By Margaret O’Hair
Spotlight on Nikki Katz, a writer from San Diego, California
Whether you have a business, a hobby, a passion, a cause. . .it is sure to be said that we all try to juggle things and make our lives work around our kids.
In the first of our series of interviews with Moms Who Do It All, we are lucky to get a chance to interview the amazing, Nikki Katz, a writer, blogger, and mom from sunny San Diego!
Nikki Katz is a managing editor and ex-rocket scientist living in San Diego with her husband and three children. With a BS degree in aerospace engineering, Nikki first put her writing skills to use publishing four nonfiction books in the puzzle and game genre. She moved on to writing young adult fiction, her favorite activity. Other favorite pastimes include: chauffeuring her kids around town, reading fantasy and sci-fi, baking yummy desserts, watching Reality TV, and scrolling social media feeds. The Midnight Dance is her debut novel.
While I’ve seen you online and presenting at conferences, it is so great to talk to you in person today, Nikki. I wanted to welcome you to Growing Up Chico Magazine! Congratulations, by the way, on your first book! I know it is a Young Adult novel and has been out a couple of months. Can you share the journey of that book? How long did it take to write it and what is it about?
Thanks for having me Meg! This journey was a long one. I actually wrote the first draft of The Midnight Dance over five years ago. Set in 1800s Italy at the Grande Teatro Finishing School, the novel follows Penny and 11 other young women as they train under the mysterious, young Master to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. It’s the only life Penny has ever known until startling new memories show a very different past. Now, Penny must find a way to uncover the secrets of the school and escape, before it’s too late.
The Midnight Dance truly is a labor of love. It was the first time I really delved into revising and editing any of my six manuscripts. I rewrote it (twice) nearly from scratch to get an agent, and then again once we parted ways and Swoon Reads purchased the manuscript. I learned so very much from this process, more from ever writing the first draft of a novel.
What makes you want to write books?
There are several things. I love telling stories, and honestly there is something amazing about knowing I’m going to leave this bit of a legacy behind when I’m long gone. I like to make people think, and I like touching the lives of teens, an age when sometimes you need an escape from the real-world drama.
How did you realize you were a writer?
I have written since I was four years old, typing out horrible rhyming poems on my grandfather’s typewriter. Even though it was a strange path to get here, I have always been a writer! It’s far easier for me to express myself in the written word than through speaking.
Tell us a little about your mom style and your kids.
I am hard on my kids. I am definitely not an “everyone gets a trophy” type of parent. I want them to work hard and see their successes. I rarely coddle, although I am fiercely protective of them when I need to be. I am very competitive and my kids are as well, for better or worse! They are also really good kids. They are respectful to adults and manners are very important to me. I encourage them to explore various activities and they have all landed where they should. My oldest does professional acting, my middle does competitive cheerleading, and my youngest does competitive soccer and recreational lacrosse.
Being a mom is a full time job! How to you juggle mom life with writing life?
Not well sometimes! I try to write when the kids are at school, but once you’re picked up by a publisher, you are at the whim of that schedule. I have had to work on revisions during both summer break and holiday break! I feel the guilt on all accounts, but what I’ve learned to do is make my time count. It is quality over quantity and whether I am working or engaged with the kids, I make that my focus.
What is your advice to moms who want to try to write a children’s book?
Don’t give up. It’s a tough business. Like I said, this was definitely not the first manuscript I wrote! It is a long journey, but you have to keep at it. Write every day if you can. The longer you are away from a project, the harder it is to get back into it! Also, reach out to others and find a critique partner or group. They are invaluable in terms of feedback, but also support as you get out there and (most likely) start receiving rejection for your work.
Any exciting projects that you are working on now?
I am working on The King’s Questioner, a book about a mental lockpick, Kalen who has the ability to break into people’s minds and steal their deepest secrets. When he uncovers something the king has been hiding in the mind of his childhood friend, former enemies must team up to avert a war.
What is the contact information for buying your books?
The Macmillan website has links to all major bookstores. Here is that link:
How can we find you online to follow your writing journey and read your blog?
Here is all of that information:
My Website: www.nikkikatz.com
My Facebook: www.facebook.com/NikkiKatzAuthor/
My Instagram: www.instagram.com/nikkikatz
My Twitter: www.twitter.com/katzni
My Pinterest: pinterest.com/nvkatz/
Thank you, Nikki! This was great.
You’re most welcome!
Wait, Nikki, before you are off the line, you know, our readers are moms, first and foremost. Their families are everything to them, just like it should be. With that said, can you give us a last piece of wisdom about how not to give up on our dreams, even though we are taking care of our families?
Sure. It is vastly important to spend quality time with your children, but it’s also important for them to see their parents pursue their hobbies and their dreams. My kids are amazingly proud of me, have seen me work very hard, and celebrate my successes. Find the time to work on your dreams, whatever they may be. I promise, your children will be better off for it.