I am very pleased to introduce a talented poet, artist, and prose writer, Nicua Shamira.
Nicua Shamira is a wildlife management student who loves writing and reading good books. At the moment fantasy/adventure genres are her favourite but she also loves a good historical fiction. Growing up in Africa, on a farm, Nicua had wonderful opportunities to be out in nature and surrounded by animals. She now resides in Western Australia. She has two beautiful horses and a collection of adorable, naughty birds.
Nicua’s favourite authors of fictional works are J.R.R. Tolkien, Juliet Marillier, C.S. Lewis and many others.
Being an ‘outdoorsy’ person she love archery, hiking, horse-riding, swimming, snorkeling, running, etc. and her ‘indoor’ hobbies include painting, ballroom and Latin dancing, ice-skating, reading, writing and drawing.
Nicua has published a YA fantasy book under another name, but ‘Otherworldly’ is her first collection of short stories.
Several other books are in the works as well as booklets of poetry (one already published under the title ‘African Heartbeat’)
I would like to begin by asking Nicua some questions so that we can get to know her a little better:
Tell us about yourself and your typical working day.
I am a South African living in Australia at the moment. I love animals, adventure, travel, nature and books among so many other things. My work days are actually not typical at the moment as I am studying, volunteering and working on different days. Having said that, I am enjoying being busy and have just signed up for a public speaking course to add into the busy equation.
Having read both your poetry and prose, I get a sense that you have a deep love of nature, would that be true to say?
Most definitely! I love nature and find most of my inspiration in it. Animals have been a massive part of my life, having cared for so many abandoned kittens, puppies, and helped to heal owls and all kinds of animals that people brought me out on the farm; as well as being surrounded by dogs,horses, rabbits and so many other wonderful creatures growing up.
The wild places of the earth also speak to me and I am never happier than when I am in the heart-breakingly beautiful African bush or wandering through a misty, ethereal forest.
What inspired you to write Otherworldly short stories?
At first it began as a project to try my hand at short stories, and as I continued and realized how much I enjoyed it, it became more about sharing things I believe are important. Some themes I wanted to highlight were the importance of preserving nature, loyalty, open-heartedness and also to fuel the flame for old fashioned fairytales to stay alive.
Which do you prefer, writing poetry or prose?
I prefer writing prose as I find it very hard to share my poetry, it always feels too personal. I write a ton of poetry but I think I rather have the heart of a storyteller than the heart of a poet.
Do you have a favourite author/s? If so, who are they and why do you like them?
I have several favourite authors, but I think my top two would have to be J.R.R. Tolkien and Juliet Marillier. Tolkien because he created such an unbelievable and beautiful existence in Middle Earth. I also find his writing without equal and I think he has been my main literary influence for not only which books I read but also how I write. Juliet Marillier is such a brilliant author and her work is faultless. Her books have that magical quality that when you start reading them, it’s almost impossible to put them down. She creates strong female characters without them becoming annoying which is rare to find. I find a lot of inspiration in her work, I would like to be able to follow her lead in how balanced she keeps her characters, settings, etc. A few more I would love to mention as they have also been great inspirations are; C.S. Lewis, Gene Stratton Porter, the Bronte Sisters, Jane Porter (Scottish Chiefs), Suzanne Collins and Christopher Paolini.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I think I would choose New Zealand or the Scottish Highlands. Anywhere that is wild, filled with untouched nature, far away from the cities and has a Middle Earth feel to it. Hopefully in a small castle in the middle of a forest or beside a loch.
What is your favourite genre to write in.
I adore fantasy. I am not a fan of writing in other genres because I have so many ideas and almost all of them include elves and fantasy lands that go far beyond the constraints of our small world. I love to journey into faraway lands filled with magic and adventure, and being able to hold the reins and actually mould the tale I wish in whatever manner without boundaries of our reality’s physics, it is absolutely wonderful.
What I love about your work, are the beautiful physical descriptions of setting and characters that bring the stories and poems alive. Do you think your artistic side helps when you are writing a narrative?
That might be one reason, I have not really thought of this before, but I also think another reason is that I am a very ‘visually dependent’ person. I love looking at beautiful things and descriptions colour in a picture and the more colour, the more happy I am. When reading I also always look for more descriptions so that I can properly paint the picture of the story in my head, I think that also relays into my writing.
If you could be a character in any novel and spend the weekend as that character in the book, what character and book would that be?
What a brilliant question! There are so many wonderful choices! But, I think I would love to be Arwen from Lord of the Rings, can’t think of many things that would be more wonderful than spending the weekend as an elvish princess in Middle Earth!
Finally, what are your future writing plans?
I have so many projects that I am so excited about and currently working on. I have around four fantasy novels quarter to halfway done with the rough drafts, the next book in The Dreamweaver Chronicles is begun, two more poetry books are being compiled and I am hoping to release my next collection of short stories in a little while! There is also a novel I am working on that deals with an issue very close to my heart. It is not the usual genre I write and it is often a struggle, but I also feel that it is an important issue I want to address wrapped in a heart-warming story of friends, love, finding purpose and healing
Thank you Nicua for telling us about your varied and interesting life, loves and works.
Now let’s hear about your anthology, which I have read and thoroughly enjoyed. You can see my review at the bottom of this blog, and on Goodreads and Amazon.
Otherworldly is a collection of four short stories with fantasy, romance, futuristic and adventure themes. These stories delve into fairytale and legend taking the reader on adventures filled with magic, love, loyalty, intrigue, and thought-provoking themes.
Here are some extracts from reviews. You can see the full versions on Amazon.
Jason Clark (the full one is very long and says something about each story that might be a bit of a spoiler alert)
‘These four wonderful anecdotes are quick but packed with several layers and depth… Her narrative style is wonderful, with an easy natural flow. The descriptions and the scenery are vivid, though wildly different in each. I’m fairly certain the characters, time frame, and settings are completely unrelated in each tale. However, some commonalities are found in every one…Each fable has considerable emotional depth, with a mix of wonder, happiness, sadness, and warmth. I was particularly impressed that she is able to maintain that element, while still creating an intellectually stimulating scheme.’
By Bronson Hawkins
‘Summary/First Reactions: “Otherworldly” is an assortment of four brain teasing and heart warming short stories. My favorite story among the four is Red Ribbon. With footsteps hitting me the hardest in my feel space. The thing that I liked most about this collection of short stories is that it never ceased to surprise me. Nicua Shamira was excellent in shifting and twisting these stories in my head. With the characters not really pulling the story along…
The Good: Its beautiful. It’s stunning. Its lovely. It’s heartbreaking. It’s simply amazing.
The Bad: I could find nothing wrong with the novel other that the fact that its too short. I want more.
Overall: 5/5 A Indiesently Good Read!!!
By Sahar Sabati
This wonderful collection of four short stories brings to life with almost startling realism mythical creatures. The book’s strength lies in the author’s ability to weave a tale that flows with great ease, scooping you up and carrying you into a world you will find yourself easily immersed in. I also love the way these stories touch, as gently as the author writes, on topics such as awareness of nature’s beauty in the first story, Cascade. I hope that another short story collection is already on its way!’
My review (edited version)
This collection of short stories by Nicua Shamira, are beautifully written narratives that draw the reader into fantasy worlds richly described and inhabited by tantalizing mythological creatures and humans. Written in the first person, each story has its own unique setting from a water-based land in ‘Cascade’ to the dark and harsh landscape in ‘Red Ribbon. Both tales are strangely haunting with hints of love and regret, and they do linger well after reading.
I enjoyed the different cast of characters in each story that essentially are there to explore mankind’s connection with nature and the environment. And it was my only criticism – that on occasions they came across less well developed than the physical environments they inhabited. But, what I liked was the message behind each story; to nurture and not destroy this beautiful planet we live in, to stop experimenting with genetics, to accept our frailties and live our lives in harmony
I did enjoy reading these stories and believe that Nicua is a very talented writer that has the potential to be great. I will read more of her work, as she is a writer to look out for.
If you want to know more about Nicua or purchase her work, below are the links: