Saturday, June 11, 2011

Nike Chillemi's Burning Hearts

[Anne] Name one of your favorite books as a child.

[Nike] Hi, to the Hunter. I can't recall the author but my dad and I read it together. It's about a young boy and his coon hound who liked to tree raccoons but don't kill them. They come across this wily raccoon that a nasty hunter is determined to kill. The boy and the dog help the rascally-raccoon escape. I guess I've always been an animal lover.

[Anne]Do you have a favorite author?

[Nike] In Christian suspense, I'm mad about J. Mark Bertrand, Sibella Giorello, and Steven James. My to read list is so long that I haven't gotten to any Desert Breeze suspense yet, but Anne's yours is at the top of the list. I just finished reading (as a judge) for the Grace Awards and am reading for the Carol Awards now. When that's done, I can get back to my personal reading list.

[Anne] Out of all the books you’ve read, which one comes immediately to your mind? If there is a favorite scene you remember, please share.

[Nike] In J. Mark Bertrand's Back on Murder a man approaches main character detective Roland March in a dark bar where March sits with an untouched drink. The man won't give his name. He sits with his back to the wall and his hands under the table. The Man could have a gun in his pocket. March nudges the table spilling his full drink and the man grabs the table with both hands to steady it, thus exposing them. I thought, YES, a cop would do that to engage the mystery man's hands.

[Anne] Your favorite vacation spot (whether you have been there or not)?

[Nike] Driving down the West Coast Highway (runs along the coastline of Washington, Oregon, and California) alternating Christian rock and country western blaring on the car radio - window open. It takes about three days. I've done it and it was great. The Pacific Ocean is incredible, not to mention the beautiful redwoods.

[Anne] Which would you rather have: A custom closet or a custom kitchen?

[Nike] In a heartbeat, a custom kitchen. I'm a foodie.

[Anne] It’s Saturday afternoon and you’re home alone. What are you wearing? And yes, you must have clothes on.

[Nike] My PJ's, the ones I just slept in. If I'm feeling really fancy-schmansy, I'll put on a lounging outfit. A caftan, a maxi beach dress.

[Anne] What’s your favorite dish?

[Nike] As I mentioned, I'm a foodie. Love to watch the Food Network. I like sauté. It's light and there are so many possibilities. Chicken sautéed in a honey mango sauce. Shrimp sautéed in a teriyaki sauce. Old standards like sole sautéed in lemon butter. Serve it with a veggie, if you're trying to lose a few pounds like I am. Add pasta in w/garlic and olive oil, or rice pilaf if you have friends over.

[Anne] Other than writing, what do you enjoy doing?

[Nike] I love to read, especially crime fiction. I like to cook for family and friends, and go out to eat as the budget allows.

[Anne] You’ve just landed a multi-book contract with a major publisher! Which vehicle would we be more likely to see you driving after you’ve collected your huge advance: a Hummer, RV, truck, muscle car, or BMW?

[Nike] I drive a VW punch buggy now and it's great for city driving, as I live in Gotham (NYC). I'm sure that huge advance is in the mail, and after I get it I'd buy a Jeep Sport…black of course. As a crime fictionista, black is my uniform. I love Jeep and a Sport would also fare well in the city.

[Anne] What’s your favorite television show? Movie?

[Nike] My husband and I watch The Killing every Sunday evening. It's by far one of the best TV crime dramas ever. As far as a movie, I just saw The Lincoln Lawyer (legal thriller) and while it wasn't as good as the excellent novel it's based on, it was indeed very good. And Matthew McConaughey…pluck my eyes out.

[Anne] You’ve won a talent show! What act did you perform?

[Nike] A slap-stick comedy routine, perhaps with some soft shoe dancing.

[Anne] Would you rather have the power to be invisible or be able to fly, and why?

N: Invisible. I'm curious about people and it would allow me to observe without being obtrusive.

[Anne] What was one of the most surprising things you learned during your journey to publication?

[Nike] I was shocked, as in totally floored, to find some contest judges and readers considered my novel edgy. My heroine and hero don't even kiss until the last chapter. But they deal with some pretty intense feelings and my hero, Lorne Kincade, grapples with his tragically dysfunctional childhood.

[Anne] What was the most interesting research you did for a book?

[Nike] I love 1940s fashion. The styles were classic and classy. Women of that day enjoyed dressing up. They followed the fashion seen on the silver screen and emulated that type of sophistication.

[Anne] Where do you go when you need to get inspired to write?

[Nike] I go to a coffee shop, café, or bakery with tables and do some people watching while I sip a cappuccino.

[Anne] Do you have any writing quirks?

[Nike] I'll go back to make sure there's some humor to break up the suspense and action scenes.

[Anne] What do you think makes a good story?

[Nike] I like character driven stories. Take a complex character with some baggage and drop him or her into the middle of an action scene (a bank robbery, witness to murder, a kidnapping) to open the story and see where it goes.

[Anne] What are you working on now?

[Nike] I'm finishing the sequel to BURNING HEARTS. The second in the Sanctuary Point series is GOODBYE NOEL. It's a suspense set during the 1947 Christmas/New Year season. My research revealed how Christmas celebrations and symbols were part of the warp and woof of American life in that time period.

[Anne] Complete this scene: It was raining. The man came out of nowhere, and before I knew it....

[Nike] I threw up on his shoe.

Check out Nike's new release Burning Hearts!


Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. So many young men she grew up with fell in the war, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her desperate need when her best friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. This stranger rushes into the inferno and carries Erica’s friend’s lifeless body out.

Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson, though he tried. He’s been a knock-about biker since the end of WWII. His uncle bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY and now he has hope for the future, wants to repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The problem is someone’s setting him up for a murder rap, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin, and that’s the last thing he needs.


Long Island, New York
September 1946

Erica Brogna hurried down Hill Street, eager to sketch her new design, a forest green taffeta dress with a swirling skirt for a twenty-fifth wedding anniversary -- her first significant assignment. She paused to inhale the salt scent on the ocean breeze, and her gaze lingered on a copse of red, rust, and gold maples near Ada's house and dress shop.

She smiled, pulling her cardigan tight around her, and dropped the newspaper Poppa asked her to bring to her mentor and employer. She retrieved the paper and saw Bess Truman smiling as she entered Walter Reed Army Hospital. With the war over, the First Lady visited broken soldiers in long-term care. Erica slapped the paper closed before rage and depression overtook her. So many boys had not come home.

Chin jutted out, she smoothed the pleats of her skirt and marched toward Ada's house. She'd think on pleasant things and hand the paper over without a fuss as she did every morning. Nothing would ruin this day.

She climbed Ada's wooden front steps and opened the door.

Smoke filled the living room Ada had turned into a fabric shop. Erica waved a hand in front of tearing eyes. Gray vapors, like swirling fog, partially obscured bolts of fabric stacked against the opposite wall.

"Ada! Ada, answer me please." Dropping the newspaper, Erica rushed toward the stairs, trampling Bess Truman's image. "Ada can you hear me?"

Coughing, she grabbed on to the cutting table in the middle of the room, steadied herself, and reached for the phone -- no dial tone. Perhaps the fire melted the line.

She yanked the collar of her blouse over her nose and mouth against the smoke. The stairs loomed before her, seeming as impossible to scale as Mount Everest. She lunged forward, gripping the baluster, and thrust herself up two steps. Since Ada wasn't outside, she had to be upstairs.

As Erica climbed, the smoke thickened and swirled around her. It was darker with each step.

One hand clasped the rail and pulled, and she advanced a few more steps. Heat blasted against her skin from above, and soft crackling sounds drew her gaze to the upstairs landing. Squinting into the smoke, she lost her grip on the banister, missed the next step, and fell backward tumbling to the bottom.

The back of her head smacked against the baluster, and wooziness followed sharp pain. She tried to stand but couldn't get her bearings.

Will triumphed over ability. She hoisted herself, ignoring the dull throb at the back of her skull. Her palms stung, the skin scraped off during her fall. She took a deep breath, and a coughing fit seized her. Shallow breaths were the better alternative.

Planting her penny loafer on the bottom step, Erica began her climb again, shaken but with new resolve. If she could reach the top of the stairs, she could also make it to Ada's bedroom.

Purchase Burning Hearts at the following locations:

Nike's blog:


B. J. Robinson said...

I've read and reviewed Burning Hearts and loved it. Great interview and novel :) Blessings, BJ

Gail Pallotta said...

It's nice to learn more about you, Niki, and to read about your new book. Best of luck with it.

Lisa Grace said...

Burning Hearts sounds wonderful. I enjoyed learning more about you although personally I would have gone with the custom closet.

Christine Lindsay said...

I too have read and loved Burning Hearts. Great suspense, and wonderful use of era and setting.

Anne Patrick said...

Hi ladies,
Thank you so much for dropping by in support of Nike!


Nike Chillemi said...

BJ, You say the nicest things. :)

Nike Chillemi said...


I'm glad to share something of myself.

Nike Chillemi said...

Lisa Grace, Custom closet. Hmmm, I'm bet you don't struggle with your weight as we who choose the custom kitchen do. LOL

Nike Chillemi said...

Christine, If you're giving praise on era and setting, I'm touched. There's nobody who does era and setting better than you.

Diane Craver said...

Hi Nike and Anne,

Sorry I'm late, ladies! Wonderful interview!

I like what you said about going back to insert humor in your stories - I love books with humorous scenes. I also like your description on what makes a great story - " Take a complex character with some baggage and drop him or her into the middle of an action scene." I agree! :)