Nicola Lindsay is an author and screenwriter. She also works as a voice-over artist and actor, and finds that writing and acting are mutually beneficial. All of her novels, including Diving Through Clouds, A Place for Unicorns (Belonging) and Tumbling Jude, are now available on Amazon Kindle Books and some are also in paperback. Nicola has also recorded scripts for RTE’s Sunday Miscellany.
When did you first begin to write, Nicola?
I first began to enjoy writing when I was at school. Essays for the English class were one of the few things that gave me pleasure at my horribly staid and unimaginative Grammar school. Then, when I had moved to Africa, I kept a daily journal. This has since been lost but I seem to remember it would have made interesting reading as it included life on the edge of the bush, twenty miles from Lagos and the difficulties one encountered arriving three weeks after a military coup and living through the horrors of the Biafran war – albeit from a distance. Then, when I moved to Dublin, I attended a couple of workshops and a week-long course on writing, both poetry and prose. I had joined a small writers’ group in Bray and I began having my poetry published in women’s magazines and in Books Ireland. This was when I first decided to take writing seriously.
How long were you writing for before you were published?
It was two years after this decision that my first book was published. It was called Batty Cat – a book for children that I had written and illustrated for my own children many years before and had forgotten about. So, after I had tidied it up, I approached a small publishing firm called Kestrel Books in Bray and they liked it and wanted to publish it. DuBray Books were tremendously helpful and had the book in their window and the sales were pretty good for a first effort by a totally unknown author. This was followed six months later by a collection of my poetry, in book and cassette form, called Lines of Thought.
Do you have an agent?
I don’t have an agent at the moment. I did have a London-based agent for several years and they did get a couple of book deals in New York and Germany and with Readers’ Digest Select Editions. We drifted apart, mostly because I wasn’t a writer that stuck to any one genre and therefore couldn’t be neatly pigeon-holed and they found this frustrating. However, I wanted to experiment and go into uncharted territory. My last couple of books have been published on Amazon Kindle Books and it was delightful, not having to share the proceeds with an agent!
When writing, how is your day structured?
When I am writing a novel, I try to be very disciplined, which I find extremely difficult. My ideal routine is to work from 10am until 1pm and 2pm until 6pm on every week day. I might get involved in writing something else like some poetry or working at a script or a monologue at the weekend but I give the novel a break so I come back to it fresh on the following Monday morning. Obviously there are days when no writing gets done because of family commitments or various appointments that crop up and are unavoidable.
And how long does it take you to complete a writing project ?
A 350 page novel takes me roughly six months if there isn’t any difficult research involved. Scripts are difficult to time as the re-writes seem to be interminable and I am never happy with the latest draft. I have a feature script that I wrote five years ago and that I know still needs a lot of work. A poem, if I’m lucky, can take a couple of hours for the first draft and then sometimes I can finish it in a day or two. It depends on the length and how the words flow. Sometimes I get so bogged down and my inability to say what I want is so frustratingly inadequate that I have to leave it and then take it up again months later.
Write what you know – agree or disagree?
On the whole I think it is wise to write about what you know. However, there are genres, like fantasy or science fiction, when you really take off like a rocket and let your imagination soar – the wilder and weirder the better!
Can you share with us what you are working on now?
I have been making notes for a possible novel, set on an imaginary island off the West African coast. It was colonised first by the French and then by the British before being liberated. Its only source of income is from a chaotic retreat for a wide range of blow-ins with literary pretensions and a liking for the local rum-based cocktail called The Mayhem Molotov. The islanders are an exotic mix of French, British, African and locals. There could be a murder . . .
And just for fun – six people, living or not, that you would like to share your favourite beverage with?
John Irving, Yehudi Menuhin, David Attenborough, Walter Osbourne, Anthony Minghella, Dave Allen.
Nicola’s website: www.nicolalindsay.ie
See also: www.piehole.ie/nicolalindsay