So pleased to be having my friend and writing buddy here today, Nicky Wells author of Sophie’s Turn. We’ve had quite a year between us and I’m delighted that Nicky has got the publishing deal she very much deserves.
Wow, Sue! Thanks for having back here today on this, my official launch tour for Sophie’s Turn. When I first visited you last year, you were the second blogger ever to review my work, and hasn’t it been a journey since? I remember being timid and totally in awe by what you achieve and do. Then we became friends through Loveahappyending.com, and eventually started being writing buddies. And today, we’re celebrating together. Thank you for everything along the way, and thanks for showcasing Sophie’s Turn today. You rock. [clears throat]
It’s been an absolute pleasure, I am thrilled for you, as you well know 🙂
Right, moving on swiftly before I get all emotional… let’s take a look at your questions.
Sophie’s Turn is your first published novel, did it take long to write?
That’s an interesting question. It took me a few weeks to plan… I’d say, between two and four depending on how you interpret planning versus writing. Then I wrote the entire first draft in about three months. Birth of baby number one was a bit of an immovable deadline, and I definitely wanted it all done before then! Then of course there were a few re-writes which took maybe a week here and there when I could snatch the time…. So all in all, I think writing Sophie’s Turn probably took the best part of six months. That said, because of my family circumstances (and another baby coming along), the novel had a long time to ‘mature’ and I had the benefit of reading it ‘fresh’, almost as though I was a genuine reader, having not touched it for a few years at a time. That helped: but that’s also almost impossible to build into any writing plan, and now a thing of the past… my current novels are being fast-tracked by comparison!
Do you have a set place & time to write?
Sophie’s Turn was written in what later became the boys’ playroom. The writing space for the sequel was a tiny little Ikea desk tucked into the corner of the dining room. However, I also took to moving around the house with the laptop, so I quite often typed on the sofa in the lounge, at the dining room table proper (rather than the dinky desk) and, very occasionally, even in bed. We’ve recently moved house, however, and I am now the proud owner of a dedicated desk in a study that I only partially share with my husbands’ music and the children’s computer. I still roam the house though when I get bored of staring at the walls…
As for writing time, I write when the children are in school. I get home from the school run and put my head down, as it were. I have to allow a couple of hours each day for catching up with social networking sites, but when I write, the writing time is sacrosanct and I won’t even answer the phone!
You have a young family, where do you find the time and energy?
I mentioned the time constraints above… finding the energy, that’s an interesting one. I think of myself as a one-trick-pony (i.e. can only ever do one thing well at any one time) and I also think of myself as perennially worn out. Yet somehow it all gets done! I’ve discovered that for me, the most important thing is not to dwell on how busy or tired I am, but to make a plan, portion my work, and stick to it. As long as I keep going, I’m fine… And, of course, I do consume way too much chocolate!
Now there’s an interesting question! The cover of Sophie’s Turn has been reborn twice now. The original cover was lovingly and artfully created by my husband. It featured a pink background and a sign post with a flower and a butterfly… it was beautiful and I will frame it and put it up on my ego wall at some point soon. However! After a while, I began to feel that it lacked a certain panache, a certain sophistication, a bit of a ‘wow’ factor. I hankered after something a little more glamorous and professional, and my wonderful husband was the first to suggest to move the cover on to the next level. I felt disloyal but he wouldn’t hear of it! So I asked a long-time friend and erstwhile colleague whether she would like to help with redesigning the cover. Jessie went through various iterations, working with the initial concept at first but it just wasn’t zinging. Eventually, I gave her carte blanche and she came back with a fantastic design, shades of purple featuring the merry-go-round and the Eiffel Tower that are on the cover today. I fell in love instantly, as did husband! Sapphire Star Publishing also loved the cover and took it up yet another level of glamour and wow-factor by making a few subtle but highly effective changes. Et voilà!
Did Sophie’s Turn end up as you originally envisaged or did it change as your wrote?
A little bit of both! Owing to several iterations of planning, I had the story line very much clear in my head before I started typing. However, these pesky characters developed a habit of taking wrong turns, inventing new events, or creating problems or diversions that I had not anticipated. That was actually a very interesting process because at times I felt like I was reading the book while I was writing it. From previous experience, I know that those are also the incidents that can totally derail the writing process and plot, so it was very useful to have a plan to rein things in again before they spun out of control.
Sophie’s Turn could have had more than one ending, I know I was surprised at the end, was it difficult to decide which way to take the story?
Ah! That’s a brilliant question. Let me put it this way without giving too much away. There were at least three possible, credible outcomes. (I did make up a few more to start with but they were really too far-fetched). I knew what I really wanted Sophie to do, and what I would have wanted to have happened to me, had I been in her position. However, I just couldn’t take the novel there. I tried, briefly, but it was all very unsatisfactory. So in the end it was down to Sophie to decide. There’s a scene when she sees herself at the crossroads… that was all real thought, that was me typing away furiously while Sophie was assessing her options.
Did you do any particular research for the rock group Tuscq in Sophie’s Turn?
I’m afraid to admit that I didn’t. But then I didn’t need to, I had years of teenage star-struckness to draw on, a vast repository of knowledge about several rock bands, experience of going to concerts, knowledge (from teenage and music magazines) of the touring process… Films like ABBA: The Movie, This is Spinal Tap and Rock Star also offered some helpful insights. And I just may or may not have met the odd band here or there, once or twice.
Is Dan based on a particular rock star?
Dan is the amalgamation of many lead-singers. Plus he incorporates some of the best (and worst) traits of people I know, have heard of, or read about. He is a true bona fide made-up-but-hopefully-still-credible rock idol. J
Sophie has to make some difficult decisions – did you find it easy to make the choices for her?
Not always. As I mentioned above, some of her choices were mine, and were choices I would make. These were the easy ones. Some other things she does and does not do gave me a real headache. I don’t think I would have had the gumption to tell the man of I’m dreams I was a virgin (even though I wasn’t); I don’t think I would have had the courage to accompany Dan to the Royal (or his suite); and I think I would have been too blinded to make her choice. But this was all nail-biting stuff for me…
Without giving too much away, what is your favourite scene in Sophie’s Turn?
I have a few, actually. The prologue is one: the sense of absolute heady elation and disbelief, the out-of-body wonderment of ‘if this really happening?’ That makes me feel good every time. Next, it makes me smile when Rachel and Sophie have their morning pow-wow in the coffee shop and Sophie shouts out about s.e.x rather too loudly. And I’m still quite in love with the scene where Dan has to hide in a cupboard…
Is Sophie anything like you or are you more like Rachel?
Sophie probably reflects my dreamy side, the one that yearns for a fairy tale ending. But I can also be sarcastic and cutting, like Rachel; not something I’m immensely proud of but that can be very necessary. Yet it is Rachel who sets Sophie straight on matters of true love and thunderbolt-and-lightning… again, that would be me. So perhaps it’s fair to say that they distil, each in their own way, aspects of my own character. If that’s not too scary a notion!
Will we be hearing from Sophie in the future?
Oh definitely! The second book in the Trilogy, Sophie’s Run is completely finished and currently undergoing a first round of editing by me; it will be coming your way from Sapphire Star Publishing on 7 February 2013! And the final part in the Trilogy… well, let’s say I have started writing, and I know how it’s all ending!
Sue, thank you so much for this opportunity to take part once again in your ‘audience with an author.’ I am thrilled to get this space on your blog, and I enjoyed answering your questions!
Excerpt from Sophie’s Turn by Nicky Wells
“What the hell is going on here?” I hissed, trying to prevent others from hearing our exchange.
“Oh, Sophie, Dan’s turned up. Isn’t it amazing?” she beamed at me.
“I can see that,” I kept hissing, “But what is he doing here?”
Rachel was quite drunk herself and looked at me with those bleary eyes that usually meant she was up to no good. “Sophie,” she declared solemnly and rather loudly, “you have broken the man’s heart. He has come to reclaim you.” She wobbled unsteadily and I gripped her arm. Usually one to hold her liquor, party-girl Rachel had clearly gone too far tonight.
“Shh!” I admonished. “Will you keep your voice down? What are you talking about?”
“Dan is completely besotted with you, and he said he couldn’t bear the thought of you getting engaged to Tim so he had to…hic…come and check him out…hic!” Oh God, she had the hiccups. She would have to spend the night in the guest room. Once Rachel got the hiccups, she was beyond salvation. I gave her twenty minutes before she collapsed. I had to extract critical information fast.
“Why did you introduce him to Tim?” I continued my interrogation. “Couldn’t you have sent him away?”
“Oh no, Sophie. I couldn’t turn this lovely, heartbroken man away.” She looked at me with big, innocent, and totally unfocused eyes. “In fact, we were just looking for you. You seemed to have… hic… hic… hic…disapp-hic-eared.”
“What did you say to Tim about who Dan was?” I needed to know.
“That he was Dan, of course. Your boy-hic-friend from Tuscq!” She dropped this bombshell completely nonchalantly.
“You what?” I squeaked. “Please tell me you’re joking.”
“No, I’m s-hic-erious! Ti-hic-im thought it was very funny. Hic.”
I wrung my hands and barely prevented myself from tearing at my hair. If Tim had thought it was funny, he must have thought Rachel was being facetious or winding him up. He had seen her drunk before — the experience hadn’t done anything to endear her to him in any way —so it was likely that he hadn’t paid the slightest bit of heed to the truth she was spouting. But I had to move, and fast.
“You,” I said to Rachel, grabbing her by the shoulders and steering her toward the stairs. “You have had enough to drink. You are going to bed.”
“I hic-am?” Rachel asked, surprised.
“Indeed,” I confirmed grimly and marched her up the stairs. “Right, here you are. Guest room. Bed. Now.” I propelled her forward and she flopped on the bed like a rag doll.
“Very ti-hic-hic-red,” she mumbled before passing out.
I, on the other hand, had sobered up dramatically and had only one thought left: damage limitation. I blundered back downstairs, racing quite unladylike in my high heels, and skidded to a halt in the lounge. There they were, companionably sitting in front of the stereo, playing DJ.
I clattered across the floor, grabbing a bottle of champers and three glasses off a table as I went. Tim looked up, and then sprang to his feet.
“And here she is,” he announced to Dan with no small measure of proprietary pride. “Doesn’t she look gorgeous?”
Dan rose to his feet, somewhat unsteadily, and looked me up and down. A sad smile played on his face for just the briefest of moments.
“She looks stunning, indeed. Congratulations to you both.” He walked over to me and planted a chaste kiss on my cheek. “Well done,” he said softly, and Tim beamed gratefully, completely unaware that the comment was aimed solely at me. In fact, he seemed completely besotted by Dan’s manly, famous presence.
“Dan here and I were just discussing rock music,” he informed me as though Dan were his new best friend.
I shuddered for a moment. God forbid.
“Dan has some very interesting views about the movement, you know?”
I winced and smiled a secret apologetic smile at Dan, but he was too drunk to notice anything patronizing in Tim’s comment. I had to separate the two before things got out of hand. Luckily, one of our other guests absolved me of thinking up more ruses by descending on Tim and whisking him away to the kitchen.
Dan and I regarded each other in silence.
“You do look beautiful,” Dan repeated, suddenly sounding a whole lot more sober.
I wanted to cry. “What are you doing here?” I whispered, not trusting my voice.
“I don’t really know,” he acknowledged. “I just felt…lonely. At a loose end. I had to see you and convince myself that…well, that it really is too late. You know?”
I was simultaneously touched and petrified. “I thought we’d agreed…,” I started, but Dan interrupted immediately.
LINKS FOR SOPHIE’S TURN
Sophie’s Turn is available in Kindle edition from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and many other Amazon sites. The paperback edition is also available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. In addition, you can obtain Sophie’s Turn from Barnes & Noble.