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Series: Nikki Kill #1
Release date: January 19th 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.
Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.
The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?
As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultra-rich Hollis family, and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, never-do-well older brother Dru. While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson.
When did you start writing?
I wrote my first short story when I was eight. I’ve always written as a way to entertain myself. But it wasn’t until 2000 that I started to consider that I could maybe get published. It was then that I began writing for a purpose.
What makes you want to write?
I tend to be driven by feelings when it comes to writing. Words are my way of expressing myself and working out tough issues in my own heart. That was definitely true when I was younger—I wrote a ton of angsty poetry—but it’s also true now. The issues and themes that I tackle in my books tend to be feelings-based. They’re a way for me to explore my own outlook on an issue, but also to explore all sides of the issue, so I can get a better understanding of it.
Do you ever get writer's block and what do you do to get over it?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think when we call it “writer’s block,” it makes it feel like something that’s happening to us, which is a pretty helpless feeling. That won’t get you anywhere. Instead, I try to pinpoint exactly what’s going on. Am I bored with the story? Am I worried about something in my personal life? Am I over-editing? Am I just feeling lazy? I think once you pinpoint exactly what it is that has you temporarily “stuck,” it’s easier to get out of it. Because it really is true that the only way out of “writer’s block” is through it. Just keep writing until the words start to come easily again.
Do you have a special way of going about writing?
Not really. I am pretty blessed in that I’m able to write anywhere at any time. And every project is different, so I might take a different approach every time.
Do you have any works in progress?
I am currently in revisions for Dare You, which is the working title for the second book in the Nikki Kill series.
What are your hobbies?
My biggest hobby is reading. I have always been a very devoted reader, and can’t think of a time when I wasn’t carrying a book with me everywhere I went. I also like to travel. And I’m a closet foodie.
Who is your favourite character in Shade Me?
I love Nikki. I think she’s a badass and I wish I could be more like her. I also have a real fond place in my heart for Detective Martinez. Especially after writing book 2. He’s a little sexy.
How did you get the idea for Shade Me?
I am sort of fascinated by synesthesia. I love the idea of this girl, who’s never really appreciated her synesthesia as a gift or a talent, suddenly finding a use for it that is pretty important. In the past, I’ve written some characters who are brave in handling the things that happen to them, but with Nikki, I can have a character who goes out and makes things happen. It’s different, and I like that about her.
What was your favourite part of writing Shade Me?
I love writing the fight scenes. And I also love writing romancey scenes. Just because both of those are relatively new to me, and I’m having a lot of fun with them.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished The Martian by Andy Weir and am getting ready to start Dumplin by Julie Murphy.
What is your favourite book?
This makes a lot of teens groan, but my favorite book of all time is The Grapes of Wrath. I love the message of resilience and the exploration of the ultimately undefeatable human spirit.
Who is your favourite author?
I have so many! The author I’ve read the most of is Stephen King, so I guess he must be my favorite-favorite.
What is your favourite film?
Probably Forrest Gump. It’s such an epic adventure and I love that.
What is your favourite TV show?
I watch a lot of cooking shows (see foodie hobby above). But the show I never miss is Modern Family. And the best series I’ve ever watched was for sure Breaking Bad.
Chocolate or ice cream? Ice cream.
Paperback or ebook? Usually hardcover. So I guess paperback.
Dogs or cats? Cats.
Go out or stay in? Stay in.
Summer or winter? Winter. The more snow the better!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Brown is the author of acclaimed young adult novels, Hate List, Bitter End, Perfect Escape, Thousand Words, and Torn Away. Her debut novel, Hate List, received three starred reviews and was selected as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA "Perfect Ten," and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Bitter End received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and VOYA and is listed on the YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list. Her debut middle grade novel, Life on Mars, was released in 2014, and her second middle grade novel, How Lunchbox Jones Saved Me from Robots, Traitors, and Missy the Cruel will be released in summer 2015. She also writes women's fiction under the name Jennifer Scott.
Jennifer writes and lives in the Kansas City, Missouri area, with her husband and three children.