Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spotlight Sunday with Nina Croft!

1. Where do you dream of traveling to and why?

We used to travel a lot. In fact, every bit of spare time and spare money was spent travelling. We’ve been around much of Africa, India, South East Asia. Now we’ve settled down on an almond farm on the mountains of Southern Spain and we don’t get to travel much anymore - a combination of too little money and too many animals (three dogs, three cats, two goats, a horse and a handful of chickens!). But there are still places I’d love to visit—I want to go horse-riding up the Inca trails in South America, and canoeing down the Amazon, and I’d love to go to Egypt and visit the pyramids and…. Oh dear—I think I’m getting restless.

  1. Tell us about your current release.

My current release is Mid-Winter Magic. It’s part of an anthology of stories put together by my fantastic critique group, Passionate Critters. There are four stories in all, which range from contemporary to paranormal, but all romance, and all set around the fictional American town of Five Oaks. Mine involves a really hot vampire and the witch he’s been hunting for the last fifty years.

  1. Does your significant other read your stuff? No.

I used to write more short stories, which weren’t necessarily romance, and he’d read and comment on them for me. Now, I mainly concentrate on longer romance. It’s not his sort of thing, especially the vampires and werewolves, so I keep it to myself. Besides, it’s probably best he doesn’t really know how my mind works.

  1. Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with it?

Yes, I use a pen name, mainly because I didn’t think my own name sounded particularly authorly. Of course, I hadn’t actually chosen one when I made my first sale, so it was done in a bit of a rush. I looked up name sites on the internet, and I was totally overwhelmed. I couldn’t decide, so in the end I narrowed the choices down by sticking with my own initials. And I wanted something short and catchy so came up with Nina Croft.

  1. What books have most influenced your life?

I think probably The Lord of the Rings. It’s just so big, in every sense.

  1. How do you develop your plots and your characters? Do you use any set formula?

I’m a relative beginner, so I’m still working out what works best for me. I don’t use a set formula. I hate routines, and I tend to vary the way I do things each time But I am a big fan of how to write books, and if I get stuck on a plot, I’ll often go off and reread one of my favorites, and try some techniques from that.

7. What question do you wish was on the list? Your answer?

Name ten things to do with almonds.

Living on an almond farm, I’m surrounded by nuts, so I think about this a lot. Sadly, the question never seems to come up in interviews.

Anyway, here goes—roast them, salt them, blanch them, slither or grind them. Make turron, marzipan, almond oil, sprinkle them on curries and cakes and crumbles. I think that might be eleven!


Maureen said...

Can we cover them in chocolate after we roast them?

Nina Croft said...

Maureen - I think that's an excellent idea!

Clarissa Yip said...

I love almonds! And I'm very jealous you've traveled so much!

Silke said...

You forgot "Make Amaretto" :P
You would love Egypt. I've not been to the pyramids, but it's on my list. I've only been to Dahab, but I really liked it.
Now I have itchy feet!

Tatiana March said...

I'm curious - how self sufficient are you? Do you use goat's milk to drink, or to make cheese? And do you grow the almonds commercially and sell them?

Nina Croft said...

Hi Clarissa - glad to hear you like almonds - must send you some - maybe after I've covered them in chocolate!

Hmmm Silke - Amaretto - do you have a recipe???

Tatiana - we're not that self-sufficient. We grow a lot of our own fruit and vegetables, and we used to make wine (but ended up drinking way too much!), but as to goats milk - there's a problem in that you have to get the goats pregnant each year and I don't want any more goats (they're horrible animals v. closely related to Satan). We did it once - had a baby billy goat - we even called him barbecue to remind us what we should do with him. But I found I was incapable of even considering eating something I'd been present at the birth of so we ended up giving him away and I decided never again!
As to the nuts - they are supposed to be commercial but the price has dropped so low over the last few years that it's not really viable. It's sad - a whole way of life here is vanishing.

Cynthia Selwyn said...

If you're a newbie writer, I'm going to toss in my chips, chica. Your books are phenomenal! Original, well-written, compelling--I could go on but people will think you paid me. ;)
You're a fantastic writer and I love your books!

As for almonds--did you know a handful of almonds contains all the vitamin e an adult requires in a day? It's a new, favorite snack in our house.

I wonder if we've eaten almonds grown on your farm? :)

Nina Croft said...

Cynthia - I think I love you! And of course I'm not paying you (how many almonds did we agree on???) But yes - I think I'm relatively new - at least I'm still at the stage where I try new things and haven't quite worked out what's best for me yet.
As for eating almonds from my farm- sadly, I doubt it - they grow loads of almonds in California and much cheaper than here - mainly because we're up a mountain and everything is so hard (and expensive) to do!

Valerie Mann said...

Eating almonds when you're dieting will help you lose more weight than if you don't.

And yep, I agree, goats are interesting animals but I couldn't eat Barbeque either. The only meat I'll eat comes from the grocery, not my barn. LOL

Valerie Mann said...

And what does "slither" mean, in relation to almonds?

Kathleen said...

Great inteview, Nina. I enjoyed learning more about you. My husband really doesn't read my work either. I laughed when you mentioned not wanting him to see how your mind works. I feel the same way. lol

I love anything with almonds. Yummy!

Maureen said...

Now my husband, he adores that almond paste stuff...

HA! My mother-in-law raised meat sell for slaughter. She's there to help birth them, the whole nine yards and sends them away while cashing the check. Different mentality than I would be capable of!

And sadly, you're right. California is a big almond grower. I've eaten a great deal of them...

Kit Donner said...

Hi Nina,
Never knew so much about almonds, but I do eat them on a daily basis. I've heard before goats aren't everyone's favorite animal. Enjoyed your interview, can't wait to read the anthology.

Debora said...

I think it's cool that the Lord of the Rings insired you. And I've never given much thought to almonds, but now you've given me some interesting ideas! (and made me hungry...LOL)

Nina Croft said...

Valerie - is that true about eating almonds and losing weight - the diet starts tomorrow - this is valuable information. And slithering is sort of slicing really thin (at least that's what I do when a recipe calls for slithered almonds!)

Kathleen - yes definitely some things are best kept under the 'being mysterious' header.

Maureen - We have a shepherd lives just across the road (which is where my goats came from - abandoned babies - I couldn't leave them to die!) He raises them for meat but I just couldn't do it - like eating your friends.

Yes Kit - goats are a nightmare - I once swore I would never have another - but see the abandoned baby comment - what could I do?

Nina Croft said...

Debora - I have to admit, I never gave much thought to almonds before I moved here - now they're everywhere!

Chelle Sandell said...

I LOVE almonds! Chocolate covered, toasted and sprinkled on green beans or desserts, sliced and on my salads...yum!

And I agree with're an awesome writer and nowhere near newbie status.

DawnB said...

Wonderful interview, Nina. And I think more interviews should feature questions about almonds.

JoAnne Kenrick said...

((( Maureen))) FANTASTIC IDEA! Yummmmmmmm chocolate covered almonds. Now that is a slice of decadence right there :)

Nina, what's life like in Spain? Do the locals speak English? Do you manage to get your hands on foods you enjoy, or is the cuisine quite different there?

Hope you get the funds so you can let your restless feet wander where they desire to go!

Deena said...

I am fascinated by where you live. To me it sounds exotic! Does it sound exotic to you? I love almonds any way shape or form. I especially love them drenched in chocolate.

Nina Croft said...

Thanks Chelle - you're a sweetie!

Dawn - yes almonds should definitely feature in more interviews.

Jo-Anne - mostly I love life here. Unfortunately, the locals speak absolutely no English (which isn't normal for Spain but we are very remote) and my Spanish is awful even after so many years (mainly because I'm almost a hermit and I never go out!). Most English foods you can get in the big supermarkets on the coast (where there are lots of English people) but I haven't found a fish n chip shop yet!

Deena, hmmm - I wouldn't say exotic exactly, but it's certainly different!

Silke said...

You know, I forgot to add something.
Maybe in another blog some time :P

But if anyone browses...

If you have brittle fingernails and you've tried all those cremes and potions and pills...
Eat a few almonds every day. 4-5 are enough. Watch your nails improve.
(Not inside of a week, but keep it up a month and you'll probably see a vast improvement.)

Nina Croft said...

Actually Silke - my nails are pretty strong - I use them for grooming the horse - maybe that's why!