Welcome Nicola May, chick lit author…
*hands Nicola a cup of tea and a scone*
Nicola, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet me. You’re a successful self-published author of 6 six novels and … you’ve just signed a contract to have seven books traditionally published by Accent Press. I am so excited for you!
Can you tell me a little about yourself? [including pen name if you have one]
Firstly I love tea and scones, almost as much as I love flapjacks so thank you!
Nicola May is my pen name. May was actually my mum’s middle name, she died very young and I wanted to have a little piece of her with me wherever I went.
What was the first story you wrote?
It was Star Fish. A tale of unlucky in love, Piscean Amy Anderson, who decides to date every sign of the zodiac in search of her ‘sole’ mate.
Were you inspired by someone or something?
Ha! Yes, plenty of disastrous dates I had been on inspired me to create a humourous tale.
What do you like about writing a story?
It’s hard to explain. I adore writing. I love the excitement I feel as the characters come to life and also the eureka moments I get when a plot idea hits and I know the reader will love it. I try and incorporate as many twists and turns as I can to keep the reader intrigued and guessing. I also like to deal with deeper issues, but in a comedic way so that hopefully everyone can relate to something that may have happened to them and not be scared by it. I have addressed bereavement, weight issues, infertility, domestic abuse and unemployment.
Can you tell us about your newest book?
My latest book, out in July 2015 is called The SW19 Club. SW19 as most of it is based around the Wimbledon area, specifically on Wimbledon Common and that is the postcode for that area of London.
Here is the synopsis…
What would you do if you were told you could never have children?
When Gracie Davies is faced with the tragic news that no woman ever wants to hear, followed by the breakdown of her relationship, she is at an all-time low.
With the help of her unorthodox therapist, Professor Princeton, her hippy chick sister, Naomi and her prostitute friend Maya, she starts to rebuild her life.
Searching for inner peace, she starts up The SW19 Club, a club where women can chat openly about the usually unspoken issues of miscarriage, abortion, infertility and IVF.
Add in a passionate fling with handsome landscaper Ed, the pursuit of Hollywood actor father of her nephew and the persistence of her adulterous ex, your heart, will be both warmed and wrenched, as you join Gracie on her rocky journey to self-discovery and happiness.
How did you come up with the story?
I very sadly lost twins myself then had to face the decision to have a hysterectomy. Instead of beating the floor with both fists, I decided to turn the negative into a positive and try and help women who have suffered similar tragedies.
What genre best fits for the book?
I like to call my books ‘chick lit with a kick’ – there is always a love element but they are not fluffy. They are real. My characters are real and the issues I address certainly are.
Are you working on something new at the moment?
I have the plot flying around my head for my sequel to The School Gates at the moment (out in March 2015) – working title – Beyond the School Gates.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Yes, write! If I was given a pound for everyone who said they had a book in them I’m be very rich. Just get something down.
I also don’t edit as I go now. I find it best to get a chunk of writing down and go back to it.
Also perseverance is key. If you want to see your work in print, then you must never give up. I wrote my first novel nineteen years ago. I wasn’t going to stop until I got a publishing deal and now through a lot of hard work, time and effort, I have reached my first goal. My next one now is to see myself in the bestselling list in the Culture magazine that comes with the Sunday Times. Oh, and to get on Lorraine’s sofa!
Do you write in a writing group?
No, I never had. With the help of a marvellous copy editor, I have just learnt my craft as I go along.
Do you have people who will critique your work? [And if you do, do you acknowledge them in the front of the book?]
Yes, my sisters and a select group of my friends are my best critics. They are honest and guide me along the way. My acknowledgements pages usually make ME cry!
What is your writing routine?
I write in bed and when I start a novel there is no stopping me. I can write for hours at a time without a break. I find that best for continuity. In fact I wrote The School Gates in 4 weeks whilst I was in bed recovering from my hysterectomy. To date that is my bestseller and I won an award for Best Author Published Read at the Festival of Romance for it, which was a great feeling!
Do you have beta readers?
Yes. I have a lovely group of romance bloggers who I always offer my book to prior to publishing day.
Do you have an editing process?
My 16 year old niece is actually a brilliant copy editor. She does a round, and then I send to my actual copy editor to do her thing. Now I’m with Accent Press, I am going to be very spoilt with my own personal editor.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
There is nothing I don’t enjoy about writing.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
It is the whole point of me doing it. I love to share my heartfelt stories and it is an amazing feeling when somebody tells me that my book has helped them in some way. And, also just to hear the escapism of the read has made them happy. Reviews are gold to a writer.
Where can people go to read your work?
Star Fish, Working it Out, The School Gates, The Bow Wow Club and Christmas Yves can all be purchased as paperback or Kindle versions through Amazon. Better Together is just available on Kindle but Accent will be producing a paperback too this year.
I have also written a How to Guide entitled… How to create & maintain your author profile + increase your Amazon sales
Where can people find you on the internet?
Twitter: @nicolamay 1
Amazon page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nicola-May/e/B004QUBKWW
Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?
Just that I cannot wait to share my books with a wider audience.
A question about your lovely book covers
Suzan: I ran my first Just Write It! writing workshops in November and six writers have pledged to publish their current works in progress in time for a literary event. This event is a pop-up book shop and is scheduled to take place at The Coconut Loft in Lowestoft, Suffolk in July 2015. I too have accepted this challenge and the group is called Waveney Author Group [WAG] and we met yesterday to discuss and plan our literary challenge. One question that I know the group would love to ask is how do you chose such lovely designs for your self-published book covers?
Nicola: Ooh that sounds fantastic. I literally just go to istock images and purchase images and I have a designer friend who puts them together in the Nicola May brand for me. Now that I have a publisher this will of course change.
Nicola, thank you for a superb interview and good luck with your new publisher. Suzan xx