April 2010′s In the Spotlight: Nicole Zoltack
Spring is officially here, so the month of April 2010 brings us a fun interview with author Nicole Zoltack.
Step into the Middle Ages with Nicole.
K: Hello Nicole! First off, I see by your website you have a definite interest in old castles. I even found a book cover with a castle on it. Is this interest inspired by something in your life? Maybe a trip or a movie?
NZ: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the Middle Ages and knights. The chivalry, the honor, the battles… it all screamed romance to me. Even now, I greatly prefer to watch movies that have sword battle scenes versus guns. (Which is why I prefer the prequel to the rest of the Underworld movies.) One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride. I’ve watched it countless times and it’s definitely a source of inspiration for me.
Back in high school, I did hours upon hours of research on the time period, from how boys became knights to the knights’ code to medieval medicine, anything and everything that I might be able to use in a story one day. I still have all of this research, it must be at least a hundred pages, all separated by subject matter. Junior year, my class visited the PA Renaissance Faire. I’ve been back most years ever since. It’s so fun to dress up in period garb and talk the part. I love it.
K: You have a nice photo of yourself on the website. A little more investigation revealed another photo on your bio page that gave me the answer to your Renaissance-style look. How hard was it to create such a wedding?
NZ: It probably wasn’t that much more difficult than planning a traditional wedding. I had my gown made, and I made certain to have some blue in it, back then, the color of purity was blue. White wasn’t considered the purity color until the Victorian era. The entire wedding party dressed up in garb as well as a few of the guests.
The church (the one affiliated with my grade school) was Cathedral-styled with beautiful stain glass windows that fit the theme. My photographer suggested a nearby park for the outdoor pictures. Our outside pictures were fabulous! The stone arches, the backgrounds, it really seemed as if we had been transported to another time.
The reception was more of a mixture between the old and the new. During the meal, a band (dressed in garb) played Renaissance music (one of my coworkers at the time played in it). The favors were floating castle candles, and the cake was in the shape of a castle. Instead of using a knife to cut the cake, we used a dagger.
All in all, it took hours of planning, but the wedding and reception were wonderful. If I could replan it again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
K: That sounds wicked-cool! I bet your guests still talk about your wedding!
NZ: Yes. A lot of my friends still comment about how my wedding reception dinner was the only time they could say, “Speak up. I can’t hear you over the lute!” LOL
K: Oh, wow. You went to Epicon! Would you like to tell my readers about your adventure?
NZ: Epicon was a great experience. I was able to meet so many wonderful, knowledge authors. Holly Jacobs was just a wonderful keynote speaker and a true pleasure to talk to. The workshops were all really well done. I especially enjoyed Deidre Knight’s talk on promotion and branding. Epicon is definitely an industry type convention. You won’t find a lot of readers there. Instead it’s all about making connections. There were many publishing houses there, and there were opportunities to pitch. All in all, I was extremely pleased with what I got out of the experience. If you are thinking about going to Epicon next year, I would recommend it.
NZ: First is Woman of Honor, Book I in the Kingdom of Arnhem series, the tale of young Aislinn, a girl who wants to become a knight to take her fallen brother’s place. She is willing to give up everything for Arnhem – her childhood, her life, even her heart – no matter the pain it brings.
Book II, Knight of Glory, is about Aislinn’s close friend, the knight Geoffrey. War with Speica is now upon them, and Geoffrey must do his part to help ensure that Arnhem will win. He, along with some friends, seeks aid from other kingdoms. Torn between two very different women, will Geoffrey be able to survive numerous battles to figure out which one he truly loves?
I also have several short stories in anthologies. A Squire’s Love is included in The Cupid Diaries: Moments in Time. The main character, Leo, first appears as a very minor character in Knight of Glory. In his quest to become a knight, Leo must overcome the ice dragon and family disapproval… and rescue the maiden who steals his heart. And I also have a short story in Be Mused – An A-MUSE-ing Anthology about authors and their muses. It’s a funny collection of romantic Muse tales.
K: Of all your published titles, which one was the most challenging to write and why?
NZ: The most challenging to write was definitely Woman of Honor. Although there is a fantasy slant to it, the historical angle of it required a lot of research and time and energy to get the feel of the Middle Ages that I was aiming for. But I love researching that time period so much that it didn’t even feel like work.
K: I may come to you to ask questions, lol. I’m working on an erotic fantasy that takes place in a different world, but is very similar to the Middle Ages too. Maybe you’ll let me pick your brain from time to time?
NZ: Of course! I have so many pages of research printed out that I’ll probably have the answer, I’ll just need to find it. Email me anytime. J
K: Torn Between Love and Murder: An Assassin’s Tale is such an intriguing title! Can you tell us a bit about this work in progress?
NZ: Lorna is an assassin for two reasons. One, because she’s good at it, and two, because it pays well. But if you dig a little deeper, Lorna’s really an assassin because she wants to avenge her father’s murder.
Many people want the ruler of a small island killed. Lorna, despite her job, does have some standards and doesn’t want to kill this man, Alaric, fearing that it would cause a civil war. Plus, if word got out that employing the world-famous assassin could result in war, she would be out of a job. But her curiosity gets the better of her, and she visits the island. While there, she manages to uncover clues about her father and why he might have been killed. To Lorna’s great surprise, she finds herself falling for Alaric but how could he possibly grow to love her back if he were to discover her true identity? And will Lorna ever get her chance at revenge?
This story is a lot of fun to write because the main character isn’t good. In fact, she’s rather evil. Even so, there’s hope for her yet, that she might still be saved, be redeemed. And that transformation part is the most interesting part, in my opinion. I’ve decided to add some paranormal aspects to the story. I’m hoping to finish the first draft in April so that I can edit/polish it in May and have it ready to pitch to agents in June.
NZ: Oh yes. I’ve never written a story from a character who is so teetering on the line of morally grey that she constantly falls into darkness. She’s a fascinating character. Her personal demons and the workings of her twisted mind drive the entire story. Her fall from grace and her attempts to allow love to change her, that is, if she can get Alaric to love her… I love how this story is so different from my other writing. My Arnhem series is completely about the good guys, the heroes, the knights (and Lady Knight!). But this is about an assassin. You can’t get much more different than that.
K: Do you feel that Lorna is sort of a psychological lesson in writing too? What I mean is do you find you have to possess a different mindset to write a character who is the main character and is evil and very strong?
NZ: Yes. I’m trying hard to have her character be consistent even as she changes her personality. It has to be a believable transition; otherwise the book will fall flat. But writing from someone who can’t comprehend doing evil acts to writing someone who commits them daily, it definitely changes how I do about trying to figure out my character and writing from her POV.
K: Do you find that there’s a good market for romances based in the Middle Ages? I visited your blog, and it looks like you have many wonderful reviews for your books?
NZ: I think the Middle Ages is the perfect setting for a romance because what woman hasn’t dreamt of being rescued by a knight in shining armor? There’s definitely a market for it.
K: All right, subject change. Where did you find the medieval recipes for your website and have you ever tried any of them?
NZ: I’ve found the recipes from all different kinds of sources, books, websites, etc. I haven’t tried any yet, but I’m sure that will change in the near future. It’s on my ever-growing to-do list. I swear, each time I check something off the list, I have to add two more items!
K: This has been such a fun and interesting interview! If anyone out there loves to read romance based in the Middle Ages, visit Nicole’s links below.
Links to my latest two releases:
Knight of Glory, Book II in the Kingdom of Arnhem series
The Cupid Diaries: Moments in Time Anthology