A Book and a Latte has a special guest! Please welcome the author of Shot Through the Heart (my review),

Niki Burnham

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At Eastwood High, love is a battlefield.

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. (Goodreads)

Where did the idea for the Senior Assassin game come from?

I first heard of Senior Assassin (and tournaments like it) when I was in college, though they were pretty small scale. Then last year, while I was plotting out the story of a guy who falls for his best friend’s sister (which is a relationship taboo that’s always fascinated me), I saw a newspaper article about a local high school’s water gun tournament. It was a pretty big deal–the entire senior class participates, and the rules are quite complex–and I knew instantly that including a tournament like that would work well for the story. I talked to local high schoolers to get their behind-the-scenes info and hear about how their “hits” went down, which made writing the book a lot of fun. It also made me wish I could go back to high school, if only so I could nail people with water balloons.

I love that the main characters were so hard working, smart, and driven! Were Peyton, Connor, and/or Josh inspired by people you know in real life?

I didn’t base them on any particular individuals. However, I’m fortunate enough to spend a lot of time around teenagers and I’m constantly amazed by how intelligent and goal-oriented many of them are. I wanted to see that reality reflected in the book. Readers are more likely to get lost in a story when the characters feel real to them.

Who is your favorite character that you’ve written?

This is like choosing amongst my children! Hmmm…if I must choose, I’ll say my favorite is Valerie Winslow, who is the main character from the Royally Jacked series. Not because Val is perfect–she has a ton of faults–but because I’ve spent the most time writing about her.

But ask me next week and you’re likely to get a different answer.

Are you currently working on anything?

I’m in the midst of a romance novel at the moment. I’ve published several under the name Nicole Burnham, so this is another in that vein. I also recently finished the first couple chapters of a teen romantic comedy, so that’s next on my schedule.

Fun! What’s on your to-be-read list for spring?

I just finished reading Emily March’s romance LOVER’S LEAP, which was fantastic. Next up will be Susan Sizemore’s MEMORY OF MORNING and then Rosemary Clement-Moore’s YA novel TEXAS GOTHIC, both of which are sitting on my nightstand, ready to go.

After that, I’m dying to read the new historical romance from Elizabeth Boyle called ALONG CAME A DUKE (isn’t that the greatest title?) and Christina Dodd’s BETRAYAL, which is the next book in her Bella Terra romantic suspense series. I loved the first two books in the Bella Terra series–Dodd knocked them out of the park–so I’m dying to grab this one.

You have quite the line up of romance! I’m going to have to look up all these titles. TEXAS GOTHIC has been on my TBR list for while… I’ve heard fantastic things, and I want to read it soon!

About the author (from her website): 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.

Many thanks to Niki for stopping by to answer my questions! She’s also generously giving away a copy of SHOT THROUGH THE HEART to one lucky winner! Please fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter (click continue reading). You can find my contest policy here

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17 Responses to Author Interview: Niki Burnham & Giveaway

  1. Christina Kit. says:

    My fave fictional couple is Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes from Beautiful Creatures!

  2. kim Cornwell says:

    Im always happy to find new books and authors. Hope i win.

  3. Barbara M says:

    Sounds like a great story!

  4. Bethanne says:

    Love the cover. Would love to read the book, too.
    Bethanne recently posted..[not so]Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

  5. CateS says:

    I expect that the sister taboo is the early part of the ‘male rule’ “Ok for me but not for any female in my family.. ” Kinda the whole deal about experienced males and virgin females..

  6. Vanetta says:

    Thank you for writing a book the average teenager can read… my daughter who loves to read is having a hard time finding books that’s not about “vampires”…. I saw this posted on facebook by another author and though “let me check out this YA Author” I plan on checking your books out and let my daughter check them out as well…. Thanks to Emily March for sending me over!

  7. This sounds really good. Anything involving water guns gets extra points from me.
    Melissa @ Coffee, Books and Laundry recently posted..Boy Proof by Cecil CastellucciMy Profile

  8. Kelly says:

    The biggest fun I had my Senior year was either the class picnic or Senior Skip Day…either of which would have been greatly improved with squirt guns!

  9. Doodle says:

    This sounds like an awesome read! Thanks for the giveaway!!
    Doodle recently posted..The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Review & Book vs. MovieMy Profile

  10. Erica says:

    I somehow missed that Niki Burnham had a new book out – I loved all of her ones I’ve read thus far, so I can’t wait to read this one.

    Many of the books on her TBR pile are on mine as well, I can’t wait to read Texas Gothic.
    Erica recently posted..Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLeanMy Profile

  11. Natasha says:

    Sounds like a very good book! Thanks for the chance to win!

  12. Laura McLendon says:

    Thank Heavens its water guns!! This actually looks like an interesting read and I would love to win it 🙂

  13. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
    Twitter: Reader_Fictions

    Never heard of this, but it sounds really interesting! Assassin is such a creepy game for folks to play, lol.
    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted..Astarte’s Wrath Cover RevealMy Profile

  14. Justine says:

    I’m intrigued by this book’s premise. I had no idea that the entire senior class at certain high schools participated in water gun tournaments. I also enjoyed this interview because it gave me a good sense of the author.

  15. heather says:

    seems like an amazing book!

  16. kristina s. says:

    thx so much for the giveaway! i love niki’s books and would love to read this one.

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