Jera’s Jamboree would like to welcome author Nicky Wells to the blog today.
Nicky Wells is a writer and former business practices researcher.
Born and raised in Germany,she moved to the UK in 1993. Having completed her studies, Nicky spentsix years working for an International Human Resources research firm in Londonand Washington, DC. Nicky lives in Bristol with her husband and her twoboys and is beginning work on her next novel.
I reviewed Nicky’s debut novelSophie’s Turn late lastmonth and Nicky kindly agreed to be interviewed for Jera’s Jamboree. She is also providing an e-copy to give awayinternationally to one lucky blog follower (details on how to enter at the endof the interview).
What made youdecide to self-publish Sophie’s Turn?
Self-publishing offered abrand-new avenue for me to present my work and an enormous amount of controlover the publishing process. I decidedwhen to publish, where to publish (all over the world!), at what price and whatroyalties are involved for me. What’snot to like?
I have to admit that this didn’toccur to me over night—there was a learning process here. I finished Sophie’s Turn just before I gave birth to my first son, and thebook sat on the shelf for over two years while I did ‘baby stuff.’ After the birth of my second child, Idecided to have a go at getting Sophie’sTurn published. Having made myselfsavvy regarding the publishing process (and the very slim likelihood of findingan agent with one’s first book), I approached a number of agents over atwo-year period. I got three types ofanswers: one, we’re not taking on newauthors at this time; two, it’s not for me (but keep writing); three, themarket isn’t right for your work right now (but keep writing). With two kids and very little time, I haveto confess I just got a bit tired of keeping looking, so I let matters restagain.
When I found out about self-publishingvia Amazon/Kindle, I felt electrified. I just knew I had to give it a try. I wanted people to be able to read Sophie’sTurn—and what better way than to get it ‘out there’ but through theinternet. It took a couple of weeks tore-edit, re-format and convert Sophie’sTurn to e-book, and it was very exciting to upload it to Kindle and see itcome ‘live’ less than 24 hours later! All in all, self-publishing offered a great opportunity for publishingand marketing my work at this time.
Where did the inspiration come from for the character ofDan, the sexy rock star?
Dan isn’t based on a singleperson, but inspired by the best (and alleged worst) traits of quite a fewpeople, not all of them rock stars! Ihasten to add that Dan isn’t a real person and that any resemblance to any realperson, living or dead, is entirely coincidental, of course! J
A lot of Dan’s rock star personaarises from considering lead singers in several famous rock bands. There is so much information out there aboutthese folks—their own websites and DVDs, music videos, the press, the internet,radio… it’s not hard to build a character profile from there. Obviously, he had to be highly talented andquite charismatic; he is the frontman after all! My biggest problem was that I wanted Dan to be a genuinely niceperson; kind, caring, funny and largely sensible. Someone, in other words, whom Sophie could love ‘in real life’and even settle with. At the same time,I wanted him to have a few ‘star issues’, something that would make him into arecognizable and credible rock star figure. So he had to be a bit of a serial monogamist. He just had to love women! This conflict is central to the story of Sophie’s Turn, and gave me many a sleepless night!
The rock band Tusk on tour is a key part to the plot in Sophie’s Turn. Didyou listen to any playlists while you were writing those scenes?
Actually—no. While I do listen to music more or lessconstantly, I found it was hard to write this novel to the background of aspecific type of music. Largely, thehouse was quiet (so I could hear myself talk to myself!) and on a fewoccasions, I had the radio going. Butin between writing sessions, and certainly after, I’d usually turn the stereoto full blast for a few minutes. My favouritemusic? I like rock music, as you mightguess. Favourite bands include BonJovi, Europe, FM, and Queen. I alsolike pop, Abba and eighties music being firm favourites.
Sophie visits Paris and Manhattan in the story. I could believe I was there with her. Did you visit these places to research?
I havebeen to Paris (although only once) and a lot of the impressions Sophie conveysdraw on my trip there. I should add,though, that I am not in the habit of staying in 4 and 5 star hotels, so the descriptionshere are based on internet research.
Sadly,I have not been to New York yet but I have spent quite a lot of time inWashington, DC. So some of Sophie’sstateside adventures were inspired by my experiences there. For New York geography and impressions Iused internet research to support a first attempt at creating some localcolour. I then ‘interviewed’ (if youwant to call it that) friends and work colleagues who have lived there (forexample, what would be the best way to get from JFK into Manhattan, what wouldyou see, where do folks shop… that kind of thing). I also looked at maps and lots of pictures to get a ‘feel’ forthe places I made Sophie visit.
Sophie reasons with herself a lot before she makeschoices. I loved her character. Which character is your favourite and why?
I have to say, while Sophie is myheroine and I enjoyed ‘being’ her while I was writing her, my other favouritecharacter is Rachel. I hadn’t intendedher to play such a comparatively large part and to be so outspoken. Initially, she was just a sort of soundingboard—someone I could use to externalise some of Sophie’s inner monologuethrough conversation. Imagine mysurprise when Rachel started to talk back! And then, quite quickly, she assumed a role that… I don’t know, it wasalmost like the Greek Gods in classic literature. She’d always offer critical points of view, or anticipate somekind of disaster, or speak wise thoughts. And I loved her. Particularly inthe office when she gives Sophie the thumbs up, or in the hotel when she ringsher to tell her to go ahead with it all, for god’s sake. I didn’t know she would do that! Rachel really helped make the book for me inthe end.
Ithink Rachel will play a much bigger, and somewhat surprising role, in my nextnovel!
Sophie’s Turn is a modern day romantic fairytale. Is your current work in progress the samegenre?
Yes! Obviously there’s a massive open ending… somy current work picks up Sophie’s story from there. Dan continues to feature quite prominently, and I’ve alreadymentioned that Rachel will have a huge part to play. I’m in the process of hammering out the storyline so I don’t wantto give too much away at this stage. J
Which authors have inspired you on your writing journey?
Ilove, love, love chick lit! The firstchick lit novel I ever read was Catherine Alliott’s The Old-Girl Network and I resolved then to attempt towrite a novel of that genre. It took meover a decade but… here I am! Otherauthors that offer a role model are Jill Mansell, Jane Green, Helen Fieldingand Sophie Kinsella to name but a few. I love their work and their feisty, occasionally clumsy, and alwaysfunny heroines.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Plan, plan, plan! My first ever novel… well, let’s call it‘extended piece of writing’, was compiled in between degree courses in a tenday manic haze. In some ways, it was arough first draft or precursor to Sophie’sTurn. I had an idea of what Iwanted to happen and I just started writing furiously. The result? Something that I cringe to read now and would never want to see thelight of day. There were huge holes inthe plot, inconsistencies in the characters and just enormously long ramblingsections that didn’t move the story forward.
When I sat down to write Sophie’s Turn, I drew on that experienceand decided to work completely differently. I spent almost two weeks planning the plot and picking it apart again,compiling character profiles, doing research on locations, jotting down outlinesfor key scenes… in fact, designating ‘key scenes’ to ensure that the plot wouldalways move forward. I stuck the wholeoutline up on the wall so I could visualise it, and refer to it at all times. And when I got to writing, it was justfun! Needless to say, I had to makechanges—some of them significant—after the first draft, but even they wereeasier to envisage with my plan at hand and an ability to visually move thingsaround. I’m a great believer in planning!
Thankyou Nicky. Good luck with your nextbook ………. I’m looking forward to reading more about Rachel and the part Dan has to play!
Sophie’s Turn is available to purchase from Amazon.
Nickywill arrange for a Kindle copy of Sophie’s Turn to find a home with one lucky blogfollower. You don’t need a Kindle to be able to read it. Amazon have a FREE Kindle reading app for iPhones, Windows PC, Mac, BlackBerry, iPad, Android and Windows Phone 7! You can download from here.
Toenter this giveaway, please follow my blog and leave a comment on who yourfavourite musical artist is and why. Please leave how we can contact you. Nicky will pick a winner following the closing date. This giveaway is open internationally. The closing date for entries is midnight 15thAugust 2011. Good luck!