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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Fictionista of Crime: A Very Mimsey Interview with Nike Chillemi

Hello Gentle Readers,

You meet a lot of really interesting people as a writer. I've interviewed a Yogi, a dog, and even a lovely six foot tall Dutch woman (who was somehow convinced to marry me).

So, it's in this illustrious company that I introduce the Crime Fictionista herself, Nike Chillemi. And if you've never read her interview with yours truly, you can find it here.

The Fictionista in her natural habitat. 

Q: Where did the name ‘Crime Fictionista’ come from?

A. I'm a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology. Before writing I worked in the bridal industry for bridal gown manufacturers. I traveled to Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Las Vegas, and of course New York for bridal shows. That's where I first heard the term "fashionista." So, when I started writing, I researched and discovered nobody was using the term "crime fictionista" so I relegated it to myself…and it's stuck.

Q. What got you into writing mysteries?

A. I started off as a reader of crime fiction, mostly classical mysteries and detective stories, with a few thrillers thrown into the mix. Then I thought…I can write these. It was harder than I figured and I then had to learn the craft. It's been a fun writing journey.

Q. You have carved a strong niche writing for the Christian market. What made you choose this market?

A. My first series, the Sanctuary Point mystery series, is set in the post-WWII era. In the mid-1940s in America, most people identified as Christian. There was high, regular church attendance. So, in describing characters as they actually lived back then, Christianity for many of them would be the norm. I just wrote what I thought was an authentic story. This classic murder mystery series has strong Christian elements, so I publicized it in the Christian fiction market. I'm pleased it has done so well.

Q. And now you’re jumping into the mainstream market? Why take the plunge?

A. I think of myself as a Christian who writes murder mysteries, rather than a writer who writes Christian fiction. I'm now writing a contemporary detective story series, the Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels/Dawson Hughes series. Unlike the 1940s, today most people involved in a murder case will not openly bear witness to their Christianity while in the course of the investigation. Since I strive to be authentic in my writing that means contemporary stories won't have a central Christian story line. However, I do write what I know, and I know Christian people, some who are in law enforcement. So, I definitely have strong Christian characters who live the Christian life style on the pages of my contemporary story. They are important secondary characters. My heroine and hero are struggling with spiritual issues. I sell this series in the Christian market and in the general market. Tons of Christians read general market novels. I was one of them. I didn't even know the Christian fiction market existed until about ten years ago.

Q. I like how you balance the mystery and humor in the books. How do you strike such a delicate balance?

A. I think life would be a total breeze except for people who insist on messing things up. That's why a good sense of humor is needed…to get through the mess. In my novels, I like tension between the hero and the heroine, but I don't want them getting strident, so good natured banter with a little zing to it fits the bill.

Q. Your characters really sizzle, especially once the P.I. meets the Deputy. For you, what makes a character great?

A. There has to be a backstory for each character. The only history I have to develop fully is that of the main characters. In HARMFUL INTENT, the first in my contemporary series, my female PI, Ronnie Ingels, has a troubled past. As the story opens, her present is headed for trouble as well. When she gets to Abilene, Texas, Deputy Dawson Hughes thinks she might've murdered her cheating husband. The fact that he suspects her sets up tension between them. Then he realizes she might be a target of the killer and he fears for her safety.

Q. Christians aren’t always the most nuanced of characters in fiction. How do you address this in your books?

A. For years, I think there was a feeling in Christian publishing that the Christian message had to spelled out in every work of Christian fiction. It got heavy handed. Christian novels were reading like sermons. Great works of American fiction have always had a message (THE GRAPES OF WRATH, CATCH-22, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, etc.), but they didn't sermonize. They made use of literary devices, broad ones such as mood and theme, and more precise ones, such as symbolism, metaphor, hyperbole, allegory. I think Christian readers are astute enough to understand literary devices and to get the message in Christian and Christian themed fiction without the visible hand of the author pointing it out.

Q: Tell the folks at home a little about yourself?

A: Well, you already know that I worked in the bridal industry. I've got a bridal shop as one location in HARMFL INTENT and the next novel in the series DEADLY DESIGNS involves the fashion industry. I'm also a foodie. I especially enjoy cooking holiday meals and setting a holiday table. I've been working on reducing the calories in my recipes without taking away from taste. My historical novels have tables laden with beef stew, home baked bread, wonderful home baked cakes, meat loaf with mashed and tons of gravy. I try to capture the meat and potatoes way of eating in that era. In HARMFUL INTENT, heroine Ronnie Ingels starts out a meat and potatoes gal with a huge appetite. However she goes undercover in the investigation at an organic cooking class and finds out how good the food tastes. In the next book in the series, the reader will find out she's taken a few more classes and has become quite the healthy eater and also knows her way around a kitchen.

Q. What do you do for fun?

A. I'm a pet lover. I have a menagerie of animals. I enjoy walking my dog, Sophie. I also enjoy riding my bike and I love to get into a swimming pool.

 Sophie, celebrating getting a swimming pool.

Q. Where can readers find more about you?

A. Readers can find me on my blog: Nike Chillemi ~ Crime Fictionista   Also at my author page on Amazon which has my bio, photos, and more


Coffee or Tea ~ Tea, and make it strong, black tea with milk. If I make coffee I drip it using a Melita.

Cat or Dog ~ Both

Heels or Flats ~ Are you krazy? Flats!

Football or Basketball ~ Not into sports, but give me figure skating, gymnastics, or baseball.

Fish or Chicken ~ Chicken

Superman or Batman ~ Both and Spidy too.

Surfing or Skiing ~ Kayaking, even ocean kayaking, but not out of sight of shore

Bubble Bath or Chocolate ~ Bubble Bath

Wizard of Oz or Wicked ~ Wizard of Oz, the original one.

And finally, what’s your theme song? ~ Don't have one. Right now These Are The Days Of Elijah keeps running through my head. I also absolutely love Hot, Hot, Hot by Buster Poindexter, so go figure.

Jay Mims writes booksblogs, and thinks we should all do some KARAOKE! Jay lives with The Mimsus, a semi-adopted cat named Eartha Kitty, a lizard named Bob and a passive-aggressive Dalek named Steve. Jay is far funnier on Facebook then in real life. He is terrible at Twitter. Jay now has a website.


  1. I just typed a HUGE comment. Grrrrrrrrrr. Brand new computer lost it all. I am amazed at how much we have in common--bikes and kayaks and bubble baths! Although, I think I may take chocolate over the bath--a shower will suffice after a mouthful of Godiva.

    I also smiled reading how you worked in the fashion industry--especially bridal. I immediately thought about Ronnie's nemesis.

    Loved the spotlight

  2. Carol, I'm sure we have tons in common, but I'll skip the Godiva. I'm a chocolate plebeian when I do eat it...strictly Hershey's plain milk chocolate, Russel Stover or Whitman's at Christmas. If you enjoyed Ronnie's nemesis' bridal shop in HARMFUL INTENT...wait for the fashion industry types in DEADLY DESIGNS (will be out in early 2015).

    Jay, Thx so much for having me. Luved the interview...really interesting and fun.