I'd like to welcome you to my interview with writer, Nick White. Enjoy.
Hi Nick, can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Nick White and I’m a writer living in Staffordshire.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a child – I took it up more seriously in my 20’s following a serious illness.
What first got you interested in writing?
All through high school I had a great English teacher who brought the world of the imagination alive to me. It was partly down to her and it was partly because I loved reading and listening to people tell stories.
What genre(s) do you write? What drew you to this/these genre(s)?
When it comes to fiction I’m attracted to magic realism, cult fiction and classic ghost stories - anything with an element of beauty in it. I’ve written science fiction, children’s stories and journalism. I’ve also written about 100 poems but am currently focusing on prose.
Are there any genres that you don’t enjoy writing? Why?
There are lots of genres which I’ve never tried. I think I would have trouble writing decent historical fiction because of the amount of research necessary.
What types of things do you write?
I’m a qualified journalist so I’ve written a lot of non-fiction news and features. There are some techniques which are true to both journalism and fiction – especially the need to hook the reader in the first sentence.
Have you ever had anything published?
My first published story was written for my primary school magazine. It was plagiarized from a science fiction comic. It could have taught me that the way to get ahead is to copy someone’s work – but I remember feeling so guilty about the finished story. I was so afraid that other people would spot that it had been copied that I never did it again.
I’ve had hundreds of pieces of journalism (many of which I never saved) published in local papers, specialist magazines and websites. My first published short story was a children’s story called ‘The Princess Who Wanted Snow’ in an anthology called An Advent Calendar of Stories in 2009. After that I self-published a collection of poetry called Compliance is Futile as an eBook and print on demand book. And I’ve just had two science fiction short stories published by a small publisher in an anthology called Otherwhere and Elsewhen.
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers? Have you received any rejections?
Plenty of rejections for pieces of writing. Realistically I’m expecting more. I have no helpful advice on how to cope with the rejections as I don’t handle them well myself.
I think you just have to realise that some of the greatest authors received hundreds of rejections too. Well that's what I remind myself every time I receive one! Are you interested in eBooks, or do you prefer the old fashioned paper-made books?
I think eBook publishing offers more choice and opportunity for writers and that can only be a good thing.
How do you come up with your characters’ names and personalities?
Names are the easy part – I often get surnames for characters from gravestones (to me it feels like a way of raising the dead).
I interviewed someone a little while ago who said she got her names from gravestones. I've spent hours trawling through baby name books or online random name generators, but I think I may start walking around the graveyard. There's a church just along my road, so that could be a good place to start. What is your writing routine? Do you write daily or just when you feel like it? Is there a certain time of day where you are at your most creative?
Like most writers I struggle to find enough time to write as I juggle writing with my job and with housework. I write whenever I get the chance and this often means that I’m writing on my mobile phone. I do my main writing on an old computer with Windows 98 and no internet. Coffee is my only requirement.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
Like many authors I make a plan and always know the end from the beginning.
Do you have an editing process? Do you have someone else read over your work? Do you read your work aloud to yourself in front of the mirror?
After the plan I then write out a first draft. I will go over the whole story at least twice before I feel it’s good enough to be seen by anyone else. Then I may read it to someone or let someone read it. After that I usually make more changes based on the feedback I get.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
I love most of the process and I love starting and finishing a story. The research can be great fun too. What I struggle with is the competitive nature of writing to be published. The world of journalism is no more competitive than the world of writing fiction if that is any consolation.
Have you ever attended an open mic night for spoken word performers as either an observer or performer? Did you enjoy it? Why/why not?
I’ve read out a couple of my poems at an open mic night. But I’m more of an introvert so I don’t usually do any kind of public speaking unless I absolutely have to.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
It is important to me. I’ve met plenty of writers who will write for themselves and who don’t feel a need to be published. I’m often in awe of them and can’t help feeling that they are more grown up than I am.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given with regards to writing?
Try not to libel anyone. The law is a very dangerous thing.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Practice. Hook your readers with the introduction to a story. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t that great at the first draft. Care about your story and about your readers because if you do your readers will notice.
What types of things do you read? Do you think your writing reflects your book tastes?
Classics, cult fiction, anything else that I like the look of. Folk tales, ghost stories, literary fiction.
Do you have any favourite lines from novels/plays/poetry/songs, or any favourite literary quotes?
Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
Do you have a website/blog/twitter/facebook dedicated to your writing?
I have a website: www.nickwhitewriting.comand a twitter account @nickcwhite.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently collaborating with a careers professional on a project to release a non-fiction eBook for young people called What Rocks Your World. She has written it to inspire young people to understand their skills and talents and to get the life they really want. My plan is to proof-read, edit and publish it as an eBook later this year.
I’ve also just written the first draft of my first novel and am planning to have it finished by the end of the year.
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
This is the start of my short story ‘Stranded in Eternity’ taken from Otherwhere and Elsewhen.He revived with a smile on his face. When lay preacher Greg Pacifico opened his eyes he knew that he had died and was in heaven. Greg was lying on dewy grass and there were birds singing all around him. The last thing he could remember was driving along a country road at night. It had been winter and he had been on his way back from a church service. He should have been concentrating on the road rather than congratulating himself on the success of his sermon by singing Christian choruses. There was a blur and a moment of confusion as something ran out in front of his car. He had turned the wheel suddenly, skidded on black ice and watched as the trunk of a tree seemed to race towards his windscreen. After this there was just a feverish dreamtime.
© Nick White