Monday, 30 May 2011

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Nike Chillemi

STEPH: I don't know much about Burning Hearts. Can you tell me a little more about it?

NIKE: OK, let's see. I think if I give you a short synopsis that might help…
BURNING HEARTS (arson/murder, action, and romance in equal measure)
Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer?

Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. Many boys she grew up with have fallen in the war, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her most desperate need. A woman who is her best friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. After making an unsuccessful rescue attempt, Erica stands by as this man rushes into the inferno and carries her friend’s lifeless body out.

Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson WLA, the civilian model of the motorcycle he rode in the war. He’s tried. He’s been a vagabond biker in the year since the war ended. His Uncle Ivar bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY and now he’d like to hope for a future again, repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The only problem is, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin and that’s the last thing he needs.

STEPH: How long did it take to write?

NIKE: I started writing seriously for publication four and a half, five years ago. Didn't know what I was doing. I bumped into Steeple Hill (now Love Inspired) authors Cheryl Wyatt, Margaret Daley, and Janet Tronstad among others and they cheered me on, tirelessly. First I wrote a really, really bad novel which I keep around for laughs. I started work on BURNING HEARTS two years ago. It's been an interesting journey.

STEPH: Did you do a lot of research for the novel?

NIKE: I researched everything from 1940s fashion and the women's hairstyles to the make and models of cars they drove to the brand of washing machine. Erica's mom had, a Bendix, by the way. I learned Lorne's the motorcycle back in the states, a Harley Davidson WLA, was the civilian model of the one he would have ridden in France when doing undercover work as an Army Ranger. I had to research to find out if there were Army Rangers in WWII. There were. I also researched the political situation in Europe at the close of the war, particularly what was happening in the eastern-bloc nations.

STEPH: Where did the inspiration for the story come from?

NIKE: I wish I had something exotic to say about this. The truth is I keep a file of possible plotlines. I add to a storyline as something comes to me. I tossed around ideas for a novel and the image of fire kept at me. From that BURNING HEARTS was born. I wanted there to be evil. Wanted a real fight between good and evil and, well, arson is premeditated. I wanted something that would upset my main characters to the quick. So, an inferno in the opening scene started to take shape in my mind.

STEPH: If your story was going to be made into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

NIKE: This took a Google search as I don't watch enough TV or see enough movies to know actors young enough to play these roles. For Erica who is about 23, I'd pick Ellen Page. She starred in the movie Juno a while ago. For Lorne, who is about 27, I'd have to do with Ryan Reynolds, Canadian actor who's career took off after his movie National Lampoon.

Ellen Page Movie Juno

Ryan Reynold Canadian Actor, Movie National Lampoon

STEPH: What is the theme of the novel?

NIKE: The main theme is the fight between good and evil. A sub-theme in the entire Sanctuary Point series is the idea of seeking justice for the victim. I guess that's a sub-theme in all my work. I try to show the human condition as I see it. My main characters have all the frailties and weaknesses of any human, and the flaws. Then I pit them against some of life's tougher situations and issues. I try to show that it's not cleverness, or brawn, or financial gain or power that triumphs over the tragedies in life. It's love that triumphs.

STEPH: What do you want readers to take away from the novel when they finish it?

NIKE: I want to show how ordinary people can rise to great heights in standing for what is right and against evil. I hope my readers can see the "natural nobility" unpretentious people can display when against all odds they do the right thing. I hope my main characters Erica and Lorne come off in this way. As we've talked about in the earlier questions, there is great ugliness in the world. I don't want to deny the ugliness, but want to show there is greater beauty. I hope my readers come away knowing the greatest, most powerful force on earth is love.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

NIKE: I have a Kindle and I love it. I was one of those who said I'd never give up print books. Well, my husband got me a Kindle for Mother's Day last year and that was it for me. I read almost exclusively by some electronic method now.

STEPH: What's the last movie you saw?

NIKE: The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughey…pluck my eyes out. The book was written by Michael Connelly, one of my fav authors. Connelly was the crime beat reporter for the LA Times for 25 years before he started writing crime fiction. He definitely gets his police and court procedure right, which I appreciate. The book was better than the movie, but the movie was terrific. I highly recommend both to crime fiction fans.

STEPH: What's your writing space like?

NIKE: I sit at my desk (a cramped computer desk crammed with papers) for a few hours every day and try to write something I can use in a novel. I have several folders saved in my PC with ideas for upcoming works. I love that I can have many windows open at the same time, as I'm also a homeschooling mom. So, I spend many hours searching for homeschooling material, then get an idea and switch to a writing window an get the idea down in concrete form. Then, there's also the business of publishing that takes some time. I'm now finding that out as I get my cover and have to look into setting up author pages on Amazon and Goodreads after the official release. The most important thing, so far is to be organized.


Desert Breeze.


Barnes & Noble.


  1. I really enjoyed reading and reviewing this novel. It's sweet romance, and the review is posted on my blog. Congratulations, Nike, and well wishes for your new novel. Blessings, BJ

  2. Congratulations on your novel, Nike. What an exciting and intriguing storyline. Sounds like another one I'll be adding to my list of "must haves".

    Blessings, Karlene Jacobsen

  3. Thank you for sharing some of your experiences going through the writing, publishing process, Nike. Wishing you succcess with your writing projects.