1. Hi Nicole, welcome to Amanda Writes. Please tell readers a little about yourself.
This is a difficult question, so I asked my teenage son to describe me. He said: ‘Short tempered and compassionate.’ Then I asked my husband who said: ‘Caring, and I guess you can say passionate.’ My brother pointed out I was: ‘Obsessive and compulsive.’ But my eight-year-old daughter shouted that I’m: ‘Kind and amazing!’ (I think I’ll go with hers).
2. When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer and what inspired your first book?
I knew I was going to work with words the moment they introduced addition to me in school, but what inspired the first book was a trip to Wales. While walking around a castle, all the characters just…appeared. They didn’t stop pestering me until I wrote their stories.
3. Plotter or panster?
Both. I plan because I’m writing a series. I have spreadsheets of dates and what people are doing so I know when Rhain was born and so don’t have Helissent in London when she’s supposed to be in York.
After that, it’s hold on to my pants because I don’t know the characters’ journey until I write. Every single time they surprise me. For instance, I thought I knew Rhain’s conflict with himself, but it took Helissent’s outlook on life, her tragic past, her struggles with her very visible scars, to show to me (and Rhain) what he was bottling up inside. It was an emotional moment for me.
4. What is the title of your upcoming release and can you talk briefly about it?
The Knight’s Scarred Maiden. Mercenary knight Rhain wanders the lands, fights for coin, and is haunted by his past. Then in a wreck of an inn, he tastes a cake made sublime with honey, and rescues a woman he wants more than any sweet. But with a vengeful warlord pursuing him, he’s merely a dead man awaiting the sword.
Helissent’s family died in a tragic fire, and she bears the scars for all to see. When she’s forced from her home, she bargains with her cakes for the traveling mercenaries to take her to a different town, even though, disfigured and shamed she survived when her family didn’t, she knows she’ll never have a better life.
Along the way, both Rhain and Helissent reveal their pasts, and begin to long for a future. But with the enemy pursuing them both, is it too late?
5. What message do you anticipate readers to draw from this story?
Love isn’t about perfection, it’s about acceptance.
6. What’s the most fascinating thing a reader has said to you regarding your books?
I can’t describe the joy of simply hearing that someone is reading these stories which have been haunting me for years!
7. What kind of reader are you? Print or e-book?
Both, but I’m leaning towards ebooks. It’s a space and time conundrum. I can read any time with my phone, and I’m running out of space in my house!
8. What book is on top of your TBR pile?
My TBR pile has toppled and the books are all over the floor, but there’s many authors I return to, and even more I’m discovering. I adore reading!
9. How long does it take you to write the first draft of a story?
Forever. I’m usually dealing with some emotional crux that is incredibly painful to write about. Once I get to the end of the story, I understand the emotional journey. It’s only moderately better the second time around.
10. Have you ever been stuck with writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
I’m the worst person to talk about with this. I have it every single time I write. Some days I approach my computer like it’s on fire. Once I write, the stories flow, but it is sitting and typing that is the biggest hurdle for me.
11. What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on Nicholas’ story. He’s Rhain’s friend from The Knight’s Scarred Maiden. He’s an impoverished knight turned mercenary. However, after Rhain finds his HEA, he returns to the home he’s been avoiding for six years, and the woman who was once his betrothed, but who is now married to his friend…
12. Any advice for aspiring writers?
Just keep writing. Persevere. I’ve been writing stories for decades, and though I allowed things to get in the way (family, work, school), I kept picking up my pen. The stories won’t appear unless you write them (something I remind myself of every day!).
THE KNIGHT’S SCARRED MAIDEN
© Nicole Locke All Rights Reserved
After rescuing Helissent from ruffians, Rhain brings her home. There’s a knock on the door from another mercenary, and Rhain takes care of it before returning his attention to Helissent.
Her stranger stepped back into the room and closed the door. ‘You won’t have to worry about those men. They’re gone.’ He turned to her and stopped. ‘Your dress.’
‘I took it off. I’m having trouble breathing and I know nothing about broken bones. But it’s sharp and stabbing me worse than their knife point. Will you be able to feel through my chemise?’
With the door closed, he was all in darkness. ‘Yes. Sit, but do not lie down.’ He grabbed the candlestick in one hand and the small table with the linens and water in the other.
The echoing scrape of the table as it was brought closer was unnaturally loud in the small room. Nervous, she ran her hands down her chemise and sat. It immediately constricted her breathing, but eased the shaking in her legs.
She wasn’t prepared at all when he stopped pulling the table. Wasn’t prepared as he lowered the candle so he could inspect her face…and revealed all of his. The lone candle flickered and dimmed with his movements, but she could see him and she was stunned.
Perfection. His hair was cut short on the sides and long on top. Blond, but with a gold tinge like honey in the sunlight, his brows were darker. His lowered lashes were darker yet and absurdly long and thick as he regarded the injuries to her lip and cheek.
His cheekbones elegantly framed the square jaw and slight cleft in his chin. And lips, light pink, almost full if not for the sardonic masculine curve to them. A man who knew humor…or at least once had.
His brow furrowed and there was a twitch to his lips before his eyes flashed to hers as if to determine something. She didn’t know what because it took all she had not to react to the further reveal.
There was no way not to react. Her eyes widened and watered from not blinking. Her lips parted, her breath hitched and she experienced every surprise reaction anybody would under the circumstances.
Beautiful? He wasn’t real. His eyes…they were amber colored. If his hair was light like the tips of a flame, his eyes were dark like honey heated by that fire.
As she watched, they darkened more, his chin tilting almost defiantly.
It was the defiance that broke whatever spell he cast.
Defiance. As if he dared her to stare more. It was a look she had given many times when someone had gaped at her marred face. His made no sense to her. She forced people to look so they’d leave her alone.
Why defiance from him when he was perfection? He shouldn’t need to be left alone. She didn’t know the answer to that, but he had showed her only kindness and she was being rude. ‘I’m Helissent.’
A maiden for the mercenary
Mercenary knight Rhain is living on borrowed time. With a vengeful warlord pursuing him, he has accepted his fate—though first he must get his men to safety.
When he rescues mysterious and deeply scarred Helissent from her attackers, Rhain soon wishes he wasn’t marked for death. He can never be the man she deserves—his scandalous lineage alone dictates that—but Rhain can’t resist the temptation to show this innocent maiden how beautiful she truly is…
Nicole first discovered romance novels hidden in her grandmother’s closet. Convinced hidden books must be better, Nicole greedily read them. It was only natural she should start writing them (but now not so secretly). If she isn’t working on the next book in the Lovers and Legends historical series, she can be reached at: