About Nicola McDonagh:
I was born in Liverpool, England, the youngest of six and spent most of my childhood running through the garden; either being chased by or chasing my brothers, sisters, cats and dogs. I helped my dad grow vegetables and had a favourite pear tree that I would climb into whenever I felt sad. Oh, and sometimes I went to school.
There were always lots of books around the house and I read them all, even the ones that I was far too young to understand.
I loved to write as a child, but then I saw the late great Ken Campbell perform a one-man-show of ‘A Canterbury Tales’ and I was hooked on theatre.
So trained as a photojournalist! Didn’t like it at all. Loved the photography part, not so much the journalism.
I decided to go back to college and after gaining a Drama and English Literature degree, I worked for many years as an actor/tutor/script writer and photographer.
Then I moved to Suffolk, UK, got a Creative Writing Diploma, and won The Suffolk Book League’s Short Story Competition.
Wrote a YA Sci-fi/Dystopian series, got published and wrote some more.
As well as being an author, I am an editor, I teach photography and creative writing for both adults and young people, and I’m constantly exploring new ways to create photographic images and experiment with language.
What inspires you to write?
I find inspiration from a number of things.
I live in an oak-beamed 17th-century cottage in rural Englan, surrounded by fields and sounds of nature. So what I see and hear can often be the starting point for a story.
I also base quite a lot of my short stories around the paintings of Chagall, Munch, and Picasso.
My YA novels were inspired by the young people that attended my creative writing classes. That and envrinmental issues.
Tell us about your writing process.
My writing day begins about 3.00am when I wake up with a brilliant idea. My writing day ends about 3.02am when that idea vanishes with consciousness.
But I do try to get in a couple of hours writing in the early afternoon before going to work.
For short stories I just let my imagination flow. I type whatever comes into my head, then edit, edit, edit.
For novels, I research, do a brief character sketch and plot outline, then I write each chapter with an idea in mind, but often stray and go off track. I finish without editing, then make the whole thing work by re-writing and lots of editing.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I am my characters when I write, so I suppose I talk to myself.
What advice would you give other writers?
When I decided to write stories after many years as a script writer, I discovered that I had lost the ability to write prose. I found it so difficult to do descriptions, flesh out characters and ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’. I went back to college and studied creative writing. It was invaluable. I would recommend all writers to learn their craft and keep learning. Also, to write every day if it is possible. Even just a few words will help to train your mind and keep the creativity flowing. It doesn’t matter if you write a pile of rubbish, you are learning every time you make words appear.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I knew nothing about publishing when I wrote my first novel and just assumed I would have to send it off to agents. When I wrote my YA series, I sent off many query letters to agents. When that failed, I decided to contact publishers that accepted unsolicited manuscripts. I was picked up by an Indie publisher and two books in the ‘The Song of Forgetfulness’ series were published by them. Unfortunately, they went out of business June of this year and rather than go through the whole query business again, I decided to self-publish the books. I wrote a prequel, went on a marketing course and am just learning how to promote my work.
I would advise all authors to learn about marketing their books before they either self-publish or decide to go with a publisher. Remember that a publisher takes 70% of any royalties, whilst you do 99% of the marketing. The advantages of being with a publisher, are that they will edit your book and pay for the cover design. Disadvantages are that you may not agree with their editing suggestions, or cover design and have no control over promotions. With self-publishing, you are in charge and get all the royalties. I would recommend having your book professionally edited, though.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Self-publishing is on the rise.
Traditional publishing houses may have to think again about their submission guidelines, and may have to start rethinking their policies about agent only submissions.
Agents as such may disappear, or, as is happening now, become publishers too.
E-books and audio books are taking over from paperbacks and more and more marketers are getting on the band-waggon that is book publishing. This means that often the quality of some books are not as good as they should be as they are written solely for making money. That is just my opinion, based on what I have read recently by some self-published authors.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: YA, Sci-fi, Dystopian, Action Adventure, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Adult literature (Not erotica)
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.