Discover an exciting new voice in indie publishing with debut author Kyrstie Nickles.
Dive into her enchanting medieval Scottish-based historical fantasy romance, 'Fire on Fire,' which presents a refreshing twist with older characters and a male main character. In this episode, we explore Kyrstie's creative process, from finding inspiration for her unique characters to her approach to crafting a compelling male main character's perspective. Plus, journey with us as we delve into the extensive research of Scottish culture that breathes life into her captivating storytelling. Don't miss this book podcast for a behind-the-scenes look at a fresh and distinctive take on the historical fantasy genre.
Amazon e-book link: https://amzn.to/49e7TsE
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Hello. This is Charity, your host of Booktrovert Reader Podcast. Thank you for joining me again. Readers. I'm very excited to introduce a new author on our podcast episode. Today. She is the debut indie author, but her name is Kirsty Nickles. She wrote Fire on Fire, and I would like her to introduce herself and talk about her new book.
Hi. I'm so happy for you to have me on. I'm so excited. My name is Kirsty Nickles. I have, yes, I've written my debut novel Fire on Fire. A little bit about me. I'm a military spouse with two kids, two dogs, a bunny and a bearded dragon. We kind of had to have a farm. We currently live in Texas, but I'm originally from the Deep South in Georgia. I manage single family. Real estate is my profession and I love to travel. So that's that's really kind of my background. I love to travel, so landscapes and scenery are a big deal in my writing. Tell me
about more about what your book is. It's a fantasy genre, but it's like it's based off in Scotland. So I thought that was very interesting to actually have like kind of a fantasy based off of something that happened in the past. So tell me about more about your characters and your story.
Yeah. So Fire on Fire is the historic romantic novel. It takes place in 16th century Scotland. So during the time of King Henry the eighth in England and then James the fourth and fifth in Scotland, Aidan is my protagonist. He's my main male character. He's a previous admiral for the Royal Scots Navy and he's a current mercenary. When the book starts out, his wife, Evelyn, she's a druid, so she's a descendant from the Royal Druids that have served King James the Fourth and now King James the fifth. A lot of that is based off of what was actually going on in that time period. So James, the fourth did actually have a quote unquote, sorcerer that worked for him. So it really is just kind of this merging of historic. Scotland. And then like that Scottish law that has fed so much into the fantasy books that we read today, but just kind of pulling from the history because we don't really know a lot about what happened in Scotland during that time period and just kind of building off of that. But the premise is for Aiden and Evelyn, their children are kidnapped by the King of England and his cronies. But to rescue them, they have to kind of forgive themselves for their past and learn to trust one another once again. So they're going off on this adventure, this quest together to find their kids. And that's that's basically the premise.
Did you have to do a lot of research, understand the history of Scotland?
Yes. So I've never left America. Well, I have now. But like at the time that I started the story, I had never left America. So I knew very, very little about Scotland. It took a lot of research, but also there's not a lot of documented research for that time period. So it ended up being like digging through old, like tax and property documents to find out information about stuff that was going on during that time period. Just because there isn't a lot left because England took over Scotland. History is written by the victors, so a lot of that stuff's gone now.
I noticed on your Instagram that you visited Scotland. Were you inspired after you visited Scotland or did you visit Scotland? The purpose of getting understanding more for your book?
I went basically as a reward to myself for finishing the book, so I got to go to all of the locations that I used as reference and inspiration for the story, but it helped me. I did some changes after I came back just because I was able to kind of get the layout of Edinburgh better and, you know, being able to see all these locations. So that helped. But it was it was just as magical as the story when I went there. And it was really cool because even though my characters are fictional, because I had spent so much time in their heads, it was kind of like they were walking along beside me, I guess.
I think it is one thing to actually be there in person than it is to just see the photos So I can see that the magic of that just be able to like put that in your story because now you've been there yourself, you've been in place and it's like a real tangible location. I like about your characters is that your characters are older, they have kids, so usually you read 18, maybe to 25 roughly. That's old for fantasy. I love that. How did you find inspiration on your characters being more in the older with
kids? I've never been a big fantasy fan, so I'm more of like a Southern Gothic romance. Edgar Allan Poe's Yes, Yeah. 1s So it's very interesting that I'm writing a romance, a fantasy romance, just because I had no background for it really. But I was watching The Witcher on Netflix. I saw the dynamic between Geralt Yennefer and Siri, seeing this father mother daughter relationship, and I thought, there are not a lot of main characters in story like me, like myself, like our, you know, me and my husband. We have two kids. And why is it that once you have children, that's the end of the story? That's the happy ending, right? You go off and you have your happily ever after. Why can't you still be this badass character, this this mane, you know, like. Strong female lead or strong male lead. After you've been a parent but still have like that strong, happy relationship, be a good parent. So I really wanted to kind of give family some representation in a story, you know, just like an a marriage and, you know, being parents, but still being able to have adventures together. So that that was important.
Yeah, because I think you're the way your synopsis even describe the restoration between between them because when I was reading it they a big thing happened in the prologue. They were separated for eight years. And there's a lot of misunderstanding and mistrust as to why, you know, why didn't you come for me? Why didn't you come find me? You know? So I found that very interesting because, you know, in a dynamic of relationships that can happen and that misunderstanding does happen. And how do you navigate it? Usually it's the third act breakup and blah, blah, blah. So I found that just starting very fascinating and I love that part of it. You don't normally dabble in fantasy, but this does have a fantasy element. How is your journey in writing fantasy if that's not something that you normally typically read?
So I've had to read a lot of different, just different books that are in the fantasy realm. So indie authors have been really helpful in that aspect and just providing recommendations in my editor has been really helpful in just finding what vibes with my story. So yeah, that's been, that's been the biggest adjustment is reading fantasy because like I've read Harry Potter, I've read, but just I've never really been able to get into like The Lord of the Rings, the Game of Thrones, those high level, high fantasy books. Just because the world building is so intense, you have to learn. You can't pronounce the names. You have to learn new races, new languages, new political systems. So I think what my goal was in creating my fantasy book was just to make something that's immersive that people don't really have to think about. They kind of get thrown into this world that and it just makes sense. Like things are just the way that they are and it makes sense. And you don't really have to think. Some of my beta readers have compared it to like The Princess Bride or Stardust or something, just because the world building isn't super heavy. But it's still it still has magic.
Yeah, I think I like Even monsters were introduced, Adrian. And just that's why he does he's he had to kill monsters to survive. And I'm like, oh part of me wanted to go the other route. Let's, let's talk about that. 2s Obviously Outlander can come come to mind because of Scotland and things like that. I never watch Outlander, but it's strong correlation. So I was like kind of glad to read something that wasn't so heavy on the on the smut up.
exactly inspired you to write a story in Scotland? I know you just visited it and everything, but like, would you watch in a game?
It's so I really don't know how Aidan kind of developed into being from Scotland. I just kind of had because I haven't written in about ten years since since I had kids. I kind of put down the writing and I had never actually finished a full fledged novel. I had a dream about Aidan and his story. I don't know anything about ships or like just just his whole persona. I didn't really have anything to grasp onto, but I had this character and he kind of showed me this story and I just knew I had to tell it. Like he was from Scotland. He was, you know, a ship captain. He had this this story. So yeah, it really just kind of developed that way. And I knew that I had to get to the end because this character had such a story to tell. And he was also such a normal person that just got put in with all these different. Royal instances or fantastic instances, but he was just trying to do what he needed to do regarding duty for his king and his country. First and foremost, his family. He just had you know, he just did what he had to do. So that kind of just started me from beginning to end. I guess it
normally what I find is like men, bright male men, characters that are the forefront women, right? The female. Did you struggle with writing from a man's point of view at all? You had to go to your husband or whoever to to get inspiration, to get his thoughts?
Yes. So I did have the basic thoughts for for Aiden when it came to action, like what happened. But I really did have difficulties digging into his thoughts. Just because men and women think so differently. There were some points that, you know, beta readers came back and they're like, Why is he, you know, where he was on the ship at the beginning, like he's a previous admiral? Like, why would he be writing that way on the ship and stuff like that? And just like really interesting questions that I didn't really have an answer for. But when I talked to my husband, I was like, Why would he have done things this way? Why did it end up this way? Why did he take these actions? And he was able to kind of lay out, well, this is how men think and this is why it would have been this way, point A to point B, He also helped me a lot with the PTSD aspect because my husband is in the Navy and he's been deployed. And that's something that's very quintessential to Aiden's character at this point, is he does have a lot of PTSD from what he's been through. And then he helped with the fight scenes a lot as well, because that was I had no idea what I was doing when it came to like sword fighting and stuff like that. 1s You
don't fight with the sword
on the weekends.
Oh, well, guess we'll just have to work on that, you
know? 1s Just kidding.
We know a lot about Adrian, but what about Evelyn? She's a Druid. I know it has Druid. But you pronounce it differently. How
did you sing it wrong?
So how did you approach her character as a wife and, you know, as a magical being in your story because she's the main focal point of your fantasy.
Right. So Evelyn was difficult just a little bit, just because in my mind, me and her don't get along like some of the choices, some of the choices she makes I would not make. No,
You don't agree with her choices, which I find very fascinating because, you know, usually everyone reflects themselves in their character. And you kind of written her totally opposite than what you would do. So now I'm like, what's your thought process?
Yeah. So Evelyn has a lot of rage, which is something that I have worked really hard, you know, And as I've grown older to be able to manage my emotions. And that's something that she was never taught how to do as a child because her father taught her, Don't use your powers because they can be used against you. Essentially, Druids are considered royal property and they have their lineages that have come from Anglesey where the Druid priests were created. And they've they've been kind of accepted into the royal households as workhorses. They work for royalty throughout Europe and England and Scotland. So after and there is more to come because I'm working on a prequel and a sequel, but in the prequel it will delve more into what happened to Evelyn. But her mother has. Has passed her father, the only thing he has left in the world is Evelyn. So he really covets her so she never really gets to grow up. Aiden Once certain things happen in the story, he kind of takes over that role of taking care of Evelyn. And so at no point does she actually have to be an independent free thinker. She always has either her father or Aiden telling her, you know, this is our best course of action. This is how we move forward. And then once she has to be the one that takes care of this entire village and the manor and her children, she kind of has to find her way. So it's even though she's 31 years old, this really is her story of finding herself. And in going through that kind of hero's transition from I am this small child to being this, you know, able bodied adult that can be independent. And she's. So I think I've just developed more than she has during the story. And I think that that that's just kind of where our paths like we're just we were butting heads the entire story because I'm like, these are dumb decisions.
Yeah, because you said that you wrote this ten years ago, so you're like a different person ten years ago, you know? Right. So during this writing process, they in the writing community, they have like if you're a plotter, if you're discovery or a pantser, what would you say that your writing style is typically like?
So I'm very much a perfectionist, so I don't think I could have ever gotten through by just pantsing. I used the Save the Cat model. I mapped it out scene by scene to make sure that I got all of those specific elements into the story. I made sure I had the arc where it needed to be and made sure that all the different scenes happened in the specific order that they should to create kind of that narrative that flows. Then you have all the motifs and the symbols that are so important to just give grounding to the world in the character. So I definitely don't think I could have done that just pantsing it. And I applaud any author that does it that way because I would just be crazy. I feel like
I think I met my first pantser and it's just the idea of just going headfirst into something is just overwhelming for me. You know, even I consider writing things and I just pantsed it and I'm like, Nah, nah, not for
me. Yeah, this is good.
I changed it five times and like, haven't got past the first page and I changed it every time. So yeah, plotting is for me. 2s What would you say was the hardest thing for you? Writing a fantasy and how to overcome. How do you overcome it?
The hardest part I feel like, was the research part. It was so extensive to the point that you just you end up down all these rabbit holes at 3 a.m. in the morning and I had to redesign my ship like three times because I'm like, well, they didn't have, you know, like the decks weren't built that way back then or there wasn't a boom on the sail yet back then. And you just become so invested in creating this. 1s I know it sounds strange because it's a fantasy, but you you want to make it as historically accurate as you can just to do justice to the story. And I think I think that was the most difficult part of writing it. Also, just making sure that the dialogue flows and that you're not info dumping. I guess, like you make sure that everything is just spread out as it should be and nothing feels forced between the characters and that they all have their own distinct, you know, dialogue is important and that was difficult.
Yeah, I can see because I have come across a few that if the dialogue is too heavy, it then it kind of loses the story. So yeah, I can see how that's that could be a challenge for sure. And then you're also going off of a lot of information that is limited for you as well. You're trying to depict Scotland to its fullest glory and respectively, you know, you you're going off of what you had in front of you. So it. I can't imagine going down those rabbit holes
that you were saying being being respectful to Scotland. That has been really important to just because my my editor, she is from Scotland. So the pressure. 1s I really wanted to make sure that I correctly portrayed the Scots language because that is so dynamic to Aidan's person. The way that he speaks is is not English. You know, he has it's old Scots. And, you know, with I learned throughout this journey that Gaelic language is dying in Scotland and there's so much of their Scots history that is just dying off because the UK has is just one country. And so many that culture, they were extradited from Scotland. So I really wanted to pay homage to all of those awesome stories and lore and everything that is dying off over there. And so that's required a lot of research. And then I don't want to, you know, my editor, she can help me so much, but I do want to make sure that I am respectful to their culture because I'm American and I'm not you know, that's not my my story. So I just yeah, I want to do them justice to.
What would you say was your favorite part of the research? Anything aspect of Scotland that was your favorite that you just loved diving
into? So when I was a kid, one of my favorite stories was like King Arthur and Merlin. Yeah, I learned this a couple months ago. Merlin Falcon was named Aiden, which I found that really interesting, that it just aligned like that. So one of the characters in my story is A Falcon, and his name is saying, When we went to Scotland we actually did falconry. So we, we went out to a specific like professional falconry company and they do like the hunting and everything. And we were able to fly Hawks, owls, a falcon and this Chilean blue eagle, which was the coolest thing I've ever seen. But being able to be in that just era, like being able to, you know, see like how they work and how the animals were so important back then, whether it be horses, dogs of raptor birds, They were so close to humans back in that day and age. And just to kind of experience that and learn from that, that was like that was probably my favorite part. Do you
got pictures on your Instagram of that experience?
Yeah. I'll have to put some more on there. But yeah,
okay. Because I'm like tempted not to jump on my phone and right in the middle of this interview, like, 2s do you said you have a prequel and a sequel? I do kind of wonder, are you thinking, I'm not trying to put ideas in your head. Are you thinking about writing Adrian's and Evelyn's love story, how they met and everything?
Yes. So the prequel would start where Aidan left the Highlands when he was 14.
And call him Adrian. I'm sorry, Aidan. I'm sorry. Oh,
it's fine. So when he left the Highlands and he came to Edinburgh and he was supposed to be an apprentice for a blacksmith, his dad wanted better for him, but he wanted to be an adventurer, so he jumped on a merchant ship that kind of starts his story. And so you kind of see him travel. Around, you know, the known world. And there's there's more monsters, more stories, there's more characters, there's whole other action sequences and quests. But then that kind of wraps up with how he meets her and how he realizes that like that quest that he was always looking for just to be understood and accepted was all in her. And and so then from that point, he the story of being, you know, her being his quest, just wanting to be the best father and husband that he can be, is kind of how it's wrapped up. And then it'll it'll go into what we what we have now with this book. You know, I'm a love lover at heart, so I'm always curious about it because, you know, you're in your story, you're already jumping into the relationship. You're just kind of wondering, you know, with them being so separate from each other background wise, how do they come together? So I'm like, All right, prequel,
we need it. Come on, stay up all night. Get this done. No.
And there are two flashbacks in in Fire on Fire Where are actually three where you do kind of get glimpses Because I felt like if I went through this whole story without giving something about why they are the way they are or because I also those are my favorite chapters in the book, just because they're love. I kind of wish that I would have just wrote the whole book about that, kind of like their love together, as, you know, a young man and young woman. Those are my favorite parts of the story for sure.
Would you consider writing other other genres without the fantasy element?
So I have other ideas for other stories right now. But when I used to write back when I was younger and before I had kids in a family, most of what I wrote was either true crime or maybe not like true crime, but like detective. Or it was more of like the the Gothic Southern horror or, or kind of that because I'm from Georgia. So the swamp, the marsh, the the, you know, Savannah, the moss covered oaks, that's so ingrained in just our culture that I would love to explore that more. You know, like there's the pirates. There's, there's so much history that is within that area of the country. Yeah, I would definitely be interested in exploring more of that stuff.
I don't read real Thriller. I'm a wimp. So
if you get into that all the more to you. 1s I keep coming across authors that like, yeah would love to dabble in that. I'm like, I don't know.
No, 1s you had to read a few fantasy books to kind of, you know, to get an understanding of a fantasy world. What was the books that you read to kind of get some ideas or to some inspiration and understanding, and what would you kind of wish that authors will not do?
My book is really strange in the fact that it's third person and it's also present. So most of the time when you read fantasy, it's past tense, right? But. Aden's is kind of like a screenplay, like its present Tense. So the best book or the book that helped me with that was The Night Circus.
Yeah, I read The Night Circus.
That one is third person, present tense. And there's not a lot of. I think Hunger Games is also that way. But yeah, as for adult fantasy, I think that was one of the only ones that I found that I was able to reference. And also His Majesty's Dragon and Naomi Novik, I think is how you say her last name. That one was really good just because it's about. So he's the ship captain. He is. And he has his you know, he becomes a dragon rider and then he has his his dragon. That one was helpful as well. Those are two that I can think of offhand. I think it's just incredible amount world building. Like, I haven't read the Avatar series yet. Maybe Cousin is so invested in it. She's she's you know, she's on to the next. 2s Book series now with the Throne of Glass and all that based on because she's kind of walked me through a lot of it. And you know, with book talk and bookstagram, you can't get away from it. So no, if you don't if you don't want
like one thing, you get 1500 different suggestions.
So but even in those, it seems like there's there's a lot of world building. I've heard that the fourth wing isn't as bad, that you're kind of more integrated into the world smoothly and it's not so much overload. But, you know, if you look at Game of Thrones, Star Wars even, there is such a world that you have to accept and be prepared to research, just as you would our own, you know, history. And so you just have to make sure that you're prepared to be invested in learning about this entire society. And that's the only thing that's difficult for me. But, you know, as you know, knowing other fantasy readers, that's part of the magic. You know, like you get to be a part of this whole other universe that welcomes you and that you get to live there. You know, you're you're accepted into this, this whole new dimension. So I think that's maybe not change it, but that's just hard for me to.
Well, if it makes you feel better, I think a lot of people can struggle with the world building, especially if it's very heavy in the very beginning of the book. So, yeah, if you if you're like Fantasy Baby for Think is definitely one of those books I would recommend for sure just because it's a find a lot of romance readers enjoying that too. So Avatar not so bad but do it when you're ready.
That'd be prepared for like it's not even finished, right? Like they're coming out. Is there more? The way it rolls, there's rumors of more books, but we don't know because Sarah J. Mass tells you when she's ready. So she's like moving on to a whole different set of series that apparently it's it's I don't even want to get to it because I don't want to ruin it. And it was ruin for me. But
if if you want. Hardcover, world building. House of Earth and Blood is your just avoid that
So you know 1s just
read a few more fantasy novels before you go to the big guns.
struggle to that. You know, you're a debut author. You're currently in the process of getting your book edited and things like that. What advice would you recommend to to anyone who's looking to write and write their own book?
Just not to get discouraged. It really, you know, to write something that is 80 to 100,000 words is not a small feat. You will see on Instagram, on on book talk, all of these other authors that are doing it. So it may make you feel pretty small that it is so hard to get through that first book. The things that have helped me or of course, you know, plotting out what I'm going to write. And then once you have that plotted out, write the stuff you're interested in first. Don't sit there and mull over what your first line is going to be or what your first chapter is going to be. Go to that romance scene that you want to write. Write the smut first. Write the big action scene, right? Write the love scene that you're so excited to put in there and then just go back and just kind of fill it in. I did a lot of the writing challenges on Instagram to help me kind of dig more into my characters and my worldbuilding. Also, the book community of authors and readers are so incredibly supportive if you just give them the chance, like if you're just open to feedback and support. There are so many people that will go to bat for you, be there for you, give you constructive criticism, be your cheerleaders. So you just have to just go with it and just, you know, make sure you don't give up. I think is the biggest thing that debut authors struggle with is just not finishing that first draft. It's such a big deal once you actually get it down on paper, you know? Right.
And just to. Because I want to understand more, because you're not the first person who told me this, dude. They started something and then they kind of put it down for a long period of time. What helped you to pick it back up again? Because I think that's so important because, you know, you put it down because you were raising a family and it could be a slew of different reasons why people not decide to write and they can't bring themselves to start again because they're like, oh, man, you know, I didn't finish it. Why should I pick it up? So as a word of encouragement, what can you share on that insight on to encourage people to pick up reading, even though or writing even though it's been such a long time and they kind of gave up, not gave up, but just put it on the shelf for a little
bit. So you definitely have to give yourself space and and grace being a parent is a very, you know, exhaustive excursion sometimes. And also, you know, being being a wife. And, you know, I think because we moved we moved from the south over here to Texas. And I kind of felt lost because I had been moved away from my support system and kind of my village and all those voices that were always in my head that, like, needed something from me, you know, can you do this? Can you be here on Saturday? Can you whatever it is? And I got kind of, you know, just alienated from all that. And then I and then it was like, well, who am I? Fundamentally, I'm a creative, so I think I found my creativity again. And then also just having. 1s The need to tell a story from beginning to end with my character. The character kind of drove me to finish this one. I don't know if it would have been any other story. Would I have finished it? But I do think you just need to make sure that through life you remember that even as many things as you have to do during the day, whether it be, you know, your job or the expectations of your family, you need to remember that you still deserve to be an individual and have your own outlets and things that make you happy and just give yourself kind of that space to explore and do the things that are important to you. I love that. Yeah, because a lot of writers do this as a form of self care, as a one person, like it was a therapy session for them. So I think it's super important that we find ourselves in what we're creative in and tell these stories that are locked up in. In your mind, because I've been finding indie authors are just they're coming out with these amazing stories that people need to hear because it can be therapeutic for other peoples, too. Yes, Love it. So your book is coming out at the time of recording. This book is being published on November in November.
Can you tell the listeners where you can find your book and where you're planning on having it available for people to
purchase? So it will be available. E-book will be available through Amazon, so it's up for pre-order as of when we've recorded this, it's up for pre-order and then, you know, it'll be available on date of publish through Amazon. It will also be available. I'm publishing through Ingram Spark for the paperback, so it'll be available in all places. Bookstores sold. So Barnes and Noble Books-a-million Amazon, you'll be able to get it anywhere. Your local bookstores will be able to get it. Your local libraries will be able to get it. So as of right now, I'm going to do the e-book through Amazon, and I am also in the process of having an audiobook recorded.
I okay, A
wonderful Scotsman named Stephen is very excited to play Aiden and he's also really easy to understand, so I'm excited that he'll be able to bring that Scots language to life, but he can still make it easily understandable for us kind of layman with the layman English ears, you know,
I'm excited for that. I can't wait for that to be heard. So everything I'll make sure to put in the show notes, all of her information, Make sure you go on Instagram to follow her. I'll put her Instagram handle at the bottom and all of her ways, all the ways to be able to purchase her book, Fire on Fire. Thank you so much for joining me. Share me your insights and how your new book. And I'm very excited for you.
Thank you so much. It's been such a pleasure talking to you. And you know, I love your podcast. I've listened to so many episodes of so far, and so yeah, I'm super excited to be a part of it. And yeah, thank you for having me.