save for it, tape a picture next to the date and then go, even if you have to go by yourself. I never would've seen the spectacle of the Grand Canyon if I wasn't willing to go alone.
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  8. Really enjoyed the excerpt. Also really enjoyed your comments.

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    1. Thanks MomJane, I appreciate you stopping by

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  9. What an interesting book! Great interview. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. BookLady, glad to meet you and thanks for stopping by

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  10. Really great interview, I enjoyed reading it! And thanks for sharing the excerpt :)

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    1. Thank you Victoria for stopping by, glad you enjoyed yourself

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  11. FBI Spy Camp sounds awesome! I want to go :)

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  12. The awesome thing about it is the FBI actually runs a junior training camp for teens during the summer. I discovered during my research for that part of the book! Pretty awesome!

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  13. I can recall my weekly visits to the library at school. The dreaded book reports - aah!!

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    1. I'm laughing Mary I loved those doggone reports!

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  14. I have enjoyed learning about the book. Thanks for sharing it.

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  15. CBY, thanks for hosting one of the most fun stops I've had

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  16. Enjoyed the author interview! Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Excellent post! I really enjoyed reading the interview and learning about this book. I love books with fierce, strong female characters like Tori so I am excited to read this book!

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  18. This book sounds intriguing! loved the interview

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