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

 

 

 

Book Review: The Elephant Girl. Henriette Gyland.

Book Review: The Elephant Girl. Henriette Gyland.

 

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Today is Purple Day – National Epilepsy Awareness day. I am wearing purple in support of the cause. The statistics regarding epilepsy astound me. Approximately 1:103 people in the UK have the condition. Epilepsy Action is a great source of information, if you would like to know more.

The heroine in Henri’s The Elephant Girl, Helen Stephens, is a person with epilepsy. As a five-year-old, Helen witnesses her mother’s murder, and with no one from her extended family prepared to look after her, Helen is taken in to care. As she grows older, she keeps her condition hidden as much as possible, and learns to rely on herself. It’s when her mother’s killer is released from jail twenty years on that Helen sets about seeking vengeance, and life as she knows it, changes forever.

I like Henri’s treatment of Helen – it clearly depicts a person coming to terms with many issues. It’s not an easy journey for the heroine – she has enough to manage with epilepsy alone, but that, along with Henri’s well-researched description of Helen’s seizures, is what makes it believable.

The hero, Jason Moody, is warm, caring and sees people for who they are, and not by the label given to them by society. He’s no push-over, and stands up to his mob-style father time-after-time. He is true to his beliefs, courageous and loving. A great hero.

It’s an excellent romantic suspense, with well-drawn characters and a plot that kept me guessing until the reveal.

And thank you, Henri, for writing a strong, positive heroine with epilepsy.

Henri is taking part in Choc Lit’s Round Robin Mother’s Day story today at Laura’s Little Book Blog (not me), continuing the story of single mother, Kelly. Parts one, written by Alison May, and two, written by me, are at Chick Lit Reviews and News, and Jera’s Jamboree. Enjoy our free read.

Henri’s new book, The Highwayman’s Daughter will be published in May.

Click here to read our Tuesday Chit Chat interview with Henri.

 

The Elephant Girl:

Peek-a-boo I see you …

When five-year-old Helen Stephens witnesses her mother’s murder, her whole world comes crumbling down. Rejected by her extended family, Helen is handed over to child services and learns to trust no-one but herself. Twenty years later, her mother’s killer is let out of jail, and Helen swears vengeance.

Jason Moody runs a halfway house, desperate to distance himself from his father’s gangster dealings. But when Helen shows up on his doorstep, he decides to dig into her past, and risks upsetting some very dangerous people.

As Helen begins to question what really happened to her mother, Jason is determined to protect her. But Helen is getting too close to someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden …

Laura x

 

Spring has well and truly sprung …

Tulips

And now we come to the part of the year when everything suddenly seems more hopeful. The sun’s shining  (at the moment)  and there are signs of buds and green stuff and blossomy bits and bobs. The birds are tweeting very loudly. The butterflies are doing whatever butterflies do – flitting and fluttering and suchlike. The windows look grubby. Oh – scratch the last one – it sneaked into the good list by mistake.

When the New Year happened I didn’t get round to any proper resolutions due to being full of cake and wine and so on,  but I’m taking the unusual step of making one now. It’s about my blog. Not the Romaniac blog – this one is fine because it’s got eight people paying attention to it. No, the blog I’m referring to is the dusty, cobwebby one with just my own name on it. It needs TLC. So my spring resolution is to post on it three times a week. Only short snippets, with maybe a picture, but enough to stop it crying and complaining about being neglected. If you get the urge to check up on this promise, it can be found on http://celiajanderson.co.uk

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I hope the photos get you in the mood for the season of birds’ nests, daffodils and hot cross buns. Over to you now.  Is the sunshine making you all motivated and bouncy? Have you got any resolutions that slipped through the net in January?

The Romaniacs would love to know …

Stones

Follow Me, Follow You: Cover Reveal

Follow Me, Follow You

Helen Ellis Photography

Helen Ellis Photography

It’s a red letter day, as my mother used to say. The sort of day when she’d place a sticker on the page in her diary.

I am thrilled to announce that my second novel, a contemporary romance titled Follow Me, Follow You, is to be published by the wonderful Choc Lit, in both digital and paperback formats, and will be available in the autumn. This will be my first paperback publication.

In celebration, and to reveal the beautiful cover designed by Berni Stevens, I have created a short vlog. Take five, settle back and help yourself to tea and cake – our Celia’s been baking again.

Enjoy.

Laura x

Follow Me, Follow You:

Victoria Noble has pulled the plug on romance. As director of the number one social networking site, EweSpeak, and single mother to four-year-old Seth, she wrestles with the work-life balance. 

Enter Chris Frampton, Hollywood action hero and Victoria’s first love. His return from LA has sparked a powder keg of media attention, and with secrets threatening to fuel the fire, he’s desperate to escape. But finding a way forward is never simple. Although his connection with Victoria has lasted the test of time, has he been adrift too long to know how to move on? With the risk of them breaking, will either follow their heart?

Follow Me Follow You

You save me and I’ll save you

Amanda James – not one, but two fabulous new books out this month!

Amanda James

Celia: Hello Mandy, and a very warm welcome to the Romaniac sofa. Put your feet up and help yourself to cake – it’s cherry, chocolate fudge or Madeira cake today. Tea? Coffee?

Mandy: Oh how lovely! Um … could I have a little of each and tea please?

Celia: Certainly – watch the crumbs, they get everywhere. Right, we’re settled. To start the ball rolling, tell us three vital things about your latest book, Somewhere Beyond the Sea.

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Mandy: It is a romantic suspense, it is set in Cornwall and it involves a dark secret.

C: I’m really enjoying the Cornish scenery in SBTS – how important is the setting in your stories? Is there anywhere you would never consider writing about?

M: The setting is very important. I don’t enjoy books that don’t really describe the setting or skimp over it because I like to feel like I am ‘in’ the story. Therefore I spend time setting the scene in all my books. Cornwall in my opinion is the most beautiful county in the UK and just happens to be where I now live. I am originally from Sheffield and then moved to Bristol around twenty years ago. In August of last year I eventually realised my life-long dream of moving to Cornwall and it is sheer heaven.

I would never consider writing about somewhere really horrible – like a torture chamber or a seaside public toilet on an August bank holiday for example. Yuck. Not put you off your cake have I?

C: Nothing and nobody has ever managed to do that, sadly. Although the image of the toilet is going to be hard to shift. Tell us about your other new release, Dancing in the Rain – March has been a very big month so far!

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M: This is the first adult novel I ever completed back in 2005. It was then called Severe Weather Warning and needed a serious edit or three! Luckily the lovely folk at Choc Lit could see the potential in the story and after revision it became Dancing in the Rain. It is another romantic suspense with a paranormal aspect and tells the story of Jacob Weston, a young man who feels he’s never really belonged. Dreams and visions take him from his home in England to Monument Valley Arizona, where a meeting with a Navajo guide reveals Jacob’s true destiny. This is so scary that Jacob begins to wish he’d never found out the truth.

C: How did your writing career take off in the first place?

M: I have always written since I was a child. I would rely on poems and stories to help me through the teenage angst years. Then whenever I could find time when I was working, I would write short stories for my own pleasure, and I wrote a children’s novel, but never believed I could actually be a writer so didn’t take it seriously. Eventually I decided to write an adult novel. I was greatly inspired by the novels of Dean Koontz and therefore tried to write suspense/mystery. The result was Dancing in the Rain in its early state.

Oh by the way, this cherry cake is to die for, such juicy cherries. More tea? Thanks. Right, where was I … Ah yes, I sent it off to agents and quite rightly it was turned down as it was pants. I have learned much since then. I still wrote short stories and other novels and one lovely day in 2010 I had my first short story published in an anthology. The anthology, Gentle Footprints was published to raise money and awareness for the charity, Born Free. And that summer I was lucky enough to share a stage at the Hay Festival with Virginia McKenna when I read out an extract to over a thousand people. That was amazing!

Now, which shall I have next, the fudge or chocolate? Decisions, decisions … and why are you rolling your eyes Celia? Am I rambling on too much? No? Well if you’re sure. So anyway, things kind of took off after that. I then had an ebook, Righteous Exposure, published with Crooked Cat publishing in 2012, and then my first paperback, A Stitch in Time came out last year. I now have Cross Stitch which is the sequel due out at the end of the year! Still have to pinch myself sometimes when I think how quickly it all happened. It was a long time coming though, when you add up all the years I was trying to get published.

C: You’re kidding, Mandy – anyone who loves cake as much as I do can ramble as much as they like. Favourite authors? Early influences?

M: I think I have answered the first bit. Besides Koontz, I love Stephen King, Harlan Coben and Tess Gerritsen to name but a few. I love Charles Dickens too. And early influences, I guess I read lots of Enid Blyton and later, Tolkien. My favourite books were The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings.

C: Where do you prefer to write and for how long, ideally, each day?

M: I write in the back bedroom overlooking the fields. On a clear day you can just see the blue strip of the Atlantic Ocean on the horizon. Ideally I would like to write for a good five hours or so, but real life gets in the way. I normally manage about two or three, but that depends on deadlines and edits. If I am under pressure I can write all day.

C: When you’re on holiday, do you have a complete break from all things writerly?

M: Yes and no. I don’t write, but I am always thinking and will jot down ideas so I don’t forget when I get back. I guess writers never really switch off. I was walking along the dunes with my husband a few weeks ago and said that it would be a great place to bury a body. He didn’t seem perturbed. Not sure if that’s a good thing!

C: Hmmm – brave man, that husband … What advice would you give to someone just setting off on the writing path?

M: Never give up and never forget your dreams. If you do, you are sunk. Getting published is tough and you have to become tough to get there. Rejection hurts but if you let it get to you, you’ll never attain your goals.

C: Okay – here are some quick-fire questions to finish off with:  Champagne or red wine?

M: Champagne of course.

C: Fresh fruit or sticky pudding?

M: Sticky

C: A woman after my own heart on both counts, as ever. Spring, summer, autumn or winter?

M: Spring and summer. I know that’s two but I can’t decide. And is there more tea?

C: No – not until you’ve finished. Zingy power shower or deep bubbly bath?

M: Zingy

C: Lively parties or intimate dinners for two?

M: Um … I like both. Okay, no need to sigh like that, Celia.  Intimate dinners I guess.

C: I know what you’re saying – it’s very hard to choose! Short stories or epic novels?

M: Both … I mean novels.

C: Moors or mountains?

M: Sea. Okay, moors.

C: Glad we pinned you down to some definite answers, Mandy  🙂 Thanks for visiting Romaniac HQ, and good luck with the sequel to A Stitch in Time – looking forward to it no end. Oh, and please take the rest of this cake home with you – it’s a long way back to the seaside and I don’t want you to have an energy crisis. Bye for now.

M: You trying to say I’m greedy? Whatever gave you that impression? Thanks, Celia it has been great fun!

C: And here’s the blurb for the fantastic Somewhere Beyond The Sea. (Now I just need to get that tune out of my head … hope you all enjoy the book as much as I am currently doing. That doesn’t sound like very good grammar but you know what I’m saying.)

When love begins with a lie, where will it end?
Doctor Tristan Ainsworth has returned with his family to the idyllic Cornish village close to where he grew up. The past has taught him some hard lessons, but he’ll do anything to make his wife happy – so what’s making her so withdrawn?
Karen Ainsworth daren’t reveal her true feelings, but knows her husband has put up with her moods for too long. A chance to use her extraordinary singing voice may set her free, so why shouldn’t she take it? Surely her past can’t hurt her now?
As a tide of blackmail and betrayal is unleashed to threaten the foundations of their marriage, Karen and Tristan face a difficult question. Is their love strong enough to face the truth when the truth might cost them everything?
Thanks Mandy!

 

Talli Roland celebrates the re-release of The Pollyanna Plan

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Fantastic news! Talli Roland’s bestselling novel THE POLLYANNA PLAN has a second lease of life. Lake Union Publishing (an arm of Amazon Publishing) are re-releasing the book today, complete with a shiny new cover, and also making it available in print and audio (Amazon.com; Amazon UK).

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THE POLLYANNA PLAN spent over two months in the top 100 on the Amazon UK Kindle charts, and it was selected as a Top Book of 2013 by Amazon’s editors.

Talli’s next novel, THE NO-KIDS CLUB, will be published by Lake Union on 3rd June. The Kindle format, ebook, and audio book are now available for pre-order (Amazon.com; Amazon UK). Talli says, the cover is coming soon – we’ve had some great designs and are finalizing them now!

About THE POLLYANNA PLAN

Is finding true love as easy as an attitude change?

Thirty-something Emma Beckett has always looked down on ‘the glass is half full’ optimists, believing it’s better to be realistic than delusional. But when she loses her high-powered job and fiancé in the same week, even Emma has difficulty keeping calm and carrying on.

With her world spinning out of control, and bolstered by a challenge from her best friend, Emma makes a radical decision. From here on in, she’ll behave like Pollyanna: attempting to always see the upside, no matter how dire the situation.

Can adopting a positive attitude give Emma the courage to build a new life, or is finding the good in everything a very bad idea? 

  

Sounds fabulous to us, Talli! Very best of luck with it X

To learn more about Talli, go to www.talliroland.com or follow Talli on Twitter: @talliroland.

Talli blogs at  talliroland.blogspot.com.

Roving Romaniac – Lucie visits BBC Cambridgeshire

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Good morning!

And what a beautiful morning it is, too. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and I am still trying to get over the fact that I was on the radio last night. What a surreal experience that was. I never imagined, when I was growing up, that I would have the opportunity to be interviewed on the radio. But last night, I was given that opportunity and I must say, I had so much fun.

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Sue Marchant and me after the show

I was interviewed by the very lovely, Sue Marchant, at BBC Cambridgeshire on her Big Night In slot. She was fantastic and put me at ease straight away – and she asked some fabulous questions, too. I spoke about The Romaniacs and our anthology, Romaniac Shorts, and also a little about myself and my own writing.

Walking into the studio, my nerves hit an all time high. The first thing that set me off were the big BBC letter at reception. I was overcome with a mix of nerves and sheer excitement – I was here!

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Reception at BBC Cambridgeshire

Then I made my way into the studio where I met alternative folk quartet, Clutching at Straws, who were on the show after me. They were so lovely and chatting to them, and one of their girlfriends who was also there, really put me at ease before I went on. Everything just felt so relaxed – not at all how I had imagined it would be.

Then I was called in and the show began.

Afterwards, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I had done it. The thing I had been worried about all week – I did it! And I think it went alright, too. Click here to listen. I am the first guest on so only about 5 minutes into the show.

So there you have it, one more thing to cross off my bucket list. I wonder what I will cross off next …

Lucie x