Today I have the honour of hosting the twelfth author showcase focusing on the awesome talent originating from Australia and New Zealand.
The idea came to me whilst seeing so many of the book community gathering at recent conventions in the US and UK. And once my FOMO had subsided, I got to thinking about who might be gathered together if we had similar conventions closer to home. Pending the master planning required to arrange a massive convention, I thought the next best thing might be to run an Australian & New Zealand author showcase. So, I sent out the call, with the only prerequisite for participating being the author had to have been born in either country or currently live there.
I’m thrilled to say that a huge number of authors have reached out to me, and I will be posting their individual showcases at regular intervals over the coming weeks. So hopefully you will enjoy these interactions with some very talented people. Please be sure to check out their work, sign up to their newsletters and follow them on their social media of choice. I make no apologies for any damage inflicted to your TBR’s!
For showcase No 12, I have the pleasure of speaking an Australian born but now New Zealand based author, namely Nikky Lee. Who’s new novella “Once We Flew” is set to be released on 14th November
- Do you feel that being an Aussie / Kiwi (or residing there) influences your writing?
I grew up very close to the beach and spent a lot of family holidays camping near beaches, so a lot of my short stories often involve the ocean. It’s my go-to place for starting a story because it’s something so familiar to me.
There’s also something to be said for the number of my stories that have some sort of isolation element in them. I grew up in Perth—the world’s most isolated city—and you had to drive for several days (not hours) to reach the next major city (Adelaide or Broome), and a lot of it through fairly empty, scrubby country. I now live in New Zealand, and while the landscape is different (much more lush and rugged) the sense of isolation is the same. As a country, we often joke that we’re at the arse-end of the world and that the rest of the world forgets we are here (we’re are frequently left off world maps). Both Perth and New Zealand often feel quite disconnected from the rest of the world. That sense often shows up in my stories to varying degrees.
- What are some of the challenges being located so far away from the rest of the world, do have any tips for overcoming these?
The big one that comes to mind is the cost of getting anywhere to the Northern Hemisphere to attend in-person events. Not being able to afford to go to the big conventions such as StokerCon, the Comic Cons, DragonCon, WorldCon, 20BooksVegas etc, means myself and many other Kiwi and Aussie authors miss out on the ability to network and find new readers. We have conventions of our own, but they are rarely on the same scale.
Tip of Challenge #2: Unfortunately there is not much we can do to overcome this challenge. However, there are some excellent, if less well known, conventions that run online, such as Flights of Foundry, which also run online chats and panels that you can put your name forward for. Meanwhile, many mainstream conventions are now also offering a streaming ticket option too—which is wonderful to see.
- How do you go about establishing connections in the book community? (any tips / suggestions)
My approach is definitely multi-prong. I’m part of SpecFicNZ—New Zealand’s association for speculative fiction creators and editors (and a member of their committee)—and I’m also a member of the Australasian Horror Writers Association, which has been hugely helpful find fellow authors in New Zealand. Locally, I’m part of a writing group, which is great for accountability. I’m also part of numerous online groups and forums across multiple platforms, including Facebook, Discord, and Twitter/X.
For a while I was also interviewing other authors on my blog, which was a fantastic way to build one-to-one connections with other creative and like-minded people.
I have also written a lot of short stories, which has gotten my name in front of a variety of editors, small presses, magazines and author co-contributors. Again, this has helped forge connections. As a result, I’ve been asked to co-edit three anthologies and have been invited to submit work to another three anthology projects.
- Do you have a favourite character to write? And conversely are there any of your characters that are the more of a struggle?
Ooo, tough question, because I love writing all my characters. But if I had to pick the ones I enjoy writing the most, it’d probably be a tie between Skaar and Hasek from my Rarkyn Trilogy. Skaar because he is a non-human character, so it is super fun to explore the different ways he experiences the world, and Hasek because he is quite a wily character with many layers to him that slowly reveal themselves. That said, this will probably change by the next book!
- So aliens finally reveal themselves to us and your work is presented to them as example of what humanity has to offer, what do you hope they will take away from this intergalactic exchange?
I often have elements of family, found family and friendship in my work—so that would be probably be the most obvious takeaway. And also not to judge a person on appearance or hearsay, but by their actions.
If the aliens happened to read any of my horror stories, there’s they might end up seeing humanity as pretty twisted and greedy. However, they could see that we’re willing to confront that darkness inside ourselves and to bring it out in the open rather than leave it swept under the carpet.
- Tell us something about yourself that not many people know?
I’m allergic to bandaids, and by extension, sports strapping tape. Every time I strap my dodgy shoulders during kayaking season, I look like I’ve been run over by a toy tractor afterwards (my skin welts up).
- What would you say is the best thing about being an author and the worst?
Best: The euphoria of finishing a story (before reality sinks in and I realise I now have to edit it).
Worst: doing my authoring taxes. I’d much rather be writing!
- Any other Aussie / Kiwi creatives you’d like to give a shout out for? (let’s spread the love)
Gosh, so many! For the sake of space, I’ll go with some of this year’s reading highlights from NZ and AU authors.
- Despatches by Lee Murray (historical horror)
- The 716 by S.J. Pratt (science fiction)
- Daughter of the Beast by E.C. Greaves (fantasy)
- Project Nought by Chelsey Furedi (graphic novel)
- The Book and the Blade by A.B. Finlayson (comedy horror)
- Boss From Hell by Laurie Bell (contemporary paranormal)
- What’s your favourite quote or passage from one of your books?
My favourite line requires context from earlier in the book to make sense, so I’ll go with my second favourite line:
“The quickest way to kill a monster is to go straight for the heart.”
- What can you say about your current project or what you are planning next?
I’m just about to release a space opera/science fantasy novella (14 November) and am putting the final touches together for a short story collection I’m planning on releasing next year. Writing wise, I’m gearing up to start writing the final book in my epic fantasy trilogy.
Bonus Question: Lastly Vegemite* yes or no?
YES! (But you have to spread it thin—don’t treat it like Nutella 😱)
* An iconic dark salty spread that (most) Australians slap on toast for breakfast (NB explanation for the rest of the world)
Nikky Lee is an award-winning author who grew up as a barefoot 90s kid in Perth, Western Australia on Whadjuk Noongar Country. She now lives in Aotearoa New Zealand with a husband, a dog and a couch potato cat. In her free time, she writes speculative fiction, often burning the candle at both ends to explore fantastic worlds, mine asteroids and meet wizards. She’s had over two dozen stories published in magazines, anthologies and on the radio.
Her short fiction has been shortlisted six times in the Aurealis Awards with her novelette Dingo & Sister winning the Best Young Adult Short Story and the Best Fantasy Novella categories in 2020. In 2021, she received a Ditmar Award for Best New Talent. Her debut novel The Rarkyn’s Familiar won the 2023 Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Youth Novel, three 2022 Indie Ink Awards, Bronze in Young Adult Fiction at the 2022 Foreward INDIES Book of the Year Awards, and was a finalist in the 2022 Aurealis Awards for Best Young Adult Novel.
Links to books / series:
The Rarkyn Trilogy: https://www.nikkythewriter.com/therarkyntrilogy
Once We Flew (upcoming science fantasy novella): https://www.nikkythewriter.com/novellas
Latest anthology: https://www.clandestinepress.net/products/remains-to-be-told
Website / Social media links: