It is a pleasure to warmly welcome Nikki Logan to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, a short form author interview series. Nikki’s new book was released last week and to help celebrate the release of One from the Heart – A Rivervue Community Theatre Romance Anthology, we sat down for a chat. Thanks Nikki!
What is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?
Ooh, Chai latte please. Full cream milk. Easy on the cinnamon dusting.
Can you give us an overview of your writing career to date?
I used to write a lot as a kid but then drifted away from it when adult responsibilities hit. In 2007 I came second in a National Book Week comp on ABC Classic FM with a piece I banged out in my lunch break and getting that validation and the reminder of how good it felt to ‘world build’ resuscitated my interest in writing. I had long service leave coming up and so I decided I would use it to write a book—a big, wildlife-filled adventure story set in Africa. Best three months of my life despite giving myself RSI. By 2008 I was involved with the Romance Writers of Australia and accessed their network of publishers and contests, and a London editor reached out after I was a finalist in a contest that she was judging. She didn’t buy that particular book but she asked ‘What else do you have?’ and immediately bought what would be my debut book – a story about a rooftop landscaper who gets strong-armed into becoming a TV presenter for a gardening show. By 2009 I was published with Harlequin and since then I’ve published 23 romances with them (out of London), the African adventure romance with another publisher, two dragon historical fantasies indie published and one ‘how to’ craft book. It’s been a busy decade.
Can you tell us what inspired the creation of your new story, Tread the Boards in One from the Heart – A Rivervue Community Theatre Romance Anthology?
I’ve always wanted to do a theatre-based series.
When I went to University, it was to study kindergarten teaching. A supremely sensible pathway. But… I kept seeing ‘those students’ around the place. The artsy ones doing warm-ups in public places and going barefoot or clad all in black and always looking like they were going home when the rest of us were just arriving. They were so… intriguing to little straight-laced me. Despite being a drama kid at my posh girls’ school, no careers advisor ever told me I could study theatre at uni. Like… all the time! Then midway through my first year of teaching a lecturer decided I had filmic talent and recommended me for late admission to the Film School program and during the process of swapping to that I discovered that I could BECOME one of those students. So I flipped out of teaching and into a double-major studying Film and Theatre.
My mum despaired as I abandoned teaching, right up until my first day and I came home just buzzing with everything I’d seen and done and she took one look at my happy, happy face and decided that my joy meant more than job security.
And so—for me—the Rivervue Community Theatre was a chance to share what I loved about being in theatre. The hard work, the fiscally unrewarded hours and hours backstage in the dark somewhere, the creative challenges, stumbling out of the theatre at dawn after an all-nighter and going for a hot-chips-and-gravy breakfast. But also the people, the energy, the opportunity to create. I became the person I am today during those four years. It truly was transformative.
How was the experience of collaborating with the other authors in One from the Heart – A Rivervue Community Theatre Romance Anthology?
OMG, so good. And so painless.
Dan, Fi and I were already friends as well as colleagues and so our communication was kind of a shorthand. We just *got* each other’s ideas and directions. Dan and I both live in the same town, but Fi lives on the other side of our wide country so we did most of our collaboration online through Skype and using OneNote to create a ‘bible’ for the series where any one of us could add content or go to review what the others were doing. There’s a lot of imagery there to make sure we all had the same vision for Brachen and the Theatre and the characters, a detailed timeline, all the fun bits like getting to name every store in fictional Brachen and the people that run them.
It worked really well for us.
What are the main themes present in Tread the Boards?
I have a bit of a thing for Phantom of the Opera and really wanted to write a kind of ingénue/shadowy figure story so that thread is where the story was born. But Tread the Boards itself revolves around the secrets we keep and how they shape us—how they rule us in some cases—and how you can overcome them.
Did you have an affinity with a particular character in Tread the Boards and why?
I’m a nature-based author and so I knew there was always going to be an element of wildlife in the story. In this one, it’s the hero’s sidekick doggo, Phantom. I love the simple relationship between Dylan and his pupper and showing what Phantom does for Dylan who has a…complicated relationship with language. Both Dylan and Phantom were opportunities to show how characters with different needs can really work in a story and really complement each other.
What is one thing that you really hope readers will take away from the experience of reading One from the Heart – A Rivervue Community Theatre Romance Anthology?
Just the glorious thing that theatre is. The creativity and camaraderie as you all work together on that common goal—curtain up!
Have you developed any quirks or habits while writing your books?
I guess just the nature-based thing. I always build an element of nature into all my stories. Wild places is where I’m most comfortable and so I want readers to be comfortable there, too. Although, the cosy little props room in Tread the Boards has to be a close second.
How has your writing process been affected by COVID-19?
It was frustrating to see and hear all about how bored people were in lockdown, how desperate they were for engagement, how much baking they were doing, how much TV streaming, sleeping… Meanwhile, I have never been busier.
I pulled some pretty blech hours during the worst of the Covid 19 restrictions. The requirement to still earn $$ meant a lot of my writing hours had to go in favour of something that could keep food on the table and so I was doing some pretty long hours working gig economy type jobs and projects. Wherever I could scrounge some paid writing.
On the plus side immersing into the escapist fictional world where I’m happiest really helped keep the blues at bay and so I feel like writing might have made my Covid experience a bit more tolerable than most others. I’m not sure how I would have fared if not for being proficient at whipping up imaginary worlds and going adventuring into them. No border closures in my imagination!
What book or books do you recommend that I add to my reading pile?
The one part of being a writer that no-one talks about is how it ruins you for reading. It takes a pretty amazing book to let me fully immerse in the way I want to as a reader—I keep subconsciously analysing the structure or the word choices or the pace which pulls me out of the story … So for enjoyment, I find myself reading a lot of non-fiction in areas of interest. Research for future books, mostly.
This means my reading pile is actually overflowing with research papers from historians and archaeologists and linguists. Plus the odd non-fic book.
Right now, I’m reading Tony Sullivan’s King Arthur: Man or Myth? which is an examination of the historical evidence around the idea that Arthur was ever an actual individual. This is an area of interest for me so I knew a lot of it already but this book just packages it together in a way that is both accessible but comprehensive and credible. It’s a very good entry-level work for anyone who loves Arthurian canon but might want to start exploring the literary worlds behind it. But it has enough intriguing leads in it to keep a more experienced Arthur-ite engaged too.
What are you working on writing wise at present?
I have a couple of projects on the go. One is the third and final book in my Welsh dragon fantasy series ‘Y Ddraig’, one is a contemporary romance set in the sub-antarctic with a Welsh heroine, one is a WWII tale based around my Welsh grandfather’s friendship with Winston Churchill and one is a time slip story about a Welsh valley.
Are you sensing a theme?
I’m very ensnared by all things Wales right now and it’s spilling out into my work.
Now, if I could just commit to one and finish it I’d be really happy. The greatest thing about being a writer is also the hardest thing: Ideas… they are just so demanding!
Thank you for the lovely tea break and chat. Congratulations on the release of One from the Heart – A Rivervue Community Theatre Romance Anthology.
Thank you for the 15 min break and for the Chai. I hope you love Brachen and Rivervue as much as we do.
He’s the Banksy of the international theatre scene – daring, anonymous, renowned. So when playwright ‘Draven’ bequeaths his latest play to the rural Rivervue Theatre, the stage is set for drama.
Three stellar authors offer three stories packed full of romance, secrets and lies…
Tread the Boards Nikki Logan: Rivervue Theatre’s props maven Mackenzie Russell is drawn to enigmatic loner Dylan North. But both Kenzie and Dylan have secrets to keep. Secrets that if revealed could tear the town, the theatre – and Dylan and Kenzie – apart.
Set the Stage Daniel de Lorne: A phone call from an unrequited past love sends architect Gabriel Mora running back to his artsy home town of Brachen. There, he is forced to hide his involvement in the redevelopment of the town’s beloved theatre to protect his mother’s frail health. It’s just one more secret to keep hidden, along with his feelings for Bruce Clifton, the theatre’s kind stage manager.
Take a Bow Fiona Greene: Creative director Lexi Spencer is fighting to save the iconic Rivervue Community Theatre and Draven’s play is the weapon she needs. She’s already lost so much in her life, losing the theatre isn’t an option. But with past love Mark Conroy on the scene, old feelings resurface. The controversial play is set to test the loyalty of the town, as well as the strength of their relationship.
When the play’s dark truths come out, the ripples will affect everyone’s lives. Can the show still go on?
One from the Heart – A Rivervue Community Theatre Romance Anthology by Nikki Logan, Daniel De Lorne and Fiona Greene was published on 5th August 2020 by Mira-AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Nikki here: