Thursday, April 4, 2013

How Living In Coastal NYC Has Affected My Writing by Nike Chillemi

Anyone who knows me knows I love the Atlantic Ocean and have to be near it. I live about two miles from that volatile body of water, but not on its shore. No, never that! I'm wary of the sea's destructive power and keep a nationally protected salt marsh between it and my home. When hurricane Sandy hit, I was grateful for the protection of that salt marsh, as the twelve-foot tsunami-like wall of water didn't reach and destroy my home. 
But we did have water damage and sewer problems. Water seeped through the brick wall and into our basement right behind our fifteen-year-old backyard deck. So, we had to tear down the deck to fix the leak in the brick. Truth be told, that deck probably should've been torn down several years earlier. We also had to get a professional sewer and drain team out here to unclog our front drain where it meets the city's sewer line. Since Sandy and more recently Winter Storm Nemo, the city's pipelines have been overstressed. Like most New Yorkers, I consider myself one of a sturdy breed. I also feel blessed that our family was spared some of the destruction so evident elsewhere on the city's coastline. 

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I believe this tough New York attitude shows up in my writing. You'll never find a shrinking violet heroine in any of my stories. In addition, my entire Sanctuary Point series (1940s, whodunit with romance) is sent on the southern shore of Long Island. In my latest release, DARKEST HOUR, the Atlantic is an adversary to the heroine and her family. Lucinda Byrne lost her sport fishing boat captain husband to the sea. In addition, her mother and father also went down on that final voyage. Although an excellent swimmer, Lucinda now has a great fear of the water. It's been said the heroines in the first three books of the series were spunky, feisty, and a bit out of the box. Lucinda's strength is quieter and is demonstrated in how she handles her responsibilities with dignity and poise in the face of great evil. Perhaps she grew spiritually into this type of seemly deportment as a single mom and also as the sole support of her elderly grandparents.

Some have asked how I kept writing through all this storm chaos. Well, I had DARKEST HOUR coming out in February, which meant edits. So, I guess I had no choice. We do what we have to do.

Still, I think it's fair to say, I'm a very disciplined writer. I have a lot of fun writing and I tend to write what I'd like to read. I'm blessed that Desert Breeze has let me do that. But, I put in the work...and I've put in the work over the years and built up good writing habits. I started out six years ago taking the wonderful writing course Harlequin offered. I still use a shortened and modified version of the detailed character information sheet from that course. I take research very seriously, looking up hairdos, clothing styles, automobiles, and every day products from the 1940s. I don't write every day, but I do something to further my writing career every day. I could be writing a scene or chapter, or research, or marketing. I commit to doing something every day.

I have a few irons in the fire for the future. I'm working on a novella and two full length novels. The novella features a female private investigator who winds up in Texas as a suspect in a murder. The two novels feature an NYPD female detective in an elite squad. The novel is set one year after hurricane Sandy and the residents of Sheepshead Bay,
Brooklyn refer to the storm in the story and 
the hardships they encountered recovering. One of the things I did when researching the novel was drive around Sheepshead Bay after the storm and take pictures of the area where the two novels will be set. It's been months since the storm and these lower level stores and restaurants have still not reopened. The damage to the property was too severe. I try to reflect some of this in the novels as I work on them. 

Dora here. Are you writing through chaos or adversity? 
What has helped you keep writing?

Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes monthly book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. Burning Hearts is the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series.


  1. I surely don't know how you managed to write through all that, Nike! But I understand "We do what we have to do."

    I haven't gone through any "chaos" like that...unless you count keeping my grandson yesterday. Any plans of writing while he napped blew out the window with a feverish, cranky 3-year-old. lol

  2. Thanks for sharing that, Nike. I love that your characters have a certain stubborn ruggedness that keeps them going. Wonder where they get that? :)

    Also love that you do something everyday to further your writing career. I'd love to hear more about that sometime.

    Congrats on your successes and your perseverance.

  3. Thanks for sharing your story. It's hard to write when your house is torn up. When we had our kitchen redone, I spent a lot of time at Starbucks and the library. In fact, I think I got more done during those (too many) weeks, because there were no distractions.

  4. Hey Nike, I just keep running into you today lol! Hurricane Sandy was a real heathen wasn't she? Glad to hear all is repaired on your end and also to get a glimpse of your tenacity! Looking forward to reading my new book, Sanctuary Point.

  5. That is what I call determination!
    You Roc!

  6. We do all we can to be prepared in the event that a natural disaster strikes, but everyone knows that not every calamity is the same so there's no amount of preparedness that will shield you from it completely. I admire your discipline to keep on writing even through hurricanes and storms, as well as that water damage. It's tough to deal with the aftermath and cleaning up. I hope it's been dealt with by now and you're home is a better environment to write in.


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