The Story Behind My Blog's Title

The Story Behind My Blog's Title
Why is my blog named "My Father's Oldsmobile"? Click on the car and find out.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Author Interview: Nicole Zoltak

Today I get to introduce you to Nicole Zoltack. Nicole is the author of the Kingdom of Arnhem series, through Desert Breeze Publishing. I've read one of the books in this series and am hooked. I love the adventure, characters, intricate plot; but what I love most is that this series has such a broad appeal, I can share with my daughters, my neice -- possibly even my son! It's a rare and special thing to come across a story that not only entertains, but also gives you something to bond with your family through.

Please welcome, Nicole Zoltack. And be sure to check out the details of the giveaway at the end of the interview.

SW: Hi Nicole, since this is your first visit to my blog would you please start by telling us a little about yourself?

NZ: I’m a mother, a writer, a wife to a wonderful and growing family. I have the most adorable son, he’s almost 17 months now. I’m also pregnant, in the second trimester with baby #2. And no, we aren’t going to find out the sex. We like being surprised.

SW: You have more patience than me! I'm the world's worst at waiting. Anything else...perhaps what you do in your free time, or interesting hobbies?

NZ: Let’s see… what else? I spend my free time with my husband, watching TV shows or movies. I’m also close with my family. Family is important to me.

And for a most interesting detail, my husband and I collect swords. Many are movie replicas (especially LOTR ones) and the rest are designed after the Middle Ages. Sometimes I use them as inspiration in my stories, when I need to describe a sword. And sometimes I’ll pretend to fight an imaginary foe, to be better able to picture an action scene. I would love to one day take fencing lessons. And archery.

SW: I bet that would be an interesting one to explain to someone who didn't know what you were doing, if they were to stumble upon you. When did you first become interested in writing?

NZ: When I first learned how to write. Seriously. My mom used to sit my sister and I down with some paper and pencils and told us to write. It’s no wonder that we both grew up wanting to be authors!

SW: Do you have a particular genre you prefer writing/reading?

NZ: I read everything I can get my hands on: fantasy, historical, young adult, mysteries, true crime, science fiction, romances, some horror. And I write the same way… in lots of different genres. I don’t like to be tied down to just one genre. I don’t think my muse would let me! I haven’t tried to write a mystery yet but I have a wonderful detective in mind for a potential series. His name is Tex Bullet.

If I had to pick just one genre, it would be medieval fantasy. *laughs* And even that’s two! And even if I don’t intend to, there’s almost always a romantic aspect to all of my novels and short stories. Even the horror novella I’m working on has some romance in it.

SW: Why does medieval fantasy appeal to you?

NZ: Why medieval fantasy? I’ve always been obsessed with the Middle Ages. Every year my husband and I go to the Pa Renaissance Faire and I always dress up in garb. The mindset of the medieval people leads me to believe that they thought a great many things were paranormal in nature so it’s only natural to add fire-breathing dragons and other magical things to that time period. Plus it leaves me such much room to create another world beyond just the historical aspects of the time period.

SW: And you do that very well. Can you tell us a little about the ups and downs on your journey to publication?

NZ: The first novel that I started to write, back in the sixth grade (literally, I started it during class), a fantasy YA, took me over ten years to finish, during college. I took some time off and let it sit for a long time during certain stretches but that story is my ‘baby’.

It’s funny, that story meant and still means so much to me but I haven’t sent it out to any publishers yet.

Instead, what first got me on the road to publication was a call for submission for short sweet romance stories. I thought, hey, I can do that. So I wrote a story and submitted. Was rejected but invited to send another before the deadline. I did, and this time I was accepted! Little Cowgirl (under the pen name Nicolette Zamora) was published in November 2008.

Since then, I have sold my Kingdom of Arnhem series to Desert Breeze Publishing. The first two books, Woman of Honor and Knight of Glory are available for purchase. I’ve also sold a few more short stories for anthologies, some under my name, one more under Nicolette Zamora.

Back to that fantasy YA novel, I’ve sent queries to many agents. Had some partial requests and one full but so far, all rejections. I’m planning on reworking the beginning before submitting to more agents. I really want this book, my ‘baby’ to be in NY publishing.

SW: How do you approach a new project? Research and plot before you write? Or do you have a general idea, pick your characters and see where it leads?

NZ: General idea and just see where the characters take it from there. I have so many WIPs that I figured out the ending to, and haven’t been able to work on them anymore. The surprise is gone for me and so the motivation to write has disappeared.

When writing my medieval stories, I just write and if I need to research something, I’ll stop writing and then plug in the necessary information once I learn it. I sometimes even have to do research with the fantasy aspects. I love researching unique mythological creatures and incorporating them into my stories.

SW: Tell us about the series you're writing, and your latest release?

NZ: Woman of Honor is Book I in the Kingdom of Arnhem series and is the tale of Aislinn, a young girl who wants to become a knight. She faces many difficulties on her journey but still has time to fall in love.

Knight of Glory picks up immediately after Woman of Honor and is about Geoffrey, one of Aislinn’s friends from knight training. This book delves more deeply into the fantasy world and introduces several other races including dwarves and trolls (neither are exactly like other fantasy novels). For one thing, female trolls are beautiful creatures, tall and noble. And there’s even mention of dwarven women, a rarity in most books about that race.

Aislinn asked Geoffrey to go on a dangerous mission that leads him into peril, deceit, and lies. When he uncovers a sinister plot by the Speicans, it seems like all may be lost in the war between Speica and Arnhem. Plus Geoffrey finds himself torn between two very different women, both of whom have secrets. Will Geoffrey survive the war in order to determine which woman he truly loves?

SW: What inspired you to write this series?

I was inspired to write Woman of Honor from my medieval research when I discovered that there actually were a few female knights. Aislinn cites these brave women when she petitions the king for the chance to train.

Woman of Honor is definitely more focused on the history, with her training. Knight of Glory expands into fantasy, since most of the novel takes part away from Arnhem castle and throughout the entire continent of Alethereia.

SW: Can you give us a little history on the characters, including how you developed them, and what endears them to you?

NZ: Aislinn has to be one of my favorite characters. She knows what she wants and when she makes up her mind, there’s no changing it. No matter the consequences, she will succeed. Loyal to a fault, I like to think that Aislinn is in some ways based on me. When her older brother, a knight, dies, Aislinn wants to carry on with tradition and become a knight in his place. And this sets into motion Woman of Honor.

Caelan is the prince of Arnhem and also trains to be a knight. I wanted to make Caelan a strong hero, one that female readers would fall in love with. Handsome, brave, loyal and true, Caelan has all the qualities of a knightly hero.

Geoffrey, on the other hand, has a nickname of ‘Bard’. He always has his head in the clouds and has a rather unrealistic view of love, one that gets him into trouble with the two women that he is torn between in his story.

The first woman, Celestia, is beautiful and mysterious. She truly loves Geoffrey but keeps many secrets from him, ones that could prove deadly.

Jenanna can at most be called ‘fair’. She has a quick tongue and a sharp tongue. Her exile has caused her to be bitter and she has a hard time trusting people. She is one character that I would like to develop even more, possibly with a short story that predates her time in Knight of Glory.

All of the characters have their roles to play in my stories but they all mean a great deal to me. There’s a piece of me in each of them (some have my husband as well). They’re all dear friends.

SW: What do you hope to be able to accomplish through your writing?

NZ: I write for myself and for my readers. I want to entertain people with my stories. I hope that when people finish one of my stories, they’re happy with the time spent on it and are eager for the next one.

SW: Well, for this reader, you did just that! Any ideas for future projects?

NZ: Too many ideas. That’s never a problem with me! There’s Book III in the Kingdom of Arnhem series, Champion of Valor. Plus I’ve been cultivating the idea for a new paranormal YA series that I would like to gear for NY. But first, there’s the fantasy YA that I want to redo the beginning few chapters of.

SW: Other than your books, which I'm certainly looking forward to reading, do you have any recommendations you'd like to pass along?

NZ: If you want to read a series that is also about a female knights, I highly recommend the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. She is a fantastic author although I love her Tortall books much better than her Circle of Magic ones.

For a good romance series that mixes in time travel and history as well as other genres, there’s the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Huge books but well worth investing the time in reading.

SW: Thank you Nicole! This was great.

NZ: Thanks so much for interviewing me, Shawna! I had a wonderful time!

SW: It will be great to have you visit again when the third book comes out. I'd love to have a chat with other readers who have enjoyed your book as much as I did too.

There is one more treat. We have a drawing for a pair of amber earrings, pictured here. To enter, simply leave a comment. I'll annouce the winner Friday morning.

For more about Nicole and her books, please visit:

For purchase:

13 comments:

  1. Nicole,

    Your books sound wonderful. I put them on my must read list

    Have a wonderful day

    Walk in harmony,
    Melinda

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  2. Thanks, Melinda! :)

    And the earrings are just perfect, Shawna. Thanks so much for having me today!

    ~Nicole

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  3. You're welcome, Nicole. Melinda, you will enjoy Nicole's books very much!

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  4. Ther earrings are prettier in person.

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  5. Excellent interview, ladies. The earrings are beautiful. Did you make those, Shawna?

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  6. Yes, Shawna did. I just love looking at the pics of them, LOL

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  7. If you click on the pic it will enlarge. They were easy to make, and it's a simple design so I can't claim any special talent. I toyed with something more elaborate, but this seemed to compliment the amber best. They really are far prettier in person. I think whoever gets them will be pleased.

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  8. The book sounds interesting, but those earrings are calling my name. Please, please, please pick me.

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  9. I've heard so many people say to read Diana Gabaldon. Loved your first book! I like the earrings, too.

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  10. I want to read this :0) Shawna, you know I do LOL

    Great interview. Thanks for introducing Nikole!

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  11. KM, this is up your alley, and you'll like it!

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  12. Great interview! My family loves fantasy and my daughter would love these earrings (if she can't have a sword!) Thanks for the information in Nikole's work.

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