Renee Nicole Davies, better known to her family, friends and herself as "Nik," is a storyteller.
"I would tell a story anywhere," said Davies.
The 43-year-old mother of four was born in the Bronx, and now lives in Pittsfield with her husband, Jim Hall, in the Elm Street neighborhood, where the kids there also serve as her writing critics.
This Thursday, she'll debut her first publication, "Fif15teen," which is the first in a trilogy of young adult books. The book is published by Pittsfield's own BiG HeAd BoOks, owned by her brother/fellow youth author, Ty Allen Jackson.
A free public launch party will be held at The Beacon Cinema.
In "Fif15teen," protagonists/best friends Akeem and Quinn find themselves in "a world where every inhabitant is 15 years old and dangerous. The laws of this strange world demand that boys and girls remain mortal enemies and these laws are upheld with cold-blooded determination."
Here, Davies tells The Eagle about becoming a writer, using kids and teens as critics, and how she loves a story with a good battle.
Q: How did you become interested in storytelling?
A: I've been making stories my whole life. When I was younger, I'd write poems, lyrics and ideas, especially when I didn't have the money to buy the books I wanted.
Q:Tell me about some of your first stories.
A:When my children were little, I told stories about a character named "Willie." Willie began as a boy, for my oldest son, who's now 24. When my first daughter, was born, Willie became a girl. I came up with millions of stories, that I used to tell to my children every night. (Her children are now older, and include Terrell, 24; Cotye, 21; Sonny, 18, and Kiana, 16.)
Q: What was the first full-length story that you actually wrote down?
A: It's called "Quest for the Keys" (not published). It's a kids taking on the world and succeeding kind of story. It took me seven years to write.
Q: Is Willie in it?
A:Yes. There's also a sequel, "Trials of Sai Theron." In it, Willie's a girl. Her name's short for Wilhemina Finkelbaum. She's 13 years old.
Q: Have you always written for young adults?
A:Yes, that's my genre. I love the freedom of it. I like the stories to be fun and adventurous, but I also like to throw in some heavy topics.
Q: What are some of the ‘heavy topics' in "Fif15teen"?
A:Well there's death. The kids are faced with that. They're also free to use their conscience. There's no adult presence in the world that they're in, and there's a list of laws. Akeem has to figure out if he'll follow them or go against them to help his friend. It's peer pressure, on a far out level.
Q: What inspired your story?
A: I literally dreamed of it. But I'd say inspiration also comes from "Lord of the Flies" and "The Hunger Games."
Q: Who previews your stories?
A:I always have my family and friends read it. For "Fif15teen," I had some neighborhood kids read it. I recently had three little girls come to my door dressed as characters from the book. I have the best neighborhood on the planet.
Q:Do your own children influence what you write?
A: I put a little bit of everyone into the story. My stories and characters are built on what's around me and who's around me. I love unusual names. I love creating characters that look like me, so they're multicultural stories.
Q: Has Pittsfield been in any of your books?
A: No. But my grandparents, who grew up here, and whom I spent a lot of summers with lived on Lafayette Street, here in Pittsfield. So in my first book, "Quest," everything takes place on Lafayette Street, and a place called Mount Clare, named after my grandmother.
If you go
What: BiG HeAd BoOks release party for "Fif15teen," a young adult novel by Pittsfield author Nik Davies.
When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Beacon Cinema, second floor,
57 North St., Pittsfield.
Details: There will be food, drinks, giveaways, book excerpt readings and more. This event is free and open to the public.
To learn more about Nik Davies: www.facebook.com/enterniksmind.
To learn more about the publication: