Surviving life with six brothers has prepared Dani O’Brien well for her new job in the aggressive world of the Minnesota Legislature. But her survival skills fail her when she meets local hockey star Luke Coffey, who is reluctantly wrangled into lobbying on behalf of his team for an arena expansion. Coming from a well-known sports family, Dani is determined to keep her identity a secret and her “no athletes” dating policy in motion, despite the attraction developing between her and Luke. Luke is tested himself when his professional reputation is pitted against his growing desire for Dani. Can Dani and Luke capitalize on their situation and make good on their own power play?
In college, Nikki Vilendrer used daydreaming as a means of escape from many pre-med lectures and labs. Switching from biology and medicine to civics and senate, Nikki eventually found herself in the land of 10,000 lakes—back at home—where she completed her master's in public policy, worked in the Minnesota State Senate, and started writing Power Play—as a means of winding down.
An avid sports fan and policy-wonk, Nikki fuses her love of hockey and the legislature to tell the fictional romance between her characters Dani and Luke. Having grown up skating on many of the outdoor ice rinks lining St. Paul’s East Side, Nikki knew that her home state of Minnesota would be the perfect setting for her first novel.
Nowadays, Nikki still daydreams, but as a means for capturing moments for her next novels and not as a way to avoid pre-med lectures. She still gets her legislative fix by working in government relations; gets to witness true romance via the new brides that come into the bridal shop she works at on weekends; and tries to find any excuse to put on her tap shoes to spark her creativity and keep those writing deadline stressors at bay.
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Please welcome Power Play author Nikki Vilendrer to Diane’s Book Blog.
What is your favorite part of the story, Power Play?
As someone born and raised in Minnesota, I know that hockey is something of a way of life here and I love that fact. And as a former legislative staffer I have an affinity for the unique state legislative process that can be somewhat tricky to understand. (Even to someone who has worked there!) The whole crazy process of combining my love of hockey and policy in this sweet, clean romance was my favorite part.
How long did it take you to write Power Play?
Oh gosh, I hate to say this out loud, but the time duration from brainstorming to publishing was almost a decade. I started daydreaming the idea while in undergrad but I didn’t start seriously writing until a few years later. When I actually started writing the meat of the story, I think I cranked it out in about four months. Then I sat on it for a bit while I finished grad school and worked in the legislature and slowly edited it for a couple more years. Last fall I finally got up the nerve to have it published and here I am!
If you could be best friends with one of your characters, who would it be?
It’s hard to pick one but I think Piper is awesome. As I re-read Power Play I realized that Piper has a lot of characteristics and personality traits of many of my real-life friends, so I guess it’s no surprise I would want be best friends with her. Plus, we can gush about hotties Luke and Marc from Power Play!
What inspired you to write your first book?
Power Play is my first novel, and I never intended to be a writer. It was kind of the alignment of a number of unforeseen events. I’ve always loved reading and daydreaming but didn’t really think I was qualified to write anything. In undergrad I happened to walk through a bookstore (not an uncommon occurrence) and a historical romance caught my attention. I read it and was so impressed with not only the story but also the fact that author was only a few years older than I at the time. I recognized that you didn’t have to be worldlier or have a Ph.D. to write, so the daydreaming for Power Play continued. I entered undergrad planning to go to med school but somewhere along the way that plan changed and I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do. As luck would have it, I was offered a position in the state legislature (which is where Power Play is set) and was able to fine-tune the specifics and logistics as I learned more myself about how the policy process works. As even more luck would have it, my senator/boss had the opportunity to be a key player in a stadium proposal that was very different from the one found in Power Play but in the same spirit. I remember one day sitting in my office, working on some project when it hit me. I just shook my head and thought, “Ok, I get it – this is meant to be.” So the inspiration came at different points in my life.
What's your favorite book-turned movie?
I really love the more recent movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, which is probably my favorite novel. I think I like it more than the six-hour BBC version from the 90s. (Insert gasp here!)
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Happy to! I had so much fun writing about Dani and her wonderful family in Power Play that I just didn’t want to see them go. I’m working on my next novel now, which features another O’Brien, but I don’t want to say whom just yet. But I can say sports will be included. Stay tuned!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you so much for all your support – it means more than I can put into words!
Who is you favorite real life hockey team?
The Minnesota Wild, of course!