Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Interview with Nicky Wells - Author of Sophie's Turn

This week I'm delighted that I've been able to share interviews with not one but two authors of debut novels. 

The second one of which is with the lovely Nicky Wells who has written Sophie's Turn which I was lucky enough to review when I went on my holidays recently and it was so good, I refused to move from my sunbed until I finished it!    If you haven't already read my review of this fabulous book, you can read it here.

Thanks Nicky for sharing gossip about your life, your family and your writing.  I can't wait to read your next novel as I loved this one so much!


Tell us about you and your life?

Wow, that’s a big question! I’ll have a go at ‘my life in 200 words or less.’

I was born in Germany (am still German, as it happens) and moved to the UK in 1993 to study for a degree in European Studies at Royal Holloway College.  I loved it here from the very first day and have never looked back.  When I finished studying, I found myself a job as a professional researcher in London.  I spent six years living in Tooting and had a blast—mostly.  When I met my husband, I instantly knew that he was the one; he must have felt the same way because we got engaged within the year, and married within another year.  That was eight years ago!  We moved to Bristol, I quit my job, wrote a book, and popped out two children.  Meanwhile I retrained as a teaching assistant and have taken great delight and satisfaction this past year from volunteering in my local primary school.

I love, love, love chick lit but I read almost anything.  I love, love, love rock music (as you may have guessed) and even now can be seen flouncing off to the odd gig here or there.  Thankfully my husband likes coming along!  I adore seafood (prawns, scallops, lobster: I’m a cheap date, huh?).  When I write, I alternate between chocolate binges and crisp binges.

There: my life in 213 words!

What makes you want to write?

I love making up stories.  When I was little, I used to make up stories in my head to get myself to sleep.  When I was at primary school, I used to have a little notebook by my bed, and after lights out, I would sit on the window sill and write my stories (in green ink: I can see my scrawly handwriting now…).  I don’t know exactly what makes me want to write, except for an urge to express ideas and play with words, and then not to forget it all.  That’s the basic answer.  The more complex, adult answer is that I also want to make people smile, laugh and feel happy.  And one way I can do that is through writing and sharing my stories.

You have a young family, how do you fit writing around being a Mom?

Oh God, how do I?  Not very well, at the moment. Sophie’s Turn was written before my first child was born.  In the intervening years, I just about managed to go through some editing and re-writing rounds here or there.  Now that the sequel is coming along in plan and outline form, I’m having to figure out when to actually write it.  Thankfully, my younger son starts school next week and bar the volunteering in school (or a paid position I can find one) I’ll be writing furiously during school hours (and possibly in the evenings).  It will be hard work, because I get extremely absorbed with my work and resent being interrupted.  So I will have to be disciplined about separating my writing time from time for the kids (and the husband!).

Tell us about the self publishing route that you took and why you took that decision?

I self-published Sophie’s Turn as an e-book via Kindle Direct Publishing, which is an amazon company. This means that Sophie’s Turn is only available as an e-book via Kindle at this time.  The great news is that I am in control:  I decided when to publish, where to publish, and at what price.  The royalty programme is very clear and I know exactly what to expect from each sale.  The downside is that I have to do all my own marketing, which is incredibly hard work as I am a totally unknown writer.  Also I have to confess that I am astounded at the amount of resistance I am running into regarding being a self-published, ‘indie’ author.  Some people won’t even consider reading the book simply because there’s no ‘official’ publishing label on it.  Hm.  Their loss?

I did also consider on-demand publishing of traditional ‘tree’ books but the options I saw at the time didn’t allow for competitive pricing, so I’ve put that on hold for the time being.

All in all, the self-publishing experience has been very empowering.  After all this time, I have finally presented my work to the world.  And I’ve been getting very encouraging feedback and reviews, which is what matters to me most at this time.

What advice would you give to a budding writer who would like to publish their own book?

My advice would be to get the social networking side of things sorted out early, preferably in advance of self-publishing.  I definitely did everything backwards and am finding it very hard work to catch up.  So, aspiring indie publishers out there: if you haven’t already done so, set yourself up on Twitter and Facebook (as an author, not an individual), create that blog, and get networking.  Have a strategy for publicising your book.  Identify some book bloggers and ask them to review your work.  Plan a book tour, virtual or otherwise.  Know your own work!  That sounds incredibly obvious, but actually coming up with the one-sentence blow-your-mind-and-get-you-hooked description of your work is fantastically difficult.  And lastly, don’t be shy.  If you don’t ask, you don’t get, if you don’t shout, you don’t get heard!

What's next for you, are you writing more and if so, can you tell us a little about your next novel?

I am writing more—just try and stop me!  And ok, the sequel has been a long time coming in the same way that self-publication of the first novel was a long time coming… but I am working on it.  I have completed several stages of planning and just have to flesh out my chapter-by-chapter concept a little more before I start writing ‘proper.’  There will be a sequel to Sophie’s Turn, probably within the year.

Sophie will return… and she’ll bring Dan and Rachel with her again.  Rachel will have a much bigger role to play, and one that is not always easy or pleasant.  There will be two weddings (I think) and at least one disastrous break up.  Sophie will continue her travels: there will be a number of trips to a variety of places in quite different moods.  And there will be some stunningly funny moments, I promise!

Where do you find your most inspiring place to write?

At the moment, I love writing on the sofa with my feet up and my laptop perched on my lap.  I can look out of the lounge window then and see the sunshine (or rain) and the sky, and that seems to inspire me.

What book are you reading right now?

Right now, I am in the middle of Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden. I found it hard to get into, probably because I only get to read just before bed and I wasn’t concentrating properly.  Now I am duly intrigued by Nell’s quest to find her origins! It’s a great read and I have no idea what to expect by way of ending…

What types of book do you like to read and who are your favourite authors?

I read almost anything, although chick lit is a firm favourite.  I like a bit of a lift, a bit of laughter, a bit of escapism!  The first chick lit novel I ever read was Catherine Alliott’s The Old-Girl Network.  That still sits on my shelf today although the copy is almost falling apart now, having been read so many times.  I also read literary fiction and David Mitchell, Margaret Atwood and Stephen Fry have written some of my favourite books there.  My husband introduced me to Terry Pratchett of late and The Unseen Academicals is one of my top reads of all times!

Thank you, Kim, for these fantastic and interesting questions and for the opportunity of featuring in an interview on your blog.  I really do appreciate all your support!

For those readers interested, I am on Twitter and Facebook and I blog at

Sophie’s Turn is available for download from and


Creepy Query Girl said...

Thanks so much for introducing us to Nicky! I really enjoyed learning about her journey- especially the self pubbing aspect as I'm thinking about going through kindle as well. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Hi there! I'm delighted that you enjoyed the interview and 'meeting me.' It's certainly been a journey... still is, in fact. If you want to find out still more yet, visit my blog (Kim very kindly put the link in) or find me on Twitter or Facebook. My virtual book tour continues, with more reviews but also interviews, guest blog and give-away. Do get in touch, and thanks for your lovely feedback! :-)

Linn B Halton said...

Nicky is a lovely lady and this is a fabulous novel. Really enjoyed your review Kim.