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Friday 17 August 2018

ℚ The Former Assassin - Nikki Stern

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about The Former Assassin (, Ruthenia Press, 311 pages), a Suspense Thriller.

"An explosive page-turner which owes its momentum to its two well-drawn opponents and a conflict that goes beyond good-vs.-evil.” ~IndieReader, Four Star review

"Later turns in the smashing final act come at a searing pace." ~ Kirkus Reviews

"Keeps readers guessing the outcome right up to its conclusion." ~D. Donovan Midwest Book Review

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Nikki Stern; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for The Former Assassin ?

"I was sitting in front of a lake in Maine, I believe and remembering other gorgeous vistas, like those I saw years earlier in Wales.

I was working on tranquillity at the time. Not all that successfully, as it turns out, because I immediately began to think about what could disturb or ruin such a beautiful view? Screaming children? Low-flying drone? Power boats tearing back and forth? Or—ah—a gun to the head?

I don’t know WHY I came up with that but I knew that was the most interesting jumping off point. After that, I only needed to come up with the who and why."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"On the surface, Suzanne and I have nothing in common. She’s a wife and a mother who’s survived a neglected childhood, time living on the street, a stint in the Army, and twenty-five years in service to a criminal for whom she killed.

Nothing in her resume accords with my personal history.

Except we’ve both known loss, we’ve both been rendered helpless by ill-advised choices and choices denied. We’ve experienced the redemptive power of love, the frustration of moving beyond one’s history, the unbidden rage that lives just beneath the surface, and the ever-present awareness of our own mortality.

And we both know how it feels to hold a rifle and get off a good shot. "
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for The Former Assassin - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"My sister came up with the original concept, the map of the world, the idea that the word “former” would look different.

The primary color is unusual and eye-catching, particularly when contrasted with the blood.

I already knew what I wanted to avoid: a thriller cover that’s become cliché: the solitary figure, his or her back to us, staring in the distance, weapon in hand. It’s so literal, so unsubtle. I like covers that suggest an emotion or even a plot point, which can be done with color or font choices or some object meant as an alliteration.

In this instance, I hired an experienced graphic designer, Diana Ani Stokley at GrafixToG, to refine and add to our concept. I like it so much; it comes across as intriguing."
Why should we read The Former Assassin and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"First, we are inside the mind of an assassin and it looks a lot like that of a normal person.

Second, the assassin is a woman and not a rage-fueled or vengeful or chilly psychopath but someone trying to come to terms with her past.

Third, she is, in the present, resolutely middle-aged and still a brilliant marksman with a steely resolve."
Can you tell us something quirky about The Former Assassin , its story and characters?
"The names are pretty stock, the places familiar. I did create a character who is a successful mainstream novelist in mid-life. Her book’s lead characters are strong, independent, fully adult women. She has a huge fan base and one of her books is being made into a movie. That’s either pretty meta on my part or wishful thinking."
Who would you recommend The Former Assassin to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I’ve had the opportunity to appear in front of four book clubs so far. To me that is the best part of the whole process; I love these smart curious readers. Primarily women but not exclusively so. The most obvious group, then, is women and sophisticated men of middle years and beyond who like to read. EXCEPT I’ve also presented to two high school groups and they also LOVED the book, which thrilled me no end.

There are no disclaimers, except to those who see the category “thriller” and want to see little dialogue and lots of explosions. I didn’t write that book."
If you could / wished to turn The Former Assassin into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Patty Jenkins, who directed “Wonder Woman” comes to mind. There’s a lot less action but the locales are equally grand. Honestly, though, there are many women here and abroad who could do it justice.

As far as casting, I haven’t gotten beyond Suzanne, who I saw as played by Cate Blanchett with her American accent (ironic but Suzanne is an American married to a Brit).

Frankly, I’d be happy with an HBO limited series or a Netflix short run."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I like the idea of bringing women into various genres with all their complexities and complications. I’m actually new to the thriller genre. I wrote a lot of non-fiction, then turned to short stories that were a mix of fantasy and mystery. At this point, I may or may not become a genre writer. I’m open to all possibilities."
What is your writing process?
"It’s dreadful, according to everything you’ll ever read. I’m either “on” or “off.” Several weeks can go by where I’m so uninspired I can’t move forward, even on a project I’ve started. Mind you, I spend two hours in front of the computer writing something but it might end up being an essay or a letter or a round of emails.

Then something will open up or someone will give me an idea or the tool to break the logjam that stalled my novel or whatever. Then I’ll be at the computer from 9 to 5 with breaks for lunch and dog walks."
What is in store next?
"I’m reworking/updating a novel from a few years ago I couldn’t get afloat. Now, with the help of a terrific developmental editor, I’ll have an unusual mystery and a lead character interesting enough to anchor a series."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I’ve had the same dog for thirteen years and I—a widowed childless type—have become the dreaded “fur baby mother.”

The dog is cajoled, catered to, cared for and generally spoiled like nobody’s business. Easy to understand why: she’s GORGEOUS!"

Hello Molly! You are absolutely gorgeous :-D Lots of cuddles to you from all of us at BooksChatter!

Nikki, thank you for sharing :-)

The Former Assassin
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1 comment:

CMash said...

Being in the mind of the assassin!! I want to read this book!! Molly is such a cutie!