I am grateful to author Nikki Copleston for agreeing to appear on my blog today. Nikki is the author of The Price of Silence, and here she answers a few of my questions.
Nikki, thank you so much for doing this for me. I really appreciate it. So, I see that your first crime book, The Price of Silence, is undergoing some extensive re-writing. Is any part of that in response to having since written the follow-up?
I started ‘The Price of Silence’ in the early 1990s, before the internet and mobile phones had really taken over. After years of taking it out of a drawer, doing minor revisions and putting it back in the drawer, I published it as an eBook in 2011. It got good reviews but few sales (I didn’t really promote it) and I was never really happy with it. Once I’d published ‘The Shame of Innocence’, I felt readers who’d enjoyed that would be disappointed if I directed them back to ‘The Price of Silence’ – the action is meant to be about a year before ‘The Shame of Innocence’ opens, but the technology (or lack of it!) is from another era! Also, I’ve learned so much about plotting and editing through writing ‘The Shame of Innocence’: I’ve constructed ‘The Price of Silence’ a little differently this time, not only holding back on revealing some things but also making sure all the clues the reader needs are there from the start. The re-writing is extensive indeed!
Are you a Plotter or a Panster? (a seat of your pants writer)
I’d have said I’m a Pantser, but when I was offered the chance to write a Jeff Lincoln novella for my publisher’s SBooks imprint, I had to write a synopsis first AND stick to it! And I surprised myself, hardly deviating from that early outline at all! But I still tend to approach the books as Lincoln would approach a case, with lots of false starts, blind alleys and unexpected twists!
Where did DI Lincoln come from – in your head I mean?
He’s an amalgam of all the ‘crime fighters’ I’d created in earlier (unpublished) novels where an element of crime seemed to be creeping in more and more. He’s probably the sort of bloke I’d like to have had as a big brother – clever without showing off about it, clumsy but reliable, essentially honourable and compassionate.
What is your favourite part of writing?
That moment when it all falls into place and you realize that, against all expectations, you’ve solved a really tricky plot point. And I love working out scenes with lots of dialogue, where it’s like writing a drama, paring everything down to the essentials while still conveying everything I need to.
Are you working on a new novel?
Apart from re-writing ‘The Price of Silence’, I’ve begun the sequel to ‘The Shame of Innocence’. It’s called ‘The Promise of Salvation’ and will tie up some of the teasing loose ends deliberately left at the end of ‘The Shame of Innocence’ – such as whether there was any truth in the sex party rumours. (Read ‘The Shame of Innocence’ to find out what that’s all about!)
Do you read when writing something new, or do you switch off from books during that period?
I keep reading regardless, though I know a lot of writers have to shut themselves off from the genre in which they’re writing.
Which new authors have impressed you this year?
Writers new to me were Neil White – ‘From the Shadows’; and Clare Mackintosh – ‘I Let You Go’.
You recently did an author talk – how did that go, and do you find this sort of thing easy?
I enjoy doing author talks, and generally find them fairly easy to do. My day job involved quite a bit of staff training, and I learned to gauge the audience, adapting what I’d planned to say to keep their interest or make sure they’d understood. Not sure I’d enjoy talks as much if I had to rely on Powerpoint and anything high tech – because if it doesn’t let you down, it can get between you and the audience.
So – how did you come to write crime fiction?
I’ve always loved crime series on television, always read crime fiction – Ruth Rendell, P D James, John Harvey, Ian Rankin. Crime made its way into my writing until, with ‘The Price of Silence’, inspired by a real double murder case in Wiltshire, I knew D.I. Jeff Lincoln was merely waiting in the wings, keen to take centre stage and shove my various romantic heroines out of the way.
A Saintly Grave Disturbed – why a novella?
My publisher, SilverWood Books, asked me if I’d like to write a 35,000 word novel featuring Jeff Lincoln. I wasn’t sure at first, but once I’d got the synopsis completed, I saw it as a challenge, and a chance to create a new and necessarily less complex case. I was surprised by how much I could pack into a book a third the length of ‘The Shame of Innocence’ – and wouldn’t mind doing another novella when I have the time!
Thank you so much for that, Nikki – a fascinating insight into the many stages of growth we authors have to take. Please see below for more about Nikki and her work.
A note from Nikki
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember – taking great pride in the ‘compositions’ I wrote in junior school. As a teenager, I completed my first novel, called Born on the Wind – way ahead of its time, sadly. Set in Somerset in 1909. Beautiful orphaned teenager Queenie is sent to live with uncaring guardians. Falls for a handsome poet old enough to be her father. Bewitches all the boys around her, but her heart is already lost. Everyone is afraid of her strange powers. And it all ends in tears.
I steered clear of historical fiction after that, and eventually wrote my crime thriller The Price of Silence, which I published as a Kindle e-book in 2011. I moved from Hertfordshire to Somerset in 2012, and have just completed my second crime thriller – also featuring Detective Inspector Jeff Lincoln – The Shame of Innocence.
As a one-time librarian, I have always loved books, and have the groaning bookshelves to prove it.
My crime novel, The Shame of Innocence, is available from Amazon and SilverWood Books in paperback and as an eBook. My eBook, A Saintly Grave Distrubed, will be available at the end of October 2017