I have had the most amazing pleasure to conduct an extended Quick Five interview with author Johanna Nield.
Author of the New Beginnings series, Ms. Nield is excited to share the re-release of her series, after self-publishing, with the UK publising company Cranthorpe Miller.
Y’all I cannot tell you how great this interview was. To be able to dig deep wth Ms. Nield about changing from self-publishing to sponsored publishing, to find out more about her as a writer and what she views as sucess was extremely exciting.
I hope you enjoy this very open interview.
Your book New Beginnings was originally published in 2010 but it looks like it is getting its own “new beginning” now. 😊 How do you feel about where your book is going, nine years later?
I’m delighted with its magnificent make-over! I self-published New Beginnings to please family and friends who wanted to read more than the extracts I’d been sharing, but I knew it needed a professional touch. The Cranthorpe Miller team have helped me improve and update my novel and I love the way it’s turned out.
Since the book was published nine years ago, how has the book and your writing changed since its original release?
The plot remains unchanged, but it has been updated to reflect current times, to clarify some events and references, and to shed some unnecessary passages. My writing has developed significantly over the years, particularly in terms of achieving more concise descriptions. The writing challenges presented by my university course helped me to cultivate my narrative voice and to identify my strengths and weaknesses as a writer but I view my development as a writer as an ongoing process because there’s always something new to learn.
What is the most difficult thing about writing a series?
For me, the most difficult thing is knowing when to stop! The second and third books in my series continue on from New Beginnings but I haven’t yet reached the end: books four and five are bubbling away on the mental backburner. It’s often difficult to remember who did what and when, so my character notes and plot timetable are extremely important for keeping me on track.
How do you balance being a reader and a writer when writing a book?
As a reader, I know what I like and dislike in a book and I bring that to my writing. If I don’t want to read something, then I’m less likely to write it. For example, a turn-off for me is stuttering dialogue, littered with “Um” and “Ah …” and long pauses. Yes, people do talk that way but for me it’s not an engaging way to present a conversation. Reading also lets me see how other tales are crafted, the best of which give me something to strive towards. I once put down a book and cried because the writing was so exquisite, and I almost gave up as a writer because I felt I couldn’t emulate that level of expertise. Thankfully, as many best-sellers have shown, writers are as different as the readers who enjoy their work.
Do you do any research for your books? If so, how does your research look like?
I needed to update my knowledge of NVQ modules for New Beginnings, and to ensure I used correct medical terms. Our local reference library is always my first option and I then supplement the information gained there with internet searches. I’m careful to only use reliable and certified sites to ensure the material I use is up-to-date and correct.
To change the subject slightly, what is it about literature or the overall the written word that drew you to becoming a writer?
Words have always fascinated me. I have loved reading from an early age and writing quickly became a joy. Words can be immeasurably powerful and the ability to express oneself with carefully chosen phrases is a gift of genius in some, in the same way as those who create beautiful artwork. I consider myself an eager apprentice, frequently enthralled by perfect prose.
How has the publishing world been for you? Is there any advice you would give a new author?
The publishing world has been instructive, challenging, supportive and developmental. Most of the rejections I’ve received over the years have been constructive and encouraging, and feedback from all quarters is always invaluable. I’m under no illusion that my life will change but I’m delighted that my life-long dream has come true. My advice to new authors is “Write. Don’t worry about how good it is, just write. Then read it, think about it, and write again. And never even think about giving up.”
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
Writing has always been a spare time activity as I work full-time and have family commitments. If writing didn’t captivate me, I think I’d be an artist because I love to paint and draw. Creativity is extremely important to me: it’s my way of relaxing and switching off from the demands of the day.
Is there anything that you dislike about the process of becoming either a published author or writing?
No! Writing is an exciting, exhilarating, wonderful experience! There is always something to learn and there will always be opportunities to improve, to try new genres and styles, to experiment with different subjects and eras – there are worlds waiting to be written about. The process of becoming a published author is also exciting, exhilarating, wonderful … and a very steep learning curve! If I could change anything about that process, I would make myself better at self-promotion as that is a skill I lack.
Finally, what is your definition of success as a writer?
For me, success as a writer comes when a reader enjoys what I’ve written and understands what I’m trying to say. It’s not about sales or best-seller lists; for me, hearing that someone likes my work is far more important and rewarding than knowing I’ve sold a certain number of books. The opportunity to engage with readers – to hear their feedback (good and bad) and to learn from them what works and what doesn’t – is far more valuable than potential fame for out-selling another author.