Author Interview: Shot Through the Heart by Niki Burnham

Welcome to Author Niki Burnham


Niki Burnham is the author of a dozen books for teens and adults. Though she’s originally from Colorado, her father was career military, which means she probably attended more schools than you did. To date, she has lived in Colorado, Germany (twice), Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and New York.

Niki graduated from Mannheim American High School in Mannheim, Germany, received her B.A. in political science from Colorado State University, then obtained both her M.A. in political science and her law degree from the University of Michigan. Since school is (sadly) not free, she worked at various times bagging groceries, bookkeeping for an Army commissary, cleaning a bowling alley, waiting tables at West Point, babysitting, tutoring college athletes (eerily similar to babysitting at times), as a political science research assistant, and at the front desk of her law school dorm. After graduation, she clerked for a federal magistrate in Colorado and practiced law in St. Louis before turning to writing. Writing is far and away the best job she’s ever had.

When she’s not busy making up stories, Niki plays softball, wrestles papers away from her miniature poodle, Tipper, and travels abroad whenever she can score cheap airfare.

She believes in tipping well for good service, thanking grocery store baggers, and in cleaning up after yourself at bowling alleys and movie theaters. She’s also convinced she’d be a phenomenal contestant on The Amazing Race.!/nikiburnham

Q:  If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
A:  As curious as I am about what the future holds, I’d rather go back to the past. I think it would make me more grateful for modern conveniences, modern health care, and other parts of my daily life that could easily be taken for granted.

Q:  If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
A:  Sunscreen would be a must for me, as I’m dreadfully pale.  I’m also practical enough to say that I’d want flint or other means to build a fire and a machete so I could build a shelter.  Assuming I had shelter and fire, though, I’d be all over a loaded tablet with internet access and a library’s worth of books (and a perpetual battery, of course!)

Q:  Pet Peeves?
A:  Line-cutting. Placing bags on chairs in a restaurant, theater, or on public transportation when others are standing. Leaving trash for others to clean. (I’m a big believer in the golden rule!)

Q:  Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
A:  I can get it down to three words:  Instant mood-booster!

Q:  Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
A:  I’m working on another romantic comedy for teens as well as a romance novel. I keep readers up to date on my current projects via an e-newsletter so they know what to expect next.

Q:  What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
A:  Read a lot and read broadly. Learn from each book you read and apply those technical lessons to your own writing. Then, realize as you read that each writer tells a story in his or her own unique voice. If you locked Agatha Christie, Lillian Jackson Braun, and Elizabeth Peters in a room and told them they each had one hour to tell the story of a body found in a sorority house beside a bloody kitchen knife, each would tell that story in a different way.  But if you’ve read each of those authors before, chances are that you’d be able to tell who wrote each story. After you have the technical aspects of writing mastered, work on developing your own unique voice, so you tell a story in a manner that only you could tell it.

Q:  What is your favorite quote?
A:  From Mikhail Baryshnikov:  “I do not try to dance better than anyone else.  I only try to dance better than myself.” If you’re a driven person, this is the secret to both lasting friendships and happiness in your day-to-day life. You are your best and only competition.

Q:  What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
A:  Be kind, be thankful, and never underestimate the power of a handwritten note.

Q:  How do you react to a bad review?
A:  A review is one person’s opinion and they’re entitled to it! I don’t expect everyone to like my writing. In fact, we’d be a plain, boring society if everyone enjoyed the same books, movies, or films.

Q:  In you had 24 hours alone how would you spend it?
A:  Dream answer:  In a hammock with a great book. More realistic answer:  Writing while I catch up on laundry.

Q:  Chocolate or Vanilla?
A:  Chocolate.

Q:  Regular or Diet?
A:  Diet. Regular is too sweet for me.

Q:  Coke or Pepsi?
A:  Coke, for the same reason.

Q:  Horror or Romance?
A:   Romance.

Q:  Action or Drama?
A:  Action. A James Bond marathon is my idea of a happy TV binge.  (Which goes back to that 24 hour question…hmmm. Could I write, do laundry, and watch Bond at the same time?)

Q:  Pizza or Pasta?
A:  Pizza. I have a slice in front of me as I type this. Smells divine!

Q:  Spontaneity or Planning Ahead?
A:  Planning ahead, much to my husband’s chagrin. I believe in To Do lists!

Q:  PC or Mac?
A:  Mac. I’ve never owned a PC. It drives my family nuts that I don’t know the basics of how to operate one.

Q:  What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
A:  I have a good sense of direction and can walk forever.  Drop me anywhere in the world and I’ll happily explore for hours.

Shot Through the Heart

Two guys, two girls, two thousand dollars, and one epic water gun battle.

Senior year? It’s all about Senior Assassin, a yearly water gun tournament where the last team standing receives a cool two grand. Connor wants nothing more than to split that prize with his best friend, Josh. When their mission is put in jeopardy by Molly—thanks to her crush on Connor—Josh comes up with a plan to thwart her, one that involves his sister, Peyton…

Peyton’s deepest desire is to score entry to MIT. She’s working her tail off to achieve her goal, but when she’s dragged into Connor and Josh’s water gun tournament, their antics threaten to leave her high and dry. As Peyton’s forced to choose between chemistry class and chemistry with Connor, will the super student and the super athlete discover they have more in common than they imagined?

One thing’s for certain: When Connor, Peyton, Josh, and Molly load their weapons, someone’s bound to get shot through the heart.