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Interview: Niki Burnham

September 25th, 2006 (06:12 pm)
hopeful

Current Mood: hopeful
Current Song: American Bandstand theme song

Niki Burnham has lived all over the world, earned degrees in political science and law, then a master's degree in political science, and developed a literary crush on Aaron Sorkin. (I hope her husband doesn't mind.) Now Niki is a writer happily living in Massachusetts.

When she first put pen to paper for the teen novel ROYALLY JACKED, she had no idea that it would be the first book in a highly successful line of romantic comedies published by Simon & Schuster. It's been all uphill since then. ROYALLY was followed by SPIN CONTROL, as well as two more novels for teens - another S&S romantic comedy called SCARY BEAUTIFUL and a dramatic look at an abusive relationship entitled STICKY FINGERS - and six romances for adults. Her newest book, DO-OVER, is the third book in the ROYALLY sequence.

Was ROYALLY JACKED written before or after you landed the book deal? Did the publisher approach you to be a part of this line?

I had the idea and first 20 or so pages of Royally Jacked written when my agent approached Simon & Schuster with the idea. What we didn't know at the time was that S&S was considering launching a series of romantic comedies. So the timing was perfect both for me and for the publisher!

Was the ROYALLY sequence always planned to be a series? Will DO-OVER be the third and final, or are there more to come?

I had both ROYALLY JACKED and SPIN CONTROL firmly in my head when my agent approached S&S with the idea. So it was always planned to be at least two books. When ROYALLY ended up being so successful, my editor told me that they might want a third book . . .so I started brainstorming ideas, and made sure I wrote SPIN CONTROL in a way that allowed for another story about Valerie. I'm not sure if I'll do a fourth book or not. While I adore Val, I need to know that the story would be different and fantastic. I won't write another book in the series just because I can. It always ticks me off as a reader when an author runs an idea completely into the ground.

So we'll see!

The cover of STICKY FINGERS has shocked some of my customers - and caused others to pick up the book and buy it immediately! What do you think comes of judging a book by its cover?

I've heard the same thing -- some people wrote saying they loved the cover and it made them pick up the book, while others have written me saying they thought it was over the top.

It's hard for me to judge whether I thought it was a good cover for the book or not. I think -- as the author -- I get too close to my stories to accurately judge whether a cover is good or not! When I'm shopping for myself, a cover might grab my attention, but I'm always the type to read the first couple of pages and the back cover before I decide whether or not to buy.

Under the name Nicole Burnham, you have written half a dozen Silhouette Romance novels. What is the biggest difference between writing for teens and writing for adults?

To me, it's not that different. When I write a book, it's all about the characters. So whether the main character is seventeen or forty-five or ninety, it's all about how that person views the world. That being said -- I love writing about teenagers. I have fun exploring the anything-is-possible mindset that a teenager can have one day, followed by the my-life-sucks-rocks mindset they can have the next (and for perfectly legit reasons!)

Did you title your book before, after, or while writing it?

I have titled all my books for teens, though I certainly run the ideas by my editor! Some I've titled before I start writing. Others take longer. I must've had ten titles for DO-OVER before settling on that one. While I was writing it, I called it I NEVER.

What are your favorite romantic comedies?

Love the movie THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT. Also loved DAVE, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, BULL DURHAM and FIELD OF DREAMS. (Yes, I think Field of Dreams is a romance of sorts.)

What are your top ten books of all time?

OOOH!! Toughie. I have WAY more than ten. But these rank amongst the top:

Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie
It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
Far From Xanadu by Julie Anne Peters
Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Who's Your Daddy? by Lynda Sandoval
and anything by Meg Cabot!

Visit Niki at her official website, where you can read the first chapter of her newest book, DO-OVER.