Who is William Nikkel? I often ask myself that same question. I’m here to spread the word about my most recent novel Devil Wind, and to reintroduce the novels in my Jack Ferrell series.
A little about me: I haven’t always been an author. In my professional life I was a deputy sheriff in Southern California where—among other things—I worked as a homicide detective. When I wasn’t chasing killers, I pursued my life-long love of art—first as a hobby, then for a few years as a professional wildlife artist. And then I discovered my real passion: writing.
Now retired from the demands of law enforcement and dividing my time between Maui, Hawaii and Northern California, I write full time. With five books published and a sixth currently being considered for publication, I do my best to continually evolve into a better writer—finding new ways to weave action and suspense into my stories.
I do my best writing early in the morning before the world around me kicks into full swing. If possible, I’m at my keyboard by 6 AM, earlier if I can manage it.
When people discover you’re a writer, chances are good that they’ll pepper you with questions. What is the hardest question to answer?
Why do I write? And since the question has been posed, my answer is I write because I love crafting a story and sharing it with readers who desire to go places and do things they normally don’t do, or can’t. I was once given the advice to pick a career you would do for free. For me, writing is as much about the joy of the craft as it is about money.
Why—after four Jack Ferrell adventure thrillers—did I step away from the norm to write Devil Wind, an old-fashion western with flesh-hungry zombies, a gun-toting saloon girl, whiskey drinking, and a steampunk tweak? A good question and one that that commonly leads people to ask, what in the heck is steampunk?
I have to admit I was not familiar with the term until my son Adam introduced me to the Victorian clockwork universe of steampunk which—I discovered—rose to prominence in the 1980s. It’s suggested that steampunk is in some ways a form of escapism—a desire for a simpler time . . . a nostalgic hunger for a period when much of the world was a wild, unexplored exotic mystery and space travel was a whimsical dream. More significantly, (the steam in steampunk) there is a longing for an age of awe-inspiring steam-powered machines and magnificent clockwork mechanisms of gleaming brass, polished wood, and shinny steel. For many people steampunk is a fictional romantic world of men in frock coats, top hats and goggles, women in bustles and corsets, flickering gas lights, and a past that almost was and a future that could have been. It’s about recapturing the wonders in novels by H. G. Wells and Jules Vern.
Needless to say, the concept more than intrigued me. Upon further examination of the genre, I learned that a story in which man invents a form of transportation and uses it to travel the uncivilized parts of the American frontier to ride the country of its enemies is referred to as an Edisonade. Nineteenth century Edisonades appeared in dime novels as serials and in complete novels, lending a surprising amount of power to the genre of science fiction.
The concept of the lone inventor as a heroic protagonist fit well with my love of westerns and prompted me to write DEVIL WIND.
If you could collaborate with any author on an exciting new project, who would you choose?
Hell, there are so many truly fine Adventure/thriller writers out there I would welcome the chance to collaborate with any one of them. James Rollins, Clive Cussler, David Morrell, Douglas Preston, William Martin, and Gary Braver would for sure be on the list.
Do you prefer to read in ebook format or traditional print?
I love the feel of a printed book in my hands. For me nothing compares to turning the pages of a really good story to find out what happens next. Even so, I have to admit I do own an electronic reader I use for those inexpensive promotional downloads.
What’s next for you?
More books in my two series. I am currently under contract for two more Max Traver books. I also have a fifth Jack Ferrell book that is currently under consideration.
Devil Wind—the first in the Max Traver series:
Coyote Flats, the Nevada desert 1897: the age of steam and gears and zombies. Ryan McBride has one of the richest gold mines in Nevada. But that’s not enough. He not only intends to own every gold claim in the area, he wants the town, too. And he’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen.
At night when the devil wind blows, a pack of flesh-hungry zombies descend on Coyote Flats. Townspeople are killed and Sheriff John Cable stands alone against the creatures. He steps into the night and disappears; but not before asking that a telegraph be sent to his friend Max Traver in San Francisco requesting his help. Now it’s up to Traver to stop McBride. But first he has to face McBride’s gunman Driscoll Pine and the zombies turned loose on the town to instill fear in the miners.
Praise for Devil Wind:
Who else would mix zombies with gunfighters, saloon girls and lots of whiskey drinking? Written in a fast-paced writing style, William Nikkel's Devil Wind is a rollicking Wild West tale with a steampunk tweak.
--Gary Braver, Bestselling and award-winning author of Tunnel Vision.
"William Nikkel's Devil Wind has everything I love in a book: relentless mayhem, great action set pieces, maddening chases, and zombies! Here's a book that will keep you reading late into the night...and still leave you wanting more!"
—James Rollins, New York Times bestseller of The Eye of God
"Devil Wind is a blisteringly original, impossible-to-put-down journey into the fantastic, as William Nikkel sketches a deliciously and darkly depraved world that brings zombies to the old west. Think Shane or The Magnificent Seven colliding headlong with The Walking Dead and you'll have an idea of what he's up to here, and he handles it with flare and gusto. Just as Fever Dream, a tale that brought vampires onto a 19th century Mississippi riverboat was George R.R. Martin's breakthrough, so too will Devil Wind be Nikkel's."
—Jon Land, bestselling author of Pandora's Temple
Glimmer of Gold:
Jack Ferrell is engaged to rich, drop-dead gorgeous Ellery Seaport and living rent-free in the guest cottage at her parent’s house on Maui. Most men would consider him one of the luckiest guys alive.
But is he?
While free diving on a reef off the south coast of Maui, Jack spies something small and round -- like a golden eye gleaming at him from the coral. It’s a 1941 West Point class ring with the initials C. W. M. inscribed on inside of the band.
Jack’s testimony is crucial, and he joins twenty-seven year old Katie McIntyre in Henderson, Nevada on a quest to free her father. But it’s not that easy. Someone is willing to kill to keep her father behind bars. As Jack and Katie race to stay a step ahead of the killer, they find each other and themselves
A dying old man’s tale sends Jack Ferrell on a quest to recover priceless Hawaiian artifacts before they fall into the hands of Coleman Treadway, a ruthless collector.
But it’s no easy task. Not only is Treadway willing to kill to satisfy his greed, the Island of Kahoolawe is restricted and littered with unexploded ordnance. And it’s there Jack faces his most dreaded foe, the legendary ghost marcher of the night.
December 7, 1941: The Japanese mini-sub I-16 speeds toward Pearl Harbor and disappears.
Present day: Marine biologist Jack Ferrell sails into a mysterious glowing fog off of Kauai’s Na Pali coast. In the mist is the sloop Julie Ann. A woman screams and he rushes to her rescue.
Jack dives the reef and discovers the sunken mini-sub I-16; and in the coral, a skull from a species of child-sized human being that lived 12,000 years ago on the remote Indonesian island of Flores.
In search of answers, Jack, leads a team of scientists into a subterranean world where they unearth the key to the skull and the surprising truth behind one of Hawaii’s famous legends: The Menehune.
To find his missing brother, Marine biologist Jack Ferrell joins Theresa Montero—a descendant of the California bandit Joaquin Murrieta—on a deadly quest for gold bars allegedly stolen by Murrieta in 1862, nine years after he was purportedly shot and killed. For Jack, it’s a race against time to save his brother. For Theresa, it’s to set history straight.
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