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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Twenty Questions with... Terri Nixon

I am delighted to welcome Terri Nixon onto my blog today, author of A Rose in Flanders Fields released last week by Carina (Harlequin UK).

Even better, you can snap up a copy for a bargain price in honour of the 100 year commemoration of WW1.



ACT ONE – all about you…


Terri was born in Plymouth, England in 1965. At the age of 9 she moved with her family to Cornwall, to a small village on the edge of Bodmin Moor, where she discovered a love of writing that has stayed with her ever since. She also discovered apple-scrumping, and how to jump out of a hayloft without breaking any bones, but no-one's ever offered to pay her for doing those.

Terri now lives in Plymouth with her youngest son, and works in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Plymouth University, where she is constantly baffled by the number of students who don't possess pens.

1) Have you always been a writer or is it something you fell into?

I’ve written (mostly nonsense) for as long as I can remember; all through school I was the sad one who gave a secret fist-pump under the desk whenever the word ‘essay’ was mentioned.  I used to write stories for my friends, featuring boys they fancied – my first taste of “fan-fic!” 

2) Do you have a particular writing style or ritual?

This will sound odd, and probably counter-productive, but the first thing I do is open and play Bejeweled Blitz! It’s the best way to relax the mind, zone out of reality and into wherever/whenever I’m writing about. I play two or three games, thinking about the book, then I’m ready to go! I keep it open for when I hit snags, and while I play I talk – usually out loud –  about the problem, and the solutions nearly always appear. Plus, I get kick-ass scores because I’m not thinking about the game! ;)

3) Is there a book or an author that has influenced you in your writing?

The ‘Outlander’ series by Diana Gabaldon, which I’ve been reading and re-reading for more years than I can actually work out. Diana writes relationships and situations  of intense beauty and brutality, so real you can’t help but live the story instead of just reading it. Her writing is just superb, and her characters are faceted, flawed and vibrant, never black and white – I dream of writing with the same fire and flair. 

4) Is there one piece of writing (or life?) advice that has stuck with you, or that you would like to share?

This is something I received in a handwritten note from Dean Koontz some time ago, after I wrote to him, and I look at it every day: 
“Good luck with your own writing. Do it always for the love of doing it, and in my experience the success will follow. Although also in my experience, perhaps slowly!”

5) Can you tell us three things about yourself that we probably don’t already know?

Ooh-er. Okay, let’s think!
1. I was a founder member and chair of a motorcycle club. So I’m a bona fide, fully-licensed biker chick!
2. I did a solo (static line) parachute jump 2 weeks before I got married, back in the middle-ages.
3. I played “Ronnette” (one of the three singing girls) in a production of Little Shop of Horrors in the Barbican Theatre here in Plymouth. Also back in the mists of time. I’m very dull nowadays…

6) What five luxury items or gadgets would you hate to be without?

1. My laptop.
2. My phone.
3. My Kindle
4. Savoury snackage
5. Wine. Yes, I really am that shallow!


ACT TWO – all about your new release…



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…

7) Congratulations on your recent release of A Rose in Flanders Fields. what was your inspiration for writing Evie’s story?

Thank you so much! Evie was a character in the previous book, Maid of Oaklands Manor, although not the main character. She was, if you like, my main character’s main character! I liked the way she came through in Oaklands, she showed herself to be sparky and slightly rebellious, and I’d already decided I wanted to explore what she got up to during the war years, perhaps as a companion novella looking at some of the other characters, since Oaklands was told in the first person. Happily it turned into a full-length novel though. Again, it is written in the first person which hopefully brings the reader deeper into her mind during an extremely turbulent time.

8) Did the story flow from your finger tips or did some scenes take a bit of cajoling?

It’s a fairly complex storyline, so it took a lot of planning, and the research had to be as spot-on as I could make it, but each individual scene came very easily once I’d fixed in my mind where I wanted to go with it. Both books in this series, and now the third, which I’m working on now, have flowed very naturally and have been a joyful experience to write. I’ve loved every minute!

9) How long did it take for the initial spark of the story to make it onto the page and then onto the publisher’s desk?

As I mentioned before, I’d had the initial idea while Oaklands was being written, so all-in-all it took about 2 years from conception to acceptance. But it was written very quickly once I got going!

10) Do you have a favourite paragraph or sentence from your story that you would like to tantalise us with?

It seems logical to give you the first sentence here! 

“The explosion was more than a noise, it was a pressure and a fist, and a scream that started in the pit of my stomach and flashed outward through every nerve.”

11) Over to you, what can you tell us about A Rose in Flanders Fields, to make us rush out and buy it?

At a time when the world is remembering the outbreak of the Great War, this book takes you through it in the company of a young woman of great determination and courage, who is faced with the grim reality that sometimes the only choices you have left are the wrong ones. Yet those choices must still be made. 

12) What can we expect from you next? Is there something you are working on right now? 

The third book in the Oaklands Manor Trilogy, Daughter of Dark River Farm, tells the story of Kitty, Evie’s former companion in Flanders, now a Land Girl in Devon. Kitty’s experience at the Western Front forms a major part of the events in A Rose in Flanders Fields, and we continue it in book 3.


QUICK FIRE ROUND – it’s pop quiz time…


13) Plotter or pantser?

Happy pantser, with a twist of obsessive plotter!

14) Digital books or print books?

Print. But I do love my Kindle!

15) Tea or coffee?

Coffee

16) Extrovert or introvert?

Is there such a thing as a painfully shy extrovert? That’s me.

17) Facebook or Twitter?

Both! Far too much!

18) Christmas or birthday? 

Christmas, all the way. I’m a big kid.

19) Morning person or night owl?

Morning person. Particularly for writing.

20) Sweet or savoury?

Savoury! (see ‘luxury item’ #4!)

And that’s a wrap!

Thank you so much for taking part, Terri, I wish you every success with your new release.

To discover even more about Terri Nixon, and to keep up with her latest projects, you can visit her at:

Facebook     Twitter     Website 



Buy it now…


Add to Goodreads
Released: 17th July 2014
ISBN: 9781472096470

Amazon UK / US

Don't forget, you can snap it up for just 99p/99c for a limited time only!


Excerpt…


We’d arrived in the late autumn of 1914 and collected as much bedding as we could find, but the luxury of gathering equipment, setting up what we’d imagined would be our sweet little dressing station, with comfort and curtains, and hot drinks for the Tommies, was not to be. We were thrown into it right away, attached to the Unit a couple of miles away, and, with no field telephone, we quickly grew acccustomed to the shrill whistle of the runner on his bicycle as he summoned us to duty. Days blurred into long, cold nights, weeks into months while we battled extremes of boredom and terror, and we faithfully wrote our sunny, “gosh it’s exciting being in the thick of it!” letters home so our parents could boast about us to their friends. Heaven forbid they should find out what we actually did, night after night, I’m not certain Mother would have sat quietly at home if she’d known.

Our own tentative excitement had been bashed out of us after the first, awful night. With nothing of our own base ready, we’d volunteered our services at least and turned out to help the Red Cross, lining up with the other drivers at the railway station. The trains had come in; old, rattling things in these early days of the war, filled from end to end with wounded. Weeping men; silent men; angry, bewildered men; men numbed with misery and mute with horror … dear God, was Will in danger of becoming one of these?

We’d sat, still and shocked, while the orderlies loaded us up and barked our load: four stretchers, one sitter, and then driven, somehow, to the sergeant at the gate. ‘Four stretchers, one sitter,’ I repeated, stumbling over the impersonal words that were supposed to somehow explain the softly moaning, tangled mass of humanity I was carrying.

He consulted his clip-board. ‘Number Five.’ He waved us through, and we were on our way. Where was Number Five?  I was utterly lost, both mentally and geographically, but we found Number Five hospital mercifully quickly and were unloaded. Then it was back again; the train was still crammed with men awaiting their turn. Or their deaths. As dawn raked the sky with glorious pink rays that belied the tragedy beneath it, Boxy and I returned, in trembling silence, to our beds. Different women. Grown up in the space of a few horrific and nauseating hours.


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