Nikki Arana interview

» Posted on Jul 25, 2007 in Blog | Comments Off on Nikki Arana interview

1. What made you start writing?
I had two boys, and when my youngest son graduated from high school in 2000 I decided to adopt a girl. ME. I decided to take my interests as seriously as I’d taken the interests of my boys and do some of the things I’d never had time for. The first thing I did was take piano lessons. The next year I decided to try writing. I took a very basic online class called Writeriffic. The instructor said I should try submitting, so I wrote a magazine article, and sent it to Writer’s Digest. That was my first sale.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
As I mentioned, I started writing in 2001. I decided to try writing a book in 2002. That summer I went to the Seattle Pacific University Writers Conference and met an editor from Tyndale. I only had a few chapters of the book written, but she asked to see a partial manuscript. I sent that and then she asked me for the full ms. When I finished writing it in 2003, I decided to try and find an agent before sending it to Tyndale. Natasha Kern worked with me improving the book for ten months, then signed me, took over the negotiating and within a few weeks I had 2 offers for a multiple book contract. I signed with Revell.

3. How do you handle rejections?
I have been very fortunate that I have sold everything I’ve sent out, until this year. I feel the Lord is calling me to write a book about Muslims and I’m finding that hard to place. I modified the proposal a little bit and now have two publishers who are seriously interested. So I can’t say I’ve really experienced rejection in the sense that it stopped me from getting to print. But I got my first “bad” review last year and that felt like rejection. But more experienced writers put that to rest. It’s going to happen. I know that even though the review feels like personal criticism, the reviewer is just giving their honest opinion. That’s what they’re supposed to do.

4. Why do you write?
I write because of the empty grave and the truth at Calvary.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
I would be traveling the country speaking at Christian churches about the need for Christians to reach out and evangelize the moderate Muslims living among us, as well as support those who have converted and now find themselves stripped of their families, their jobs, and sometimes their lives. I am so concerned about the unharvested fields of the moderate Muslim community that I am co-authoring a non-fiction book on the subject. This is a complete faith walk.

6. What are you working on right now?
Well, the non-fiction book I just mentioned, Through the Eyes of Christ, Loving Muslims into the Kingdom of God. And a novel, working title, Fear No Evil. It is about the need for safe houses for those Muslims who become Believers. I am passionate about the need for safe houses for MBBs. (Muslim Background Believers) and am not only working on the book, but actively seeking people to network with for that purpose.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters? How have you brought your life experiences into your novels?
(smiles) I love this question. My first novel, The Winds of Sonoma, is about how I met my husband. There are several scenes in the book which actually took place! My book that just came out, As I Have Loved You, was inspired by my oldest son’s marriage. I put myself in my books in another way too. Through the use of story I try to raise public awareness about issues that I think are important. My second book, In the Shade of the Jacaranda, deals with abortion. My third book, The Fragrance of Roses, deals with childhood leukemia and the need for more minorities to donate to the bone marrow registries. Now I feel God calling me to write about the Muslims.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.
As I Have Loved You, was released last month. The heroine, Leigh Scott, is a single mom who just wants the best for her only son, Jeff: a college degree and a good job. But when he starts seeing Jessica, a young woman with a troubled past and a questionable future, Leigh envisions all her best-laid plans going up in smoke. As Jeff spends more and more time with Jessica, Leigh sees her fears realized in Jeff’s dropping grades and bad choices. Also, Jeff has ADD, another personal experience that has found its way into my writing. Jeff’s ADD is very much a part of why things happen in Jeff’s life as they do.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write your passion, write His truth, and the rest will take care of itself. God prospers what He ordains.

10. How important is faith in your books?
The faith element in my book is key. As some of the publishing houses are moving away from a blatant faith message, I wonder if it will hurt me in the future. I use a lot of symbolism as well as having my characters openly seeking the truth about God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ. In my most recent book, As I Have Loved You, the heroine’s storyline is about her seeking the gifts of the Spirit. The signs and wonders that so often grab our attention these days.

11. What themes do you like to write about?
I like to write about how things are seldom what they seem when we walk with God. What looks like a tragedy is a blessing, what looks impossible is possible, what looks like death is life. I like to use things in the physical world to portray things in the spiritual world. Like in The Fragrance of Roses, to save the little boy’s life, the parents must find the blood match. This is a parallel in the physical world to the spiritual truth that the life is in the blood. As this child’s life can’t be saved without the blood, neither can ours. There are many other double meanings and parallels like that in my novels.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
My favorite novel is my first one, The Winds of Sonoma. It is about how I met my husband, who was cleaning the stalls of my Arabian horses, thirty years ago. It brought back many beautiful memories and allowed me to preserve them on paper. Other than giving me a Savior, my husband is the best thing God has ever done for me.

13. How do you juggle writing and working fulltime? What is your writing schedule like?
I no longer sell real estate fulltime. I get up early in the morning and have my time with the Lord from about 5am to 6am. Then I eat breakfast and catch up on the news. I do editing privately and I take care of my clients first. Then I start writing. I spend about 6 hours a day on that. Then the rest of the day is for real estate, doing my husbands business books, and just the business of day to day life.

Thank you so much for having me.