The Heart’s Journey Home
by Nikki Jackson
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GENRE: Young Adult
It’s summer vacation, and all seventeen-year-old Tori Logan wants to do is hang out with her two best friends, practice her mixed martial arts and go to FBI spy camp. Summer means freedom (mostly from adults) and Tori plans to fill every spare moment of her last summer before graduating from high school with all the fun things she and her best pals can come up with.
Tori, whose mom died of breast cancer when she was young, has always relied on her own strength to get by – especially because her Archeologist father tends to leave her behind with his live-in girlfriend while he gallivants around the world on digs. Thankfully, Tori can take care of herself. She knows exactly who she is and what she wants to do with her life. Her Lakota Sioux grandfather, a former Navy SEAL, trained Tori in self-defense from a young age. Now, as a teenager, Tori excels at mixed martial arts and the use of various weapons. During the summer she will be attending an FBI sponsored summer camp which she hopes will lead to her dream job – becoming an FBI serial killer profiler.
With her two best friends at her side, Tori believes she can handle anything. And with summer vacation stretching before them, the trio plans to find plenty of adventure.
But while Tori is determined to be independent, life has other plans for this fierce young woman, and they include coming to grips with some hard – and surprising – truths about both her past and her future.
Tori was on Mitchell’s back, her right arm around his neck. As he flailed about trying to get loose, they rolled over which allowed Tori to cinch her choking arm under Mitchell’s chin. She clasped her left hand in her right and applied more pressure to his neck.
While he fruitlessly struggled she moved her left leg over his chest, then moved her right over the left shin locking her legs in place. Mitchell rocked helpless back and forth, but he couldn’t get loose.
The crowd was yelling instructions to Mitchell and to Tori. She bent her mouth close to his ear.
“Your choice Mickey.” she whispered loud enough for only him to hear. “I’m not gonna make you tap out in front of everybody, just blink your eyes.” she said. “Blink’em quick, outside of that you’re going to sleep.”
Mitchell felt his head getting foggy and he started seeing stars. He was grabbing madly with his hands but he couldn’t get himself free. He was starting to lose consciousness and he knew it. He would never be able to live down being choked out by a skinny girl. His life would be ruined!
While he still could he blinked his eyes with everything in him and he felt the hold loosening. With his last ounce of strength he rolled over shoving Tori hard, as far away as he could, gasping for breath as he came to his feet.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Nikki Jackson, author of The Heart’s Journey Home.
Hi Nikki, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Please tell us a little about yourself and your background. What were you like at school?
I was basically a quiet kid, average student. Nothing special and nothing stellar. I had a very small circle of friends, loved reading and watching TV.
Were you good at English?
Just about the only class I was very good at. I loved English. I loved words and anything having to do with words. I loved the construction of words into sentences and sentences into pressed out thoughts. At a very early age I recognized the power of words and I gave myself over to that power. I was about eight when I decided I wanted to be a writer. That one proclamation followed me, sort of haunted me for the rest of my life.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
To be able to quit my day job and write for a living. To actually write and have the income from writing sustain me? Now that’s a dream come true. I’d wake up every morning and just burst into tears because I get to write for a living. Earning a salary doing something I love doing. I’d love to write tons of books, plays, movies, I want to do it all.
Which writers inspire you?
Don’t laugh but Stephen King. Scary movies scare the crap out of me, I don’t go to see them but I love his overall work. King has written some real scary stuff but he’s written some really nice non-scary stuff too. The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, then there’s Carrie, Cujo, Dolores Claiborne, It, Misery, The Shining and now Under the Dome. Books, TV, movies and he’s still going strong. That’s the full package writer I’d love to be. I’d love to co-write something with him. Something non-scary of course.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?
Tori Logan is the book’s main character. She has a very tough veneer that covers the grief of losing her mother at an early age. She also has to deal with an often absentee father who leave her with his live-in girlfriend. She’s lonely for an adult parental family unit yet she hides it fairly well. She knows what she wants out of life and she’s planned her life in the direction to achieve her dreams. She’s the most focused teen I know. She’s proud of her Lakota heritage, loyal and unconditionally loving to her two best friends and in spite of everything she’s pretty grounded.
What are you working on at this minute?
I’m working on book two of the Heart’s Journey Home series. It’s titled – A Layover in Doppelganger-ville. I’m having a lot of fun working on it and I hope to have it out early next year.
Which actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Wow, that’s sort of tough because the main character is of mixed parentage. Her mom’s part Lakota and Black and her dad’s White. She’s a person of color so I would want a person of color, preferably a Sioux actress, to play the part.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I’ve been talking about writing a book since I was about eight years old. I’ve got a bit of age on me now so it was either get busy writing or put the whole idea out of my head forever. I just couldn’t let it go so I sat down and got busy writing.
Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
I work full time so I have to find the time to write around that. I’m married so I have to write around that. I get to work an hour early so I use that quiet time writing. I write during my lunch hour and any time I can get in the evenings. I get up early on Saturdays and hang out at Panera Bread until about noon writing. It literally took about three years from initial idea, research and writing to get this one book done. I’m very pleased with the finished work
Where do your ideas come from?
My ideas come from the real life going on around me. The people I know – young and old, their lives, my life, things I’ve read, seen and experienced. Real life is awesome inspiration.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I would have written a hot mess without an outline. The Heart’s Journey Home is a book series with a lot going on. I needed an outline just to keep everything straight for me. My outline ended up being a journal I kept to track the story path of the main characters. Obviously the three teens are main characters but I had to create a plot line for the secondary characters as well. I had to further create an overall outline that loosely encompassed all the books in the series. Book one leads to a book two and book two leads to a book three and so on. I was afraid of getting to book three and being so confused I didn’t know where I or my characters were so doing a comprehensive outline was a must.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing about writing this book was my only child passing away about a third of the way in. The day after Christmas 2013. He passed away in his sleep. He had a heart condition my husband and I didn’t know anything about. He was 23, just about to graduate from college and had his whole life stretched out in front of him. It was grueling. My husband and I cried ourselves to pieces. I have never been faced with something I didn’t think I could survive, know what I mean? But somehow you survive. I started writing just for peace. After a while joy set in. The book was a life saver.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors.
I wish I had more time to read but working full time, tending to family/commitments and writing doesn’t leave much time for anything else. I love Stephen King though. If I could have any writer’s career I would want his. I don’t like scary movies (I can’t even watch previews on TV of a scary movie) but I love King’s non-scary stuff. He writes books, movies, TV, he’s done it all. That’s what I want from my career – to write it all. I’d love to be as versatile as he’s been. I’d love the longevity.
For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I flip-flop back and forth. I was on a traditional ‘paper’ book kick for the longest. Then when the Nook came out I thought it was such an innovative idea I decided to try it so I did eBooks for a few years. Now I’m back to paper.
What book are you presently reading at present?
The Heart’s Journey Home. I’m not kidding. I spent years working on it, now I just want to sit and enjoy it.
Tell us about the cover and how it came about.
I wanted to invest in a really good cover. The one thing I hate about self-published books are the cheesy self-published looking covers. I’ve seen books that just screamed self-published. I couldn’t get past the cover to even want to bother reading the book. I didn’t want that for me so I took my time searching awhile on the internet for a designer. I found Dafeenah, checked out her portfolio and fell in love with her work immediately. She’s a great designer. I loved her covers. She had a number of young adult covers so I contacted her to discuss doing mine. She had a questionnaire and I filled it out, attached photo examples and she created the cover from there. It’s like she crawled into my head and saw my characters herself, I simply love it.
Who designed your book cover?
Indie Designz. I highly recommend her, she’s very reasonable.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one?
It’s currently in the works and should be completed in a couple of weeks.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
Personally, I feel giving books away is a must for a self-published author, especially if you’re doing a series. I’ve probably given away ten books already and I’ve got plans to give away more. I’m also a proponent of leaving my book places. I left a book on a plane bound for Chicago. My kid sister is going on a cruise in a couple of weeks and she’s going to take two of my books and just leave them someplace for people to find. I believe we self-published authors have to think outside the box because we’re the only ones we have to promote/market our books. The end goal is to get your book into as many hands as possible, how do you plan to do that?
How do you relax?
I go to Panera Bread and have a caramel latte. Also, I write. Writing for me isn’t a chore, it’s really relaxing. I just check out and enter the story I’m working on. I can work for hours and not sense time passing.
What is your favorite quote?
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” William Wordsworth.
What is your favorite movie?
That’s easy, To Kill A Mockingbird, staring Gregory Peck. I love that movie. I could watch it every other day for the rest of my life. I am so jealous of Harper Lee, I wish I had written it. I think all good writers have a ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in them. I can’t wait to get to mine.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
The best way a reader can connect with me is to read The Heart’s Journey Home. Seriously, I’ve got a blog – theheartsjourneyhome.net. But read the book too.
Any final words?
Thanks for interviewing me, this has been fun. To you writers out there – just keep chipping away at it, figure a way to write every day. You readers, keep supporting us.
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview. I look forward to reader The Heart’s Journey Home.
Ever since she was young, Nikki Jackson has loved reading and the way that books allow you to journey on wonderful adventures without ever leaving the comfort of home. She decided at a young age that she wanted to become a writer to enable others to experience the magic of books—and The Heart’s Journey Home is the result.
In addition to writing, Nikki Jackson is a contract worker for General Motors. She and her husband currently live in the Detroit metropolitan area.
The Heart’s Journey Home Blog is currently under construction and will be online soon.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/journey4home
Nikki Jackson will be awarding a $25 Amazon/B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.