I got hooked to Ms. Nicola Slade’s short stories as soon as I read them on her website here. I was soon done with all her short stories with their beautiful Victorian charm. I was delighted when the lovely author accepted to do a guest post on my blog. 🙂
I hope you like reading through her answers to my questions, as much as I enjoyed doing the interview.
1) Would you please share something about yourself?
I live right on the south coast of England, halfway between the great cruise liner port of Southampton and Winchester, the former capital of Saxon England. It’s a lovely part of the world with the sea less than 10 miles away, and the ancient New Forest, haunt of kings for a 1000 years, even closer. I’ve married a long time to a lovely engineer and our three children are grown up and married and they’ve provided us with 8 wonderful small grandchildren.
2) What are your favourite pastimes?
Well obviously I love reading and writing, and I spend a lot of time with the family, but apart from that I’m passionate about history and my husband and I like to arrange our holidays so that we can visit interesting historical sites. For a few years my best friend and I had a stall at several antiques fairs, specializing in old glass and china, as well as other pretty bits and pieces. It was great fun and we learned a lot, but we both have grandchildren who take up more of our time now, so we gave it up. There’s the writing too, and I also like to paint. On my website there are some examples of my artwork.
3) ) Did you always want to become a writer? How did you get into writing?
Yes I did. I think I was about six when I realized that books come out of people’s heads and decided that I would do that too! My first stories were published when I was about 23, for a children’s page in a weekly magazine for women, and after that I wrote more children’s stories until I moved into writing for women’s magazines.
4) Which are your most favourite books, which left an impression on you?
I have so many favourite books and so many that influenced me, we’d need a day to talk, I should think! I was lucky in that my mother and grandmother adored reading so I read what they read, including a lot of Victorian novels, including those by Charlotte M Yonge, who was a best-seller in her day. After that there were the schoolgirl stories: Elsie Oxenham, Elinor Brent-Dyer, moving on to Georgette Heyer. Since then there must have been hundreds, but I particularly love the books of Angela Thirkell who died in the early 1960s, and I’m also very fond of the mystery writers: Margery Allingham, Dorothy L Sayers, Patricia Wentworth, Charlotte MacLeod. Modern favourites are Terry Pratchett’s books, Lindsey Davis’s Roman detective, Falco, and dozens of others.
5) Short stories or novels – what do you enjoy writing more?
Novels, every time. Short stories can be fun, but I prefer to have time to get to know my characters really well.
6) Do you see yourself writing only for a particular genre or do you wish to experiment?
I would never be too dogmatic about it, but I like cozy crime novels – where the victim is usually someone nasty and the reader can trust the author to make sure the baddies get what they deserve! My first novel was a romantic comedy but the subsequent ones are Victorian mysteries. I have another – modern day – cozy crime that I hope will be accepted. If it is, I’d like to have two mystery series and switch between them.
7) Tell us about the books you’ve authored. What are they based on?
My first novel, Scuba Dancing, is a romantic comedy about an unusual singles group, aged between mid-thirties to mid-eighties. They get together, initially to combat loneliness, then decide to start fundraising for a particular project. The story is about what the project is and how it all works out. My books always tend to be quite funny, but there’s always a serious foundation to them.
8 ) What piece of your writing is your favourite – short story or book? Why is it special to you?
My own favourite piece of work is one of the stories on my website, The Tower Room. This was a very early acceptance by a women’s magazine, and is what convinced me I had the talent to carry on. What makes it special is that I sat down at the keyboard without a thought in my head and suddenly there it was. Not the whole story, but the setting and the bare bones. This rarely happens but when it does, it’s magic.
My favourite book by anyone else is The Pillars of the House, by Charlotte M Yonge, published in the early 1870s. I love it dearly.
9) What inspired you to write each of your three books?
It happens when a character or an idea moves into my head and gives me no peace until I explore it.
Scuba Dancing was triggered by reports of widespread loneliness in the elderly, but the story snowballed once I started writing it.
Murder Most Welcome came about because a young woman called Charlotte Richmond turned up in my head and bullied me into telling her story.
Death is the Cure is the second in what I hope will be a series about this same young woman and, without giving the story away, I knew I wanted to incorporate a famous historical mystery.
10) Are you working on any book/story at the moment? Would you like to tell us about the same?
I’m currently working on the third Charlotte Richmond story, tentatively titled: The Dead Queen’s Garden. I’m very fond of Charlotte and have plenty of ideas for more mysteries she can stumble upon. This one involves finding out about how they gardened in the 1300s and the inspiration comes from a beautiful replica garden planted in Winchester. You should be able to find it here: http://www.cityofwinchester.co.uk/parks/eleanor/eleanor.html
My fictional garden is not the same, but that’s where the idea came from.
11) Your short stories all have a Victorian touch to them…
I can’t help it! As I said, I have a passionate interest in history and I think it was inevitable that I would set books and stories in former times. (Actually, most of my published short stories were modern ones though.)
12) What is the best thing about writing as a profession, according to you?
Not having to get dressed up and go out, I should think! I don’t write full-time – it’s not my way, and I believe you need to be really living your life rather than just writing about it. But holding in your hands a book you wrote yourself, is a wonderful feeling.
Lastly, Ms. Slade says, “Thank you so much for getting me to do this: it’s not often one actually sits down and really thinks about Why did you do this? Why that?”
Thanks a lot, Ms. Slade. It was delightful interacting with you!! 🙂