Instructor Spotlight

Nikki Loftin is the author of Nightingale’s Nest and The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy. Her newest novel Wish Girl, will be published on February 24. Visit her website for more information.
Nikki is teaching a class for the Writers’ League on February 14 at St. Edward’s University called “Finding the Write One: Wooing a Great Critique Partner and Being One Yourself.” Read the interview below and visit the class page to learn more.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAScribe: How did you decide to write novels for young people?
To be honest, I tried writing novels for older people. I got a Master’s degree in fiction writing from UT Austin, where I was supposed to write adult literary fiction… and I did. But my finished stories were dire.
A decade or so later, I tried my hand at romances, and discovered that I was even worse at writing those than the literary fiction! Then one night, as I was making up another bedtime story for my son, he sweetly suggested I write the stories down… and that was the beginning of writing for kids. I’ll admit it took a few years before I was good enough at writing for kids to get published, but it was worth the wait. I love the audience, the middle grade novel form, and the generous kidlit writing community in Austin, too!
Scribe: Do you draw a lot of inspiration from the hill country when writing a story? 
Yes! My last book, Nightingale’s Nest, and my next one, Wish Girl, are both set in Central Texas. Wish Girl is set in a valley between Henly and Wimberley where I spent most of my summers running up and down the hillsides, utterly unsupervised, while my parents worked on fixing up a ramshackle house on a hilltop there. That valley was my magical place, and the valley itself could be considered a character (rather than merely a setting) in my novel.
I also spend my writing days in the Hill Country now, and the view outside my office window is Texas at its finest: cedars, oaks, foggy valleys and fields of wildflowers… I love this place.
Scribe: How did you find your first great critique partner?
When we met, neither one of us even knew the other was a writer! I was working as the Director of Family Ministries in a church, overseeing her kids in the youth program. When I announced I was stepping down to pursue a writing career, she mentioned she also wrote for kids… and we started trading pages. She is an incredibly talented writer, so reading her work is always a joy. But she’s also a smart, insightful reader, and my manuscripts are all stronger for having her eyes on them.
Scribe: Do you have a writing resolution for the new year?
I make a list of writing resolutions every year. Many of them are personal, but I will admit that I plan to finish at least two new novels in 2015. That may seem ambitious, but I used to complete up to four a year. Things have slowed down since my books sold to Penguin, and my time is split between writing books and promoting them.
I still write as much as I can, as fast as I can. I so enjoy writing for kids that time away from the page doesn’t feel like a vacation – it feels terrible! I’m never happier than when I’m drafting something new.
To register for Nikki’s class, click here.
For a full list of classes, click here.

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