I was first made aware of Nicola May at the end of last year when someone tweeted about her novel The School Gates. Being a teacher, I knew I would enjoy anything set in a school and having just received a kindle for my birthday, downloaded it straight away. I read it in just over a day. I loved it, partly because it was obviously so well researched, it represented the kind of dramas that go on at a school gates every single day.
I then downloaded Starfish-a story about a girl who decides to join a dating agency that helps her to date her way through the signs of the zodiac, a very funny story- and Better Together-a novel about an older woman and a younger man and their tumultuous relationship. To complete my read through of everything this author had written, she very kindly sent me Working It Out, the first novel she had written which sees main character Ruby pledge to try out twelve different jobs in 12 months, this one was the funniest of the lot. All these novels come highly recommended by me and my reviews can either be found on my Goodreads page or over at The Sweetbookshelf. I was very excited when this author agreed to do an interview for the blog because there was so much I wanted to find out from her, I especially wanted to hear about how it was going with her upcoming novel released on May 14th.
I sort of fell into it really. I was dared to run a half marathon way back in 1996 and started to write a humourous training diary. People read it and thought it was good. I was quite into astrology at the time and also had been on a few disastrous dates so the idea for Star Fish was born. Main plot being that Amy can’t find love and decides to date each sign of the zodiac to try and find her ‘sole mate’.
Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?
I actually don’t write full time yet but that is my dream, which hopefully isn’t too far off. I still work part-time as a European Events Manager for an IT company.
All of your novels are full of really strong female characters-how do you develop these characters as you write?
I visualise how the characters will look and pick some main character traits for them, but as the story develops, they do too. Things do change, in fact Joan in The School Gates was supposed to be a completely good person but I turned that on its head and she isn’t the person you expect her to be.
What is your writing process-do you map it out first? Write a bit at a time?
I have the main story in my head and then do a chapter plan. This however does alter as the story develops, but it is a good measure to start with.
One that I've been dying to find out...what is your research process?
I’d love to say I spend weeks researching but I don’t. I tend to look things up as I go along. Also I’ve had quite a colourful life, so a lot of it is first-hand experience.
How much of you is reflected in your novels?
A lot. There is a little bit of me in most of my female characters.
Do you have any plans to develop any if your novels further, write sequels, turn them into a series?
My new novel, The Bow Wow Club which is being released on May 14 this year is actually a sequel to Working it Out. Next book will be the sequel to The School Gates. My aim is to get this out before Christmas this year.
Which is your favourite character you've written and why?
It has to be Ruby who is the heroine in Working it Out and now The Bow Wow Club. She is such a gutsy, fun character. She makes mistakes like we all do in life but learns from then. She is very real.
Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?
I was very much inspired by Marian Keyes, Carole Matthews and Milly Johnson. I love to read Patrick Gale and Mary Wesley, who wasn’t actually published until her 70’s.
Finally...what are you working on right now?
I am head down editing The Bow Wow Club and also working with my designer on creating a cover for it. I shall take a month off writing to get my head clear for the next one and then will commence the sequel to The School Gates, which I recently won an award for at the Festival of Romance.
And feel free to stop by The Sweetbookshelf and check out my reviews of her first four novels!