“Death on the Range” – if you haven’t read it yet – is a must for all archery fans. You might recognize its author – Nikki Haverstock, host of the reality show “Nock Out,” and writer for Archery 360 – but now she has her fans turning pages instead of setting DVRs.
Haverstock, a Level 3 archery coach and tough competitor (she just finished a year of national-level competition), has penned and published the first completely archery-focused novel we’ve ever read. And from what we hear, she plans more installments.
You might be thinking, “Hey, what about ‘The Hunger Games?’” Wasn’t that the first archery-focused novel? Not really. Haverstock’s entire book revolves around archery, so we think “Death on the Range” stands in a league – or field – of its own. Here’s what Haverstock says about her debut book in a recent interview:
First and foremost, please describe your book!
“Death on the Range” is a cozy mystery, meaning that it’s a character-driven book as opposed to an action book. No gore, car chases or shoot-outs. Instead, you get a varied and interesting cast of characters, and a plotline that keeps you turning pages – but not grossing you out.
This is your debut novella, according to your Facebook page. Why did you decide to write books, and what made you write about archery?
I taught collegiate archery for over a decade, but when my family left Southern California for a cattle ranch in the Rocky Mountains I had to figure out a new career. Several friends were writing books, and that sounded like the best job ever. I did a lot of research and discovered I loved writing. Because I’ve been heavily involved in archery my entire adult life, it made sense to combine the two.
Tell us about your background in archery.
Fifteen years ago I shot a bow for the first time, and I’ve never looked back. It was love at first shot. I started with a compound bow and have competed a little with wheels, but most of my competition has been with a recurve in the USA Archery women’s division. I coached recurve and compound at the collegiate level for over a decade. I have run tournaments, judged competitions, and done pretty much every other on-field job you could imagine. A few years ago I hosted an archery TV competition show. Now I write how-to articles for Archery 360, in addition to writing books.
Do any archers we might recognize appear in your novels?
All of the characters, places, companies, events, etc. are a patchwork of a bit of this and that, and a huge dose of fiction. I don’t think any of the characters perfectly match anyone in real life. But readers will find aspects of the characters that remind them of real-life people.
Most of my characters are a mix of many different things. I might take comments made by a dozen different people, grab a job description from one place, competition history from someone else, and then add a heavy-duty dose of “what if.”
Tell us about the process of writing about archery. What did you do to make the sport relatable for newbies who will read your book?
I taught beginning archery at Biola University for nine years, so I have a good handle on how to explain archery to beginners in understandable terms. Plus, like most authors, I worked with editors to get their feedback on how the story was developing. They helped me walk the fine line between explaining archery enough to make it interesting while not overwhelming readers with needless details.
The competition among archers at Westmound seems fierce (to say the least)! Share your thoughts on the competitive archery landscape. Is it really that cutthroat?
Elite archers are incredibly passionate and professional about their competitions. This can lead to high emotions. As far as I know, archery has not led to any murders, so I can’t say anyone is as intense as the book’s characters. It’s fiction and entertainment, so everything is dialed up to 11, but there’s a grain of truth in parts of the book. But, of course, I’m basing that on what I have seen and heard. Everyone’s experience is different.
What goes into your process for developing plots and fleshing out your books? How do you do your research?
I didn’t do much research for this book, other than brainstorming a little with archer friends and drawing from my own experiences and things I’ve observed or heard. I spend a lot of time every day walking and thinking. I have started writing down ideas, especially during the past competition season. Many times I see something and ask myself, “What if?” So, for example, I might see a mistake that’s caught in time, but I ask, “What if someone made that mistake on purpose and it wasn’t caught?”
The ending of “Death on the Range” leaves readers wanting more. What’s next?
Book 2 is already at the editor, and I’m plotting Book 3. We will continue to see recurring characters throughout the season, along with meeting new characters. Archery will play a larger role in the books as the characters start competing and traveling in the archery world.