As a follow-up to my review of her brilliant novel Within The Silence I interview Nicola Avery to learn more about her work and how she came to start writing it.
Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards thriller writing?
I think my writing style developed from a need to create a dialogue with my readers. I tend to write about what I know, think, believe, or have been told. I explore subjects that make me cry, make me angry, make me question, hoping that my voice is always honest and open. Some of my subject matter is brave or controversial and requires the reader to listen, watch and engage with an open mind, exploring their own emotions and views, allowing the plot and characters to develop. I don’t judge in my writing, I leave that to my readers.
Both my books are very different – Whispered Memories is a mixed genre, multi-dimensional love story where a tragedy in the past (the premise of a past existence) and present day collide, as repeating patterns threaten lives once again.
Within The Silence is also a mixed genre, but a darker thriller with a paranormal twist, a race against time to stop an atrocity, where a love so powerful crosses even the ‘ultimate boundary of death’ to keep a love one safe.
As a reader I have always been drawn to thrillers, not frightening horror type, but more psychological, dark, ‘bad people’ led thrillers. That’s possibly why both my books are littered with murders, intrigue, hidden agendas, sadness, brutality, and tragedy… but lifted with the truth that ‘love’ is the final answer.
What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally?
My father is a published author, my mother a ballet dancer so the artistic seam runs deep within my psyche. I travelled extensively, in and around Australia, returning back to the UK as a divorced single mother and carving a professional career in the corporate world of finance.
As soon as my daughter reached eighteen I began to follow my own interests, studying and qualifying as a professional hypnotherapist and past life/regression therapist in order to understand the impact that the past has on an individual in their lifetime. The subject matter on past existences was fascinating, the findings although chiefly unproven – persuasive. I needed to share, hence my first published book.
I write now about things that inspire me, move me or allow my mind to literally ‘free-fall’. Whether these latest stories will go to print remains the question, but as long as there are readers that like my writing, I will find the time to create and put pen to paper.
Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?
I can’t tell you exactly where the ideas for my stories come from. They are in my head and grow in the telling, becoming more layered, more intricate, and more involved as the stories develop. My editor has to cut chapters and pages from each finished manuscript with the cry of ‘too much!’ I’m also asked how do I know about some of the things I write about, especially the more ‘unusual’ or ‘unpleasant’. Research is essential, a vivid imagination and the courage to tackle something that might be seen as sensitive, unbelievable, unnatural, or unexplainable, hoping I will always convey the darker or difficult with compassion and sensitivity.
I treat ‘writers block’ like a virus. We will all get it one day – for me its natures way of saying enough – take a break – breath again…
I ‘word dump’ if I feel the guilt to write during these periods, work on an alternative project. I normally have two on the go so I can dip in to one on the back burner when I feel pressure from another. That way I always have an outline for the future, for another book (guilt is one of the writers curses, the need to write, whatever). Sometimes a break from your work is beneficial as it also allows you to take a step back. Also, ‘life’ does get in the way of writing and we should understand this. When this happens to me – I read – a lot. It’s my chance to go into another author’s world, soak up their wording, plot and characters, and enjoy their ‘place’, like a perfect holiday: it works for me.
If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?
Amelia Mary Earhart would be my first choice as a collaborator. I’d like to write her story, her life from her perspective. She was an American aviator pioneer and author, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Married, but with no children of her own, she disappeared in 1937 flying with her navigator Fred Noonan over the Pacific ocean en route to Howland Island from Lae, Papa New Guinea, in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe.
There is still a mystery as to what really happened to her, her navigator, the plane, where she landed or crashed, and how she met her fate. The mystery of her disappearance would be a fascinating detective story, but weave in her views and past battles as a woman in a man’s world, the choices she had to make, the risks she took, the fear she had to conquer, her experiences as a nurse’s aid during WW1 in a Canadian hospital, her experiences as an author, and her own personal lessons in life, her loves, her hates, then the project takes on real colour.
Spin that with fiction and conspiracy theories then the book takes on a different edge, a fiction book with several potential endings. Her capture by the Japanese for spying, the unknown bones found on an Island, the sunken plane, the mystery woman with a new life and new face, her murder, or the truth; what really happened to Amelia Earhart?
Sadly we may never uncover that, but if she allowed, I could add a twist to the book project and add in a paranormal element-perhaps she could then tell us!
What do you read yourself and how does this influence your writing?
I read as much as possible and can be wooed by a beautiful cover. I love thrillers, mysteries, crime, psychological thrillers and books that cross and mix genres. A ghostly twist to a love story is a bonus for me. As a result of my reading needs I’m writing the kind of books I want to read; mixed genres, murders, crimes, mysteries, thwarted love, reincarnates, ghosts, justifiable retributions, rather like a box of chocolates with no sweet index, where there’s something in it for everyone, and each bite is a surprise.
Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
Yes, a children’s book – but with a difference – going back to the days of Hans Christian Andersen where story telling and children’s tales were filled with love, beauty and pain, where morals are taught and all actions good or bad had consequences. This is a challenge for me as I’m finding it very emotional to write and the intended age group keeps growing – to date it’s for children aged 9 to 90 years! Have quite a following and its not finished yet!
Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?
I read at least three book a month and have on occasions been surprisingly disappointed by a ‘well known’ author’s much publicised book, so now tend now to wait for the buzz to die down before purchasing and reading. I always finish a book whatever my opinion and never give a bad review, after all there is no ‘one size fits all’ in the world of books; readers views are varied and personal.
I do now have copies of Kate Mosse’s The Burning Chambers to read and Kate Atkinson’s Transcription..
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Yes – a huge thank you to Hannah for inviting me to take part in this interview and to all the other amazing book bloggers out there, that are throwing authors a ‘life raft’ in this bumpy sea of book publishing and supporting us as we paddle.
Thanks Nicola it’s been great to hear your thoughts!