Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Nicola Haken ~ Get to know you interview

1.             When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I had always thought it was a nice idea, but resigned myself to thinking it was just that - an idea. Writing a book is one of those things everyone wants to do before they die and we all know hardly anyone actually gets round to it. But then the more I started reading the more ideas I had, especially after the New Adult genre blasted onto the market,  so I thought, what the hell - I'll give it a bash! I didn't tell anyone for ages because I was kind of embarrassed. After all I didn't know if I'd be any good at it. Guess I still don't. My books could well be a pile of rubbish haha! But hey, somebody's reading them ;-)

2.             How long does it take you to write a book?

It takes me about three months. That's from taking my idea to writing 'The End'. Then I'd add another month or two on for editing, last minute changes etc.

3.             What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

My main job is being a mum to my four children so my life is too hectic to have specific hours for working. Therefore I write whenever I can -if the kids are out with nanna, they're asleep, or I'm in bed etc. My main and most favourite time for writing is late evening and often well into the small hours! It's the only real time that's peaceful around here!

4.             What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I need quiet!! Sometimes I try listening to my favourite music, especially songs that have inspired certain events in my story, but they always end up distracting me and I find myself singing along rather than getting any actual writing done! When I'm writing I have to 'hear' my characters. It's almost like a movie playing out in my head and I can't do that if it's noisy.

5.             How do you plan to publish? (self or publisher)

It would be a dream come true to have a publisher approach me and say 'hey, you're fantastic we have to have you!' But until then I'm really enjoying the process of self-publishing.

6.             Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

My wayward imagination mainly! But I see and hear little snippets everyday that makes a lightbulb spring to life in my head. It could be a scene from a movie, a line from a song, people watching in the supermarket car park… I carry my phone with me at all times so I can jot down ideas whenever they happen to burst into my head!

7.             When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I wrote my first book about three years ago when I was 25/26 but I didn't even consider publishing it. I knew in my heart it wasn't good enough - not the plot necessarily but the actual writing. I always read when I'm not writing and I could tell from other books that my work was nowhere near their standard. But I kept going, writing book after book until I thought 'hey, I think I've got this!'. That's when I felt brave enough to publish Inevitable, shortly followed by Saving Amy which is actually a re-write of an earlier, crappier version haha! Maybe one day I will rewrite my very first story too!

8.             What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Read! I'm telling you my life is a non-stop party! It goes without saying being a mum is my favourite job in the world and I love to do all the 'mumsie' things like baking and painting etc. Then of course there's shopping… what girl doesn't like spending right? I should also point out that in my spare time I have watched the Twilight Saga so many times I could probably act out the script all by myself - Please don't judge me!

9.             What does your family think of your writing?

Believe it or not there is only one person who shares my reading addiction in my entire family - my best friend and sister in law Keeley. So she is the only one who's read any of them!! But of course everyone is super proud and tells me what a fantastic job I'm doing!

10.             What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I can really write! I remember starting my first ever book and it seemed to take me weeks just to write one chapter. I knew what I wanted to say but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to say it while making it sound half-decent at the same time. I assumed I just wasn't cut out to be an author and almost gave up. But as with everything, practice makes perfect and the more I wrote the more I could write. Now it flows freely, somehow making the perfect transition from my brain to the page.

11.             How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have written four books, two of which are published. The other two might make it out there one day if I ever get round to making them better! I am also half way through my next novel due for release in October. Favourite? I couldn't possibly choose. It's like picking between three of my children! However I can say I'm the most excited about my upcoming novel Take My Hand because it's my first series and also because I'm having a ball being involved in the writing world with all the fab authors and bloggers and readers out there. It was all so daunting in the beginning but I think I'm finally starting to find my feet :-)

12.             Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Number one - read! And I mean really read. I think before I started considering writing my own book I took a very lighthearted approach to reading. I might skim a few pages if it was boring me, or read here and there when there was a ton of other things distracting me. But now I take everything in. How the pages are laid out, how the dialogue is presented etc. When I really feel a character or a connection between two of them I look hard to find out what made me feel like that. The use of phrases, body language, build up etc. Then while I'm writing I re-read what I've written and look to see if my own characters make me feel like that. If not - I'm doing something wrong.

Number two - keep going! If you think it's too hard, or that you're no good at it, keep going and you WILL get better! Remember the three P's - Patience, Practice and Perseverance!

13.             Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I have had some fantastic feedback from readers and bloggers. I hear an awful lot how painful my stories are to read but also beautiful. One Amazon reviewer told the world I write stories that will rip you apart. You've no idea how good things like that make me feel! If I can make people 'feel', be it sad, happy, uncomfortable, giddy… whatever - if they're feeling, then I'm doing my job right.

14.             Do you like to create books for adults?

Definitely. It's all about the angst, the heartache, the adult-humour and of course the hot sexiness for me in a book! I don't think my warped mind would be able to come up with anything suitable for a younger reader ;-)

15.             What do you think makes a good story?

I have three things I LOVE in a book, whether I'm reading or writing it. Number one is a broken character. I love discovering someones darkest secrets and getting inside their heads. I love the twists and the turns along the road to salvation. Second, it should be the LAW that every book has to have a hot book boyfriend who'd do anything for his gal (or me!). I am a self-confessed book slut and proud! I fall in love several times a week and I wouldn't have it any other way! And third - a happy ever after. I get so emotional sometimes when I'm reading and the only thing that keeps me from having a full-blown psychological breakdown is the hope that they will walk off into the sunset together! Yeah, I know… I'm a big softie ;-)

16.             As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be an English teacher. As cliche as it sounds I have genuinely LOVED reading and writing for as long as I can remember. English was my favourite lesson at school and I was one of the weirdos who got excited over a new essay we had to write! Only problem was, English was the only lesson I liked and more often than not the only one I'd show up for. I hated the school environment and as you can imagine, that put quite a sizeable spanner in the works when it came to going into higher education! I'm older and wiser now though (this is the part where anyone who knows me starts laughing) and am giving the whole university dream another whirl, and am currently studying towards my degree in English Literature.

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