In front of the John Lennon Wall in Prague.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

AROHO Speaks: Writer to Writer Interview with Nikki Loftin

I remember being particularly impressed when I met Nikki at the 2011 AROHO Retreat.  Here was a woman who had made the journey from teacher to writer - and a writer of books for middle readers, no less.  This is a genre with which I am quite familiar. As a middle school teacher myself, I have read many a book written for young readers.  I always admire those writers who are successful at capturing adolescent readers' attention without sparing language or depth of subject matter.  Nikki's book The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy fits that ticket.  I enjoyed hearing some of her work at the retreat and am now in the middle of finding out for myself just what makes Splendid Academy such a sinister place.  Yesterday I told my seventh graders a bit of the story, and they seemed hooked as well. So it was with great pleasure that I got to know Nikki a little better through this interview.  I hope I can find out the real truth about just what rules she broke at Ghost Ranch - maybe at next year's retreat!

How did you make the transition from teacher to writer?

Well, I had a few years between as Director of Family Ministries int he Presbyterian Church.  So, I spent my time equally working with children and thinking about God, grace, redemption, know, the small stuff.  I think it flowed naturally into living my writing life.  Those sorts of thought patterns form narratives of their own, and reading great texts, like Thich Nhat Hanh's writings, the Bible, and so many more, nurtures a response life. My response was in my writing.

What made you decide to focus on middle reader literature for your first book?
I didn't choose it - it chose me! I had gone to school in literary fiction, and thought I might try my hand at creative nonfiction, but when the stories came to me, they were all suited for younger readers.  Of course, this works well for me, as I have two very keen middle grade readers at home to try my new material out on!

Nikki Loftin lives with her Scottish photographer husband just outside Austin, Texas, surrounded by dogs, chickens, and small, loud boys. Her debut middle-grade novel, The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, is available now. You can visit her online at   twitter: @nikkiloftin
  To read more of my interview with Nikki, visit AROHO Speaks: Writer to Writer

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