I have two boys, and I love being a mom. We live out in the country, and we have chickens, goats, dogs, and all sorts of wildlife on our land. Any day you can see roadrunners, deer, all sorts of songbirds, hawks, vultures, raccoons, armadillos, rabbits, and even tarantulas and snakes. (Other people have seen bobcats on my property, and I heard a mountain lion once!)
The best part about writing for me is when I get the initial idea for a story, and start putting it down on paper. It’s like a roller coaster ride that lasts for three months! Then, when I’m done, I have to do the part I like least: revising. Ugh. I have to eat chocolate every single day during this part. Still, I know that my stories wouldn’t be good enough to publish if I didn’t revise them – a LOT. So I do. With chocolate.
When I was little, I believed in magic. And honestly? I still do. For instance, a few years ago I looked up at the sky, and there were two clouds right overhead, that spelled the word “hi” in perfect print handwriting. Magic, right? Even though most adults would call it coincidence, or something silly like that.
I think grown-ups find ways to explain away all the mystery in the world, and I like writing books that are filled with the sort of magic I know – and lots of kids know, too – really exists.
I have to admit, I was a lot like Gayle when I was little. I climbed trees, made friends with them, sang to them, and imagined I was a bird…
I want my readers to get lost in my stories, to fall into them and forget chores and homework and regular life while they read! I hope all my books leave the reader with a sense of hope and a greater understanding of how powerful kids can be, if they find the courage, like my characters do, to stand up to the bad guys of the world.
I am not! I think one of the most rewarding parts of reading a good book is the way the reader gets to “finish” the story in her imagination, and I try to write endings that leave some space for readers to imagine what happens next. But I may decide to write a sequel someday! I think Sinister Sweetness could use a few more chapters. I mean, Molly the stepmom hasn’t got what’s coming to her yet, and Lorelei may end up using those broken wand pieces somehow….
This is a terrible question, like asking which one of my kids is my favorite! I love all of my books in different ways. Sinister Sweetness is my creepy book, and it’s based on my favorite fairy tale (Hansel and Gretel). Wish Girl is set in the place I loved the most in the world as a child, and loosely based on some real kids I also loved… but Nightingale’s Nest is the book of my heart. It’s full of sad parts, but a lot of hope, too… and birds, and music, and magic, and all the things I think are most important.
I loved Pippi Longstocking! She had everything I wanted as a child: A monkey, a horse, bags of gold, great friends, trees to climb, utter independence, red hair, and super strength. I dreamed of eating breadfruit for years after reading Pippi. (It’s sort of weird tasting, actually.)
I get my ideas from everywhere, but one of my favorite things to do is steal them from famous fairy tales! My first two books were both based on two of my very favorite fairy tales that I read when I was a kid. I also get ideas from my kids, from kids I taught years ago, and from the world around me. All you have to do to get ideas is pay attention to what’s going on around you… and remember everything, collecting images and thoughts, until the story is ready to be told.
Nikki Loftin lives with her Scottish photographer husband just outside Austin, Texas, surrounded by dogs, chickens, goats, and rambunctious boys. She is the author of the multiply starred-reviewed Nightingale’s Nest and The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, which Publisher’s Weekly called “mesmerizing” and Kirkus called “irresistible.” Her next novel, Wish Girl, will be published on February 24, 2015.
Nikki Loftin is the author of two middle grade novels, both published by Razorbill/Penguin. THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY (2012) which Publishers Weekly called “a mesmerizing read,” and Kirkus Reviews called “deliciously scary and satisfying,” was the winner of the 2013 Writer’s League of Texas Book Award and is currently listed for Oklahoma’s 2014 Sequoyah Book Award. Her second novel, NIGHTINGALE’S NEST (2014), received starred reviews from Kirkus and the Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books, and was singled out by the Children’s Literacy Foundation as the middle grade “Next Great Book” of 2014. Nightingale’s Nest will also be published in Portuguese by Editora Bertrand in Brazil.
Nikki’s third book, WISH GIRL, will be published in February 2015. Foreign rights have already been sold in Brazil, Italy, and China.
Nikki’s short children’s fiction has appeared in Boy’s Life and Pockets magazines, among others. She also writes literary fiction, poetry, and essays for adults, and has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves. Nikki is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary Agency, and is an active member of the Austin SCBWI, the Writer’s League of Texas, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
Nikki attended the University of Texas at Austin for both her BA (French, ‘92), and MA (English – Fiction Writing, ’98). She speaks conversational French and limited Spanish, and has spent most of her professional life working with children and young adults. After teaching in the New Braunfels Independent School District as a Music and Gifted and Talented teacher, she pursued a career as a Director of Family Ministries at Presbyterian churches. She loves public speaking and has served as keynote speaker for regional writing organizations and library conferences, and presented at schools as far away as Tokyo, Japan.
A native Texan, Nikki lives near Austin with her husband (a Scottish photographer), two sons, and an assortment of goats, dogs, and chickens. Currently, Nikki writes full-time, although she occasionally teaches Zumba dance/aerobics in an attempt to combat the ever-threatening Writer’s Butt. She volunteers with students at local schools with the Reading is Fundamental program, and at her own children’s schools in the classrooms and libraries. When under extreme stress, or on submission with a novel, she bakes obsessively as a coping technique. Her favorite food is ice cream, preferably Blue Bell Moo-llenium Crunch.