Author Spotlight: Nikki McCormack

TheGirlWiththeClockworkCat-NikkiMcCormack-500x750[2]Today’s author recently released her debut novel, The Girl And the Clockwork Cat, a YA steampunk novel that began as a messy Nanowrimo draft.

Please give Nikki McCormack a warm welcome.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your books?

I have numerous books in my backlog right now (about 20 or so novels in some stage between plotted and final draft), but if we focus on NaNoWriMo novels, my debut novel, The Girl and the Clockwork Cat, was my NaNoWriMo novel for 2010. It was my fastest NaNo novel to date, written in 22 days. I wrote book 2 of the series (which I’m currently editing) for NaNo 2011 and book 3 for 2012, though I didn’t finish that November due to other life events. I have a few novels from earlier years that I hope to publish eventually and a few that will never see the light of day for good reason.

2. When did you first decide you wanted to become a published author?

I’ve wanted to be a published author since I started writing at the age of 12. Unfortunately, I felt it necessary to relegate writing fiction to hobby status until a few years ago when, with my husband’s support and encouragement, I decided to focus on making the life dream I’d set aside into a reality.

3. How did you find out about Nanowrimo?

I started doing NaNoWriMo in 2006. Someone I know or knew at the time told me about it, but I honestly don’t recall who it was. If I did remember, I’d probably thank them for it…probably.

4. How much planning did you do before starting Nanowrimo?

The first several years I did NaNoWriMo, I started with no more than a rough idea of what I wanted to write. In more recent years, I’ve learned to start taking notes and doing some rough outlining as soon as come up with an idea. It goes a lot smoother this way and I find that the final product often needs far less editing.

5. What was your first Nanowrimo experience like?

When I did my first NaNoWriMo, my husband and I had a cruise scheduled for the end of the month, Island hopping in Hawaii. On the last day of November, I was still 10,000 words behind. We were stopped for the first of two days in Maui. I decided I would let it go, but my husband knew me well enough to know I would be disappointed if I gave up. He convinced me to keep going. I did get those 10,000 words written that day and paid the fee to upload it to my NaNoWriMo page from the cruise ship a little before midnight. I have since edited that book down to novella length (not too surprisingly) and may publish it at some point.

6. What advice would you give people attempting Nanowrimo this year?

I think my first bit of advice would be to try NaNoWriMo. I’ve met many writers who think it’s silly or that you could never write anything worthwhile that way. My debut novel was a NaNo project and I’m far from the first to get a NaNo novel published. Even if you don’t come out with a publishable work, NaNoWriMo is a great tool to help build the habit of writing every day. I use it to help kick-start my writing at the end of every year when holidays make it harder to keep on track.

Second bit of advice would be to plan ahead. You don’t have to write a full plot outline, but at least know what you want to write, how you want it to start and end, and maybe have a few major plot points worked out. The more you know, the easier it is to get rolling and to keep your daily word count up. Flying by the seat of your pants can be fun, but it can also lead to more time spent pulling your hair trying to figure out how to keep the story going.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, have fun. NaNoWriMo should always be fun. It’s great if you come out of it with a novel you are proud of that may have a future, but that isn’t what NaNoWriMo is about. It’s about getting words on a page. It’s about enjoying the act of writing. Besides, when you enjoy what you’re doing, it shows through in your writing.

7. What are your plans this coming November?

This November I will be doing a road trip and visiting family around Thanksgiving, which will make NaNoWriMo a little more challenging. I will be doing NaNo though. I’ve had to spend a large part of my year focused on editing other work, working with my publisher and agent to get The Girl and the Clockwork Cat out, and learning how to market/promote my book. It’s time to write something. I have a couple of contemporary dark fantasy novels I’ve wanted to write. One of those two will be my NaNo project this year, which means I have to get back to editing the sequel to The Girl and the Clockwork Cat so I can have that off to my publisher before then.

Good luck with NaNoWriMo or, as my main character Maeko would say, ganbatte!

Nikki McCormack is an author, wine and tea lover, and slave to her cats. She enjoys horseback riding, kayaking, caving, archery, video games, ballroom dancing, and good anime. She is studying Japanese and practicing Iaido because she believes we should never stop learning. You can find her at

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