Wednesday, March 9, 2016

#WriterWednesday - Book Review/Interview: SANDRA NIKOLAI

My guest today is Sandra Nikolai, author of the Megan Scott/Michael Elliott mystery series. Icy Silence is the third novel in this series. I recently received my new e-reader in the mail and this is the first novel I read on it. A great choice.

This is the author's synopsis of the novel:

When ghostwriter Megan Scott and investigative reporter Michael Elliott agree to speak at an exclusive boarding school, the undisclosed deaths of two students overshadow their agenda. Fear mounts as a powerful ice storm cuts them off from the rest of the world—harboring a potential murderer in their midst.

Without access to outside help, Megan and Michael are forced to rely on their wits. Desperate measures drive them beneath the protective façade of the elite high school in a frantic search for a coldblooded killer. What they discover are secrets more terrifying than anyone could ever expect.

Two Interview Questions Relating to Icy Silence

Sandra Nikolai lives in Canada where the winter weather can be a bit unpredictable at times. She mentions on Goodreads that a real ice storm inspired her to write this story. I decided enquiring minds would want to know more so I decided to ask, and Sandra graciously answered.

Without giving away pertinent plot lines, Sandra, can you tell us about your experience with an ice storm and how such weather can be life threatening?

SANDRA NIKOLAII’ll never forget the North American Ice Storm of January 1998. It was a system of successive ice storms that hit Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia in Canada, and extended from New York to Maine in the US. Millions of people had no electricity for weeks—some even longer. Tree branches, overhead power lines, and rooftops collapsed under the weight of heavy ice and caused considerable damage. Schools were closed, transport shut down, and people stayed home from work. Major Canadian cities declared a state of emergency, and thousands of military personnel were deployed to help clear debris and restore power at the height of the storm.

Everyone knows that electrical appliances are useless without power. Good thing we’d heeded the government advisory and kept an emergency kit on hand that included candles and matches. We stockpiled bottled water and canned goods that required no heating or cooking, along with a manual can opener. Our wood fireplace in the living room provided the only heat source, so that’s where family members slept. We were lucky that the power outage lasted only a few days in our area. Even so, the whole experience took us back decades when reading by candlelight was the norm!

Research is an integral part of writing a convincing story. Again, without divulging strategic plot lines, can you share some of your research avenues for this novel, and your normal process of research before and during the creation of a novel?

SANDRA NIKOLAIAside from researching the ice storm as a backdrop for Icy Silence, I researched several private boarding schools in Canada to help create the elite school setting in my story. I adapted tidbits of information I collected about private school guidelines and etiquette and wove them through the narrative. I also researched old abandoned mines. Yes, mines! I’ll leave this peculiar aspect for readers to discover.

I try to do most of my research for the story beforehand so I don’t interrupt the flow of writing, but sometimes it can’t be helped. I’m always on the lookout for that little extra something to enhance reader experience, especially if it evokes any of the five senses. Since Icy Silence is told in the first person through Megan’s perspective, her thrilling ordeals should impact readers all the more.
Thank you, Sandra, and best of success with your Megan Scott/Michael Elliott mysteries.

***** ***** *****

Posting a review of a book you enjoyed reading is the best compliment you can give to an author about their work. With that in mind, I posted my review of Icy Silence, which follows here, along with Amazon and Goodreads

Icy Silence E-Book Review Title: Chilling Tale of Terror

After reading the first two novels in Sandra Nikolai's Megan Scott/Michael Elliot mystery, I was eager for the publication of the next in the series.  I enjoy following the cases of these two likeable protagonists because they work so well together, without undue friction that often comes from mixing business and personal relationships.

Megan Scott puts a romantic interlude on hold to accompany Michael Elliott on a trip to an exclusive college where he will give a talk on investigative reporting. Without warning, students lives are in danger not only from unexplained human sources but from the dangers of a widespread and extended ice storm. The author presents a consistently suspenseful atmosphere, introducing circumstantial evidence that points to an unresolved event in Megan's past.

Nikolai once again maintains a high level of tension as the story progresses to a final satisfying climax. I am already looking forward to the fourth novel in this mystery series.

***** ***** *****
LINKS to Sandra Nikolai:


Amazon Author page:

Twitter: @SandraNikolai


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