My guest author today is the vivacious Nene Davies, author of the ‘Distance’ series. Besides writing novels, she is an avid blogger and Facebook contributor.
Her blog, which focuses on interviews of people in the writing and creative space, has the intriguing name ‘Six Peas‘.
In keeping with her play on words, I’ve set her the task of answering five Qs.
Q1: The opening sentence of ‘Distance’ is: One of the saddest things in the world must be to get to the end of your life and wish you’d done things differently. How much of the novel reflects your own experience?
In 2002 I emigrated to Australia from Pembrokeshire, Wales with my husband and three children. We were extremely fortunate in that the whole thing went very smoothly, but by far the hardest thing we did, was leaving family and friends behind, in particular my mum. Understandably, Mum didn’t want us to move twelve thousand miles away and didn’t feel that at her age, it was something she could contemplate herself, but she would never have tried to stop us from realising our dream. She wished us nothing but the absolute best and came to Queensland on holiday, four times. Like us, Mum fell in love with the place to the point where she was even considering moving here for good. However, she became very sick and sadly passed away before we were able to make that happen.
When I started writing ‘Distance’ I thought about the what ifs?
What if Mum had been so distraught at the thought of us emigrating, that I was unable to leave her? What if I didn’t have a fabulous brother and sister-in-law who looked after Mum once we had left and she became ill? What if the guilt of leaving a devastated parent behind consumed me to the point of destroying my marriage?
I have had a tremendous amount of feedback from readers who are able to relate to my protagonist’s dilemma, her feelings of inadequacy, guilt, sorrow and disappointment. It doesn’t have to be a move to the other side of the world; simply moving to another state or town can be incredibly tough on family relationships.
So I would say that while the story does have its feet in truth and most of the locations described in the books are real, I have considered many things that could have gone wrong and given all these challenges to my fictional family.
Q2: How long did it take to write the Distance series and what were your greatest challenges?
Five years ago, we moved from Brisbane to Melbourne for twelve months, with my husband’s job. Our children had grown up and left home so it was just the two of us in our small apartment in the middle of the city. I realised that I now had the time and opportunity to write the book that had been simmering in my mind for some time.
I completed ‘Distance’ over that year, writing chapters out in longhand at a cafe down the road from our apartment each morning and then typing everything up on the computer at home in the afternoons. The following year, when we had moved back to Brisbane, I wrote the sequel ‘Further’ over a number of months and then last year I completed the final book in the series, ‘Surfacing.’
I would say that for me, the greatest challenge of writing a book is the editing! I’m not a fan. I love to write, but editing is something that I know needs to be done, but it’s not something I enjoy.
Q3: What are the most important attributes for being a successful writer?
Oooh, well perhaps the ability to self-motivate and to write every single day. I think it’s vitally important to keep that writing muscle toned, as otherwise it’s easy to get flabby! I consider writing my job (and count my blessings every day that my job is also my passion) and I go to work in my office at home. It’s no good being distracted by things going on in the house. Being your own boss is fantastic, but it might be tempting to leave work early sometimes! I’d never get anything finished if I didn’t put my work head on, so when I sit at my desk to write, I’m not thinking about anything else.
Q4: You are fab at doing your own publicity. What words of advice can you share?
Well first of all – thank you! One of the hardest things for me to overcome has been to get over feeling awkward about promotion. To be honest, it’s not where I feel most comfortable, but I realise that it’s very important to get over that, in order to spread the word about my work. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of social media sites out there so I think it’s probably a good idea to choose just a couple and post to those regularly, rather than spreading oneself too thin by trying to run around all over the internet. Social media can be a real time-thief so my suggestion would be for authors to be quite strict about planning out their publicity as it can sometimes take you away from actually writing!
Some authors much prefer to have a helping hand with publicity, rather than shouldering it all on their own. My daughter Sarah has a business, Big Plans, which offers exactly this kind of help and looks after all my profile pics, book trailers and a lot of my content for social media, though over time I’ve learned to quite enjoy online marketing and regularly post to social media, too. I also take part in book signings, library author panels, interviews and so on – and these are always great fun to do.
Q5: What can you tell me about your current work in progress?
Redhanded is all about drugs, cheating, murder and firemen. And, unlike The Distance Series, has absolutely no connection with my own life! I loved writing Isobel’s story over the series, but decided that it might be fun to really challenge myself and write something that’s about a million miles out of my comfort zone. I’m about halfway through writing the first draft and I have to say – it’s rather liberating and great fun! I’m delving into dark and unfamiliar places (and I sincerely hope nobody checks out my Google search history!) – but I would say that ultimately, Redhanded is a love story. It will be published later this year.