Today I have a very exciting guest in the form of the multi talented Nik A Ramli. Not only is Nik a successful interior designer with his own unique style, he is now a successful author too. An avid music fan, Nik has written a biography celebrating the musical journey of his all time favourite American singer, Donna Summer. He had the opportunity to interview many respected figures nationally and internationally in the entertainment world: journalists, music authors and fans of the singer for the endeavour. This first book by Nik titled ‘Donna Summer The Thrill Goes On – A Tribute’ is now available.
Nik’s career has seen him hold a weekly guest slot on a live breakfast TV show (‘Hello On Two (HOT)’ on RTM TV2) discussing interior design. He is a contributor to national and international magazines, newspapers, has been interviewed on a number of radio stations, featured on the popular daily TV programmes and promotional films on subjects related to interior design. In his career Nik has been interviewed by some of the UK’s most popular BBC and Channel 4 TV presenters. In April 2012 he was asked to suggest furniture retailers in Kuala Lumpur to sponsor NTV7’s ‘Bella’ TV show. To find out more about Nik you can visit his website.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to bombard Nik with questions, which he has very kindly taken the time to answer.
Alison – Hello Nik, and welcome to An Author’s View. To start off let’s get to know more about your writing. Please describe your latest book, along with details of book signings, release date (where relevant), promotional events etc.
Nik – Hi Alison. My book, ‘Donna Summer The Thrill Goes On – A Tribute’ was released in September 2012 and in January 2013 the paperback was printed.
Nik at the launch for ‘Donna Summer The Thrill Goes On – A Tribute’
The book is a very personal tribute, a music biography celebrating the late American star’s musical success. It documents Donna Summer’s ups and downs during her career in the world of entertainment. It is an informative read and contains a lot of detailed factual information. This project is a fair and constructive critical analysis of my favourite singer’s artistic legacy. Still, one can’t help it if there is a little bit of bias because, after all, Donna Summer is my favourite artist. The book is aimed at all music lovers who would like to know what an incredibly creative person Donna Summer was. New fans will love this book, fanatical fans will appreciate it. I’m sure no one can satisfy every single one of Donna Summer’s hardcore followers but I hope most people will enjoy it.
It is great and I’m still promoting the book. I’m telling you it’s a full time job! In June 2013, a DJ did a gig as a tribute to Donna Summer and called it ‘Funk Off! Donna Summer Special’, I was there to promote my book in London. We had a great time… I and some friends did anyway!
Also there might be a show, a special tribute to Donna Summer music in Malaysia in September 2013 and to celebrate the one year anniversary of the hardcover.
Alison – Sounds like a really fun way to promote your book. When and why did you decide to become an author?
Nik – This is due to my other writing works for publications which started in 2005 on tips about interior design and I had columns in the US and the UK. I wrote a script for a UK TV drama once, but the script did not go far! As for my book, since I have compiled data about Donna Summer’s music as early as 1997 as a hobby. It was in 2008 I asked myself “What if”. So that was the beginning of my ‘author’s’ voyage. The rest is history.
Alison – Do you have any idiosyncrasies when writing, such as performing certain tasks before you begin or wearing particular clothes while you work?
Nik – Every writer has their own approach when writing. It took me a while, as I was working full time during the initial phase of writing the manuscript for publication. I listened to a lot of my favourite music. Eat a lot! Until you have gone through the process of producing a book you don’t really appreciate how much work it involves. Creating a conducive environment is important so that you can focus on the work.
Alison – I imagine you had to do plenty of research for your book.
Nik – Absolutely! Writing a factual book about someone popular is a totally different proposition. There are a lot of considerations one needs to take account of such as legal matters and finalising and analysis of the research. Doing the research is one of the most interesting parts of the writing process. I also conducted interviews with selected national and international media figures related to Donna Summer. It is important for me to get information from as many different sources as possible and I wanted a fresh feel to the work.
Alison – I notice your book has received some favourable reviews. Please feel free to quote from the review and/or post links here.
Nik – It was great to receive good reviews about my work from publications.
For example The Beat noted:
“Nik A Ramli has dug deep…to paint a portrait of a very creative talent, extremely well researched and informative.” “Ramli takes a different and personal look at her life and career full of highs, million-selling and Grammy Award-winning records, attempts at being a movie star, her retreat back to gospel, and her love of painting.” “Drawing from a number of quality publications and interviews…the book was written before her untimely death and is best read with that in mind.” “…an enjoyable read for soul and general pop fans.”
While Gay Times printed:
“…this is a complete biography that covers everything…It’s meticulous in the extreme…essential for any Summer obsessives.”
Most humbling was receiving comments from Donna Summer’s fans that e-mailed or posted their messages on social networking sites to me, it is fabulous.
Alison – What have you learned from the publishing experience? Are there things you would do differently in future?
Nik – I learned a lot since my book was published. From my experience I say promotion is the key and you have to carry on doing the task. A published author once said to me “You still have to do publicity own your own”. She is right. Well it’s your baby, your lover! You are not going to let your book go and walk alone? Or just simply depending on the publishing company? Well unless you are a global well known author when everything is at your service!
The main key is ‘RESEARCH’. You’ll learn more and more, it’s endless. Still, this is my first book and first contracted partnership publication. Sure, there will be many things one might do differently. Only once you have published a book will you have an idea what to do next in the future, perhaps?
Alison – Would any other writing work interest you, such as screenplay writing, editing or book reviewing? Please give reasons for your choices.
Nik – I would love to and I will. You learn when you’re reading other peoples work for review. You will learn again and also when you start to write new manuscript(s). I must say editing is not my field. Let’s leave it to the experts shall we?
Alison – I gather from your last answer that you consider professional editing and proof reading essential parts of the publishing process.
Nik – Oh yes. You do need professionals to do the job. Still you also have to read your manuscript over and over to proof it after it has been edited. It’s your work after all. I love the experience I had with this task, e-mailing the publishers about the changes is fabulous. Maybe I gave the editor a headache? Who knows? Still to proof read and to read it as a book is different. Your mind is more at ease and sometimes you soon spot a few things that may need correcting. Publishers normally will advise their authors about the matter.
Alison – I found it impossible to proof read my own work; I simply saw whatever I intended to write, so I’m very grateful to the professionals for the job they did. Aside from employing the services of proof readers and editors, is there any other advice you would give to a budding author?
Nik – Research, research and lots of research on your subject matter, and do it well. Stay creative and focus. If you have any ideas for your working manuscript, note them down. Carry a little note book with you all the time!
Alison – Did you give television/radio interviews while promoting your book? Did you enjoy the experience? Did you learn from it?
Nik – I had a radio interview in the UK, newspapers in Malaysia and a magazine in the US. The book also featured on Malaysian TV when I was there to promote my interior design work and to do my guest TV slot. I have had media interviews before about my design work. All I can say to future authors is to make notes and remember the crucial information you want to deliver to the listeners and viewers. Live Radio and TV interviews are exciting and nerve racking in equal measure. Enjoy it! You are talking about your work.
Alison – How did you feel the first time you saw your book in print?
Nik – A self published friend of mine said “You will cry”. Well, no! I was normal and excited. I knew it was my book when I received it from the postman. You know when you see scenes about authors receiving their book from movies or TV series you would say “Hey that’s me soon” But it is not. I’m sure everybody experiences it differently. But I’m still very proud to see my book! I smile every time I look at it. You know I hold it and put it in my bag every time I travel and have it on my coffee table. I’ll go to shops if they display my book and have a look at it! Am I sad? Well who cares… I have a book out!
Alison – I did think I would cry when I received the initial copies of my novel; instead I smiled a huge smile as Book Guild had done such a fabulous job. I have to keep looking at the author photograph to remind myself it really is my work, so I can understand your pride! It would be a terrible shame to see the demise of the physical book. Do you think there will always be people who want to buy hard copies of books, or will the e-reader take over completely? How do you feel about e-readers?
Nik – The physical book will always be published. It is a tough business, but people will always buy books because you can’t replace a physical book. No doubt e-books will become increasingly popular but from my own findings readers purchase them as an easy read type of book. They are moderate in price and space saving. For great novels and fabulously designed coffee table books, I say e-books cannot compete.
Alison – I’m sure you’re right. I can’t imagine a world without books, much as I enjoy my e-reader, so I think they’re safe for the foreseeable future.
Thank you once again to Nik for sharing his news and opinions with us.
Nik – Thank you Alison. All the best for your own book and enjoy the journey promoting your book.
If you’d like to find out more about Nik and his work he has a variety of social networking sites, blogs and websites for you to follow:
To buy Donna Summer – The Thrill Goes On – A Tribute: