Today we welcome Nikki Bennett, author of the awesome FOUR FIENDS.
Welcome, Nikki! So how did you find yourself in Japan? Can you speak Japanese at all?
I work for the Marine Corps, and an opportunity came up for me to take a job at the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan (right near Hiroshima.) Before this, I lived on a horse farm in Virginia. It was kind of hard selling the horses and putting the farm on the market, but I don’t regret it. Living in Japan has given me so many opportunities to learn about Japanese culture and mythology. Plus, Japan is a great stepping-stone for visiting other Asian countries. So far, we’ve been to Taiwan, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Bhutan, Thailand, Bali and Guam. Each country has provided me with incredible story ideas.
I speak Japanese “sukoshi” which means a very little bit. I read better than I speak (of course–I’m a writer after all!) I know both the hiragana and katakana alphabets, but I’m struggling with kanji. There are thousands of kanji symbols, each meaning a different word. It’ll take me forever to figure all those out.
Great, so what made you want to be a writer? Were you always a creative person?
I wrote my first chapter book when I was about six, so I’ve always had it in me. For a long time I wrote in sporadic spurts, whenever the elusive writing muse happened to seek me out. Now I write every day. Writing (and reading) every day keeps the creative juices flowing. I just published FOUR FIENDS in December, and since then I’ve finished three other books, two of which are complete and making the agent rounds, one is getting edited, and I’m halfway through writing another one. I’m hoping to work on the sequel to FOUR FIENDS in May.
Can you tell us about Four Fiends? Where did you get the idea from?
The idea first came when we took a trip to Hong Kong. We wandered away from the city and found this storm water tunnel in the side of a hill. The tunnel was surrounded by this cool Gothic brick façade, and I wondered what sort of things might live up it. Somehow, the idea for FOUR FIENDS spun out of that. Jinjing, the first girl we meet in the story, discovers the same tunnel in Hong Kong and finds something truly wonderful inside it.
Four Fiends is steeped in mythology, do you think mythology is relevant to storytelling today?
I think mythology sparks the imagination and takes kids to magical worlds. I believe kids have a built-in curiosity about ancient cultures and mythology, I know I did when I was a kid (I still do!) That’s why Heroes of Olympus and novels like that do so well. Most fantasy novels incorporate mythology anyway, that’s why we like them so much.
What would you say makes your story truly stand out from the crowd?
I think the incorporation of different cultures and mythologies that kids might not get as much exposure to helps this story stand out. Chinese mythology is fascinating, and the United States has some pretty cool mythical creatures too, although most aren’t well known. I’ve got a chapter on Greek gods in the story, which might be more familiar with kids, but Japanese, Chinese, Polynesian and American myths are a little less in the mainstream, and will give kids something new to discover.
What golden nugget of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
FOUR FIENDS took me two years to write. The reason–I only wrote when the inspiration hit me. Two years is way too long, if you want to really make a living as an author (I’m not yet, but I hope someday I will!) you have to write every day. I get up at 5:30 each day and put a good hour in before work. If I don’t get 2,000 words in by then, I finish up when I get home. It’s important to not let that creativity wane, and I think writing (and reading) every day is the key.
Finally if you could be any mythological God, who would you be and why?
I think Pele would be pretty cool. She’s fiery, she’s her own woman, and she gets to live in Hawaii.
Verdict – awesome! Check this stuff out
Read the first chapter here
Read the first chapter here
facebook: Nikki Bennett – Writer