Interview with Nix Whittaker

Updated: Feb 20

Free author, blogger and small business owner interviews with "The NZDream" blog

Tell me a bit about yourself…

I write under the pen name Nix Whittaker. Which was based on one of my ancestors who was born on a ship, so they named him after the screw and the ship. Whittaker was the first mate. Besides chocolate – mmmmmm – Chocolate. I teach high school students as my day job and foster kittens and write stories about dragons and shapeshifters in my spare time.

What genre/s do you write in?

I like calling my work speculative fiction because sometimes genres are hard to pin down. Mostly I write fantasy or science fiction with a dash of romance. But I also dabble with historical fantasy as well.

How long have you been writing?

About 5 years but I literally have books that had made when I was a kid.

Do you have any published books or articles? Tell me a bit about these and what publishing route you took.

I’m an indie author. Mostly because my books would not fit into traditional publishing. I like to write short and snappy stories that are light fun reads. This is because I’m dyslexic and those were the kinds of stories I always liked to read.

I do the whole shebang myself. Writing, editing, formatting, covers and even the marketing. Though I usually get editors in to look at my work. But I’ve really enjoyed the book cover designing and found a true love of digital painting.

Did you use an editor? If so who?

Yes, a few. The one I would recommend is Patricia Bell. Let me just say it is important to get the right fit when it comes to editors.

Did you use a book formatter and cover designer?

Nope all me. I still hate trying to get the page numbers to stay on the right page. But I love having the secrets of Word under my belt. I don’t use anything more fancy than word though I do know my way around In Design and other programs like it.

Did you self-publish or get traditionally published? How did this go for you?

I self-published and I highly recommend groups like 20booksto50k if you are thinking of going the indie route. I have literally had famous traditional authors on there asking for advice. You can get a bit star struck sometimes until you realise they are just like you trying to figure their way around the game. I’ve been loving Robin Owens as she just got the rights back to one of her series and watching how pleased she is to have the edits she wanted and the covers she wanted. I also see some of my favourite authors having to go to full time work as they can’t afford to be full time authors. While I don’t make a lot from my books I know that no cent is being wasted.

How do you market your work and promote your brand?(Include links)

Being active online is important. Newsletters and facebook groups are essential these days. But the best way to keep a brand alive is to write another book. Nothing boosts my sales more than a new book.

What social media and writing platforms would you recommend?

I love Prowritingaid. Not quite a writing platform but just as important. I’m on Facebook mostly because I’m a bit of an old fogey but every platform has places for authors to gather. And so many indie authors are happy to share – after all a rising tide lifts all boats – you see when a genre gets new readers all the authors in that genre benefits. So we see each other as colleagues rather than competition. I’m active in groups like Writing Gals and 20Booksto50K. But if you want to be more local than I recommend SpecFicNZ. They have been amazing.

Do you use an agent?

No, didn’t need one.

Do you use paid advertising? If so what?

Sometimes and mostly Facebook ads and Paid Newsletters. I dream of the day I can get a BookBub. I’d definitely be raiding the piggie bank for one of those.

Do you have a blog or website?

Very proud of it as I made it myself.

What inspires you most to write?

When am I not inspired? Literally sitting in class today with some students discussing heroes and ways books get rid of the parents for them to start their journey. And from that discussion figured out how to start my next book.

What do you do to help with writers block?

Depression is the main cause behind writer’s block. So I remove things from my path which are not knowing what to write and excuses. I use writing sprints to make the entry and success criteria very small. I don’t even need to worry about word counts but that I sat down and wrote today.

How do you plan your writing and start?

I’m a bit of a pantser or more like writing into the dark. I have a vague idea in my head but my characters routinely hijack my stories and I end up going down a path I didn’t expect. The only time I actually sit down and plan is when I hit writer’s block or the ending is just too boring. Boring is the death of any story.

But I’m confident with story structure and subconsciously it directs the path of my characters.

Is writing your full time job? If not what else do you do?

For those in the know I’ll say I’m a consistent plankton. So definitely not a fulltime author. I teach high school to pay the bills.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on the third book of my Kitsune series. Set in New Zealand with a kiwi girl who accidentally married a Japanese Kitsune. It’s about myths being real.

What is your target audience?

Teenagers to adults but mostly it is people who love a little bit of magic in their lives.

How long does it take you to write a book?

When I’m on a roll it can be as quick as a month but usually it is about a year.

When did you first discover you enjoyed writing?

When I was a kid I was encouraged to read to help with my dyslexia. It didn’t take long for me to read out my town library (which wasn’t big to start with) and so I was forced to write my own stories to feed my need for stories.

What is your writing schedule look like?

About an hour after work or three writing sprints. When I have holidays I’ll try knock out a whole day here and there. That speeds up a book considerably. The editing is by far the thing that is the slowest part of writing.

What does your family think about you writing?

They love it. My mom has even dipped her toes in and is writing a romance series at the moment to indie publish at the end of the year.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I’m studying a business degree. I recommend that over a creative writing masters as marketing is by far the hardest part to get your head around when you publish. I also foster kittens for the SPCA. Endless kittens!!!

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