Nikki Loftin is the author of THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY (Razorbill, 2012), and NIGHTINGALE’S NEST (coming 2/20/14). Nikki’s short children’s fiction has appeared in Boy’s Life and Pockets magazines. In 2012, she was also a featured author in Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves (Zest books).
A native Texan, Nikki lives near Austin, surrounded by dogs, chickens, and small, loud boys.
Check out Nikki’s website.
Let’s see how Nikki answers the Proust Questionnaire!
What is your idea of happiness?
A cup of cherry blossom tea, a bar of dark chocolate, summer sun on my face, my husband cooking curry in the kitchen, and the sound of my kids laughing outside. All that, or a really good book.
What is your favorite song? When do you first remember hearing it?
I come from a long line of professional and gifted amateur musicians! So music was a huge part of my life when I was young. The song “You Are My Sunshine” popped into my head, though, possibly because my mom sang it to me when I was little, and I sing it to my youngest son almost every night now. And it’s easy to harmonize!
Which talent would you most like to have?
I don’t know why, but perfect pitch came to mind. My grandfather had it, and I would like to always sing and know deep down that I was in the very center of the note.
On what occasion do you lie?
When asked if I’ve already had dessert. If I say no, I might get more!
What is your present state of mind?
Is “intense” a state of mind? I am in the middle of some Very Big Things in my writing life, and I find myself thinking very intensely – to the point of missing most of my exits on the highway, and letting food burn in the kitchen far too frequently.
Maybe this is common for writers? I live so much of my life on the inside, exploring and building fictional worlds and characters. Sometimes I let the outside world slip a bit.
What is your motto?
“If you always do what interests you, then at least one person is happy.” I think Katherine Hepburn said it first. Smart lady.
What character trait do you most value in your friends?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Hmm. “Cool” is a definite possibility. “Awesome.” And… “Yes, I would like another scoop of ice cream, thank you very much.”
Your favorite painting?
It’s hanging in my hallway. I bought it in Santa Fe after my first book sold, as a present to myself. It’s an oil painting of a dark-haired woman holding a small owl. Every time I walk past it, I remember that moment when I first saw the painting and understood what it meant. Incidentally, it has a poem written on the back in Spanish – quite lovely. So, my favorite painting is also a poem!
What is your favorite journey?
I love the drive from Austin to Santa Fe. Everyone I know complains about how flat and boring West Texas is. I can see their point, but I just don’t *see* it! I love Texas so much, it’s all beautiful to me, in different ways. And I especially love this trip when I’m by myself. It’s where I do some of my best thinking for novels, get to sing whatever I want at the top of my lungs, and relax.
I guess that’s why I keep finding lovely excuses to drive myself to New Mexico. Not that I should need excuses.
What is your favorite time of day?
Dawn, although as a mom I’m far too busy to really enjoy a good sunrise. I love the colors, the birdsong, the stillness, and the cool. And all the potential for a truly glorious day!
With which literary hero or heroine would you most like to share a coffee?
Pippi Longstocking! I would pick an adult literary hero I admire, but I’m afraid they’d be intimidating and every bit as socially awkward as I can be. But Pippi loves coffee, has a horse AND a monkey, and isn’t afraid to say exactly what she thinks. I think she’d be a riot – and to be honest, I like kids more than adults most days.
If Pippi weren’t available, I’d go with Aslan, hands down.
What do you need to achieve before you can die happy?
I’d like to see my grandchildren grow up. My mother-in-law passed away while my sons (her first grandkids) were still babies. I miss that for her, and I hope desperately to experience it.
As for my writing, I’m already there! I wrote the book of my heart, it’s being published next February, and to ask for anything more would be greed. But I’ll keep writing as long as I can––I love it.
Who or what is your first love?
I loved a sycamore tree when I was four. I told it all my secrets, and spent as much time with it as I could. Of course, I was reading most of the time – so books might tie as a first love.
What’s the last dream you remember?
Ha! A few nights ago, I was standing in a football stadium and noticed Willie Nelson was there, trying to get people to sing “On The Road Again” with him. But no one would stop to sing – they were all leaving the game. So I went up to him and volunteered to do a duet. It was awesome – my dream mind can do a perfect Willie impersonation.
What’s your madeleine?
The smell of honeysuckle in bloom. We had a fence covered in the stuff when I was little, and my sister and I would spend hours out there, plucking the flowers and pulling the stamens carefully out to make the “honey” bead up, then lick it off. It tasted like perfume and wine and summer and heat. That smell, that taste, makes me an eight-year-old again, with cut-off denim shorts and a banana-seat bike waiting to take me to Anne Marie’s house to play, by way of the long, straight ditch that held as many secrets as any archaeological site and more treasure than a thousand Aztec temples. Honeysuckle. I can almost smell it now.
Without thinking, in one word: what is life?