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Aussie Author Round-Up: Nicki Edwards, Intensive Care

Today it is my pleasure to welcome Australian debut Author Nicki Edwards to my blog, to celebrate the release of her novel, Intensive Care.
25 years ago Nicki dreamed of becoming a nurse but got busy travelling overseas, getting married and starting a family. After her youngest child started school she returned to full-time study as a mature aged student where she successfully juggled study, part time work and being a busy wife and Mum. In 2011 she achieved her dream and has since been working in a number of areas including intensive care. She has recently started her latest challenge – working in the Emergency Department, which she loves.
When Nicki is not nursing, reading or forcing herself to go running, she’s busy with her latest project. Writing.
In January 2014 Nicki woke up and decided life wasn’t busy enough so she set out to fulfil another lifelong dream – to write a novel.
Her debut novel is a Medical Rural Romance set in an Intensive Care Unit in a fictional town in country New South Wales, Australia. Signed with Momentum Books, the digital imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia, Intensive Care was released on the 22nd January 2015.
She is currently working on a follow up to Intensive Care, called Emergency Response, and another book, The Peppercorn Lease, set in South Australia.
Nicki is a city girl with a country heart and if she could spend her days dressed in jeans and boots out on the farm surrounded by horses, she’d be in her element.
Unfortunately, Nicki doesn’t get to live her country dream. She resides in Geelong, Victoria with her husband Tim, their four teenage/young adult children, a spoiled burmese cat called Roxy, and Molly, the best Border Collie in the world!
Nicki would be the first to tell you that her life is amazingly crazy, full, challenging, fun, exhausting and busy, but she wouldn’t change it for anything!
Right now, she’s living the dream.
Please feel free to pull up a stump and get to know her a bit more.
Before I continue though, I’d just like to thank Momentum Books Australia, especially Patrick from their publicity department, without whom this interview would not have been possible.
Nicki, it’s great to have you here to celebrate the release of your debut novel Intensive Care.
I’m rapt to be invited! Thanks for having me here.
Tell us a bit about your childhood.
My parents, younger brother and I lived in a semi-rural area between Geelong and Torquay (now completely residential) on 5 acres. I was lucky enough to have 2 horses, 2 pet sheep (Kermit and Miss Piggy), 2 Labradors and 3 cats. I used to pretend I lived on a farm because the neighbours had everything from sheep and cows to goats, chickens and even peacocks and I spent lots of time helping fix fences, ride tractors, chase sheep and generally get in the way of real farm work! I grew up riding and spent every available minute after school outside with my horses and every weekend either at pony club or gymkhanas. When I turned 16, two things happened. We moved house, and I discovered boys! My riding and ‘farm’ days were sadly over.
Please share a bit about yourself and your journey to becoming an author?
I’ve always wanted to write a book. As a child when I wasn’t riding, I was reading – usually about horses! I was a voracious reader and my parents were constantly telling me off for always having my nose in a book. In high school I had a fantastic English teacher who encouraged me to consider a career in journalism. While I contemplated it for a while, even doing work experience with Channel 7, I knew I didn’t have what it would take to be a journalist. Becoming an actual writer never entered my mind – after all, no-one could possibly make a living being an author!
That said, I always used to tell people “One day I’m going to write a book”! I had no idea what, when or how. When the kids were young I thought about writing youth fiction (remembering how much I enjoyed reading all those horsey books as a kid) but I was never that serious about it and I’d write a chapter or two and promptly forget about it for another year or more and I’d stumble across the file on my computer.
All those years I had a friend who was writing, publishing a book every year, and I remember being incredibly jealous of her. One day I had enough and thought ‘if she can do it, why can’t I?’ We caught up for a coffee and she just encouraged me with two words: just start. So, with her ongoing encouragement, I did just that, and here I am! I started writing Intensive Care in January 2014 with the dream of being published within a year. I’m thrilled to say that dream has come true!
You started writing after twenty-five years of marriage, travelling, children, studying and working – what brought you to this decision?
I guess I’ve sort of answered this question already, but the actual decision came after studying for almost 7 years full-time. I was considering doing more study – either a Diploma of Education or a Masters of Nursing. My husband, very sweetly, asked me to have a year off and not do any further study. I’m not sure whether he wanted me to take a break for myself, or whether it was because he needed me to take a break for our family’s sake! Anyway, three weeks into the new year I was looking for something to do and that’s when I realised I had the perfect opportunity to write the novel I’d always promised I’d write.
What is Intensive Care about?
I heard someone once say “write what you know”. The idea for Intensive Care came because I was working as a critical care nurse in an intensive care unit. I used to come home and think to myself, if only I could share some of these amazing stories. As soon as I started writing, I realised I could share the stories – in a fictional sense. Mind you, if I had a dollar for every person who had asked if Intensive Care is a biography I’d be very wealthy! No, Kate Kennedy is NOT me! It’s a pure work of fiction! (Although some of my colleagues might recognise themselves as some of the minor characters!)
Intensive Care is about a young, city nurse who escapes from Sydney to regional NSW after a relationship breakdown. She hopes the country move will heal her broken heart. She quickly falls in love with life in Birrangulla, enjoys her job working in the intensive care unit and then meets and falls in love with cute Irish barista Joel O’Connor. Unfortunately, adjusting to country life and fitting into the community isn’t as easy as Kate expected. The book is about the healing of Kate’s broken heart, and of finding love again.
What or who inspired it?
There are a number of incredible intensive care nurses and patients who have inspired the writing of this story. Nursing is such a privilege and an honour and I hope that I have been able to portray the incredible work that intensive care nurses do every single day. I’m now working in the Emergency Department so it’s pretty easy to guess where my next stories are coming from!
Tell us about the biggest challenge you faced in writing this debut?
The biggest challenge for me is time. I work full-time and have four kids. Life is busy and writing has to fit in when I can make it happen.
Why did you choose the romance genre? Or, did it choose you?
Ah, well that’s an easy question to answer! I partly blame Rural Romance author Rachael Johns for this! I was given a gift card for Christmas 2013 and wandered into a book store and stumbled across Rachael’s book Jilted. I then discovered a whole new genre called Australian Rural Romance that up until then I’d never heard of. (This year I’m trying to work my way through all the Aussie RuRo authors’ books!) When I read these books I was struck with the stories of real life Australians in real life Australia – they reminded me of the farm girl dreams of my childhood. As for choosing romance, my hubby would say I’m the most unromantic person ever! I’m too pragmatic for flowers and love letters! But I love reading romance – it’s pretty much the only genre I read. There’s something delicious about getting caught up into a wonderful love story between two characters who are just meant to be together. I love a happy ever after ending!
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
The same advice I was given. Just start writing. And then don’t stop until you finish! Also, it’s important to believe in yourself and remember that not everyone will love your book baby – you just have to wait to find your ‘tribe’ of people who do. At least that’s what I’ll be reminding myself when the reviews start to come in!
What’s a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
As a nurse working shift work with a rotating roster there is no such thing as routine! Some days I start work at 7am, other days I don’t finish until 10pm. Then there’s night duty. Groan. I hate night duty! I feel like I have jetlag and the flu both at the same time. I tend to write on my days off, unfortunately sometimes it takes me a full day to get back into the swing of writing – it can take hours to get the words to flow. Therefore I don’t set goals or pressure myself with deadlines. I just write when I can and celebrate whether I write 5,000 words in one day or 5.
And now for some fun:
Pizza or Pasta?
Pizza
What is your favourite motivational phrase?
Those who say it can’t be done shouldn’t interrupt the person doing it.
Favourite author?
I don’t want to have to choose just one of the Aussie RuRo girls and offend all the others because there are so many awesome authors to choose from, so I’m going to say my favourite author is Jodi Picoult. I love the depth of her stories.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading and why?
If I had time for a book club, which I certainly don’t, I’d be reading Australian Rural Romance because there are so many awesome stories from the sweet to the very sexy – there’s something that suits everyone. 
Nicki, thank you so much for joining me today and once again, a huge congratulations, but before you go, would you mind giving us a sneak peek of Intensive Care?
I’d love to!  This excerpt is taken from the beginning of Chapter 6. Kate Kennedy’s relationship has just ended and she’s been offered a job interview for the position of nurse unit manager at the Birrangulla Base Hospital.

“You’re going where?” Kate’s dad asked incredulously the next morning as Kate was finishing her porridge and preparing to leave the house.

He had clearly just woken up, his salt and pepper hair flat on one side of his head. He was wrapping the cord of his dressing gown around his portly stomach as he spoke.
She glanced quickly out the window. It was still dark outside and she wanted to leave before the sun rose. Kate had decided not to tell her parents about the job interview, planning instead on leaving the house before they woke. She was going to leave them a note to say she would be gone all day.
“Oh Dad, come on,” Kate replied, drawing breath before speaking again. “I’ve been living away from home for almost ten years. I think by now I’m probably old enough to make my own decisions.”
“But Kathryn”—it was Elizabeth’s turn to try to reason with her only daughter—“do you think you should be making rash decisions right now? It’s only been a month and it’s still such an emotional time for you. Perhaps it would be better to just have a little break and recover from this. Go away and have a holiday or something. Planning a move to the country isn’t something you should just do on a whim.”
“I agree with your mum, Kate. I know you love watching all those British Escape to the Country type shows on TV, but actually doing it is another thing entirely.”
“Dad, I’m so tired of living in Sydney. I need to get away. I don’t know, maybe a change of scenery and a change of pace is what I need.”
“But why so far away?” Elizabeth complained. “Surely you could have found a job on the outskirts of the city. Why do you have to move to the country? I don’t even know where this Birrangulla place is.” Kate heard the beginning of a whine in her mum’s voice.
Her dad let out a sigh and Kate saw the look her parents exchanged.
“A tree change is something I’ve always dreamed of,” Kate said.
“Well it’s the first I’ve heard of it,” Elizabeth huffed.
“I think you’re romanticizing the whole thing, Katie darling,” Michael said. “I think you’ll find it’s not all acres of rolling green hills and paddocks full of horses. This is Australia remember, not England. Moving to the middle of woop woop where you don’t know anyone won’t be as easy as you seem to think. It’s hard for an outsider to fit in, especially when you’re an outsider from the city.”
Kate knew her dad had her best interests at heart but she didn’t want to listen to his negativity. She tried to reason with them. “It’s not like I’ve even been offered the job! This is only a first interview. I just want to go and check it out, that’s all. You both know it’s not like me to be spontaneous. I’ve spent the last three years just doing whatever Marcus needed me to do while he established his career and look where it got me.” Kate lifted her hands and shrugged her shoulders for emphasis. “Maybe it’s time for me to take a chance and do something for me for once.”
“How about I come with you?” Michael suggested, standing up. “It won’t take me long to get dressed and ready.”
“Oh Dad.” Kate reached up and gave him a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek. “I need to do this on my own.”
She placed her empty bowl in the sink, rinsed it and placed it on the rack to dry, ignoring the looks she knew her parents were giving her behind her back. She grabbed her car keys and bag and headed for the door.
As she sat behind the wheel of her car she took a deep breath. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. She entered the address of the hospital into her GPS, chose her favorite playlist and settled back into the comfortable leather seat, prepared for the long drive ahead of her. Remembering her promise to her dad to stop every two hours for a break, she pulled away from the curb and waved out the open window at her parents who were standing side by side on the front porch watching her leave. The first rays of sunlight were just appearing on the eastern horizon as she headed west.

Nicki would love to hear from her readers, so you’re most welcome to connect with her via the following web links:

Email address – nicki.edwards@iinet.net.au
Website – http://nickiedwards.net/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authornickiedwards?fref=ts
Twitter – https://twitter.com/nicki_edwards
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9811008.Nicki_Edwards

Escaping to the country was meant to be easy …
On the surface it looks like busy intensive care nurse Kate Kennedy has it all: a long-term relationship, a great career and a sleek inner city apartment. But appearances are deceiving, and in one fell swoop everything comes crashing down around her. In a moment of spontaneity, Kate leaves her city life and takes a new role as Nurse Unit Manager at Birrangulla Base Hospital, but her dream move proves harder than expected.
Local cafe owner Joel O’Connor finds himself increasingly drawn to the gorgeous new nurse, but like Kate, he’s been scarred by love and isn’t looking to jump into anything. Yet their chemistry is hard to deny and after a near fatal incident, Joel and Kate find themselves opening up to one another.
Just when Kate thinks she’s found love again, their fragile relationship is thwarted by their pasts. Can they both let go of their guilt and grief to move on to a bright new future?
Intensive Care can be purchased from the following links:

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