Newly Released: The Heart's Journey Home

The Heart’s Journey Home: A Layover in Doppelganger-Ville
Nikki Jackson
(The Heart’s Journey Home, #2)
Publication date: April 30th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Picking up where The Heart’s Journey Home: California Blend Summer Vacation leaves off, book two in the series follows seventeen-year-old Tori Logan as she and her best friends, AJ and Kalea, accompany Tori’s archeologist father to Israel.
Tori Logan is used to her life looking a little different from the lives of other girls her age. She’s also used to having plenty of adventures, so when she and her best friends see an excavated quarry in one of Jerusalem’s most famous archeological sites, they waste no time checking it out for themselves. Adventurous and fiercely independent, Tori leads her friends into the quarry where they happen upon what appears to be a secret passageway. As the trio laughs and jokes, small rumblings turn into big quakes and the walls start to crumble around them. Kalea and AJ escape, but the site collapses before Tori can find her way out.

Nikki Jackson considers herself to be an Indie Writer, Journeyman and Traveler. She's camped out in the Grand Canyon just to see the sunrise over a stupendous backdrop and she yet dreams to travel to Mount Everest, not to climb any part of it but to simply stand at the North Base Camp and take it all in, in person. Nikki's love of adventure was inspired at an early age at the local library where she spent summers reading about young travelers going cross-country and around the world. She loved the adventures that took her out of the bottom bunk of her bed (her favorite reading spot) and had her soaring across the clouds to lands filled with wonderful and diverse people. It was then and there Nikki decided she wanted to be a writer - she wanted to have the same effect on people reading books had on her. The Heart's Journey Home is the beginning of the adventure.

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My Weird Fascination….

I have a weird fascination and its scary movies.

I have sworn off them more times than I can remember because I actually find them so terrifying but like a little chocolate addict my hand finds its way back to the box.  I can only blame it on a mildly warped fascination with the fact that that someone wrote, out of their own imagination, something that could cause such physical, emotional and psychological reactions in the reader (or if it’s a movie – the viewer).

I remember back in the day when the movie The Exorcist debuted.  It was 1973 and no movie like it had ever really be made and it was the scariest thing in town.  To this very day I’ve never seen that movie.  I read the reviews and watched the news spots and that was more than enough to keep me away from it.  There were reports of moviegoers crying, fainting and throwing up (especially during the head spinning around part), all because they’d been so affected by what was going on with the little demon possessed girl.

The scariest movie I’ve ever seen in life to date was The Ring.  I got caught up in the premise: watch the video, get the phone call, dead in seven days.  The curious side of my brain just knew there was a safe, logical way out of this and I wanted to see how the latest victim would beat the curse.  I still don’t know how the movie ended.  When that little kid came out of that well I started screaming.

I was screaming at the guy watching this play out on his TV to turn it off and get out of there.  He didn’t hear me.  He just sat there spellbound while that kid came out of that well and was moving, like some weird stop-action closer and closer, and then shocks of shocks….when that kid climbed through the TV set….I’m surprised the neighbors didn’t call the police, I was a hot screaming mess.  It was like she’d climbed through my TV set and into my living room.  That’s the last thing I remember.   

I turned on every light in the house (why did I watch it at night, alone?), made sure all the doors and windows were locked (twice) and I spent the night on the sofa with a blanket over my head praying to still be alive with the new day’s dawn.   

Here’s what’s so intriguing - that hot mess of a movie was first a writer’s creation.  Somebody sat down and imagined it and then wrote it down.  As traumatizing as that movie was to me, the thought that a writer wrote it is fantastic.  Don’t you see?  I was scared and traumatized and ready to throw-up and pee all at the same time – I was physically and emotionally and yes, psychologically effected and caught up and spent and I didn’t even last the whole movie!

As a writer I don’t want to scare the bejeezus out of anyone, but I want to take the reader on an exhilarating, crazy wild rollercoaster ride.  I want the reader to be giddy, shocked, angry, moved, excited, teased, floored, bowled over – and happily spent when they finish reading a book of mine.  I want to pull the reader out of their present setting and take them on the journey of a story with me and my characters.  I want to give the reader a break from life as they know it and I want them to eagerly join me on an imagined adventure.

Sure, I’d like to make a million bucks writing, but when I really think about it?  I’d rather prefer making a million friends. 

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Writers, Lovers of Words

I’ve been asked what I thought was the most important trait a person needed to possess in order to be a good writer.  I’ve heard people respond that that the writer needed to be a voracious reader, a tenacious researcher, or a gregarious lover of people.  Personally?  I think a writer needs to be a lover of words. 

I believe we true writers love the way words sound.  We love how they roll off our tongues or out of the ink of our pens.  We love how they tweak the imagination painting illustrative pictures we use to convey information and concepts and yes our own opinions.  We love how words roll off our tongues and how they dance and box during engaging conversations.  We writers love the emotion that words both evoke and convey – laughter, anger, shock, tears, passion, commitment, patience, love, solidarity, alarm, retrospect, peace.  Words can incite a riot or quiet a fussy baby.  Words can lead men in the most heinous acts of genocide, or quell a mounting storm bringing peace.  Words. 

I love being a writer.  I love the idea of having the effect on others that the authors I’ve read have had on me.  Laughing out loud and crying out loud too.  Getting mad and yelling at the book, even throwing the book across the room because I got shocked or snookered by the ending.  I love endings I didn’t see coming and then the sweet sugary ones I saw coming from a mile away but I hung on because I was curious as to how the author would write it.  I love reading that last page and closing the book and smiling. Totally satisfied. 

Ultimately that’s what we writers want from you readers - we want you to buy into the journey and be satisfied at its end.  We want you to lick the plate clean, and grin your widest grin, and ask us for more.  

Interview with author Nikki Jackson

1.    Would you share a little bit about yourself with us today?

I could say I’m Black, female, and I have gray hair in my dreadlocks, but all of that is boring.  What I’d really like to share is that I’ve spent the better part of my life dreaming about being a writer and now I am.   I was just eight years old when it struck me.  I was a regular little Black kid living in metro-Detroit.  I had just finished reading the first book series I ever read – The Boxcar Children and I had an epiphany.  This crystallized moment came upon me and I literally stood up in the bedroom I shared with my sisters and announced for the world to hear – “I’m going to be a writer when I grow up.”  Though my life has taken many roads, twists and turns, that yearning never left my soul.   I would think about it every now and then and just as quickly life would appear and distract me.  I got to the place where I said to myself – you’re either going to be a writer or not.  Once I started thinking seriously about writing and talking to myself about what I’d like to write, the book pretty much came to me. 

2.    Tell us a little about your recently published book.

Well as you know book two of The Heart’s Journey Home series, titled A Layover in Doppelganger-ville has just been published.  I had a lot of fun writing it. The cool thing about it is that the main character Tori has gone back in time to ancient Jerusalem.  Without throwing any spoilers out she has found herself in a situation where her independent, I-can-do-it-myself, attitude is more of a hindrance than a help to her.  It’s even dangerous which she comes to learn, the hard way.  The book is about Tori being presented with the challenge to see things through a different lens and to decide what to do with that view. And then of course, how does she return to the present time.        

3.    What genre influenced you the most? And why?

I find that the Young Adult genre influence me the most.  When I started researching for my first book in the series – The Heart’s Journey Home: California Blend Summer Vacation, I discovered this whole young adult genre world.  I read The Hunger Games - I straight-up loved it.  From there Divergent (tore up loved it), Ender’s Game and The Fault in Our Stars.  By then I was pretty much hooked on the genre.  I knew young people were cool but I didn’t realize how straight-up out the box they were.  When I read the female characters in Hunger Games and Divergent I told myself that my lead was going to have to rock like these sisters.  I totally fell in love with the strong teen female character.  Not the “I’m strong and I don’t need anybody,” attitude, but the ‘this is messed up but I got this,” attitude. Teens taking their ground and holding their ground because they feel they have no other choice.  It’s like they looked around and they were the only ones standing there.  That’s why I love this genre, it’s unpretentious and honest, the characters are just real.         

4.    Favorite place to writer?

Panera Bread with a bowl of baked potato soup and a caramel lattΓ© on the table.  It’s not too quiet and it’s not too noisy.  I go to the Panera Bread in Allen Park near my home and I’ve gotten to know the employees and a few of the regulars and it’s just a good homey spot.

5.    You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?
Everyone who knows me would laugh but its Stephen King.  I am so not into scary movies. Between the flying monkeys (the Wizard of Oz) and The Ring (that chick coming out of that well then the TV set?!)  it’s a wrap. What I love about King is his versatility.  The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption, two totally non-scary works, both of which I really love.  I was shocked when I learned the TV series Under The Dome is based on King’s novel – Under The Dome.  Books, movies, TV, scary stuff, non-scary stuff and all of it’s good.  His scary stuff is just tore up good I just can’t sit through it.  His writing is great.  It’s descriptive and tight and it’s a thriller at the most purest basic level.  There’s a scary movie of his that I did sit through and loved – Storm of the Century.  The premise was just messed up. This scary looking guy shows up at this little out of the way town, kills a couple of people in a tore-up way and then takes all the little kids hostage – of sorts.  They’re all knocked out and he tells the parents and the town that they have to give him one of the kids (apparently for some reason he can’t just take the kid).  Give him one or he’s killing all of them.  How in the world were they going to get out of this dilemma?  Were they going to stand together or every parent for themselves?  In the end they caved as a town and gave into this guy.  They pulled lots and gave him one of the kids.  The rest of the movie showed the devastatingly lasting effect that one choice had on folks in the town (they had to cover the early deaths and the missing child with a lie). And at the end you learned what eventually happened to the kid.  What made the movie good for me was the interplay between the characters as they tried to figure out what to do.  Morality and ethics, basic humanity, strength and right were put on a trial of sorts and the outcome wasn’t pretty.  Human maybe, but messed up none the less.  I thought King’s premise was sweet and I’m still trying to determine what I would’ve done in the end.  That’s the formula of a grand story – the reader still talking about it years later. 

6.    What exciting story are you working on next?

Young adult Science Fiction, your typical alien teen crash lands on earth and has to survive until his family locates him.  It’s your basic fish out of water story and I’m having fun watching how he has to blend in with regular Earthlings.  And yes I did say he.  The main character is a guy.  I’m really excited about that.  I don’t want to get stuck in a groove where the only main characters I, as the writer, relates to is female.  I’m hoping to have it completed and published sometime next year.  I’ll keep you posted.

7.    Do you have any advice for anyone that would like to be an author?
Commit to the dream.  Find a way to write everyday – work on something, journal, anything just so long as you’re writing.  Don’t be deterred by negative views or comments from friends, family or foe, believe in the writer you know yourself to be and let that be your guiding force. 

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