Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Susan wants to retire. Her boss wants her dead - The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern

"An explosive page-turner which owes its momentum to it two well-drawn opponents and a conflict that goes beyond good-vs.-evil.” ~IndieReader, Four Star review
"Later turns in the smashing final act come at a searing pace." ~ Kirkus Reviews
"Keeps readers guessing the outcome right up to its conclusion." ~D. Donovan Midwest Book Review


Susan Foster wants to retire. Her boss wants her dead.

After decades as Victor Kemp’s off-the books killer, Suzanne finally quits. Not until five years later does Kemp discover how thoroughly she’s deceived him. Determined to punish her, he tracks her to Wales to watch her die. Instead, he walks into a trap.

Believing themselves safe at last, Suzanne and her family relocate to London, where she hopes to find the peace that has eluded her for so long. Her son is engaged to a nobleman’s daughter; her husband has a good job with British Intelligence. Yet she still struggles with restless dreams and the premonition that her nemesis has survived.

He has: Kemp, though severely injured, is rebuilding his empire and plotting revenge. He’s prepared to risk everything to end the former assassin. He may not be the only one.

Suzanne has no choice: to protect those she loves, she will be forced to kill again. Assassins, it seems, can never retire.


1. Usually the assassins – women are young, sassy… but not Suzanne. Tell us more about her.
Suzanne is a mature woman who’s spent years in service to a man she detests. She kills for him but she takes no pleasure in it. She is also a wife and mother coming to terms with her past.

2. Some people could say that an assassin is a bad person. What makes Suzanne an anti-hero and not just a bad guy? 
Notions like good and evil are qualitative. Suzanne has done some very disreputable things. One could argue—as I’m sure she did in her own head—that the first kill she ever made, the only one where she truly had a choice, was wrong. She may have felt compelled to take out the people who so badly hurt her friend. Maybe they were going to be a threat. Maybe her concern mixed with compulsion. After that, though, she killed for money, yes but there were extenuating circumstances. Should she have walked or run away? It’s something with which she’ll struggle her entire life.

3. Is there any connection between The Former Assassin and Don’t Move / Don’t Go?
Don’t Move and Don’t Go were novellas. Essentially, they make up the first two thirds of the book. My decision to turn the novella into a novel instead of continuing it as three entities was a marketing decision. I wanted a print book. How have the main characters changed from one book - 2015 to the other 2018? They’re deeper and more fully realized and there are many new characters in the last part of the book.

4. What is your literary chosen “weapon” for The Former Assassin? But for your next suspense / thriller story? 
If I understand you correctly, you’re wondering about a technique? Even after I converted the novella into a book, I decided to alternate between first person present tense (always Suzanne’s perspective) and third person past tense. It’s a risky strategy but I had a heck of a lot of fun maintaining it.

5. You work on a mystery / sci-fi story and the character’s name is Samantha. Is there just a coincidence that her name starts also with an S, or it has a special significance? (See also Sam Tate story) 
There’s no significance. I can tell you that after three months with a professional development editor, the sci-fi element from the short story is banished from the new book, which is a mystery intended as the first in a series.I”ll tell you a little “secret”—before I understood how Amazon and Goodreads worked, I would publish “versions” of books to gage audience reaction. Unfortunately, trial balloons never ever disappear. It’s a little maddening but from now on, I will send my writing samples out privately for market testing. Because nothing is ever hidden and nothing disappears, including your experiments in publishing.

6. Which one is harder for you to write: a short story or a full novel? 
Three years ago, I would have said a novel. I’ve since had a lot of practice. The other day I tried to get a short story going and found myself struggling. It’s about various writing muscles and how important it is you develop them and then keep using them.

7. How it feels being a published and well - received author? 
It feels fantastic and I’ll tell you my favorite part: Book clubs! I’ve appeared in front of (or Skyped with) five so far. The members come in with terrific questions. I love the interaction, the interest, the smart people I meet. I hope to do many, many more.

About the author:
Nikki is the author of two works of non-fiction: HOPE IN SMALL DOSES, a 2015 Eric Hoffer finalist for books that provoke, inspire and redirect thought, and BECAUSE I SAY SO: MORAL AUTHORITY'S DANGEROUS APPEAL, as well as dozens of short stories. She is co-author on the Cafe Noir interactive murder mystery series, published by Samuel French. Nikki's suspense novel, THE FORMER ASSASSIN has garnered strong reviews, including a four-star rating from Indie Reader. She's working on a mystery/sci-fi series starring an unorthodox crime fighter named Samantha Tate. When she's not writing about strong complex women, Nikki is working with several non-profits, taking Pilates classes, and attending to the needs of her dog, Molly.

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1 comment:

CMash said...

Great interview. It intrigued me to the point that it is now on my TBR list.