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Posted by Ian Macilwain

February 7th 2011

I have just finished 'the Society of Others ' while on holiday in Prague .I found it a totally captivating read reminiscent of Kafka and 1984 rolled into one. Having first travelled to eastern europe in 1970 I found the sense of quiet menace painfully accurate. Underpinning the work are profound psychological insights which as a retired psychiatrist/psychotherapist resonated strongly . Can I ask from where you draw that inspiration ? I hope for more surreal output in the future.

William Nicholson responded:

How wonderful to find my Society of Others still getting fresh readers. I put so much into that book, far more than any reader known to me has realised. Should you care to glance back at the book one day, it may amuse you to note that everywhere the word 'red' appears, the scene described is in fact a painting in the National Gallery - in other words, it is part of the hero's memory, which is what is furnishing his journey. Where's it all drawn from? In its way I used this odd little fable as a vehicle for a lifetime's reflections on - oh, everything. How to live. How to find contentment. I'm omnivorous in my reading. I spent fifteen years working for the BBC's Religious TV department, making programmes about all sorts of faiths, spiritual journeys, and pop-psych adventures. And I have a strong background as a Catholic, though I've been well-lapsed since university. As for more output, my current work in the novel form, though not surreal, continues to give me scope for my exploration of the same issues. 'The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life', the first of a series of novels, is naturalistic but also in its way philosophical. Do take a look.

Posted by Charlotte Meredith

February 5th 2011

Hello Mr Nicholson, I'm a third year English Literature student at Kingston University and I've just finished your fantastic novel Rich and Mad, I also loved your Wind on Fire trilogy as a child. I'm 22 now and I really wish I had been able to read Rich and Mad when I was a confused, love-lorn teenager; it would have answered a lot of questions for me! I am considering writing about your novel for one of my upcoming assignments about children's/young adult's literature. My idea is to compare Rich and Mad with Peter Pan and consider the differences between Victorian children's literature and children's literature today. Particularly with regards to exploring the problems of growing up, morality and the depiction of love. I would love to know how you feel children's literature ought to be written; how does a children's author know when to draw the line? Is it better to expose children to the harsh reality of the world or protect their innocence with fantasy? Would you say Rich and Mad is didactic? If so do what do you hope your readers (regardless of age) will learn from it? I look forward to your reply and thank-you for letting me remember the horrors of my own adolescence with nostalgia, humour and just a little bit of regret that i'm not seventeen anymore. Kind Regards, Charlotte

William Nicholson responded:

You ask important questions. I'm not sure any of us know for sure where to draw the line - different children at different times need different approaches. On the whole young readers determine this by their choice of reading matter. They will resist anything too far beyond their comprehension, or too unpleasant. But I do not believe they are innocent; nor do I believe fantasy is harmless. There's harsh reality in the Grimms' fairytales, and the brutal truths they deal in are loved by young readers. I think I would say that truth in any form is acceptable, but should not be forced on an unready reader. Let them come in their own time. As for Rich and Mad, yes, there is a didactic element in there. I had the conscious intention of demonstrating the ways in which sex is enriched by love, in contrast with that other primary model of sexual activity, internet pornography. I intended also to pass on a lot of information about boys to girls, and vice versa. But I did try to do it as truthfully and as entertainingly as I could. I'm glad you like the book. A lot of bookshops, schools, and parents have been frightened off it because it's explicit. In believing they are protecting their children by avoiding my book they show how little they know of the presence of porn in their children's lives.

Posted by Christopher Wiggin

February 5th 2011

I have just returned from seeing you speak at my daughters school and wanted to congratulate you on a totally inspiring talk. I only wish my daughter was there to see it but she is ill at home You have a wonderful talent and are hugely inspirational.I wish every child in the country could listen to what you have to say Thankyou Chris

William Nicholson responded:

I'm happy you found my talk worth while. I never quite know whether what I'm saying makes sense to my audience. So thanks for taking the trouble to pass on your response.

Posted by Fergus

January 31st 2011

hello i really like the wind on fire trilogy but i prefer the seeker triligy. Anyway i was looking at your other books and wondered what that new book you were talking about, Well what was it actually aboat

William Nicholson responded:

I'm not saying anything about my new idea until it's come clearer in my head, because I don't want to jinx it, or to catch myself thinking it sounds pretty lame before I've even written it. Give me a few more months.

Posted by Bex

January 31st 2011

I am a great fan of your work and also contacted you before, praising you on your work The Wind Singer which is now really rare to purchase. I am a Media Student at Fareham College and has been asked to do a ten minute Documentary. One of my chosen themes is my journey into being an author and I wondered if it'll be possible to have an interview with you via weblink or phone? The interview will be nothing on your personal life only on your experiances on writing and how hard it can be to get published as well as any tips. many thanks and I look forward to your reply.

William Nicholson responded:

I'm surprised you say the Wind Singer is rare to purchase. It may not be in the forefront of shops, but it's very much in print, and very much selling still. For your request, I'll contact you direct so you can do a phone interview.

Posted by Tim Sherwood

January 27th 2011

You were kind enough to put me on the right track, a few weeks ago, with the line; "Ye-es. That is rather good". We are due to open in 10 days. I am portraying Riley in a rather arrogant, patronising and deprecatory way (albeit with a smirk) during my exchange with Joy at The Kilns which the director is very happy with. A couple of nights ago, Lewis and I had a heated exchange about my interpretation of the role and suggested that an English gentleman would never treat a lady in such a way (particularly in another person's home) and that I should tone it down. Joy herself is fairly ambivalent although she does think I'm pretty malicious. As far as I'm concerned the lines speak for themselves and demand the kind of delivery and characterisation I've developed. Obviously the director wants to maintain harmony. I know it's not your problem but I thought there was no harm in floating the matter past you.

William Nicholson responded:

Riley is certainly meant to be arrogant and patronising, though of course as the play unfolds he becomes the one of Jack's friends who understands his suffering best. I suggest that you speak the lines as, as you say, they require, but in your mind as you do so be clear that you are unaware you're being unkind. You're playing to the gallery of your friends, and therefore extremely taken aback when Joy bites back (which will get a big laugh).