Inner Source welcomes author Nike Chillemi. Like so many writers, Nike started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.
Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. Her new contemporary whodunit, HARMFUL INTENT, is scheduled to release in the spring of 2014.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Christian Indie Novelists (CHIN) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). You can meet up with Nike on her blog, Crime Fictionista, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Nike I have to tell you that I read Harmful Intent in almost one sitting. I enjoyed it very much.
This first question is one that I’ve been wanting to ask since we met online. Your first and last name are very unique. What is their origin?
My parents were looking for a name beginning with an “N” in honor of my uncle Nicolas who died in the Pacific during WWII. He was in the Air Force and his plane went down in the ocean. We’re of Eastern European stock (Ukrainian, Czechoslovak, and Yugoslavian). Among the Eastern European community at that time, Natasha was an extremely common name or girls, much like Chloe or Madison are today. So, they chose an obscure Greek name with an “N” ~ Nike. They were aware of the Nike of Samothrace when they named me, as they knew a bit about mythology. I’ve only met a handful of women named Nike and they were all born in Greece. Chillemi is Italian and is my husband’s surname. It’s not uncommon, but it’s also not the “Smith” of Italy.
Because I know you’re a New York gal, and you like the nitty-gritty of the big city in your stories, I was surprised to find your character facing her dilemma and her mystery in Abilene, Texas. How in the world did one of your characters end up down South?
It started due to a writing challenge I came upon. I started playing around with it thinking how interesting to put my heroine out of her geographical element. At the most, I thought I’d have a short story. Then the idea of the series hit me and I thought HARMFUL INTENT would turn into novella (about 35K words) introducing the series. Well, as sometimes happens with my characters, they started running away with me and before I knew it, I had 66,000 words.
The series I’m envisioning is quite ambitious. There will be four couples who are all involved in law enforcement or who have military backgrounds. Each couple will have their own novels, solving murder cases, terrorism threats, and the like. A main character in one novel may show up as a secondary or minor character in another.
Having been a foster mother and adoptive mother of children who had been in foster care for some time, I’m keenly aware of what long-term damage can be done to children due to parental neglect and abuse. So, as a subtheme in this series, at least one member of each couple will be emotionally damaged due to some type of childhood trauma. Naturally, as I usually do, I will be crafting characters who are likeable in spite of their flaws. And as always, some of my characters will be quite quirky.
I love Deputy Sheriff Dawson Hughes from his Stetson hat to his very Southern moniker. Is he sketched from someone you know, from an actor, or from any other venue or does he solely come from the imagination of Nike Chillemi?
Dawson Hughes came solely from my imagination. At the beginning of the novel, Ronnie thinks he looks like a famous country-western star she saw on the cover of People magazine who looks fabulous in a tux. However, I leave it entirely up to the reader who that singer might be. Hughes evolved as I was writing him and became deeper emotionally. In the second draft, I went back and layered in the trauma of his divorce. He’d always been a decent man, but having survived a nasty divorce during which he made some mistakes, he grew into a truly honorable man.
This novel is not an in-your-face Christian mystery/suspense, but it works, and it works well. In your novel is there a key scripture or biblical concept that you explore? If so, what scripture or concept do you hope to bring to the light for your readers?
Neither Ronnie nor Dawson are committed Christians, although I do have committed Christians in the story as secondary characters who walk-the-walk. I use Ronnie and Dawson to appeal to Christians who have backslidden or to those who come from a loosely Christian background. Dawson’s faith was shaken during his short marriage. I won’t explain exactly why as I feel that’s a bit of a spoiler. He tells Ronnie the Bible won’t do her wrong, but she doubts he spends much time reading it. There are moments he wishes he had more faith, but then life sweeps him up and he functions by rote. Ronnie is angry at God, doesn’t trust him due to her childhood trauma. But she asks a lot of spiritual questions as the novel unfolds. She wonders about the comfort of God. She’s not quite a seeker. She’s just beginning to admit to herself there is One she might want to seek.
I want to first of all thank you for naming a character in Harmful Intent after me, but do you think you could have made her a bit nicer. J
Oh, yes, La Mayor. Faylene Hunt. She marches rather than walks, sort of like power walking. Her red framed glasses sit on her pug nose and she’s got harshly cut razored bangs. Hughes thinks they look like someone put a bowl on her head and wacked them off. She’s a manipulator as the mayor of Arroyo and in her personal life as well. She likes to play power games, that’s for sure.
Sorry I didn’t make your name sake nicer, but she’s so much more fun this way.
Do you have any future projects in the works, and if so, what issues do your characters deal with?
When HARMFUL INTENT ends Ronnie’s adulterous husband has been deceased only a little over two weeks. She’s falling in love with Hughes but is definitely not ready to jump into another relationship. She plans to come back to Texas for their mutual friends’ Thanksgiving wedding. And Hughes intends to travel to New York City for Christmas. However, as book two starts at the end of August, Hughes finds himself on the east coast in an official law enforcement capacity and gets drawn into a missing child case Ronnie is working on that might have terrorism implications. And that one is entitled DEADLY DESIGNS.
That sounds like it might be a page turner just like Harmful Intent. I hope you’ll come back and visit with us to share the Inner source on Deadly Designs.
Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels’ family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.
Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.
Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he’s not so sure at first, he’s on the meddling New York PI’s side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.
Be sure to meet Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels.