Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Hosting a visit by British writer Terri Nixon

My guest today is the British writer Terri Nixon, who has published five books in different genres.

She's in the process of writing two quite different series, The Dust of Ancients, which is mythic fiction, the other, Oaklands Manor, is historical drama set in the early 20th century. She's also published a collection of horror stories, Nightrise. Covers, blurbs and links are further down this posting.

I "met" her through Facebook and read her book The Dust of Ancients, which I really enjoyed. I found it to be an intriguing, imaginative and fast-paced story with an entertaining cast of characters. And it's set not far from where I live, in the South-West of England. Yes, Terri and I are near-neighbours.

IS - Where did the original idea for the story and characters in the Lynher Mill Chronicles come from?

TN - Having grown up on Bodmin Moor (between the ages of 9 and 19) I've always felt a strong connection with the area. I used to go for long, long walks – often all day – and, when I realised I wanted to write, I knew that one day I would tap into that fascination. It took a while, but this series has been bubbling around since the early 2000s. It seemed obvious, and natural that the story should be a hybrid mix of traditional folklore and modern-day, and the characters just grew from that.
IS - What do you have in mind for your next writing project?

TN - When I’ve finished the third book in this series, and the third in my other, very different Oaklands Manor series, has been edited, I will be returning to an Edwardian ghost story set in Helston, 1910. The working title for this one is Penhaligon’s Attic and it’s already well under way.

IS - How do you develop you ideas for characters? Are parts of you incorporated into any of them?

TN - I don’t really sit and develop characters; if they don’t appear or evolve naturally I have to think twice about whether they’re important. If I decide they are, I’ll devote a bit of time to working on some dialogue to see whether they start coming through more clearly. Usually that does the trick! Likewise I don’t consciously write any of myself into them, but inevitably some of my own thoughts and views will make themselves heard. Such as my love for roast potatoes, rain, and rock music!

IS - Is there anything you remember which prompted you to start writing?

TN - Not any one particular thing, no. I have my very first writing book from infant school, in which there is a poem about how much I like rhubarb. Definitely a work of fiction! (bleugh!)

IS - Tell us about the genre you write in. Why does this particularly appeal and how did you get into it?

TN - This series is Mythic Fiction. However I didn’t know that until I’d finished book one and was trying to figure out how to pitch it; I’d simply written what I wanted to read. Then I hit a bit of a brick wall: it’s not fantasy, it’s not even urban fantasy … I was flummoxed, and then I found this definition on the Fantasy Faction blog: “Mythic Fiction includes contemporary works that rely heavily upon mythology, folklore, fairy tales, and the tradition of oral storytelling” Bingo! A label, at last!

IS - Do you write in other genres as well? Why? Do you write differently in these?

TN - I also write 20th century historical drama/sagas. These grew out of a need to write something loosely based on my maternal grandmother’s life in service, although the finished books have no relation to the initial intent. (see my answer to your next question!) Naturally the voice in these is different, by necessity of the era, but also they tumbled out in the first person, which threw me! The three books are told by three different women, and the voice is slightly different in each because of their situation/background.

I also have a contemporary thriller currently with my agent, with the vague intention of self-publishing through the Amazon "White Glove" programme.

IS - Do your stories ever seen veer off in an unexpected direction? Have you ever had a character just “do their own thing?” Have you ever had an argument with one of your characters? Or anything else odd happen?

TN - Many, many times! One (major) character in Dust of Ancients hadn’t even been considered, I thought I knew exactly who the ‘baddie’ was, but then Richard just walked up to his car, and found someone leaning on it. I literally had no idea who he was. And another time, my female MC kicked something in the grass when she was walking away and I’d thought the scene was already over. Then I had to figure out what it was. No arguments, yet, but lots of instances of me growling at them and asking them what the hell they’re playing at!

IS - What’s your writer’s routine? Do you write whenever or at certain times? Where do you like to write? Are you a plotter or do you just write and see where it goes?

TN - I work full-time, and since I’m a morning-starter when I do write, the evenings aren’t much good for me creatively; I don’t get home until almost 6pm. So weekends and days off are a case of: plug in, sit down, and get on with it! I write at every opportunity, and I’ll use the evenings for social networking, and promo work.

I don’t like to shut myself away though, so I use the front room, and the laptop sits on a card table I can move around and out of the way easily.

As for the plotter/pantser question, I usually say: I’m a happy pantser with a twist of obsessive plotter. I will plot, and think, and consider all angles, but then when I have a direction to go in I make a start and see where it takes me. It’s fun!

IS - Can you give five things off your “bucket list”, whether ones you’ve done or want to do?

TN - Find an agent - done!
Get a book published - done!
Do a parachute jump - done!
Spend Christmas in New York
Retire to a little cottage on Bodmin Moor … with full wi-fi and unlimited Sky Box Office!

IS - Any individual male and female figure you particularly admire, dead or alive, and why?

TN - Lady Dorothie Feilding. Her letters home from the Western Front, where she spent time with the Monroe Corps, were life-changing. Such courage, and the fear hidden so well beneath her lively sense of humour and determination to help others.

IS - What’s your passion in life?

TN - Sorry to be boring, but … writing!  (aside from family, and particularly my two amazing sons, of course!)

IS - If you could pick a past life, what time period would appeal to you and why? Would you be male or female? Rich or poor?

TN - I think I’d like to visit the “roaring twenties.” And who’d want to be anything but a well-to-do female at a time like that? A real time of change and emancipation, just beginning; the possibilities would have been so exciting.

IS - What would you tell anyone who asked you for advice about writing a novel?

TN - Just sit down and do it. Don’t spend hours on-line learning about how to do it; all you’ll find will be people saying how hard it is, and telling you what you should NEVER do. Confidence-killers. And don’t get hung up on whether it sounds right, or the grammar is “correct”; that will come later, if it matters. Don’t sweat over chapter length, point of view, story arc or character development, just get the story down. And when you’ve done it, accept that you’ve done something wonderful, even if it’s pants. Pants can be fixed.

IS - Thanks so much for dropping by and chatting, Terri. Good luck with all your books.

The Dust of Ancients.

When folklore and the modern world collide, who’s to say which one is the myth?

Lynher Mill: a quiet Cornish village, site of both atrocities and heroism in day gone by. Today’s inhabitants raise monuments and visitor-centres in awed memory of those far-off days, grateful they live in an era of peace and plenty.

But the granite-strewn moorland is bristling with secrets and treachery; below ground, beautiful, ancient beings plot against one another to fulfil a curse delivered by their dying king. And so, while mortals walk the land and dream of long-ago battles, the Moorlanders arm themselves with fierce courage and hardened hearts, for the real fight is about to begin.

The Dust of Ancients - Book One in the Lynher Mill Chronicles.

A curse uttered in the extremity of terror and death can reverberate for centuries. When the means to bring that curse to fruition are suddenly within reach, the innocents must look to their past to protect their future ... and their past wants no part of it.  
  Richard Lucas has been plagued by vivid and disturbing dreams since the death of his wife eleven years ago, and, desperate to get his life back on track, he is persuaded by his best friend Dean to take a sabbatical. But when he arrives in Dean’s home village of Lynher Mill he discovers that, not only is Dean not who he seems, but that he himself is bound more tightly to the Cornish moorlands than he could have imagined. And far more deeply than he would ever want to be.
  As the events that began to shape his life over three thousand years ago continue their steady, unstoppable march towards a terrifying conclusion, Richard discovers the truth about his connection to the moor, and eventually has to do battle with his own history just to survive. Those who love him struggle with conflicting loyalties and come to realise that, if the land itself is to endure, they must make some devastating decisions.

Universal Amazon Link:

The Lightning and the Blade - Book Two in the Lynher Mill Chronicles.

Manipulating the greatest of nature’s forces is a deadly game for the unwary and the unskilled. Manipulating the hearts and minds of ancient and powerful enemies can prove deadlier still, and the effects echo across a land that is poised for battle, and just waiting for a reason.
Trouble is stirring along a Cornish coastline notorious for both shipwrecks and smuggling. With elementals playing their wicked weather-games, and a mortal woman rapidly sliding into self-destruction, supply meets demand and the stakes are raised to terrifying and tragic heights. 
  Meanwhile, an uneasy peace has settled over the village of Lynher Mill, and a royal marriage promises to unite the moorland elementals and their old enemies on the coast. But the bride’s brother has his own reasons for sabotaging the union; his dark and secret work depends upon it. He digs deep enough to uncover long-buried hatreds and ensures those ugly truths come to light, and before long the two races embark on a collision course that threatens to destroy them both, and the mortals who stray into their path.

Book three in the series, The Unquiet Kingdom, is scheduled for release in June 2015.

Maid of Oaklands Manor - Book One in the Oaklands Manor Trilogy

  It's 1912. And a chance meeting between scullery maid Lizzy Parker and heiress Evie Creswell leads to more than an enduring friendship and a new job for Lizzy... It draws her into a world of privilege and intrigue and delivers her into the loving arms of a killer. 
  Meeting the handsome but mysterious Jack Carlisle, Lizzie begins to fall for him despite rumours he had been involved in the death of Evie's father. And as she becomes further embroiled in the dangerous life Carlisle lives, she must decide if he can be trusted with the life of a close friend, and, ultimately, if he is worth the risk to her own.

Universal Amazon Link:

A Rose in Flanders Field - Book Two in the Oaklands Manor Trilogy.

  It's 1917. Driving an ambulance through the mud in Flanders, aristocrat Evie Creswell is a long way from home. At Oaklands Manor all she had been expected to do was to look pretty and make a good marriage. But with the arrival of World War One everything changed…

  And Evie, to the horror of her family, does not choose a husband from her blue-blooded set; instead she weds artist Will Davies, who works as a butcher’s apprentice. Soon she is struggling nightly to transport the wounded to hospital, avoiding the shells and gas attacks – her privileged home life, and her family’s disappointment at her marriage, a lifetime away.
  And while Evie drives an ambulance in Belgium, Will is in the trenches in France. He withdraws from her, the trauma of his experience taking hold. Evie has the courage to deal with her war work, but it breaks her heart to think she is losing Will’s love. Can their marriage survive this terrible war? That is, if they both get out alive… 

Universal Amazon Link:

Book three in the Oaklands Manor trilogy, Daughter of Dark River Farm, will be published by Carina at a date to be announced.

A collection of short horror stories by T Nixon.

That thing you thought you saw from the corner of your eye; the capering shadow that drew your attention while your mind screamed at you to turn away … it’s here. It’s waiting for you, and it’s very, very patient.

So sit tight for a while. Prepare yourself for the unknowable, and learn, through these few short stories, the truth about "it can’t happen to me ..."

Warning: several of these stories contain graphic horror descriptions.

Universal Amazon Link:

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