Friday, August 9, 2013

All About Middle Grade Interview: Nikki Bennett (Author of Four Fiends)

This week I am very excited to welcome Nikki Bennett, author of Four Fiends, to the blog to discuss her book and answer some of my random questions (you know I sometimes come up with strange questions). I hope that y'all will give her a very warm welcome.

About the Author:
Nikki Bennett is an author and world traveler currently living in Japan. She loves traveling, and incorporates all the culture and folklore she can from the countries she visits into her stories.

Nikki has two books out right now. Her first book, FOUR FIENDS is a MG fantasy adventure and her newest book, MUKADE ISLAND is a YA adventure/fantasy (think Lord of the Flies meets LOST, it it was set on a different world!)

You can haunt Nikki Bennett at-
Goodreads | Website | Twitter |

1.       Nikki, could you tell us a little about each of the four kids kidnapped by the Golden Dragon and tasked with finding the missing Guardians? 

The four kids are very different.  Pietro is from Italy and is kind of feisty and full of himself.  He likes to tell tall tales.  Kate is from America.  She’s very pretty and always thinks she’s right, but she’s lonely too.  Saburo, from Japan, walks with a limp and gets teased a lot.  He is troubled and angry, not very sure of himself, but has a kind, quiet spirit.  And Jinjing is from Hong Kong.  She is shy, awkward, and never seems to fit in, but by the end, she realizes she has the potential to become a leader, if she overcomes her fears.

2.       Books with quest that send the charcters in to uncharted territory is always interesting. Would mind sharing with us a little bit about the where Jinjing and them will be travelling through?

3.     The kids travel through different countries as they chase down the Four Fiends, but they travel through different times as well.  They find themselves in New Jersey during the Civil War, ancient China, a remote Polynesian island, and Greece in the time of the Gods, when the first human was just being created.  The reader also gets to explore modern day Japan, Italy and Hong Kong.

4.       I love that seeing an ordinary thing was the spark behind the idea for Four Fiends. Could you share with us how your visit to Hong Kong inspired Four Fiends?

There’s this cool escalator in Hong Kong that takes you up the steep streets.  It’s over a kilometer long, and is billed as the longest escalator in the world.  When we visited Hong Kong a few years ago, we rode it to the top, got off, wandered around, and ended up in this botanical park.  In the park, we came across this huge storm water drain—all paved with brick that made it look like a Gothic arch—and I just began dreaming of things that might live up that drain.  The Four Fiends story began there, and in the first chapter, Jinjing discovers the drain and finds something wonderful in it.

5.       As one who would love to travel the world, I am so jealous that you are currently living in Japan. What do you enjoy most about living in Japan?

Everything!  The people are amazing, the food is great, but what I like most is exploring the historical places—all the temples and castles and shrines.  There are so many stories to be discovered here, every time I visit a new place I want to write a story about it!
Since you like to travel, Nikki, could you tell us what has been your favorite place to visit in the last three years? What was so enjoyable about that place?

The Kingdom of Bhutan, in the Himalayas.  It was a magical place.  Besides having cars and cell phones, there is hardly any modernization there at all.  Almost nothing from the outside world—no McDonalds or Starbucks, no chain stores of any kind.  The hotels didn’t even have elevators—apparently when an elevator or escalator gets installed anywhere in that country, people come from all over to see it because it’s so unusual.  The people in that country were amazing and the monasteries and castles were just magical.

7.       what were the last three books you read and loved?

Since I have an indie book review blog, I’ve been reading a ton of indie books and haven’t had time for anything else.  A couple of these books really stand out in my mind—Penumbra, a YA fantasy by Samantha Bennett, Glimpse, by Steven Whibley and I Wish I May, by David Stahler, Jr. (the last two both middle grade.)  The last book I think I read that was mainstream was Life of Pi, which I also loved.

8.      Weirdest thing you ate while travelling?

I am such a wuss when it comes to trying new food.  It has taken me forever to get used to raw fish, and I still only like the salmon sushi, the other fish I haven’t been able to stomach yet.  Let’s see…weirdest thing I guess would be jellyfish, that was in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  And although I guess it isn’t too unusual, the goat bulgogi we found at this roadside shack in South Korea was pretty awesome.  In Japan, the weirdest thing I’ve eaten is a soup with teeny-tiny live fish still swimming around in it.

9.      The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose? 

Oh geez…can I just wuss out and say Harry Potter?  Helped out by Gandalf?

9. Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?

            My tatami room—the traditional room in a Japanese house with straw mats and paper screens (although our screens aren’t paper, they’re glass.)  I sit at our Japanese kotatsu table to write.  But, since I work on a laptop, so sometimes I end up in a couch in front of the TV too, and right now I’m writing the answers to this interview in bed because I’m too lazy to get out of it.

10. Any upcoming projects that you can sure with us? 

I have one other book, MUKADE ISLAND, that was published in July by Firedrake Books, it is a YA adventure/fantasy set on a deserted island.  Projects I’m currently working on: FROM THE MAGICAL MIND OF MINDY MUNSEN is a middle grade book about four kids who move to a house teeming with weird spirits.  I’ve just finished the rough draft for a fun middle grade book about ninjas (after we visited the Ninja Village and went to Ninja Training School near Kyoto last month, I had to write something about all the cool ninja things we did!) and I’m working on the sequel to MUKADE ISLAND.  I’m also going to have a sequel to FOUR FIENDS, but that’s still in development stages, although I know the kids will be traveling to Bhutan in it.

I’ve got a new website called World of Nikki ( where you can check out all my latest projects!

Thanks so much for stopping by, Nikki, and for answering all of my questions. Your answers about travelling have made me want to start travelling even more than before. 

Four Fiends by Nikki Bennett, January 23, 2013.
Jinjing, a socially awkward, insecure and fearful girl living in Hong Kong, is about as far from a brave hero as you can get. But when a legendary golden dragon pulls Jinjing and three other kids—dishonest Pietro from Italy, moody Saburo from Japan and overconfident Kate from America--into another dimension, Jinjing discovers courage and strength she never knew she possessed.

A group of horrible monsters—the Four Fiends—have kidnapped the Earth’s Guardians. These ancient creatures protect the world from harm, and while they’re missing, life on Earth will spiral into chaos. The Golden Dragon tasks Jinjing and her new friends to find the Fiends and rescue the Guardians.

Now, Jinjing must unlock the courage hidden deep inside and lead the others through faraway lands in their quest to confront the Fiends. Can they pull together and save the Guardians? Or will their personal struggles overwhelm their combined strengths and doom the world?

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