Today is release day of Sky High, Susan O’Brien’s second book in the Nicki Valentine series. This is such a great book and series and I really loved both books. Finding Sky, the first book in the series is on sale today at Amazon for $.99. If you have not read this book, buy it and Sky High, you will be very happy that you did.
I was fortunate enough to spend some time with Susan O’Brien to find out a little more about her. And here is what I learned.
Author Susan O’Brien (Finding Sky, Sky High)
When did you know that you wanted to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to be an author since childhood. I spent so much time daydreaming about it and reading inspiring books, especially mysteries. I’m so thankful my dream came true!
What drew you to the cozy genre?
I was often drawn to cozies as a reader, especially because of their relatable characters, who felt like old friends. I appreciate my publisher’s focus on “cozies with an edge.” (Finding Sky and Sky High are published by Henery Press.) My protagonist Nicki Valentine is honest about her challenges, especially parenting, and she uses humor to cope. Her world isn’t perfect, and neither is she.
Where do your ideas come from? Are any of the characters based on people you know in real life?
Each of my books originates with an emotional spark. I have to care about characters and their struggles, and my hope is that readers will connect with them, too.
For example, in Finding Sky, my heart went out to many characters, including the missing, pregnant birth mother and the woman (Nicki’s best friend) who desperately hopes to adopt a baby. In Sky High, which just released, I cared about the families involved when a groom disappears on his wedding day, including his mom, who is awaiting an unusual transplant. I also wanted Nicki to grow, including in her relationship with her (superhot!) colleague Dean.
I don’t base characters on specific people, but I find real-life stories incredibly inspirational.
Do you work from an outline or plot or do you just see where the characters take you?
My writing habits have changed over the years, but I tend to write from short, general descriptions of major plot points, leaving myself plenty of “mystery” in the process. Some of my favorite scenes are unplanned. For me, it’s more fun to discover each book as it’s written than to plan lots of details.
What do you think is the easiest thing about writing? What do you think is the hardest?
The easiest part for me is the editing process. I edit as I go, instead of all at the end. The hardest part is forcing myself to write most days. Like many writers, I lack confidence and just have to trust that if I write, something of value will probably come from it. The other option is not trying, and that doesn’t yield anything.
I have seen so much interest in cover releases. Do you think that the cover plays an important part in people buying your book? Who designs your book covers?
For better or worse, covers are important to me as a reader and writer. I love seeing covers revealed for all kinds of books! I’m so grateful to Stephanie Chontos and Kendel
Lynn (from Henery Press) because they create fantastic covers for my series.
Do you read the reviews that you obtain for your books?
I read every review I’m aware of. Many authors don’t agree with this strategy, but the most important thing to me is connecting with readers. Their words mean more to me than I can say. Thank you, thank you to everyone who takes the time to write a positive review. It makes an enormous difference. And very special thanks to you, Mary, for your wonderful work.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read the kinds of books you want to write. Practice writing (a lot). And persevere. For me, it took believing in something greater than myself to get past obstacles. If faith and prayer are part of your life, trust them to help you move forward.
What do your plans for future projects include?
I’m working on the third Nicki Valentine mystery, and I’m hoping to finish editing a spiritual/medical memoir. I had a long journey to publication, and I’m so thankful to be here!
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Susan-OBrien/e/B001JRYUZY/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
I would like to thank Susan for taking time for me and wish her the best of luck on Sky High and all her future Nicki Valentine books.
Here is my review of Sky High:
Single mom and rookie P.I. Nicki Valentine rarely gets time off, so attending a wedding with her superhot colleague Dean sounds dream y. But things turn nightmarish when the groom — a soon-to-be transplant donor — disappears, and Nicki and Dean commit to a partnership they never planned.
Together, they examine the groom’s unfulfilled promises, including one to his mom, a psychic medium with an unusual health need. As family secrets emerge, Nicki must face questions about her late husband, whose long-ago betrayal still threatens to cloud her judgment.
With support from her pole-dancing best friend, her always-on-call family, and the loves of her life (her two kids — and possibly Dean), Nicki must uncover the groom’s demons while conquering her own. (Goodreads)
Nicki Valentine is a new private investigator who is still getting her feet wet with her career. She really likes her job: she loves having flexible hours (so she can manage to spend time with her children), she met her sorta boyfriend, Dean, when she was going to investigating school and she feels like she makes a difference when she catches the bad guy. But when she attends a wedding with Dean, she is happy to know she will get a break from her job for a little while. Little does she know that instead of seeing a beautiful wedding, she will be hired for the toughest case of her career.
The groom never shows up on his wedding day, and no one can find him. His fiance, family and friends all say that he would not have disappeared voluntarily. Besides being madly in love with his fiance, he is scheduled to be a “donor” for a life saving procedure for his mom. When the groom’s father wants to hire Nicki and Dean to find his son, and offers a huge amount of money to ensure they will agree to take it, they do. With only a few clues and little to go on, they have their work cut out for them.
The writing style flows smoothly and the book is a quick, easy and fun read. The author is able to expertly combine mystery, suspense, humor, light paranormal and family drama to create a book that is hard to put down. I found myself laughing every few pages reading about Nicki’s thoughts and actions. Two of my favorite scenes are when Nicki is making popcorn in her hotel room and her pole dancing lesson.
The characters are well developed, well rounded and three dimensional. Nicki is the perfect protagonist. She is witty, funny, hardworking, dedicated and relentless. She is also an overprotective mother, a great friend and big hearted. She has self doubts about her appearance, her mothering skills and her investigating skills. She has anger towards her late husband who cheated on her before his death. She has both positive and negative traits, which made her seem even more human to me. I like the fact that she is a mother and she is always trying to do the best she can for her children. This is a nice twist on the normal cozy mystery where the heroine is younger and single. This brought an added layer to the story. The secondary characters are all great and the interaction between them all is so realistic. I would love to be able to call them all my friends.
I found the plot unique and the mystery was carried on throughout the entire book. There are enough twists and turns and suspects to keep the reader guessing. I thought I had it figured out a few times but I was wrong.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery with lots of humor and great characters. I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next and what crazy thing Nicki would think or say. But I also wanted to stop reading because I did not want this fantastic book to end. I am sad that the book ended because now I have to wait until the next book is written and released. I hope the author is a fast writer.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. I can honestly say that I loved this book and if I could I would give it more than five stars. I would like to thank NetGalley and Henery Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.