Each new author has a different story, but no matter where we stem from, we tell our stories because we need to and we hope people read and like them. My guest today is Sue Nicholls, the author of Be Careful What You Wish For. Let’s meet her!
1. Seeing as you are quite new to the publishing world, do tell us 5 things about yourself which you consider the most important.
a. I have learned so much about myself during this process. I didn’t know I was such a sticker. I kept going when things were difficult and took criticism on the chin – I imagine I am not alone in this as all writers must be the same, but I discovered it in myself.
b. I could read fluently before I went to school, and would read stories to my friends.
c. Both my siblings write. My brother is Simon Mendes da Costa, the playwrite, and my sister, Sara Mendes da Costa, as well as being a voice over artist and in that role, the voice of the Speaking Clock, is about to publish her first novel.
d. If my siblings hadn’t been writers I would never have thought of doing it. I can’t say that I always knew I would do it. If anything, my childhood was spent reading, drawing and painting – apparently I was no trouble.
e. Although my book is a story from my imagination, many of the things experienced by my characters have happened to me, or I have observed in others. I am a student of human nature, as they say.
2. Can you remember the moment when you first decided to publish a book? Was there fear, determination, eagerness? Did anyone sort of give you a push?
I suppose once by brother and sister started, the idea of writing wormed its way into my head, but I didn’t really think about it very much. Then one day a plot hit me. Where it came from I have no idea, but I ran it past my husband and he liked it, so I just sat down and began to write.
It was much harder than I thought it would be so I read a couple of books and enroled on a writing course, all the time hammering away at the writing.
When I met Belinda Hunt of Mardibooks, I was about 40,000 words in, and she gave me really helpful advice, and kept me at it. My brother was also brutally frank.
3. Your first book is called Be Careful What You Wish For. Why did you choose this title?
Belinda thought of it. I was reluctant to use it because there are already several books with that title, but I sounded people out on Facebook with it, along with others, and the unanimous opinion was that it was intriguing, and would make them want to buy it.
4. How did the book come to life? Did you plan it before writing, did you have beta readers and an editor? What was your favourite part of the whole process?
Having read the first book on how to write a novel, the most helpful advice I got from it was to roughly set the titles of about 30 chapters. This I did but because there are several points of view in my story, I got into a huge muddle and ended up with Christmas happening at several points throughout the year. I had to stop and summarise each person’s story, with dates, and re-write quite a bit.
When I got to the end of the second draft I sent it to Belinda, and to my brother. They both said the same thing, that I needed to identify the points of drama, and write to them. It was like a penny dropping and I came home and re-wrote again. This time I planned more carefully.
My next book will be planned meticulously.
5. What do your friends and family think about you as a writer? Do you consider yourself an author?
I think they are proud of me. I’m quite proud of myself, really. I do consider myself an author.
6. Your book deals with unhappy relationships, but it is not a romance novel. What do you hope readers will find in your book or learn from it? Who would you recommend it to?
I hope it will make people want to solve the underlying mystery. The book is aimed at women because, as you say, it deals with relationships. There is a small amount of romance but mainly it deals with the challenges of separation, and coping with the children. One’s sympathies vacilate between the men and the women, and we wonder whether crimes are being committed.
7. How do you cope with reviews and comments?
I’ll let you know!
8. Your website has a poetry section called Poems, not Poetry. I found this very intriguing. Could you explain why you named it this way?
I never used to think of myself as a poet, so I called the first verses I published, ‘pomes’ as per Winnie the Pooh. This was rather self deprecatingly for me.
When I had written a few ‘pomes’ I gave them the heading Poems not Poetry because I still thought I wasn’t a poet.
I find now that I am a poet. Who would have thought it. The title has stuck though, and I rather like it. It defies pretentiousness, a bit like ‘Singing, not Opera’ would.
9. If you compared your writing style to any famous author, who would it be and why?
I wouldn’t do that. I don’t even know. When you have read and reread your words, they cease to have any meaning. Let’s wait and see what others have to say.
10. When you read for yourself, what sort of books do you choose and why? Who are your favourite authors?
I like crime. Kate Atkinson and Elizabeth George for example. I also love children’s literature. I’ve read so many wonderful stories to the children by Michael Morpurgo (Escape from Shangrila comes to mind). There’s also a lovely book, recommended by a friend, called The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston. The Railway Children, Winnie the Pooh, and so many others I read and loved as a child.
11. Would you like to add anything about your current work or send a message to the readers?
Only that I hope they enjoy the story. If they do please tell your friends and leave a review on Amazon.
Thank you for being my guest today, Sue! Happy writing!