Welcome, David Nicholls …

 

Wow! What a way to start the week. We are thrilled and honoured that David has kindly taken time out to chat to us. 

 

 Image Credit © Kristofer Samuelsson

Image Credit © Kristofer Samuelsson

David, can you tell us about what you’re working on at the moment?

At the time of writing, I’m just finishing the second draft of my fourth novel, ‘Us’, to be published in September. I’ve been away from fiction for a while – it has been nearly five years since One Day came out, seven years since I started writing it – and I’ve loved getting back to books. For years after One Day, I found it impossible, but this one has been a pleasure, and has come relatively easily; a little over eighteen months from first sentence to publication.

What are you most proud of writing?

At the moment, the new novel. I suppose there are some similarities to One Day – a love story, the same mixture of happy and sad – but it feels a little more grown-up. It’s about family and married life – the working title was ‘Married Love’ – and it follows a couple from their beginnings, through eighteen years of parenthood, to the relationship’s (possible) end. I’m 47 now, and was starting to feel a little foolish writing about twenty-somethings on dates. ‘Us’ is still a romantic story, but maybe a little tougher, more varied and mature in subject and tone.

I also loved working on The 7.39, the two-part TV drama that was broadcast in January. Unlike the solitary world of fiction, film and TV are entirely collaborative and while that has its pleasures, it can also be madly frustrating, nerve-wracking, stressful. The final product rarely matches the story you told in your head, but The 7.39 was one of those rare times when everything came together. I loved the casting, the production team, there were hardly any rows or feuds or walk-outs and I think some of that harmony came across on screen. The only other time I’ve been as happy with a show was when I did Tess of the D’Urbervilles for the BBC, about six years ago now.

And One Day too. I’ve come to accept now that it’ll probably be the thing I’m known for, and I’ll always be proud of it.

In ‘One Day’, we know that Emma makes some mix tapes for Dex, but which three tunes would definitely feature on David Nicholls’ mix tape?

Probably some of the same tracks that Emma chose. There’s a playlist here – Emma Morley’s Mix Tape– that contains a lot of the music I looked to for inspiration while writing the book.

Of those songs, I think you’d choose ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ by Aretha Franklin, because of the incredible singing and the Bacharach melody, then ‘Protection’ by Massive Attack because of its sentiment, and finally ‘These Days’ by Nico, because it’s such a simple and beautifully bittersweet song.

Also in ‘One Day’, Dex is such a complex and interesting person, where did you get the inspiration for his character?

He was written as an antidote to the male characters I’d created in my first two books – rather modest, nice, arty, self-effacing men. I wanted to write someone who had an excess of self-confidence, a chauvinist, a philistine, but nevertheless someone who contained the seed of a decent human being. I used to be an actor, and a lot of the young men who started out at the same time as me had extraordinary success, and of course it affected them. They all became Dexter. I was a rotten actor, so never faced that dilemma.

 

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What is your biggest challenge when adapting a novel for screen?

The first thing you lose when you adapt a book for the screen is the character’s inner voice. Books are about emotion and thought as much as action and dialogue. In a screenplay, it’s all about what people say and do, rather than what they think or feel. Conveying that is the great challenge. Of course, actors help, but voice-over  on screen is useless, and how else do you convey an inner monologue? This was the great dilemma with Starter for Ten – all the best jokes were in the character’s head, and it made no sense to say them aloud.

Also, budget is not a consideration when writing a book. On screen everything costs a fortune so everything has to serve a need. You’re constantly being asked – do we need this scene? Do we need the rain? Does it have to be London? As a screenwriter, you’re spending someone else’s money, so of course you’re asked to change things. Books are ink on paper, and unless you’re being dull, no-one minds a little more ink.

Finally, accepting the loss of control is always hard. In fiction, there’s the novelist and no-one else. With TV and films, the writer has very clearly defined responsibilities – you’re not the designer, the composer, the casting director, the editor, you’re just part of the team. Trying to make the screen version look exactly like the story you have in your head is almost impossible. Sometimes the finished version might be better than what you imagined, sometimes not. But if you can’t accept that loss of control, then it’s best to stick to  books.

Can you tell us a bit about the readings you’ve given and what inspired you to start?

As an actor I was largely mute, which was just as well given that I was such a shocking old ham. But I do enjoy readings, though I find them very nerve-wracking and worry a great deal about being dull, or pompous or indiscreet. I still over-act, but I do love meeting readers, and to be reminded of why I wanted to do this in the first place.

What is your ideal writing space, and do you prefer to work in silence or with background noise?

I’m lucky enough to have an office that I go to each morning. I try to be at my desk by 8. If I’m sensible, I turn the internet off immediately and hide my phone in a cupboard. (The internet is the enemy of concentration, especially for someone with no willpower, like me.) I try and write until lunchtime, though there are inevitably distractions. I write on Word, but try to edit on pen and paper then type that revised text back in; it’s too easy to let your eyes slip across the computer screen. I read for an hour at lunchtime, then work on scripts in the afternoon, though I rarely do anything good after 4pm. I use to listen to pop music, then only Bach – solo piano or cello – but now have to have silence. But distractions – the postman, the phone call – are always hugely welcome.  

What makes you laugh?

Old golden-age Hollywood movies – Billy Wilder or Preston Sturges or Lubitsch. Walter Matthau films, David Sedaris, Lorrie Moore, Wes Anderson, Dickens. My children.     

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given to date in your career?

I’m not sure who said it, but I once read that the secret to writing was to decide how you want your reader to feel, and then work out how to achieve it. Which is easier said than done I suppose, but I think that’s why One Day worked. I wanted to write something that would have the big emotional rush you get from a great pop song, something that would be both funny, then heart-breaking, sometimes on the same page.

Everyone tells you this, but I do think reading – and watching – as much as possible is invaluable. Everything I’ve written has been inspired by, or stolen from, something else. There’d be no Starter for Ten without Rushmore, Billy Liar and Great Expectations, no One Day without Much Ado About Nothing, Annie Hall and Tess of the D’Urbervilles (no, really). Inspiration can be found in all art, high or low, and you have to give time to sucking everything up. I set my alarm so that I can read an extra hour a day. Of course it means that I’m asleep on my desk by nine-fifteen, but at least I try.  

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Any other creative passions?

I’m an enthusiastic but rudimentary cook, and I’ve been known to snatch Lego out of the hands of my children.

Quick Fire

West End Musical or Night at the Opera?

Opera

Yorkshire Dales or Welsh Valleys?  

Both lovely, but the Dales

 

 

 

 

Three Dream Dinner Party Guests, past or present?

Billy Wilder, Cary Grant, Kate Bush.

Favourite London Landmark?

St Paul’s from the southern end of the Millennium Bridge.

Checkov or Shakespeare?

That’s the hardest choice. Shakespeare at a push, though The Seagull is my favourite play.

Thank you so much for being our guest today, David. We wish you the very best of luck with your forthcoming novel ‘Us’ and needless to say, we can’t wait to read it.

https://www.facebook.com/davidnichollsauthor

 

 

 

Romaniac Shorts Interview – Celia Anderson

Following the launch of our anthology, it’s been an absolute pleasure to ask our lovely Celia a few questions and to see the fun-loving, warm-hearted person we all know and love shine through in her answers. 

She’s even brought in an extra large chocolate cake! 

Here’s what Celia had to say …

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Q1)   Celia, You’re our Romaniac queen of multitasking, so what are you juggling writing-wise at the moment?

Right now, I’ve just finished re-editing my latest children’s book ready for submission and I’m swaying between getting down to a new adult one that’s three chapters in and a similar erotica one. Little Boxes is currently out on submission (fingers, toes and everything crossable crossed) so I’ve been moving and shaking this half-term before I need to get my nose back to the grindstone.

Q2)  What do you most enjoy writing and why?

I love writing for children because I’ve got a captive audience at school to test out the books, but the adult ones are just as much fun to do. I’m not a big fan of writing short stories so getting three ready for Romaniac Shorts was a steep learning curve…

Q3)  Any other creative passions?

I guess cooking is my other creative pastime but I’ve always dabbled in painting and drawing too. The problem with creating beautiful cakes is you have to eat them – the Romaniacs can’t keep up if I make too many.

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Yum Yum! ;)

Q4) Which book could you read over and over again?

Elizabeth Goudge’s trilogy – all about the wonderful Elliot family, set in Hampshire near the sea. (The Bird in the Tree, The Herb of Grace and The Heart of the Family). One of my dreams is to win the Elizabeth Goudge award at the RNA conference.

Q5) What was the thinking behind your three anthology stories?

They were all written at different times for different reasons – I was just relieved that they fitted!

Q6) If you could interview any author past or present, who would it be?

D.E. Stevenson – my all time favourite romantic fiction writer. Sadly no longer with us, but her books are so comforting and satisfying when you’re feeling as if you need a hug.

Q7) What was the last book you read?

I’m multitasking with the reading at the moment on my Kindle! Have just finished Stately Pleasures by Lucy Felthouse (very rude!) and am juggling Baggy Pants and Bootees (Marilyn Chapman), our own Laura E James’ Truth or Dare?, The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas and Darcie’s Dilemma – Sue Moorcroft. Phew. No wonder it takes me so long to finish a book!

Q8) Fictional hero you’d most like to spring to life before your eyes?

Inspector Lynley from Elizabeth George’s series. My dream man. Or Foyle from Foyle’s War. A police detective theme is emerging here … I’ve never fancied Poirot though …

Q9) How long did it take you to write your debut novel ‘Sweet Proposal’ and just how excited were you to see it in print?

The book was called The Chocolate Project until it was almost ready for publication and it probably took about 6 months to write – I was beside myself with excitement when it came out (but still prefer the original title.) On publication day I was on a whistle-stop rail tour of the USA with my family and we celebrated with cocktails on top of the John Hancock Tower in Chicago. It was brilliant!

Q10) The sentence that best defines the vibe at Romaniac HQ?

The current one would probably be Onwards and Upwards. Everybody’s on a high after our book launch and we’re loving seeing it up there in the Amazon charts. And all of us have got big writing plans for 2014. I wouldn’t be without the Romaniacs for the world.

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Celia, thank you so much for answering my questions.

With love,

Jan x

Notebook Confessional

This is a confession of infidelity.

notebooksI have two shelves full of notebooks – and none of them are full. Some of them are completely empty. Yet I can’t walk past a stationery shop without looking for more … always seeking the elusive perfect notebook; The One that will end up containing the perfect stories, as if the notebook itself can produce words.

Each time I buy one, I think this is The One, the one I’ll love forever, the one I’ll keep writing in until the bitter end… but something always goes wrong. We fall out of love and before I know it, I’m back in Paperchase, flirting with a shiny new one.

It’s always been a problem – in school, I’d start every term in love with my beautiful exercise books, all covered in wrapping paper, or carefully decorated with cuttings from magazines … then someone would sit next to me with their books covered in something prettier, sparklier and mine would look dull in comparison, and I’d spend the rest of the term coveting the books next to me.

This year, I’m trying to stay faithful to one notebook at a time – well, maybe two; one small one for small bags and a bigger one for big bags. And maybe one for my desk at work and one for my desk at home. I wouldn’t want to get caught short when THE idea strikes, would I?

Now it’s time for my other Romaniacs to ‘fess up – are you one notebook women, faithful to the end? Or are you spending half your income each week on lovely notebooks and pens and paper and folders and more notebooks and… mmmm….

Vanessa x

NotebooksLaura: I have a secret stash. I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. Need a quick fix? Whatever colour, whatever size you want, I’ve got it. Clean, fresh, virginal pages, lying between exotic covers, waiting to be inked on. I have several on the go at once, but all for different reasons. I fill them to my satisfaction, home them, and then delight in the thrill of starting something new.

Celia: I was going to say that I’m not much of a one for notebooks but then I looked in my desk drawers! The one I use most is the fabulous big gold and dark green one that lives on a shelf right next to the desk. It was a present from my daughters, and last May I started writing down competition entries or anything writing-related that I was doing or had achieved. It’s such a pleasure writing in this book  with my Christmas pen – thick cream pages, decorated edges and clasps to keep it shut. The smaller green and gold one is my diet diary and it doesn’t have much in it. Sadly, this is not because I don’t eat much but because I’m  usually too busy eating and drinking to write in it. 

Catherine: I’ve never really had to buy notebooks because since I was young my family and friends have brought them for me. My problem lies with not being able to get rid of any of them. When you’ve spent your life jotting in notepads, when you look through them you think there’s gold in that there notepad. And that one. And that one. Shame I’ve never found time to go through them all. 

notebook[Stands up and takes deep breath] Hello, my name is Sue and I’m a notebook junky – [smiles at the nods, hellos and encouraging clapping from others in the group] I’ve been addicted to notebooks for many, many years. I can’t get enough of them. Any shape, size, colour, I love them all. Sometimes, I go into stationery shops to admire them, to stroke them, to hold them in my hands, to flick through the untouched virgin paper, to breathe in the smell of newness. The urge to claim it as mine and hand over the last pennies in my purse can be overwhelming. Oh God, just talking about it and words like Paperchase, WH Smith, Waterstones race through my mind. [rushes out of meeting to stroke current favourite]

 Jan: I confess I’d be sitting right beside Sue at that ‘notebook junky’ group. Mr B often tuts and rolls his eyes when I veer off to purr at the stationery when out shopping. I dread to think how many notebooks share our flat with us; big ones, tiny ones, bright ones, patterned ones, you name it… If we Romaniacs lined them all up side by side, I reckon we could fill the floor here at HQ.  Our very own notebook carpet. There’s a thought…

Debbie: I give up with notepads. Like the others, I have piles of them but interestingly the only ones I use are of the ‘value’ or ‘homebrand’ variety. Following an Arvon writing course I did invest in a couple of moleskin ones which come out if I’m attending a writing course or any RNA events but otherwise, the trouble I seem to have with notebooks is that most of them are gifted ones and far too beautiful to write in!

About five years ago, a friend gave me a beautiful silk notebook. The cover is a rich, reddish-brown, almost the colour of polished copper, with a ‘framed’ panel of sinuous, vertical meandering flowers and acanthus leaves embossed in the middle of the front outer cover. And for the five years since acquiring it, it has lived on top of my piano alongside my metronome. It stays there, gathering dust, each parchment page as virginal and empty as when it was hand bound.  It wasn’t until a conversation with a friend, that I realised why…

Apparently, her sister has a gift for writing poetry and in an attempt to encourage and inspire ‘F’ bought her a luxurious notebook for her ideas and notes. After a few weeks, she discovered her sister hadn’t used it and when asked, her sister told her it was because it was “too lovely to write in…” Following lengthy discussions with her sibling and others, F concluded that her sister didn’t feel she was ‘worthy’ of the notebook. It was as if somehow, it was ‘too good’ and too beautiful for her to write in; that her writing did not measure up to the paper.

I smiled at my friends conclusion. It struck a chord. Perhaps it’s a trait of the ‘wannabe’ writer who hasn’t quite made it that I feel ‘unworthy?’ but I could see some truth in her words. And I still struggle to ruin a perfect blank page or beautiful silk cover with my scribbled musings. So for now my collection of notebooks sit forlornly in my study and look beautiful, gathering dust, until one day…

Lucie: I think it comes with the job! I don’t think any writer would be without at least one trusty notebook – or several hundred in Sue’s case :-) – to jot down their musings. I have a few notebooks. Mainly I have a purple one that goes in my bag for when I am out and about, one on my desk which isn’t as pretty and a few stored in my desk that are all half written in. I don’t think I’ve ever filled a notebook. I’ve always been teased away by another before getting quite to the end. I do find it hard to go into places like WHSmith, Paperchase and Staples and not be drawn straight to the stationery section. 

Come to think of it, I think I’m due a new one…..

Tuesday Chit Chat with Lizzie Lamb

Hi Lizzie, welcome to Romaniac HQ. The kettle’s on, the biscuit tin’s restocked, so let’s get started, shall we?

Hi Jan, can I just check that the coffee is strong enough and that the biscuits are coated in milk chocolate? If you can’t get biscuits, I quite like giant chocolate buttons.

Lizzie, you’ll be pleased to know it’s a yes to both and we’ve even got chocolate buttons too :)

Great! I’m sitting comfortably, so let’s begin.

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Having successfully self-published your debut novel, Tall, Dark & Kilted (cracking title, by the way!) tell us a bit about what inspired the story.

I thought up the title (it was initially called BIG BAD WOLF) and the two main characters Ruairi and Fliss, and thereafter the novel wrote itself.  I originally wrote the novel for Little Black Dress (Headline) after attending my first RNA conference in Leicester. I’d attended a seminar given by then editor, Cat Cobain, who told me that LBD were looking for new writers. She gave an inspiring talk and said she wanted a book that was small enough to fit in someone’s handbag so they could read it on the tube/bus, etc, on their way to work. I had a 1:1 session with her and told her I’d written a book about a therapist who tries to set up a therapy centre in the highlands of Scotland. She said to finish it and send it to her. It took me a year to finish the novel which I sent to the RNA New Writers’ scheme where it almost received a second read. I then made some changes to it and sent it off to LBD.

In the meantime, I got on with writing another novel. I also entered a competition to write the jingle for the LBD website, winning a year’s supply of books. I then learned that the publication was no longer taking on new authors and was closing down. My novel came back to me and I sent it to The Hilary Johnson Authors’ Advisory Service where it was reviewed by a former senior editor of a publishing company. I didn’t agree with her critique, so I put the novel in the drawer and had a go at writing a Mills and Boon.  

I also won another competition to have the first three chapters read and critiqued by Carole Matthews, who sent me a mug which changed colour and advertised her latest novel when I poured tea or coffee into it. We’ve been friends ever since; she’s been very encouraging, as has Trisha Ashley and Kate Hardy, telling me to keep going as I’ll get there in the end.

Describe that moment (words and actions) when you first saw your novel available to download on Amazon, and later, in paperback.

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I would still be writing and rewriting the novel ready to send to agents if it hadn’t been for Amanda Grange (author of Mr Darcy’s Diary, etc). Mandy had lunch at my house where she encouraged me and three other NWS members: June Kearns, Adrienne Vaughan and Mags Cullingford to put our books on Amazon. It was then that we decided to form THE NEW ROMANTICS 4 and have a paperback version of our book as well as a kindle download, so that we could hold roadshows and sell the novel to friends/general public.  We had to get our American tax code (that’s another story!), design the front cover, etc, and finally send it up to Create Space. By the end of the process we were all shattered. We were having lunch with Mandy in a nearby café when my lovely husband, Dave (aka Bongo Man) turned up with my proof copy, which had just arrived. By then I was so exhausted, I just looked at it, feeling numb. It took me a couple of days to realise what I had achieved. Only then did I really begin to feel excited.

Did you draft each chapter out beforehand or did your characters have free rein to take you wherever their stories led them?

I must admit I’m a plotter rather than a pantser. I knew where the story was going but wasn’t totally sure how to get there – I also lengthened the novel to 120k words. June Kearns is my writing buddy/beta reader and she suggested another plot thread whereby all my ideas fell into place. I had a 1:1 with an editor at another RNA conference and she said that the title of my novel wouldn’t work and suggested a change. Tongue in cheek, I suggested Tall, Dark and Kilted and she said she LOVED it but wasn’t taking on any new authors. So, I followed Mandy’s advice and self-published because life’s too short to wait for agents to get back to me.

Do you have a set writing routine or any literary rituals? 

Luckily my time is entirely my own, and after 34 years of getting up at 6am to get ready for school, I’m definitely a morning person. I try to be at the PC for about 8am and answer emails, put a post on Facebook and write something on Twitter. THEN I begin writing until about 11am or thereabouts – normally my parrot Jasper calls me to let him out and he plays in his cupboard all day. I tend to write for some of the evening, too, as there are very few programs on the TV that I enjoy. I also try to plan to see friends a couple of times a week, otherwise I’d stay in my study writing and never venture out.

In addition to being part of The New Romantics 4, you run the Leicester chapter of the RNA, as well as belonging to several online writers’ groups. How beneficial has that writerly support and camaraderie been for you and how big a part would you say social media has played?

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I would say that the best thing I ever did was to join Facebook a few years back, before my novel was finished and ready for publication. Most of the people I’ve made friends with are writers, aspiring writers or avid readers – in this country and in the USA. I’ve been encouraged by Facebook friends (many of whom are in the RNA NWS) to finish the book and lots of them have bought the download/ novel and posted a review on Amazon. They helped make my tweet-a-thon (where I held a virtual picnic in the highlands of Scotland) a great success. Twitter actually blocked me because I sent too many tweets. I tweet about my novel three times a day in order to catch the UK, East coast of USA and then the West coast of the USA before I go to bed. My lovely twitter friends retweet for me and I return the favour.

Can you give us a teaser about what you’re working on at the moment?

I’m writing a new romantic comedy about a rookie reporter (a rebel without a cause) who goes undercover in a boot camp for brides. Her partner is an infuriating photographer who has a hidden agenda and is on the trail of a drug smuggling gang. That’s all I’m saying . . . for now! I want to have it finished for the end of summer and will then decide whether to submit it to the NWS or not.  

We love reading about Bongo Man and, indeed, about the famous Bongo itself, which we know you’ve taken many a literary trip in, so if you could take three famous travelling companions along for the ride one day, who would they be and why?  

Dave (aka Bongo Man) has been fantastic and given his life over to my book launches with the other New Romantics 4 because he knows this is my dream come true. He even bought full highland dress, sack wheelers, stepladders and an old Imperial typewriter off eBay for our launches. Who would I take along with me for the ride? Well, Jan, you would definitely be one of my companions because we’d have such a laugh together, wouldn’t we? You know, I can’t think of anyone famous I’d like to come along with me – isn’t that strange? Perhaps that’s because I spend so much of my life dreaming up plots, etc.

Dave (aka Bongo Man)

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Any other creative passions, Lizzie? 

I love taking photographs, as you might have noticed on Facebook. My ambition is to buy a new PC (hopefully a Mac) and an iPhone when my present contract runs out, and synch them together with my iPad. Then it’ll be whole lot easier taking photos, sharing them with friends and setting up a blog after Christmas.  I also want to make a video of me reading Tall, Dark and Kilted and put it on YouTube after Christmas, too. Not to mention joining an online newspaper for Indie writers.

And finally, whilst I make us another coffee and grab the mince pies, a few quick-fire questions for you:

Actor you’d most like to see in a kilt?

Owen McDonnell – he played the Garda in Single Handed on TV

Haggis or Clootie Dumpling?

Clootie Dumpling! I shudder at the thought of haggis, although I do like neeps (swede) and tatties that accompany it. It’s a funny thing, we lived in Scotland until I was eleven-years-old but we never ate haggis until we moved to Leicester. LOL.

Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig?

Daniel Craig. Pierce is gorgeous but a bit too smooth for me.

Dream holiday destination?

IF we ever find anyone willing to babysit the parrot (he’d never cope with being sent to the parrot equivalent of kennels/cattery) I’d love to go back to Greece or Italy and tour in the Bongo. We did it years ago. Failing that, I’d like to stay in a bungalow on a beach and have my every need catered for while I write.  

Singer you’d most like to serenade you?

I’d love the former lead singer in RUNRIG to sing An Ubhal as Aire (the highest apple) to me in Gaelic. I played it over and over when I was writing Tall, Dark and Kilted.

Cocktails or champagne?

Oh, champagne every time, dah-ling.

Novel you could read over and over again?

Can I be greedy and choose all the Jilly Cooper novels she wrote in the 70s: Imogen, Prudence, Emily, etc, and Georgette Heyer’s Friday’s Child?  

Fave Christmas Carol?

In the Bleak Midwinter – it always makes me cry.

Thanks so much for being our guest today, Lizzie. It’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you. Merry Christmas! X

Merry Crimbo to you and all the other Romaniacs. And can I say: if you have a dream, go for it…

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www.facebook.com/LizzieLambwriter

Follow Lizzie on Twitter: @lizzie_lamb /or @newromantics4

email: lizzielambwriter@gmail.com

Tall, Dark and Kilted – Amazon Paperback UKhttp://tinyurl.com/cn8fylt

Tall, Dark and Kilted- download Kindle UKhttp://tinyurl.com/cdjyec6

 

Naming Characters – Tricky or Not?

During one of the many writerly debates I’ve recently had (Oh, alright then, chats over coffee and a humungous slice of cake!) the subject of naming our characters arose. Not so much the names themselves – i.e. we all agreed that having Tommy, Timmy and Tammy all appearing in one scene, would cause major confusion – more, if anything, what influences those choices.

I rather sheepishly confessed to experiencing niggles of guilt if I christen either a po-faced, cantankerous or toffee-nosed character with the same name as someone I personally know, or one of their nearest and dearest.  I mean, that person might never even read my book. And it’s not like it’s deliberate. If a particular name fits a certain character, it fits, right? Besides, it could work the other way. My neighbour might read my book and think I’ve named that beautiful, kind-hearted, law-abiding heroine after her, when to me; the name simply suits my character’s personality. So why do I worry about it so much?

“Oh, Jan! What are you like?” said writerly friend number one. “I could have an ex-boss called Jack who might be a twonk of the highest order, but if I want my hero to be called Jack, then Jack, he’ll be. End of! Same goes for any name, really…”

Writerly friend number two did, however, admit to feeling so frustrated at times about the naming issue, that she resorts to opening her “10 million trillion names” book or whatever it’s titled, twirling her finger in the air three times and selecting whichever name on the page it lands on. Although she did also confess to applying the ‘best of three’ rule occasionally.

The fourth member of our party simply shook his head, ordered us more cake and told us the only names he avoids using are family ones, and how he’s more concerned about his grandparents reading his saucy sex scenes. Ooh, er! An entirely new debate… ;)

So… where do you stand on the topic? Do you shy away from giving characters certain names, or do you steam straight in?

After all, it is fiction, isn’t it?

Jan x