Welcome to the six hundred and seventy-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with YA / horror author Nicky Peacock. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Nicky. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Nicky: Hello, Morgen. I’m a published author of both adult and YA horror and paranormal romance. I’m based in Northamptonshire and have always wanted to be a writer, but only seriously tried to be one a couple of years ago.
Morgen: Welcome, fellow Northamptonshirian. 🙂 What genre do you generally write?
Nicky: Horror and Paranormal Romance. I also do a few Urban Fantasies and have dabbled in Supernatural Erotica.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Nicky: I’ve had over 35 short stories published/ accepted for publication with 17 publications in 5 countries. My first lone author novel is being brought out by Noble Romance’s YA imprint Noble & Young start of 2013.
Morgen: Have you self-published?
Nicky: No, I haven’t self-published. All my work has gone through both traditional print and e-publishers.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Nicky: I’m actually quite a big E-book fan and love my Kindle. I do still love print books though and tend to go for them over e-books if there’s not much in the price. A lot of my books are both e-books and print books – I think then you get the best of both worlds.
Morgen: You do. Very few authors I’ve spoken to say they read eBooks only, and all of us would still want to see ‘real’ books continue. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your stories were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Nicky: I’m a fair weather writer and tend to like the book / characters I’m currently working on the most. My first novel ‘Bad Blood’ is all about vampires vs zombies so is action packed – it would make a great film and I’d love to see Emma Watson take on the lead role as Britannia, the vampire main character.
Morgen: Which author(s) would you compare your writing to?
Nicky: I’d like to think that my style is similar to that of Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games) as she writes YA and doesn’t dumb it down or tackle tricky subjects with kid gloves.
Morgen: I’ve not read the books but have seen the film which certainly didn’t pull any punches, as the saying goes. Did you choose the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Nicky: Book covers are tremendously important. Anyone who says otherwise is just naive. People are naturally drawn to pretty colours and well-tuned messages. Same goes for titles – if it’s bland, then the book is probably just as bland. I’ve had quite a hand in the title and cover for Bad Blood. My other books are shared with other authors, so the decisions for them were made by the respective editors.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Nicky: I’m currently working on two big projects: the follow up to Bad Blood, and an erotic paranormal romance.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Nicky: I try to write every day, but life does get in the way. I’m quite fortunate that I have more ideas than time to write them. I read a lot too and tend to come up with ideas for the books that I would want to read myself – if they’re not already out there, then I start marinating my brain with the idea.
Morgen: I’m the same. I have a dozen 80-sided display books packed with newspaper articles and haven’t needed them yet. I put four 15-minute writing prompts on four of my online writing groups each weekday and it can just take a one-word prompt to create a story. I’m very fortunate in that respect. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Nicky: I do a bit of everything really. You do need some structure in stories, however in the beginning you can’t get hung up on the finer details or all you’ll end up doing is staring at a blank screen!
Morgen: Which scares a lot of writers but you can’t edit a blank page / screen so even just freewriting can be shaped. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Nicky: I usually make characters fit my themes and storylines rather than the other way round – that way they have the attributes and hang-ups I need to move the story forward. Naming characters is my favourite part – it’s like having loads of children, only they won’t hate you if you call them Hugglesnoop, or worse!
Morgen: <laughs> Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Nicky: I always do quite a bit of editing. Mainly because I can never stop poking at something! This is my fourth draft of these questions!
Morgen: Ouch. Do you have to do much research?
Nicky: I haven’t had to do too much research in the past, but right now I am setting my paranormal erotica in a historical setting, so I do need to keep an eye on things to ensure they sound realistic – this then balances the supernatural side.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Nicky: I really love writing in second person – but you have to be careful to make sure it works. I have two stories published in second person: ‘Bad Baby’, which is in the Ink Babes’ anthology Bleeding Ink, and ‘Little Read Monkey’ which is included in Rainstorm Press’ 31 More Nights of Halloween.
Morgen: I adore second person but you’re right, it’s tricky to get write and certainly suits short lengths. Do you write any poetry or non-fiction?
Nicky: I have written some poetry that has been included in Static Movement’s Poems from the Darkside and written some business articles for national magazines too – but I really prefer fiction and prose over anything else.
Morgen: Me too. The only non-fiction I write is about writing. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Nicky: I’ve got a few that I’ve started and not finished yet, but I do continue with them when the mood takes me – so hopefully they’ll escape the shadows of my laptop at some point.
Morgen: It does help that you’ve written prolifically; you’ll have the experience to know where they might need tweaking. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Nicky: Yes, I’ve had rejections. All writers will have at some point. The trick is to realise that you can’t please everyone. I’ve had one story rejected by one publisher only to have it snapped up by another. You have to keep submitting and not take it personally.
Morgen: Absolutely. They’re not rejecting you as a person. Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Nicky: I don’t enter competitions as there are very few horror ones out there, and entering a horror story into a generic competition has only a limited chance at success. I wouldn’t recommend entering competitions that ask you for money – stay clear of these.
Morgen: I’m involved in three competitions (and am Head Judge of https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/competitions-calendar/nlg-flash-fiction-competition) and they do charge but then they’re run by writing groups who don’t have the money to pay for judges and prize money (and other costs such as postage, photocopying, advertising). There are some scams out there so it’s definitely advisable to be careful. These days it’s easy to find opinions on just about everything so if others have been stung, you don’t need to be. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Nicky: I don’t think they’re vital, but I’d quite like to have one. Another author once told me that, you can promote your work better than anyone else can, and so far that’s been good advice for me. But I certainly wouldn’t mind the large publishing contacts that an agent can bring to the table though!
Morgen: I’ve interviewed over 700 authors (I also run interviews on http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com) and only two have said that their publisher does all their marketing. I think unless you’re a household name already then you still need to do a fair chunk of marketing. Do you do much marketing?
Nicky: I do Facebook and Twitter for some social media marking and of course I have my blog, but I think as a writer you need to limit your time on promotion to ensure you have some good quality work to promote.
Morgen: That’s very true. I’ve spent the past year helping other authors via this blog, which, don’t get me wrong, has been great, but it’s affected the time I have for ‘me’ so I’m starting to take up on the requests for me to be a guest that have been languishing at the bottom of my inbox. 🙂 What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Nicky: I love the act of writing, I’ve spent many a day tapping away on my laptop only to realise that I’ve been there for hours. I hate having to format my work – every publisher seems to have different formatting rules, so you have to re-set margins etc accordingly.
Morgen: Oh dear. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Nicky: Research and submit something – you can’t get published if no one sees your work.
Morgen: That’s very true. I’m one of the world’s worst at submitting, which is why I only have 28/29 rejections. 🙂 If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Nicky: LOL I’d cook a massive Sunday Roast – probably a butter chicken. I’d invite: Stephen Fry, Russell Brand and Winston Churchill.
Morgen: Yum. I’ve met Alan Davies (who’s on QI with Stephen Fry) but I’d love to meet the great man himself. He’d certainly keep the conversation going. If you had to choose a single day from your past to re-live over and over, what day would it be and why?
Nicky: I’m optimistic that the best has yet to come, so I’d not like to go back to any day in my past – only look to the future.
Morgen: Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Nicky: I really like Hemingway’s “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” – never were truer words spoken.
Morgen: <laughs> What do you do when you’re not writing?
Nicky: I do run a local writers’ group – so I’m a good organiser / shepherd!
Morgen: You do. It’s a shame we live at different ends of the county (sort of). I should come along sometime, although I’m involved in four others (as you know as we’ve met at one of them) so have few spare evenings, and one of them is alternate Thursdays so clashes with most of yours. I’ve also been recommended to do some evening teaching so may have even less. Would be great to see you again. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Morgen: Duotrope’s great. They used to be a free service but went to paid-only ($5 a month I think) from January which is a shame but we can’t all be free for ever (I put a donations button on my site just before then and some have been kind enough to use it). I’ve started charging for these interviews and cut them down to weekend mornings only so hopefully it’ll mean I have more ‘me’ time. Writers should be writing, shouldn’t we. Are you on any forums or networking sites?
Nicky: I find Facebook and Twitter useful – www.hootsuite.com is invaluable for scheduling tweets etc. I have a lot of contacts in the USA, so I need to post early in the morning to catch them.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Nicky: Depends on the writer – the future is what you make it.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Morgen: Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Nicky: What ratio would you recommend for writing / networking?
Morgen: Ideally 99%:1% but that’s not feasible. Every writer has to market themselves as a brand so I’d say if you can keep it 50:50 (I can’t, or rather don’t or else my emails would get even further behind), we are writers after all, you’re doing well. Great question, thank you, Nicky 🙂
Nicky’s next book is due out later this month and…
here is the cover. 🙂
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