Welcome, welcome, welcome, and Happy New Year, Nikki. How has 2013 treated you so far?
As is customary at Romaniac HQ, we would like to offer you a glass of wine. We would like to, but we can’t. We ran our stocks down over the Christmas period and it appears no one has been to the supermarket since, so the cupboards are a little lacking. Talk about Old Mother Hubbard.
Thank you, lovely to be here and Happy New Year to all the Romaniacs *fluffs up the cushions and gets comfy on the sofa* but what’s this… No wine? Impossible, surely?! I’ve never hung out with any of you guys without there being free flowing wine (Catherine’s granddad’s home made wine was a memorable occasion)… it’s an oxymoron; like the sky without a sun or a Hollywood rom-com without a hot guy in it… not that I’m an alcoholic, no … erm, although my blog is called Writing, Work and Wine… so, ahem, shall we move on?
There is a secret supply of hot chocolate. Please avert your eyes whilst it is retrieved. There’s an unopened pack of biscuits here too! Hobnob?
Ooh, I quite like hot chocolate. I don’t suppose you have any… ooh, whipped cream, thank you, and um, is there any chance… min-marshmallows – bliss! Now where were we, oh a HobNob you say? Well, to be honest I’m trying to lose a little post Christmas podge so I really shouldn’t. I’ll be good and abstain.
We liked the synchronicity of beginning the New Year blog with a new writer. If you could sum up in one sentence what being on the New Writers’ Scheme means to you, and describe what it offers, how would you pitch it?
Ooh, that’s tough, but… It means I get fab like-minded friends, excellent writerly support, help and advice, constructive criticism on my writing to help me learn my craft and the opportunity to meet industry experts.
How important to you is being on the NWS?
Very! It keeps me motivated and helps me learn my craft and I get to spend (both virtual and face to face) time with people who don’t think I’m completely bonkers (well, they might do but they don’t say that to my face!)
I was on the New Writer’s Scheme initially circa 2001/02. I was a single mum and had just written my first book (a Mills and Boon type affair) which HM&B requested the full MS of (they turned it down but gave me lots of advice and invited me to send something else in, which I didn’t, more fool me).
Being in the scheme at that time was brilliant and everyone was lovely but in hindsight I wasn’t ready for it. I had started writing a second book, which got some interest from a now defunct genre publisher but after that I wouldn’t have had anything else to write about. I hadn’t lived enough. I met my husband towards the end of my first year in the scheme and we fell in love. By that time I was knee deep in building a career in human resources, undertaking first a foundation qualification and then, after our son was born (we also have a daughter each), a post graduate qualification. A few years ago, when my son started school and I’d reached a place I wanted to be in HR, I decided it was time to give writing a proper go. As a reader for the RNA Awards, I attended the awards ceremony and got talking to people I’d met when a member previously. I walked out of there thinking, god, I’ve missed this. I’m coming back!
I rejoined the NWS and early in 2010 wrote and entered a non-fiction article on ‘How to Write a Bestseller’ for a competition in The Writer’s Handbook 2010. I was gobsmacked when I got an email to say that although I hadn’t won I was a finalist and my entry had been well received by the judges! That first bit of luck, together with joining ROMNA (RNA’s online cyber chapter) and attending RNA events, really spurred me on, especially getting an Honourable Mention for a short story I’d written and entered in the RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. It was anonymously judged by Katie Fforde and I was on my way home from being a day visitor at the RNA Conference in Greenwich when my Aunt (award winning author Sue Moorcroft) called me to tell me and said she had someone who wanted to talk to me and promptly put Katie Fforde on the phone. Katie was lovely and told me I was talented and had to keep writing. I cried most of the way home from London with my husband giving me increasingly concerned looks.
*Takes a deep breath and a gulp of hot chocolate* Phew… so, I set up my blog in October 2010 and kept on entering comps and sending work out and I haven’t really looked back since. If I’d stayed a member of the NWS all those years ago I may have been published by now, but I’m not sure if I would have had staying power. I was too busy raising young children and doing the day job and studying. I obviously still have children (last time I checked they hadn’t vanished from sight) and a hubby and the day job (which I’m very dedicated to) and housework and all the other stuff, but I have better balance now and I make time for writing. I am not giving up and am absolutely, passionately determined to be published one day. Hopefully in the not too distant future. In fact I am in the process of subbing a book to agents at the mo.
Good luck with your submission, Nikki. What is the funniest memory you’ve stored, from an RNA event?
This is going to sound incredibly boring but I can’t really think of any. No slap-stick moments or stupid faux-pas that I’ve made (though I have been tongue-tied around famous authors)…*Takes a contemplative sip of hot chocolate* oops, I think I’ve managed to get cream on my nose *tidies herself up.* I think the most fun I’ve had at an RNA event was at the conference last summer with you lovely Romaniacs (and others) when we had that kitchen party and ended up drinking and singing all night (is there still that video of us singing ‘Dream a Little Dream’ doing the rounds on YouTube…?)
It was a fab Conference. How would you categorise your romance writing?
Ooh, well I’ve kind of got two types of writing. The first is what I’d call romantic comedy or Chick-lit, for example, The Nanny’s Revenge, the first chapter of which was a Top 20 Finalist in last year’s Novelicious Undiscovered competition. They are such fun to write and there is always a love story and of course conflicts between the main characters but there is also some dry wit and funny moments in there too (I’ve been told).
The second is what I’d class as Romantic Fiction or Women’s Fiction dealing with serious issues, as per my current work in progress Random Acts. These tend to have bigger issues at the core of them, feature a wider cast of characters and the writing style or ‘voice’ is more formal. There is always a romance for the main character though. What’s life without a bit of love and sex?
Is there any other genre or sub-genre you would like to write in?
*Gulps down the last of the hot chocolate and curls legs up more comfortably on the sofa* I’d love to try and write a crime thriller / police procedural as I devour them e.g. the Roy Grace series by Peter James, Mo Hayder, Danielle Ramsay, Katia Lief etc But I don’t think I have the background or the desire to do all that research to actually write one!
Which three main qualities do you think a writer needs to succeed?
Oh, lord. Are you sure there isn’t a bottle of wine tucked away in a cupboard somewhere? Just a nice little Chardonnay? What’s that you say? It’s too early in the day and I must stop talking about wine? Oops, okay then. Qualities of a successful writer? *takes deep breath* Well…
1) Being completely mad? In terms of the ability to immerse yourself in the world you create and the characters that live in it with you and write about that and to not apologise for that. Writing is a lonely business and you have to be willing to spend long periods of time on your own muttering to yourself and getting RSI. Having no shame in pulling out notebooks at odd times to jot things down is good too.
2) Being unbelievably, pig-headedly stubborn and patient = having perseverance! Never giving up no matter what happens. I can’t remember who it was, but I read a long, incredibly inspiring speech a while ago that an American author gave at a conference about never giving up. All sorts of traumas and disappointments had happened to her, but all along her motto was ‘never give up.’ I read it and thought, well bloody hell; I haven’t had half of that stuff happen to me, now I’ve got no excuse. Now my motto is ‘no excuses,’ (when it comes to writing). I send stuff out and if it comes winging back I consider whether I need to change it, based on any feedback I receive. If it feels right to change it I get it done… and then I send it back out again. And then, rinse and repeat!
3) Having the ability and discipline to sit down and gasp, I know, actually write. I sometimes have the hope that my books will write themselves and edit themselves and mysteriously and conveniently appear in a neat pile of papers on my bedside table ready for me to send out to the NWS organiser or agents / publishers. But nope, it’s never happened yet. I have to sit at my laptop or get out my notepad and write the words, regularly and as well as I can.
Please give us a teaser about your work in progress.
Well, I don’t want to give too much away but…
Random Acts is a story about Lizzie, an incredibly sheltered and ‘good’ girl in her mid-twenties, to whom something incredibly traumatic happens. The book follows her journey as she comes to grips with that, goes travelling in search of herself, accompanied by gorgeous, outgoing Will – to do the ‘random acts’ of the title – loses herself (with some pretty outrageous behaviour) and then finds herself again. Ultimately the book is about knowing who you are, and redemption.
The tagline is ‘What would you do?’
If you could choose any setting/place (money no object and all stationery/equipment provided) in which to write your next novel, where would you jet/walk/ride/ off to?
Wow! Ooh, I like this question! I know this one *gazes off dreamily into the distance and sighs*
I’d love to go back to the Maldives (where I went on honeymoon in 2008) and I’d have one of those wooden cabins on the beach with the steps leading down to the sea. It really is paradise on earth; clear blue skies, sparkling waters, glorious warm sunshine. I’d have an ultra-fast laptop with Scrivener on it and I’d get up and have a breakfast of tropical fruit on the beach, and then write for three or four hours. I’d have lunch and go and do something – a trip to Male (the capital island) or snorkelling or a boat trip – something where I could soak up culture or be around live, breathing people rather than ones in my head. Then I’d come back and write for another few hours until dinner, and perhaps a little after dinner too.
I haven’t thought about what my family would be doing have I? LOL. Oh well…
They’ll learn to be self-sufficient, like all writers’ families What are the three most inspiring pieces of advice you’ve received?
1). Keep going no matter what; the only difference between an unpublished writer and a published one is that the latter never stopped trying.
2) To have self-belief. With talent and perseverance amazing things can happen.
3) Read widely, study the market and learn your craft. Basically, know your business!
What makes you laugh?
So much! *throws back head and giggles* See? Random things that (my) kids do and say, friends recounting bizarre stories, my husband’s observations on life, ‘physical’ slapstick comedy, stand up comedians who use irony and visual prompts – I love Russell Howard. Lots of things that probably aren’t supposed to be funny. I have been known to laugh at inappropriate things *looks sheepish* though thankfully never in a meeting with an employee whilst I’m doing the day job. That would NOT be funny.
Cake or chocolate? Chocolate, definitely.
Big Bang Theory or Friends? Big Bang Theory, by an edge.
Merlot or Chardonnay? That’s cruel! Chardonnay
Walk or cycle? Walk (preferably along the beach)
Dance or gym? Dance
Younger or older? What? Wine? Men? Both! (Though of course I’m a married woman)
Christmas or New Year? New Year. I love the sense of new possibilities
Nikki – thank you so much for dropping by for a chat, and we look forward to seeing you again soon. Might be best to bring a bottle next time. Just saying.
I’ll make a note of that now!
We wish you lots of luck and good will with your writing, and hope you will join us at our next kitchen party, when we will guarantee the cupboard will be fully stocked.
Thanks so much for letting me visit, it’s been lovely to chat. I look forward to our next get-together and good luck to all of you with your writing too *gets up to leave but tidies the sofa up first, puts away the Hobnobs and rinses her mug out* Take Care!
You can follow Nikki on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/nikki.goodman.35
And on her blog – Writing, Work and Wine at http://nikkigoodman.wordpress.com/