Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J. Markus) – Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) was born in England, but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Thanks so much, Asta, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Asta Idonea: As a child, I loved books. My sister would ask to play with her dolls, and I would ask to read. From as far back as I remember thinking about such things, I wanted to write, and I was always gifted with languages and creative subjects (I hated maths and science), but it was something I kept putting off, thinking I wasn’t good enough. In my late teens/early twenties, I started publishing some fan fiction and received encouragement from readers in regards to that, but then I moved to Australia and finally found the drive to pursue my dreams. I had my first original work published in 2011, and positive comments on that release gave me the confidence I needed to continue.
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
AI: I have two pen names: one for my mainstream works and one for my MM stories. In mainstream, my works so far have all been within paranormal and fantasy (with a hint of historical); however, my MM stories vary from contemporary to historical to paranormal to sci-fi. I don’t want to confine myself to a single genre, even though that might be better in terms of personal branding and promotion, because I prefer to follow my inspiration and write whatever stories and characters come to me. Overall, I’d say my stories are predominantly character-driven; although, some of them start with a plot idea, depending on the circumstances. Anthology pieces tend to kick off with a plot idea and then the characters take over, whereas works that spring solely from my imagination are more likely to commence with a character.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
AI: My first published original work was a short paranormal horror story with a vampire theme. That was released from small press Wicked Nights Publishing, to which I had been directed by a published friend, but the company later closed its doors. Recently, I reworked the piece and it’s now available as a free read (EPUB & PDF) on blog, if anyone wishes to take a look: http://www.nickijmarkus.com/p/free-reads.html
JSC: What’s your writing process?
AI: I work from home, so the morning and early afternoon I dedicate to editing work. Occasionally I have a day or two free between editing jobs, but mostly I have a steady stream of manuscripts and work seven days a week. The mid to late afternoon (and sometimes into the evening), however, is writing time.
When I have the initial idea for a story, I jot down character notes (full profiles if it’s a novella or novel). I also note some key plot points, but that’s the only planning I do—I prefer to see where the characters take me. I always type the first draft at the computer in my study. However, once that is done, I print the work and retreat to the comfy chair in my library/music room for editing. I read through the complete story, making notes and corrections as I go, then it’s back to the study for the next draft. Short stories go through two or three drafts and then a final proofread. Novellas and novels get four drafts, then the proofread.
JSC: Tell us about a unique or quirky habit of yours.
AI: I do tend to hold conversations with my characters—most often the handsome male leads (I wonder why!?). While I’m writing them, they ‘talk’ to me. Luckily I’m usually alone in the house when it happens; otherwise, people would think I’d gone mad!
JSC: If you could sit down with one other writer, living or dead, who would you choose, and what would you ask them?
AI: Wow, that’s hard. There are so many…. I guess, if you force me, I would say Chelsea Quinn Yarbro. I adore her historical vampire series and would love to chat about how she chooses the period settings for each of her stories and how she goes about researching them.
JSC: What action would your name be if it were a verb?
JSC: What kind of character or topic have you been dying to try to write, but you’ve never worked up the courage?
AI: I’d love to write something taboo/extreme and explore a far darker story than those I’ve written so far; however, I am put off by the thought that no one would want to publish it, or, if they did, that it would receive censure and then reflect badly on my other works. So, I guess I’ll save it for inside my head. 🙂
JSC: If you had the opportunity to live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose?
AI: 2007. It was an epic year for me as I went backpacking in the USA and Australia, met my future husband, and never went home. However, there are some things in the first half of the year, before that trip, that I wish I’d done differently. I was naïve at the time.
JSC: What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?
AI: At present I am working on edits for a number of pieces already contracted. I have two stories featured in anthologies that will come out in the spring (one from NineStar Press and the other from Less Than Three Press) and also a new contemporary MM novella—Wish You Were Here—releasing from Dreamspinner Press. I don’t have a final date for that yet, but tentatively Feb/Mar 2017.
I am waiting to hear back from publishers on several others works (some MM, some MF) and last month I submitted two more MM shorts for anthology calls. Currently, I am working on a draft of what I hope will be my first novel-length MM story (in the fantasy genre). So look out for news on those as we move into 2017!
I do have one work publishing between now and the New Year, and that is my MM contemporary short story Santa for Hire, which will release as an eBook single and as part of Dreamspinner Press’ 2017 Advent Calendar (Bah Humbug!) on 1 December.
I thought I’d share an exclusive except from a novella that released earlier this year, for those of you who may have missed it then.
And now for Asta’s new book: Fire Up My Heart:
London bartender Fane thinks he’s hit the jackpot when he finds a rare and expensive service Bot discarded in a dumpster, and he takes it home to get it working again. The Jo-E brings some much-needed companionship to Fane’s lonely life, but there’s something different about this Bot, as indicated by its odd behavior.
Fane’s developing feelings toward Jo-E trouble him, and things go from bad to worse when a robotics engineer arrives on Fane’s doorstep, demanding the return of his property. Fane is forced to choose between a hefty reward and following his heart.
Giving in to his forbidden desires might get him killed—or change his life forever.
In light of the approaching festive season, Asta would like to offer one reader an e-copy of her 2015 holiday-themed, contemporary MM short story Northern Lights. To be in with a chance to win, please comment on this blog post with your email address.
The Bot stood there watching him, and Fane began to feel uneasy. After a few moments consideration, he decided the thing’s attire, or lack thereof, wasn’t helping, and he set the drink on the coffee table and got to his feet. “Come with me, Jo-E,” he said, and led the Bot into his bedroom.
The tidying up that had taken place in this room had been so thorough it took Fane a few minutes exploration to work out the system by which his clothing had been ordered and stored in the wardrobe and chest of drawers. The new arrangement made sense when he stopped and thought about it, but it was so different from his normal process of shoving the garments in whichever drawer was closest it caught him off guard at first.
Eventually he found what he wanted and tossed a pair of black jeans and a plain, plum-colored T-shirt onto the bed. The T-shirt had never looked right with his complexion, and the jeans, an impulse buy during the sales the previous year, had proven too short in the leg. The Jo-E was broader across the chest than him, but also a good couple of inches shorter, so Fane hoped the fit wouldn’t be too bad.
He waved at the clothes. “Those are for you.”
The Bot looked between the clothes and Fane, its brow creasing. “For me?”
“Yep. You should wear them. Your current jeans are dead.”
The Jo-E looked down at its legs, then back at Fane. It blinked. “You want me to get changed?”
Without further ado, the Jo-E unfastened its current pair of jeans and pushed them down over its slender hips. Underneath, it was naked.
Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) was born in England, but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!
As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel; all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.
Amazon Author US: http://www.amazon.com/Asta-Idonea/e/B00RMGGVYO
Amazon Author UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asta-Idonea/e/B00RMGGVYO