I got to know Nicky Peacock this week. Nicky is the author of the Battle of the Undead series. It's three books so far: Traitor's Gate, Bad Blood, and Bad Timing. Traitor's Gate is a War-of-the-Roses-era prequel to the next two books. Ever wondered what would happen to vampires during The Zombie Apocalypse? Might there be a shortage of...fresh blood? Now's a good time to find out more. Traitor's Gate is a free download on the Evernight site! The Battle of the Undead books are meant to be read in order, so I think the beginning would be a very good place to start the vampire vs. zombie binging!
Nicky lives in England, and she's been scaring the snot out of people with her stories since her schooldays. Here's an interview I did with her just before Easter.
I see on your blog that you've been telling stories since you were a little girl. Can you remember the first story you wrote down? What was it about?
I do remember the first story I ever wrote. I was seven years old and it was about an evil scarecrow who was bored with scaring crows so started playing tricks on the neighborhood children. After reading it, the teacher sat me down and asked if I was all right! LOL, that wasn't the last time that happened.
My mother is fascinated with vampires--and is (of course) terrified of bats. How do you feel about bats?
Bats are really cute! There's a park near me that has bat spotting nights. There's actually a lot of them round my house; I almost ran one over with my car once. As I live in the country, the list of creatures I've almost run over is surprisingly long!
How do you pick the settings for your stories and books? Do you have a favorite?
I tend to pick settings I know well, or feel an affinity with so don't mind doing serious research on. Being English, the UK features a lot in my work. I'd love to set a book in Hawaii, just as an excuse to go there.
Who is your most dastardly villain? Why is he or she so evil?
The most evil villain in the Battle of the Undead series is yet to be revealed. They are the one who caused the zombies. Of the ones that are featured in the available books...I'd say Ichabod from Bad Timing tops the list. I think he just has some serious personal issues. He's a pretty old vampire and probably gained some insecurities along the way of his long lifetime; not that that is much of an excuse for what he does.
I live in a very old house that has been examined by a local ghost investigator. We've got a couple of spirits who live here with us, but they're pretty gentle. Have you ever had any ghostly experiences?
I've seen two ghosts and my parents had a lot of experiences with living in haunted houses. The worst one for me was when I was driving down a main road and saw what appeared to be a massive bundle of rags tumble across in front of me. I swerved the car to avoid it, but just went straight through - it was really creepy. And hey, that's something else I've almost run over!
Are you a "planner" or a "pantser" when you write--which is to say, do you outline your plots or rely more upon inspiration as you go?
I'm a bit of both. I do have a plan and believe in plotting (in all its evil forms) but I always try to let stories and characters evolve as I write them too. I think the trick is to know where you're going but be flexible about how you get there.
Which of your own heroines is your favorite? Why?
I love them all; I think you have to to channel them through my writing. Currently though, I have a soft spot for Mouse who is the heroine in my new series. The Twisted and the Brave. I gave her one of my greatest fears, the fear of being lost, so I have quite a strong emotional connection with her.
What was your favorite book as a teenager? Why?
Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice. It hit the market before vampires were 'cool' and it showed them as complex monsters rather than one dimensional romantic leads. My teen years was also about the same time I discovered Poppy Z Brite - amazing author who makes the grotesque beautiful.
Has a book you've been reading or writing ever invaded your dreams? Which one?
I've never had a book invade my dreams, well not yet anyway. But, I have had some of my story ideas come from dreams/ nightmares. I wrote a story called 'Letting out the Heat' which featured in the anthology Night Terrors 2 by Blood Bound Books that was the result of a rather disturbing nightmare on a hot and sticky night.
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, do you have a favored soundtrack?
I love music and often listen to playlists when I write. I find it invaluable for getting into the mood for writing certain scenes whether they are sad or dramatic. I listen to all sorts, but at the moment I'm listening to The Band Perry, Plumb, Olly Murs, and Anna Johnson. I also love a good Halloween music mix!
How do you pick names for your characters?
Most of them just pop into my head when I'm writing. Sometimes they change though as the character develops. I try to include names that mean something to the character, that expose a bit of them to the reader that not even they realize. I also have a habit of naming characters after the people in my life!
Which of your books was the easiest to write? Which was the most difficult?
They were all equally difficult and easy - I know that sounds strange! They were all easy stories to imagine and plot but hard to find the time to commit to paper. Most authors, if they want those luxuries in life such as food and shelter, have to write whilst juggling full time jobs, me included. So fitting in writing, editing and promoting whilst having a reasonably successful social life too can be quite the trick!
I guess I’ve always been a storyteller, not in a ‘liar liar pants on fire’ kind of way, although I do work in advertising! When I was little, kids would crowd around me in the playground and I’d tell them tales of blood soaked horror filled with vampires, werewolves, ghosts and more. Yes, most would consider me a disturbed child, but my playmates couldn’t help themselves, they’d huddle around me every break time like an ancient tribe feeding off the fear; and that’s how I learned that horror stories hold a certain power, no matter what some might say, everyone is addicted to a good scare, especially if it is somewhat rooted safely in unrealistic beings… or are they unrealistic?
Writing was really a natural progression for me. So far I’ve had 35 short stories included in anthologies produced by publishers all over the world; my latest was included in Little Brown Book Group’s Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories. I have two YA series with the publishers, Evernight Teen:Battle of the Undead and The Twisted and The Brave.
I run a local adult writers’ group called Creative Minds Writing and have been asked by my local library (Corby, Northants, UK) to run a group for budding authors aged 13-25.
Linking In to Nicky Peacock--and buying some books!
Nicky's Amazon US Page
Nicky's Amazon UK Page
Nicky on Facebook
Nicky on Tumbler