Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and what inspired to write in this particular genre?
My name is Nikki Rae. I’m 27 and an editor and writer who lives in New Jersey. I think I’ve always loved paranormal things. At a very young age, I fell in love with vampires, then ghosts, then ANYTHING deemed out of the ordinary. It just seemed natural to write in the genre.
What is it about the paranormal, in particular vampires, that fascinates you so much?
The outsider theme is probably the most compelling about the vampire in particular. How they look human but aren’t, how there are so many incarnations of them. In any paranormal creature, the humanity within them is what draws the reader in, and the more monstrous the more the challenge and bigger the pay off. J
What inspired you to write this book?
The Crow Box deals with a lot of metal health issues and although the main character’s are extreme, people deal with these invisible enemies on a daily basis sometimes. They are constantly questioning if the world they live in is real, if they are real. I thought that was an interesting idea to play with.
Please tell us about your latest release.
The Crow Box is about a college art student named Corbin who is trying her best to be normal. Her mother brings her an antique box that is sealed with wax, and once Corbin cleans it up, strange things start happening and she isn’t sure if it’s her mental health deteriorating or if the box has something to do with it.
Do you have a special formula for creating characters' names? Do you try to match a name with a certain meaning to attributes of the character or do you search for names popular in certain time periods or regions?
Not really. Most of the time the names are already in place. With Corbin, her name means “little crow”, which was intentional. ;)
Was one of your characters more challenging to write than another?
There is a character named Michael that I have in The Sunshine Series and Animal. He’s the most unstable character I have ever created and his head was a very strange and scary place to be when writing. However, he’s also one of my favorite characters and readers seem to enjoy him as well.
Is there a character that you enjoyed writing more than any of the others?
I fall in love with every main character I create. I think you have to, no matter if they’re a good or bad person or if you agree with their decisions. If you don’t at the very least believe they are real to you, no one else will.
Do you have a formula for developing characters? Like do you create a character sketch or list of attributes before you start writing or do you just let the character develop as you write?
Most of the time they just appear and develop as I write. Their personalities shine through more if I don’t try to put them into any boxes.
What is your favorite scene from the book? Could you share a little bit of it, without spoilers of course?
Ooh there are so many! Here’s a little snippet:
Corbin, it said, not quite as full as the first time. More of a gentle whisper. Little crow. Dark haired beauty.
The bed shifted next to me, but I couldn't be bothered to open my eyes. “You're not real,” I said into the darkness.
Something brushed past my face, just below my lip. It was neither warm nor cold, just a presence of slight pressure and then nothing.
But I am real, Corbin, the voice said in a whisper. In time, I will show you how real I am.
I took a deep breath. This was crazy. But I was also all alone, so even though I was scared of what hearing this voice meant, I was comforted that it was here with me.
“What do you want?” I asked.
Murmuring. Light voice on top of light voice, speaking over one another in different languages and whispers of words I understood, just not in this context. When it went on too long, I sighed. “Can you at least tell me who you are?”
I managed to open my eyes, staring at the blank ceiling, shadows of the ever-present flies playing off of it. I wondered for a second if my eyes were really open or if they had only opened into a different dream. I blinked once, twice. The voices disappeared. I couldn’t be sure in my half-awake state, but I felt the covers shift beside me. I didn't care that this was just my mind trying to cope with my mother leaving.
You aren't afraid of me, are you? But it wasn't quite a question.
I rolled over, exposing my back to the unseen entity. “No,” I said. “I guess not.”
My hair lifted off of my back gently, as if someone was running their hands through it lovingly, the way Mom used to when I was sick when I was little.
“I'm afraid of what you mean,” I said. “I'm much too old to be playing with imaginary friends.”
I felt breath on the back of my neck. It was warm and smelled of dried leaves. I melted into the scent of it, relaxing my head against the pillow. You don't think I'm imaginary, the voice said, so close to my ear that they sounded like they were right there, speaking directly to me and no one else. Not really.
Did you find anything really interesting while researching this or another book?
A lot of times I try to make up a creature or illness and find it already exists. In this, there are many creatures and entities that embody the paranormal elements, but not just one. I thought that was interesting because it made me wonder where the idea for it came from, which I am still trying to figure out.
What is the most interesting thing you have physically done for book related research purposes?
I don’t really do physically related things for research. That’s why I write. I’m more of a describer and less of a doer. Haha.
Can you tell readers a little bit about the world building in the book/series? How does this world differ from our normal world?
The interesting thing about my stories is that most of the time, the paranormal world is part of the real world that not many people see. In future installments of The Shadow & Ink Series, the world will become more muddy and turn into something else, but mostly, Corbin is just trying to figure out what is real in the very real world.
With the book being part of a series, are there any character or story arcs, that readers jumping in somewhere other than the first book, need to be aware of?
Can these books be read as stand alones?
These should definitely be read in order. There is a huge cliff hanger in the first book (sorry! Lol) and you would probably be really lost if you picked up the second book without reading what came before.
Do any of your characters have similar characteristics of yourself in them and what are they?
Yes. Corbin is like me a lot in her art and style. Her personality is nothing like me though.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? How do you deal with it?
Sometimes. It usually happens when I have too many things happening at once and I can’t concentrate on any one thing. Mostly what I find works is first trying to write through it, even if I know I’m going to delete it later, but if that doesn’t work, I take a break and try to do something else like read or go for a walk.
Do you have any weird writing quirks or rituals?
I need a TV show I’ve watched a hundered times before and a candle. I think that’s pretty weird lol.
Do you write in different genres?
I never say never. All the books I have out now are paranormal, but I want to branch out into a ton of genres. I’m working on a contemporary and sci-fi novel as well as a poetry book!
Do you find it difficult to write in multiple genres?
Not at all. I know I prefer paranormal because that’s the most fun for me, but writing in different genres is refreshing. You have to establish new rules for yourself and work within them. I do my best work when I’m challenged and I love doing it.
When did you consider yourself a writer?
Around high school. I had always been into telling stories and had even written them down here and there, but in high school I really fell in love and started writing every day. It became part of who I was and has remained so ever since.
What are your guilty pleasures in life?
Oh gosh. Like, bad reality TV shows. And Shark Tank. For the love of god, I cannot stop watching Shark Tank.
Other than writing, what are some of your interests, hobbies or passions in life?
I love making my own tea, reading, and animals. Animals have always been a big love in my life and I would love to one day either own a bunch or open some kind of sanctuary.
What was the last amazing book you read?
“You” by Caroline Kepnes was really amazing, dark, and made my pulse kick into overdrive with every chapter. The writing is also beautiful.
Where is your favorite place to read? Do you have a cozy corner or special reading spot?
Mostly in bed. Preferably with a nice cup of tea and warm blanket.
What can readers expect next from you?
The sequel to The Crow Box and a continuation of my vampire story, Animal. The two books are fighting for my attention daily!
Where can readers find you on the web?
Everywhere! The best place for us to hang out and talk is my group on Facebook, Nikki Rae Fans! J
The Crow Box
The Shadow and Ink Series
Genre: New Adult Dark Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: January 15, 2016
Number of pages: Around 100
Word Count: 55, 323
Cover Artist: Nikki Rae
The small wooden box is dirty, the size of a human fist, and sealed with wax. When Corbin takes it upon herself to clean it and break the seal, a voice she has tried to ignore gathers strength. Shadows play on the walls at night, and with a family history of mental illness, Corbin fears the worst. But the voice tells her it is real. That its name is Six and it will prove it in time.
Drawn to this mysterious entity, Corbin isn't sure what to believe and the line between reality and her imagination blurs more every day.
Some doors should not be opened; can this one be closed?
A tap on the window. Something that was too much like a tree branch to really draw any attention. Then it got louder. I shoved the pillow over my head, sinking its weight into the cool fabric and throwing the covers over my head for extra good measure. I almost forgot where I was until I felt the rough fabric of the blanket that wasn’t mine. I tried to open my eyes, but I didn’t care enough to exert the amount of energy it took. Instead, I rolled over, sinking deeper into the darkness surrounding me.
I knew somehow that I had slept through all the daily activities, through group therapy and arts and crafts and TV hour. I knew it was past lights out and I found myself not caring that it would all be monitored. I could stay in this room, in this bed forever. Somewhere between sleeping and waking, between my body and muddy, thick mind, I heard the voice. I couldn't understand what it said, but it was a gentle, almost cooing sound, like one a mother would use on a child who had woken in the middle of the night from a bad dream. But they were down the hall and too far away to offer me anything.
The blanket shifted and I couldn't see because my eyes were closed; the blankets and pillow still covered my head. A moment of quiet, then the mattress dipped in next to me, in front of me. My heart pounded in my head, my throat. A second later, the pillow slid from my head, but I couldn't tell if it was my own doing. My head was too heavy; my thoughts were too clogged to get one solitary explanation through.
Hush now, the voice whispered. It was right next to my ear, right next to me. I'll show you.
Yes. Show me. Show me how to be insane. Show me how to be just like my mother. I kept my eyes completely closed.
Corbin, said the voice. As much as I hated to admit it, I liked the sound of my name in its tone. I liked how it hit me deep. It was the sound of sand being blown by the sea on a windy day. It was the feeling of fingers in your hair as you fell asleep, tangled limbs after a closely spent night. Softness and hardness of an intimate touch, one that couldn’t have possibly been delivered by anyone or anything else.
“Yes?” I hadn't realized I said the word out loud until my hot breath was bouncing back at me against the covers. I was afraid my roommate would hear, but her heavy snoring reassured me.
So you are with me, it whispered. Each word caressed my face, sent warm shivers through my skin and into the bone.
I opened my mouth to say something else, but I couldn't think of anything; I doubted I would even be able to get the words past my teeth.
Hushhhhhh, said the voice. I felt something slightly cold, yet not completely solid against my waist. It wasn't enough to make me shiver. It wasn't anything that woke me further from the drugs. My shirt slipped upward, past my belly button before it stopped.
I inhaled sharply and turned over onto my back, convinced that I was half-dreaming and if I switched positions, the dream would change just as easily.
A few moments of silence. A few moments of the tapping on the glass, the rustle of the wind outside as the rain pelted the roof. It lulled me back into comfort, back into darkness.
My little crow, crooned the voice. Again, right in my ear, right in front of my face. It made the blackness behind my eyelids shake, sprout leaves and take root. My precious petal.
I was almost unaware of the sheet moving off of me, the blankets shifting until I heard them rumple into a careless pile on the floor. My face became warm, the smell of damp dirt in my nostrils, the sound of static electricity zipping through my brain, setting off synapses to synapses.
“What are you doing?” I whispered. But my voice sounded so far away, like I was standing on top of a very high tower and trying to make my words heard to people down below.
I felt my hair being moved from my forehead, then a small, sweet amount of pressure applied there. Kissing you, my love.
I liked the gesture. It overrode any logic, any sense of self I could bring forth from the darkness.
“Why do you only kiss me at night?” I whispered.
Another small peck, warm and then cool against my cheek. I am strongest at this hour. The words slithered around my skin, crawled to the back of my skull like some creature that had suddenly sprouted legs. And you are most open to me.
“Open?” I asked, my head swimming with medication, my eyes glued shut, my body heavy with sleep that had yet to come.
I felt the slight breath of an amused, silent laugh. Yessssss, the voice whispered. Open, my crow.
I opened my eyes, but I was only met with darkness. I knew that it was all in my head as the dim room spun around me, but I didn't care. I didn't want to think about it or what it meant. It was easier to pretend. If I was the only one who knew, I was the only one who knew the truth. I couldn't be losing my mind if I was so in control of it.
About the Author:
Nikki Rae is an independent author who lives in New Jersey. She explores human nature through fiction, concentrating on making the imaginary as real as possible. Her genres of choice are mainly dark, scary, romantic tales, but she’ll try anything once. When she is not writing, reading, or thinking, you can find her spending time with animals, drawing in a quiet corner, or studying people. Closely.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Nikki-Rae-394844663902407/