Today on my Writer’s Block, I am interviewing Nikola Vukoja. I first encountered Nik on Querytracker, when the two of us were attempting to navigate the world of querying agents, trying to make sense of the process. Since then, we have beta’d for each other on various projects, as well as become good friends. Nik is a real go-getter, with many varied life experiences which have shaped her life path. I know you’ll find her story interesting.
Nik has a book out, entitled Musings – Thoughts & Reflections on Life, Love & Surviving Heartache . She has been kind enough to allow me to reveal one of the poems and the corresponding artwork from her book (This poem is not to be copied or recreated, either as a whole or any part of, without the permission of the author):
My Tree, My Forest, My Fears
I stand at your gate, fear is what I feel.
I stand a moment in time, memories are what I fear.
I stand within an arms length of freedom & capture.
I stand on the edge of safety or love.
You: a tall tree.
Me: a small bird.
Within the darkened forest, you tunnel my light.
Within humming woods, your heart beats my march.
Within each stride, hope and devastation mix.
Within devastation comes rebirth.
You: my tree.
Me: your voice.
Each: living alone.
Neither: desiring loneliness.
Among the forest of trees you stand unique.
Among the uniqueness we will thrive.
Among us will solid ground sway to our will.
Among the clouds is where we will live.
You: my shelter.
Me: the moss to keep you warm.
Each: working together as one.
Neither: complete without the other.
I walk through the gate.
I walk into the sunlight as fear frees its grip.
I walk to where frost cannot touch me.
I walk toward our future.
You: reaching for the stars.
Me: your one true star.
Each: at last free.
Neither: alone evermore.
Secure in our entwined futures.
Secure in what we share.
Secure in the past on the other side of the gate.
Secure in an endless spring of daffodils and violets.
SUSAN: Hello, Nik, and welcome! I have known you for quite a while, and love how you are sort of a Renaissance Woman; artist, poet, novelist, statistician, and animal advocate! Tell us about that.
NIK: Oh my goodness… a Renaissance Woman; wow, can I put that on my CV lol. I don’t know how it all came about; I guess it’s my parents fault, and my grandparents and so on….duplicity runs in the family. Granddad was a Forest Ranger, a Statistician during WWII and a Singer/Musician.
Mum won a Visual Arts University Scholarship & proceeded to major in chemistry and Dad, well he’s a math’s genius, a retired Industrial Engineer and a painter and poet. So I grew up in an environment where everything was open for discussion and consideration. But I also grew up appreciating other beings, human and animal. We always had animals, both pets and for food. I was initiated into animal husbandry the way other people might be initiated into a sport… it was always there. And as a result, I learned the value of life and my duty to all life.
SUSAN: Your chapbook embodies the Renaissance Woman idea. It features your writings and personal artwork, with the proceeds going to help a charity. When I was reading it, I couldn’t help but notice that the artwork and writings seemed to go hand in hand. Have you always wanted to create a book combining those two disciplines, or did evolve slowly?
NIK: It’s funny you should ask that, the answer is YES. In fact, I’d won a government grant some years back based on this idea. I submitted combining visual art, the written word and music (my ex was a musician) as an interactive and symbiotic relationship between all medium and genre. Unfortunately my Ex & I broke not long after I’d been awarded the grant and I had to withdraw, however, the idea remained.SUSAN: Musings – Thoughts & Reflections on Life, Love & Surviving Heartache is your first book, and is available on Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/448444) and Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Musings-Thoughts-Reflections-Surviving-Heartache/dp/1499263376/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403731525&sr=8-1&keywords=nikola+Vukoja). Proceeds from the sale of your book will go to a specific charity, which is amazing. How did you decide on AnimalsAsia?
NIK: I watched a program on Bear Bile Framing several years ago and it had a lasting impact on me. I could not comprehend why, in this day and age and with all our technology, there was a need and a place for such vile and hideous practices. Now, let it be clearly understood, I support all cultural pursuits, especially those that are dying out, for instance, the Inuit’s right to hunt seals/whales etc. However, in a day and age when we can synthesize DNA, why can not a synthetic Bear Bile be sufficient?
I made contact with the AnimalsAsia Team in Western Australia and pitched the idea to them. Lucky for me they were 100% supportive.
As to why AnimalsAsia? I know the money goes to helping the bears. Just last month (May-2014) the organisation had raised enough funds to buy a Bear bile Farm and convert it into a sanctuary.
SUSAN: I’m excited to see where this book takes you. What other creative projects are you currently working on?
NIK: OK, I’m one of those people tat has at least forty things happening at once. I will be having one of my short stories publishing (2015) in a short story anthology by Fey Publishing. The profits from that anthology will go to a charity in California that looks after stray, abandoned and mistreated animals.
I’m finishing off the last bit of a New Adult Women’s Fiction novel.
I’m working on a really interesting re-tell/dark fantasy novel.
I just came up with an idea for another novel.
I’ve also just started a new BA – Professional Writing & Publishing, as well as doing quite a bit of BETA reading at the moment… and several other things I can’t mention yet, in case they don’t happen!
SUSAN: Is there anything more that you would like my readers to know about you or your work?
NIK: I’m a very private person. In fact, you had to ask me for a photo of myself (as you know). I don’t like people knowing much about me; except through my art. I hide nothing when it comes to my art. Whether I’m painting or I’m writing, every word is part of me, even the fantastical or the evil or the supernatural… it’s part of me, and it’s real.
I would also like to remind people of the saying that “no man is an island” – those words are never more true than if you chose to pursue a artistic career… without my wonderful friends within the writing community, people like Susan, I’d be nothing and nowhere.
SUSAN: Thanks so much, Nik! I look forward to your updates and blog posts.
Again, a link to purchase Musings can be found here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/448444 and here: http://www.amazon.com/Musings-Thoughts-Reflections-Surviving-Heartache/dp/1499263376/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403731525&sr=8-1&keywords=nikola+vukoja
As a special bonus, Nik is offering a 30% off discount code for purchases between June 21 and July 21, 2014. The Smashwords code is: RL33S, and the 30% discount code for Amazon is 3SBRCWC6.
For any of you who are looking to contact Nik, she can be found here: