Sallie Eden talks to Contemporary Women’s fiction writer, Nicola May

I first met Nicola at a Roseland Festival event at which Cornwall based author, Patrick Gale, spoke about his work. Over tea and scones afterwards, Nicola and I got talking about her own writing career and she gave me a copy of her latest book (see this month’s reviews). We stayed in contact and this month we met up for a chat and tapas (quite a lot more of the former than the latter).

At the time of meeting, “The School Gates” was number 25 in the erotica charts (numbers 1 to 24 being various iterations of “50 Shades of Grey” perhaps?) and sprinting up the fiction charts – not bad for a self- published writer, who didn’t start writing until she was in her 30s.

Her first real piece of writing was a diary of her training for the marathon and, having got the writing bug, she experienced what she calls “the excitement that it’s all suddenly going to take off”. She has already been described as “one to watch” and has been praised by mainstream publishers and magazines. So what is it about her books that appeal and where does her inspiration come from?

Nicola says “I write from the heart and from my own experience, but also through observation. When I’m writing, time goes very fast and I really enjoy it. In my latest book I moved away from the tradition of having one main character and I relished working with that mix. My stories and characters differ from other so-called chick-lit books, in that they aren’t soft and fluffy, they involve friendship as well as love and, often, real pain.”

She does most of her writing in bed, supported by her editorial assistant Stanley (see photo), and thrives on working to deadlines, believing that they help with the focus and flow, in fact “The School Gates” was written while she was recovering from major surgery and she was determined to complete it before returning to her day job in events management.

And what of her links to Cornwall? “People may still remember me from the Millennium celebrations in St Ives, when I dressed as Morticia and ended the evening at The Sloop Inn. I love the West Country, having holidayed there since childhood. I still enjoy crabbing and all the seaside-y things and have drawn on the area in my writing, for example “Better Together”# is set in Looe.”

What next? “I think I have credibility as a writer but I need more of a presence on the High Street. My aim is to become a full time author and I’ve just started to work a four day week to give me more time for writing. Once I get started, I can actually complete a book in six weeks, although the editing and launch stages add to that timeframe.”

“My next book is a sequel to “Working it Out” and I have in mind something very different after that, something darker, and a great idea for a book which I can already see as a film.” [Pause for a plea for any would be film-makers, directors and producers to make contact via Roseland online.]

We agreed to stay in touch and I hope to bring you further news of Nicola’s career “as it happens”.

This interview is dedicated to “baby angels whose souls will never be forgotten”.

“Better Together” is currently available free to download

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