I came across the Nikki Hunter series when one of the books was offered for free, I believe it was the fourth one, Murder A La Carte. It didn’t take me long to read it, and I was hooked. I grabbed the rest of the books (there are nine in all so far), ignored everything else (my apologies to my editor), and devoured the entire series in one weekend. They are WONDERFUL! They will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. When one particular story twist came, I gasped out loud, which I am pretty sure is what you all do when I throw in one of those twists at you in the Lizzie series.
I reached out to the author, Nancy Skopin, who rarely gives interviews, but graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us. Ms. Skopin is a delightful, wonderful lady. Her Nikki Hunter series is the kind of series I would love to write, and she has been very encouraging and supportive, telling me to go for it and not let anyone stop me from doing what I want to do. She has no idea how much I need to hear that right now, and I want to say thank you to her. Your kind words mean a lot, and I promise to take them to heart and do my best to follow your advice. 🙂
1. How did I come up with the idea for the Nikki Hunter series? I actually worked for a PI who specialized in bar and restaurant employee surveillance. They say you should write what you know. So I started from there. I also lived aboard a yacht for many years, and I’ve based the marina where Nikki lives on the one in Redwood City where I lived aboard.
2. What was it like working for a PI, pros and cons? I found the work exciting. The pros included many hours listening to the cranky old PI I worked for talk about his favorite cases. Of course no names were mentioned, but it gave me a wealth of information from which to draw for Nikki’s adventures. I won’t mention the cons, because I don’t like to speak ill of the dead. 🙂
3. What are the pros and cons of living on the water? The marina community is much as I describe it in my books. It’s a REAL community. The people who choose to live aboard support each other, really know each other, and, of course, share the love of boating. Once, early on, when I had very little experience with sea-going vessels, I went out on the San Francisco Bay and my engine quit. The boat was new to me, and I couldn’t get the radio to work either. Two of my neighbors had seen me go out, and when I hadn’t returned by dusk, they came out looking for me. These people barely knew me, but they went out of their way to save me, towing my boat safely back to shore. I’ll never forget that.
4. Did I envision Nina going in the direction she has gone when I started writing her character? Nina was born out of my understanding of the prevalence of child abuse in our, and other, cultures. It’s an atrocity, and I wanted to make a statement about that. This is why the Nina character, while flawed, turns out to be a hero. I can’t say I envisioned her teaming up with Nikki. That relationship grew very organically. My love of the Nina character requires that she remain in the series.
5. Do you like the fact that Nina doesn’t just cross the line, she blows it up? I’m proud that Nina makes her own rules. There’s no other way for her to function.
6. Would Nikki ever cross the line the way Nina does? I think Nikki would absolutely cross the line into vigilantism under the right circumstances. If I told you what the right circumstances might be, you wouldn’t be surprised when that plot twist occurred, but it might have something to do with animal welfare. 😉
7. Do I have a favorite character? My favorite characters include: Nikki, Elizabeth, Jack ‘the cat’, Nina of course, Buddy the dog, Lily, Michael, and Bill. I guess that’s the core group, isn’t it? But I love them all!
8. What’s next for Nikki? I really can’t say. Sometimes my books come to me in my dreams as full blown stories and all I have to do is type them up. Sometimes I just get a clue. Book 2 developed out of the name of a cat in the marina where I lived aboard. He was a stray, and one of my neighbors started feeding him. She called him McGuire, but I’d named him Jack, so we settled on Jack the cat McGuire. That entire book grew out of the cat’s name. I thought, “What a great name for a cat burglar.”
9. How hard was it to write about child sexual predators? Doing the research on the sexual abuse of children was horrifying for me. Just spending an hour online looking at the Megan’s Law website sent me running to the shower. The statistics are mind-shattering. It’s not something that should be ignored, but many families choose to look the other way. It’s not an easy issue to face. I guess Nina’s trigger regarding the abuse of innocents is one of my triggers as well.
10. My favorite author? Oh, man. I’ll be honest. A.W. Hartoin absolutely knocks my socks off. Her Mercy Watts series is the best thing I’ve ever read. (A note from me: I’m reading this series as well, per Nancy’s recommendation, and I agree: the Mercy Watts series is fantastic!)
11. Did I imagine the series being this successful? I didn’t think about it. I write because I need to write. I love language and writing is like breathing for me. The success of the series sometimes surprises me. I’m not great at marketing, though I try. I blame my readers for the current level of success. So, thank you!
12. Did anyone inspire me to start writing? I did read all of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries as a child. I also spent a lot of time living in my own imagination when I was young. I think that’s where the creative spark originated.
Come back on Thursday for a review of Nancy’s first book, Murder on the Menu!
Nancy Skopin’s website: https://nicolihunter.com/