Please note: Niki is offering a print copy and an e-copy of Santiago Sol. For a chance to win, be sure to comment below.
Thank you for joining us, Niki. I'm excited to get to know you a little better. Ready? Let's go!
Niki Turner is a novelist, journalist, blogger, and the production manager for the Rio Blanco Herald Times weekly newspaper, one of the oldest continuously operating newspapers in Colorado. Her first completed manuscript earned second place in the Touched By Love 2009 contemporary category romance contest. She also blogs at www.nikiturner.net and is a co-blogger at www.inkwellinspirations.com.
Niki is a Colorado native who grew up in Glenwood Springs—home of the world’s largest hot springs pool. She married her high school sweetheart 25 years ago. They have four children, four grandchildren, and two West Highland White Terriers.
In 2014, she published “Sadie’s Gift” as one of the Christmas Traditions novella collection with eight other authors. The Skiing Suitor, one of the Love’s Sporting Chance series published by Forget-Me-Not Romances, released in August 2015. Her most recent project, “Santiago Sol,” was published by Pelican Book Group as part of the Passport to Romance novella collection. She’s currently working on a new novella for Whitefire Publishing and another one for Barbour House.
Thanks, Niki! Now, for my nosy questions:
What was your inspiration for this story?
I stumbled across the Pelican call for submissions to the Passport to Romance collection and was thrilled to find Santiago, Chile on the list of destinations because it is, literally, the only stamp I have in my real passport. I’ve visited Santiago three times and loved it. It’s the perfect location for a romance, with a little suspense thrown in.
What is its take-away message?
Probably the power of forgiveness. We carry so much unresolved baggage around, and it affects us and our immediate families and even the generations that come after us. Forgiveness is a superpower we all have access to, but don’t always take advantage of.
Tell us a bit about your writing routine. Do you have set hours? Do you get dressed first? Do you travel for research? Where and when do you do your best work?
I so wish I had set hours. I did when my kiddos were homeschooling, but now my hours are limited to the evenings when I’m done with my “real” job as production manager/page designer for a weekly newspaper. I do make myself get dressed every day, because I work from home, and it would be entirely too easy to never get out of my pajamas. I have, however, forsworn makeup unless I’m leaving the house, which only happens once or twice a week. If I need to have a really productive writing day, though, I just sit down at the desk first thing in the morning and start plugging away. PJs, hair up, robe on, fuzzy teeth and all.
As for traveling for research, I’d love to, but we don’t travel much. What I’ve found is that studying my own family genealogy and digging into local history has satisfied that my research cravings. There’s nothing quite as entertaining as spending an afternoon in the library with archived copies of old newspapers. Yeah… I’m a nerd.
What’s your next writing project?
I am just wrapping up a novella I’ve been working on since January 2011. It’s loosely based on Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” but set in Austin, Texas, in 1894. The first Austen in Austin volume releases this month. My story is in the second volume. As soon as I send that off, I will start on another novella for one of Barbour’s 9-in-1 collections. “First Comes Pie” is another historical, set in Rifle, Colorado.
Just for fun:
Coffee or Tea? If I’m out, I’ll get a fancy coffee somewhere, but at home it’s tea. Black with sugar.
Snacks: Sweet or Salty? Depends on the day and the project. I notice when I’m writing I want salty, crunchy stuff. If I was a smart writer I’d salt cucumber slices with seasoning salt, but I usually just grab a handful of pretzels. That’s why “lose 10 pounds” is always on my to-do list.
Dream vacation. That’s a hard one. I really want to do a tour of Europe, mostly France and the British Isles, but whenever we have vacation time/money I always end up voting for the beach. Any beach.
#1 on your Bucket List. Another hard one. Learn to love my body just the way it is? Stop worrying?
Here's some more to whet your appetite:
When a beloved elderly friend in hospice care makes one final request, Tansy Chastain can't refuse, even though returning an heirloom to the patriarch of a powerful Chilean family will take her halfway around the globe. When she's robbed at the airport, a handsome Santiago businessman comes to her rescue. Sebastian Sandoval decides escorting a lovely American for a few days is a perfect distraction from his grandfather's growing pressure to find a lost family treasure. But even as Tansy breathes new life into Sebastian’s jaded perspective, the secrets they are keeping put them in the path of a dangerous, and desperate enemy. Revealing the truth to each other now will destroy their growing relationship, but if they don’t, those secrets may destroy their lives.
Sebastian’s mouth tightened. He’d seen her hands shake, noticed the way she tensed every time the plane shuddered or groaned or bumped through turbulence. It was part of the reason he’d engaged her in conversation. In his experience, distracting the poor souls he encountered who were afraid of flying was often the only way to ease their constant tension. Now he wondered if her trip would end in a greater disaster. For the most part, Chile was a safe nation in terms of violent crime, but he doubted this young woman would make it from the baggage carousel to a taxi with all her belongings intact.
She faced him, and he acknowledged with surprise the sudden, low hum of attraction. He’d already appreciated the swing of her hair—a rich, buttery shade of caramel with golden highlights—and the delicate shape of her profile, but he hadn’t paid much attention otherwise. Sebastian had dated Brazilian models, Argentinian heiresses, and a few Mexican television stars, but he’d never been drawn to any American women, due, he surmised, to a lifetime of negative references to his American-born mother.
This woman was pretty in a quiet sort of way. Not the sultry beauty he was usually attracted to. The wide eyes she turned on him were a bright, quirky hazel, the kind that reflected everything from her feelings to her fashion choices. They were set in a pixie face with small features and smooth, pale skin. Her cheeks were flushed—because she was nervous, or too warm, he didn’t know—but the effect ratcheted the hum into a buzz at the base of his skull.
“I don’t,” she replied. “I took two years in high school, but it didn’t stick with me. I think you have to be around a language all the time to really become fluent in it.”
He had to blink twice to remember what he’d asked her.
“I’m sure it will be all right. America tends to be the only country where its populace speaks one language,” she continued.
The flight attendant returned, this time to present options for the main course.
Sebastian chose the beef, with a glass of Chilean Merlot. He’d been raised on a vineyard. Not having wine with dinner was tantamount to blasphemy.
She selected the beef entrée and a soda, and when the flight attendant moved down the aisle she faced him and grinned. “You’re a miracle worker! I think I’ve found my appetite. I hate to fly, and you distracted me. Thank you,” she said.
“De nada. You’ve made an otherwise boring flight more enjoyable.”
The flush on her cheeks deepened to a dark rose, and she fiddled with her napkin. “What about you? Are you headed home?”
Home. The word slammed into his gut like a cannonball. His quest had been an abject failure. Of his grandfather’s two qualifications for claiming his inheritance, Sebastian was stymied on both counts. The walking stick was still missing, and Sebastian was still unmarried. He’d hoped that finding the walking stick would make up for his lack of a wife. Now, he had neither.
When the main course arrived, the woman beside him prayed over her food, which prompted him to bow his own head. He thought of the conversation he needed to have with his grandfather and felt deflated. He glanced at the woman beside him. Perhaps it was time for an uncharted detour. If he could protect a naïve young woman from harm in the process, all the better.
“I’m at loose ends for a few days. Would you allow me the honor of introducing you to my country?”
Her eyes widened. “I... I don’t know. I mean, I don’t even know your name.
“Sebastian. Sebastian MacKenna.” The name was out of his mouth before he could reconsider.
“MacKenna? Is that a Scottish name?”
“Irish. My great-great-grandfather emigrated to Chile in the 1800s,” he replied. “You haven’t answered my question, or told me your name.”
She smiled. “Tansy Chastain.”
“Mucho gusto, Tansy Chastain. Pleased to meet you.” He lifted her hand and brushed his lips across her knuckles in the European fashion.
“Please don’t take this the wrong way, Sebastian,” she said, “But I’m not sure I feel comfortable keeping company with someone I just met.”
Sebastian leaned back. “No offense taken.” He raised his almost untouched glass of wine. “I hope you will find Chile a hospitable nation. But please take care.”
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Thanks for visiting, dear readers, and thank you, Niki Turner, for spending this time with us. Come again soon!