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John Nicholl - Author Interview

Welcome to my blog, John. Let's kick off with something that has been circling my brian for the past year or so: tell me, what do you enjoy most about the writing life, and what do you least enjoy.

I love the creative process, coming up with ideas and getting them down on paper. But the editing can be tiresome at times.

You’ve drawn on your work experience in order to provide readers with a clear insight into psychological trauma, and now you have delivered a splendidly named DI – Gravel. Where did the inspiration for his character come from?

Grav is a compilation of real-life characters I’ve met over the years. The name was inspired by Welsh rugby legend - Ray Gravell, although my fictional detective isn’t in any way based on him as a person.

Do you think that your time as a police officer has helped you shape your work authentically, or can the protocols and procedures sometimes get in the way of your work going in a different direction?

I certainly draw on my professional experiences, although I was a child protection social worker for a lot longer than a police officer. I guess the procedural issues still apply. But I try to focus on the human aspects of the story.

Readers like to know how books get shaped. Whether you’re a plotter or pantster, what is your usual routine when completing a new novel?

I have a broad idea at the start of a new book, but the story develops as I write it. Ideas come into my head as if channelled from somewhere else.

Do you enjoy research or is it just part of the job?

I tend to rely on my past experiences in the main, although I will research when necessary. The internet ensures that the process isn’t too onerous.

Do you write in bursts or are you a steady x number of words per day man?

I try to write every morning, although at other times too when the mood takes me.

Which current authors do you admire most, and why?

I’ve been reading books by several Bloodhound Books authors recently, and have been blown away by the breadth of talent. I’m also working my way through some great novels by members of Crime Cymru, a group of crime writers with Welsh connections.

I’ve often thought that anybody can be taught to write, but that the imagination required to create a story is something you either have or don’t have. Would you agree or disagree, and why?

I think you can teach anyone the rules of writing but not to write well. It’s as much an art as a science.

Do you take bad reviews (we all get the odd one or two) to heart, or have you become inured to them?

I used to take bad reviews to heart, I guess that’s human nature, but not so much any more. I’ve learned to accept that you can’t please everyone.

Do you still get a buzz out of wandering into a book shop and finding your novels on the shelves?

Yes, I suspect I always will.

When you write a new main character, do you already know them well as you start writing or do they develop as you go along?

I have a broad picture of the person at the start but they become more nuanced with time.

Do you find it easier writing protagonists or antagonists, or is there no difference for you?

I’m told I write villains particularly well, but will leave that to others to judge. Like most writers, I’m wracked with the usual doubts about my work.

Thanks for taking part John. My final question to you is this: what commons traps would you advise aspiring authors to avoid?

I’d say, don’t expect to land an agent or publisher or to sell a truckload of books without a great deal of hard work. It does happen, of course, but it’s the exception rather than the rule. Write because you love it and see where it takes you.

Before I Met Him is available for pre-order now.

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