Nikki Haverstock - Cozy Paranormal Mystery Filled with Goodness
Nikki Haverstock is a writer who lives on a small ranch high in the Rocky Mountains. She has studied comedy writing at Second City and has published over a dozen cozy, space, and paranormal mysteries that are heavy on humor. Before fleeing the city, she hosted a competitive archery reality show, traveled the world to study volcanoes, taught archery and computer science at a university, and worked on her family’s ranch herding cattle. Nikki has more college degrees than she has sense and hopefully one day she will put one to work. Nikki likes to write comedy pieces that focus on the everyday humor of friends, family, and the absurdity of life. She tried stand up but the cattle weren’t impressed. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, Mermaid in Troubled Water.
Please give us a short introduction to what Mermaid in Troubled Water is about.
Mermaid in Troubled Water is the first book in the new Purgatory Falls Mysteries series. The lead is a mermaid who hops in her car and just starts driving to take a little vacation and ends up in Purgatory Falls, a paranormal-only town. Right off the bat, she witnesses the murder of a local werewolf. She stays in town, making friends, learning magic, and trying to find the murderer.
What inspired you to write about a mermaid?
I have always been fascinated by mermaids. One of my favorite movies as a kid was Splash, with Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah then later The Little Mermaid was quite influential to me as a preteen. I think mermaids have always just floating around in my head waiting for the right story. Brooke first appeared in a pitch in a screenwriting class I was taking. As a joke, I pitched When Hairy met Scaley, about a werewolf and a mermaid on a cross-country trip. As I fleshed out the character I knew this was someone that deserved a book. Over time the character evolved until I found just the right premise to write her story.
Tell us more about Brooke. What makes her so special?
She is a literal and metaphorical fish out of the water which is one of my favorite tropes. She grew up isolated around humans and now she is dropped into this magical town surrounded by other paranormals and magic. She is discovering not only them but herself. She questions everything she thought she knew about herself and her life. The town is also very special and has some secrets up her sleeve.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I've been a target archery coach and competitor for over twenty years. In fact, I was the host of a reality show about competitive archery once. I still try to shoot my bow several times a week, even when I'm on deadline. I think that is part of the reason that my back doesn't bother me when I spend hours a day typing.
Why did you pick Purgatory Falls as the backdrop for your story?
A few years ago my family moved just outside of Durango, Colorado and I instantly knew I wanted to put the town into a new series of books. But since I didn't want to be limited by the real town I renamed it after the local ski resort then added werewolves, vampires, a minotaur, elves, and all kinds of unusual characters. But I kept a lot of my favorite things about Durango including the mountains that surround the town, the street layout of downtown, the river that flows through the town, the springs to the north of town, and many of the fantastic events that happen year-round and, of course, the iconic narrow gauge railroad. I even included some of my favorite stores, hotel, and bars. The main hangout in the book is a speakeasy owned by a minotaur that is hidden behind a bookstore named The Bull in the Bookcase. It is based on a friend's speakeasy in town.
What, would you say, makes a small-town community fascinating?
I usually write about someone that is new to a small town because it is so fascinating to see all this from the outside. Gossip. Long-time rivalries. Old grudges and new disagreements. All the interconnections. Who doesn't love to hear all of that when they're not in the middle of it?
What did you have the most fun with when writing Mermaid in Troubled Water?
With this series, I just wanted to have fun. I focused on what scenes excited me and always tried to lead with "If I was the only one to read this, what would I write?" I have worked so hard on craft over the years and it's easy to get so caught up in story structure, plotting, pacing, etc that you stop having fun. I made a decision to lead with fun with time. It was still very hard work but I felt much more relaxed this time around.
Is there something that compels you to write? And do you find that writing helps you achieve clarity about yourself or ideas you've been struggling with?
I love to entertain people. I love telling stories and though there are a lot of ways to do that, books have always been one of my favorites. And I love everything about self-publishing. I had spent a lifetime reading books and thinking about what I would read if I was an author so when a friend told me about self-publishing, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do and jumped in with both feet. I think when I started I thought I was just writing about funny characters in fun situations but over time I've realized so much of my philosophy about life is seeping in. It can be healing.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
Pretty much every series is about starting over. I am really passionate about the resiliency of the human spirit so I love to show people overcoming things whether that is a personal failure or just the unexpected bumps in the road that is life. There are a lot of themes in my books that appear across the board like the power of found family, how great a pet can be, and growth that comes through hard work. And, of course, that justice can prevail.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I normally get up and feed all the dogs and horses then hang out with my son before school. Once he leaves my husband and I take a quick walk while we discuss our day and possibly I will shoot a few arrows before it gets too hot. Then I go to my office to deal with any administrative work like answering emails, scheduling marketing, and any editing I have to do then usually after lunch I write for several hours. I have a very small corner desk that fits just my computer and a few Sunlight lamps. I find it easier to focus that way.
What are you working on right now?
I am working on book 3 in the Purgatory Falls series. I don't have a title yet. But Book 2, Snowed-In Mermaid is at the copy editor and I am hoping to release it within the next few months. I am very excited about this series.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I have a link to sign up for my newsletter on my website https://nikkihaverstock.com/ My newsletter is the best place to hear about upcoming books and sales. I am also on basically every social media site just search for my name. I am always somewhere talking about my favorite shows, my pets, writing, or whatever pops into my head.