All the kinds! What you should ask is what kinds of stories I write well. Ha! I’ve written young adult, science fiction, horror, mystery (my favorite), fantasy, romance, and even a comedic mystery.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Funny story. For two years my husband and I couldn’t have kids. By the time I was the ripe old age of 23, I figured I needed a backup plan, so I decided to write a book. A handful of fertility treatments later and my body got things figured out. I went on to have five kids, attending writing groups regularly during each pregnancy. I wrote slowly. I finished my first book when I was 27. I finished it again when I was 31. It was better the second time, really it was, but I wanted to write a book with more spark to the plot. Something more like my favorite TV show, Veronica Mars. Something edgy, with conspiracy and a smart female lead and emotion desperate enough to push my characters to their limits. That book became my debut through Cedar Fort.
What do you consider the most influential book you've ever read?
Why do you torture authors with questions like this? Mostly stuff I read when I was young. Little House on the Prairie, Trixie Belden, Anne of Green Gables, Nancy Drew, Harry Potter, The Brothers Karamazov and other Russian books—I went through a whole phase—everything by John Steinbeck and Leo Tolstoy, Babysitter's Club books, D-Day by Stephen Ambrose and hundred other nonfiction histories, and anything YA that shows up in my house even the ones I hate. I just make goals on how to avoid hating my own stuff.
What other authors are you friends with, and how have they helped you become a better writer?
Let me roll up my sleeves. Okay, here we go:
Eric James Stone got me into my first writer’s group, which he formed. Becca Fitzpatrick taught be to write cool and fast. Spencer Ellsworth knew how to make characters so interesting you didn’t even need plot (which caused me to not bother with them for a few years). Later I started meeting with Kathi Peterson, Kathleen Doughty, Maureen Mills, Ann Chamberlin, Char Raddon and others. They really hammered in the idea that plot, you know, wasn’t a bad idea. Plus taught me how to create one—a years-long process of gentle nudges during critiquing. Heather Clark and I raised our kids with one hand so we could use the other to call each other and expound on every single piece of writing teaching we ever learned so we could embed it properly into our souls. I can’t begin to list all the people at the Storymakers conference and tribe who influenced my marketing ideas and general enthusiasm for the profession of writing. Scott Forman and others in the horror sphere took me under their wing even if I do like happy endings and kissing. Just dozens more people than I can name, really. The writing community is really accepting.
What’s the best way you've found to market your books?
That’s the question of the year! I tried a big in-person launch party and loved it, but it didn’t pay for itself. I speak at lots of schools and conferences. I make sure my friends and family know they can get the book from the library. I’m working most on making fans, not sales, that way I have a platform to work with during my next release. I volunteer to help with conferences and writing groups. I give free writing webinars with Heather Clark on YouTube at 50FirstChapters. We’ve got a few thousand views over there, so that’s fun. Again, it might not make me money now, but I like doing the webinars and they’re free. If I ever start to make a name for myself, I have all these online landing areas for readers to go and become fans.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I research as I go. I like to write about subjects I’m already a semi-expert on. My book Shatter has a murder in the orchards of California where Hispanic workers are on strike against white land owners. Lots of gang activity goes on. That setting is pretty much my childhood. I have a story in an anthology called Under a New York Skyline where a dancer and a CrossFitter go head to head to prove who is in better shape. My husband owns a CrossFit gym and I Zumba. We tease each other all the time about who is burning more calories. However, every story needs research. I love Google, obviously. I also ask on Facebook for expert advice. It’s been relatively easy to link myself to professionals like fire fighters when I need to explode stuff. J
Any last thoughts for our readers?
How about an excerpt? Those are always fun. Thanks for letting me come on and participate!!
The class is dead silent. Mr. White’s lips tighten. He swallows. There’s something dangerous about the new guy. The teacher leans over AddyDay’s desk and spins her packet so he can read the list of partnerships. “Fine. We’ll break up the threesome. You’ll pair with . . . Salem Jefferson.”
At the sound of my name, I turn to look at my new partner.
The guy near the door is tall. He has the kind of incredible good looks that invite stares, but that’s not the only reason he’s getting them now. The cursive lettering of a tattoo rises from the opening of the guy’s worn flannel shirt. Two gold chains hang from his brown neck. A guy accessorized in gang paraphernalia, not caked with it. His only completely visible marking is an upside down V inked onto his right cheekbone, black and distinct. The tattoo calls my attention for some reason, even though I’m sure I’ve never seen a symbol like that before. An upside down V . . . it seems so familiar.
His expressionless, dark eyes dart to meet my gaze from under a stiff, backward-facing ball cap. My classmates watch him stare at me.
“Salem Jefferson,” he says slowly, putting a slight emphasis on my last name. He waits for my response.
I realize he knows exactly who Salem Jefferson is. Exactly who I am. I’m Carrie’s sister.
Terrified, I whirl back around to face forward. Gang members targeted Carrie, made her frightened. Was he one of them? The skin between my shoulder blades tightens. Why were gang guys after Carrie?
Author BioNikki Trionfo lives in Riverton, Utah with five kids, a CrossFit-training husband who writes computer code, and lots of hip hop background music. Her teen murder mystery, SHATTER (May '17 from Cedar Fort), won grand prize in LDStorymakers’ First Chapter Alongside Heather Clark, she hosts free writing webinars on YouTube at #50FirstChapters.
A committed party-girl, Nikki serves as the public relations director of LDStorymakers Conference. Other notable stuff includes an honorable mention in Writers of the Future and a spot in Utah Horror Writer's shorty-story anthology. This all sounds really serious, but if you run into her, she gets down.
- Cedar Fort Webpage highlighting the blog tour. http://blog.cedarfort.com/blog-tour-shatter/
- Amazon link to purchase Shatter. https://www.amazon.com/dp/146212013X/
- Shatter landing page. www.nikkitrionfo.com/Shatter
- Shatter Book Launch and Dance Off. http://www.nikkitrionfo.com/shatter-book-launch-dance-off/
- Shatter Playlist, with songs that inspired my writing. One song per chapter. http://www.nikkitrionfo.com/shatter-playlist/
- Inspired by Shatter contest for $50 and 5 books donated to your local school. http://www.nikkitrionfo.com/InspiredbyShatter/
- Dig into the Shatter World. Books about unions and reformed gang members. Blogs about my experiences writing with diversity. Some of the posts are League of Utah Writers award-winning essays. http://www.nikkitrionfo.com/shatterworld/