NEW BOOK RELEASE: I Heart Africa Project

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As of March 10, a book I have been working on for the last five years finally left my desk and entered the public domain for readers and travellers alike. Over the last five years I have interviewed over fifty people – all carefully selected by myself, who are from all around the world, and who either live, work, or travel on the African continent.
Now, when I say that these people are incredible human beings – that is a HUGE understatement. At the time when I started this project, my goal was for people to hear about the good being done in Africa and the beauty to be found and experienced there (despite its bad rep). Personally, it was a time in my life when I had no faith in humanity, or that there were good people left on this planet. However, over the course of this project, these individuals not only restored my faith in humanity but completely inspired and motivated me. They filled me with joy and untouchable happiness and contentment that is beyond anyone’s capability to burst. They truly are the most incredible human beings I know – period!
Within the pages of this book, you hear about their stories, adventures, and their love of Africa.
I will not spoil the details of the book, but there are conservationists, ecologists, herpetologists, travellers, wildlife photographers, rangers, guides, anti-poaching team members, Maasai and Chaga tribe members, tour leaders, residents, tourists, leaders in their industries, ethnoecologists, film producers, television hosts, veterinarians, carnivore ecologists, the owner of the largest rhino orphanage in the world, a US Green Beret, a member of Nitro Circus, volunteers.

Their stories have truly captivated my spirit and continue to inspire and amaze me, the more I learn about them (yes, even after the book was completed). I am just so truly grateful and humbled to be allowed the honour of sharing their stories with the world.

The book is on sale now on AMAZON. There are Kindle, Paperback Standard Colour, Paperback Premium Colour, and Hardback Editions of the book available for purchase.
Help me, help them, by supporting their stories, and sharing them with the world.

For now, happy reading, and much love to you all.

Nikki xxx

Link to Hardback and Premium Colour Edition above. Kindle and Standard Colour Edition link below.

Book Review: Bone Tiki – David Hair

Bone Tiki – Wow. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Have ordered the next book in the series.

The first few pages for me were a little slow, and I was not encouraged, but persisted. 

Using a mixture of culture, heritage, mythology, legends, and historical knowledge, David Hair was able to bring life to those well known mythological/ancient creatures and Maori legends in a way that captivated my imagination and soul, and with a balance of backstory weaved amongst the story to keep it moving forward. 


The aspects I liked were:
1) That David Hair was able to use legends and myths within Maori culture that are established. Based in Taupo, and having spent much time in the Hawkes Bay and Hastings regions as well as further north. Using the taniwha of Lake Taupo/Waikato River coming up over the bridge in Taupo was so real, I could envision it clearly. The legend of HatuPatu, is a place that I always honk at on my way north, but never really knew significance. There were so many. But the author really brought them to life in a whole other way, by not only paying tribute to these Maori legends/mythical creatures/people but ellaborating as to their story and significance to the region and Maori people. The Opepe battle scene is real along the Napier-Taupo Highway, and so that leads me into my second point.

2) I liked the attention to detail with not only the significant locations, and legends, but also the scenery. It was so vivid, the walking along the rivers and through the bush.

3) Whether the ellaborations on existing legends and myths that are brought to life in this book are entirely true or not, is not a hundred percent clear to me. But there was definitely an aspect of realism to this book. It has been cleverly done. I loved the part about riding the Taniwha up the Waikato river and all other (smaller) taniwhas rose their heads.

4) The character of Wiri was captivating, as too was that of the dog. Wiri reminded me of a friend of mine from high school that actually died in a river along the Napier-Taupo Highway. But his presence and character was so familiar, it drew me in. Also, to note, his entrance into the book was powerful. I was like ‘wow – who is this?’ 

5) I liked the character development of all the characters – Mat, Kelly, Wiri, Tama, etc. They kept growing and gaining more depth.

This is definitely a book I would read again, and recommend. Great selection guys.

Two things I picked up on was a catastrophic spelling mistake – only one. And that this book is categorized as a YA.

Author Interview: Curse of Stone by Nikki Lockwood

Interview with Nikki Lockwood – The Author of the ‘Curse of Stone’.

What inspired you to write this book?

This idea actually came to me in a dream that was persistent over several weeks. It was Gabriel’s character that was in the dream, and his brothers. Their curse and existence were intriguing and complex, and then when the girl came into the picture (in my dream) I knew there was a story to be told here.

Can you tell me about the book?

When a strange man starts following her, and weird things start occurring, she turns to her best friend, Jamie, who is secretly a werewolf and knows more than he is telling her.  

When the great-aunt appears, things start to spiral further into danger. Danielle doesn’t know that she is being hunted by an ancient demon, and minions of evil are coming for her.

Enter Gabriel. A cursed man – and a gargoyle, he is searching for his healer – the one human female destined to break his curse. He must find her before evil does.

It’s really the old tale of good versus evil, but they are racing against the clock.

What does the title mean?

Curse of Stone has a complex meaning. It relates to an actual curse that becomes known in the book. The curse is about three stones, hence curse of stone. Three stones, one of blood, one of light, and one bound. The one of blood is the healer or the main character, Danielle. The one of light is a precious gem (stone) not of earth’s realm and is the necklace mentioned in the book. The one bound that relates to the man cursed in stone – and the second male character, Gabriel, who is a gargoyle. To understand how they interrelate you’ll need to read the book.

Were the characters inspired by real people?

Yes and no. To be honest, the character of Jamie is based on a person I once knew (obviously not with the same name). But his personality is based on several people.

Gabriel is not based on a real person, but his mannerism and the way he carries himself was inspired by a real person.

The character of Radu is inspired by a legendary folk tale from an Eastern European country. Researching that legend was incredibly fascinating and brining him to life in a different way from his legends was extremely rewarding.

Do you have a favourite character in the book?

From the perspective of writing the characters, at the start it was Gabriel. However, after developing the characters in-depth, Jamie was my favourite character to write.

How many hours a day do you write?

On weekdays, I write on average between 6-9 hours a day. On the weekends is when I try to do my editing, reflection, proofreads, plotting, and character or storyline research.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

That I know my characters inside and out before they even get to the page. But from a technical viewpoint, when I am writing I cannot hold a conversation with anyone because my mind is so in the zone that I cannot focus on anything but the story in which I am telling.

What do you think comes first, the plot or characters?

It depends on whether you are writing a character-driven story or a plot-driven story. For me I would say even when a story idea strikes, I tend to focus on who the characters are that are carrying/telling the story, then I will plot out what I want to happen – however the characters can take the story away from the original plot as well, which isn’t a bad thing.

How do you develop your characters?

I love developing my characters, it is so much fun. For ‘Curse of Stone’ I created a character book that has each character’s biography, background, quirks, and storylines in it, as well as drawings or photos of physical features that I wanted for each. The book is about 100 pages long as it has characters in it that weren’t in the first book but will be arriving in either book 2 or 3.

My methods for character development are intense. I can tell you everything about them, most of which never hits the page. I do this because I want to have my characters authentically respond and react to situations, with language specific to them. I’m not going to give away all my secrets here.

How much world building did you do before writing this book?

Because it is set in a city, there wasn’t much world building to do. However, I did have to think about the layout and complexity of getting around the city to each location in the book. So, I guess I did a bit.

What was the hardest scene to write?

This is an interesting question. If I were answering this generically, it would be any intimate or lovey-dovey scenes because I get squeamish writing them. However, the hardest scene to write was the funeral scene and then the final chapters.

What surprised you the most while writing this book?

The character of Velkan. Originally, he was going to be the main character’s main love interest and then would form a love triangle with another, but as Jamie’s character voice became stronger and more complex, Velkan’s character became not what I had originally planned and that surprised me.

If your book was turned into a movie, what celebrities would play your characters?

To be honest, I have given this a bit of thought already – not saying that it would ever happen, but it’s fun to think about. If it were to be made into a movie, I wouldn’t want any well-known actors or actresses to portray my characters – unless it was a background character.

I have set people in mind for the main characters and even the additional characters. I won’t say anything more except that I saw them on Instagram.

Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

When you are in the nitty gritty of writing your story, you are extremely focused, and it is mentally exhausting. Some days, when I have been writing since dawn, I am exhausted by three or five in the afternoon and literally cannot do anything else that would stimulate my brain. So, I watch a movie – one that I have seen before so I am not as interested.

I guess it’s important to keep good health, take moments to breath and take in your surroundings, eat good food, stay away from negative stimuli, believe in your story, practice your craft, and get a good night’s sleep – however that last one I cannot claim I do, as I suffer from insomnia and barely get 1-3 hours’ sleep a night.

Yes, so eat well, live well, take breaks, and sleep, because being mentally exhausted is just as taxing on the body as being physically exhausted.

How do you deal with reviews, do you read them?

I love reviews – good and bad. Critical reviews make writers better at their craft and I know that may not be a common opinion but who else can give you brutally honest feedback than a disgruntled reader. I haven’t received any negative feedback about ‘Curse of Stone’ yet but have received complimentary reviews so far.

What can we expect in book two of this series? Any snippets you can share about the future of the characters?

I have an array of wonderfully crafted new creatures to introduce. More plots twists. In book two, the readers will get to know Gabriel’s story more, as well as some of the other werewolves.

There will just be more explanation and the ‘why’ of certain characters.

The second book takes the characters out of the city of Estermoore and into different realms, so the world building for the second and third books is more elaborate.

I know those who have read the book are wondering what happens to Jamie, well, I have something lined up for his character – but I am not willing to give out any details yet.

What are you working on right now? Could you share any details with readers?

I have just finished the editing and publishing of an anthology of works by our local writers’ group. I have my non-fiction book coming out shortly about Africa, which I have been working on for the past five years.

I have finished a new standalone novel that is really cool, and I have several other manuscripts on the go.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?

I am on Instagram @nikkinzwriter; Twitter @nikkinzwriter; Facebook @nikkilockwoodnz; and I also have a website and blog www.nikkilockwood.com. And yes, I will respond to legitimate comments and questions, not spam or irrelevant nonsense.

Curse of Stone‘ is available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon.com.