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Posted by Evelyne

July 13th 2010

I can't quite put my finger on what draws me to the Wind on Fire trilogy over and over again. Maybe it's the way I seem to discover another layer of it every time I read; but at the same time, each time I read I don't feel like I'm not quite understanding anything. That was slightly convoluted, I realize, but I hope you see what I mean. There are authors who write such pretty sentences I feel I have to read them aloud to others. You aren't one of them; your writing isn't ridiculously pretty, it's just.. real. Maybe that's why I never tire of it. On to the questions- I'm sorry if they've already been asked, but I can't bring myself to look through over 95 pages of Q&As- When did you discover you were a writer? Do you think everything you write is at least a little autobiographical? Which authors most heavily influenced you? Are your characters mostly based on people you know? When you write dialogue, do you imagine each character's to be speaking in a distinct voice, or is it more..words that suit the character's personality?

William Nicholson responded:

I don't think I discovered I was a writer, I just really wanted to be a writer. What I write is definitely autobiographical - I've felt the feelings of my characters - but of course I'm not telepathic and can't fly. The characters similarly are based on people I know and on jumbles of people I half know and on bits of myself. When I write dialogue, I am that character, so I just 'speak'. I'm not conscious of the voice. Maybe I should be more so. The authors I love most - eg Tolstoy, Chekhov - have a style that is clear as glass, and doesn't draw attention to itself. I'm less enthused by writers whose prose style is the star.

Posted by susan

July 13th 2010

I have composed this comment in my mind more than several times. In brief, your words helped my husband and me fall in love. In 1996, our community theatre group did SHADOWLANDS with me as the director and the man who would later become my husband as C.S. Lewis. There were phrases so powerful and delightful that not only would I listen for them specifically each night we rehearsed, but have now become part of our daily life together, I can't help but think that the love story you wrote has contributed significantly to our lives and for this I am ever grateful. Thank you.

William Nicholson responded:

I feel honoured. In a very different way the play did the same thing for me. I now think that writing it exorcised my fears of commitment, because I married (late, though not quite as late as CSLewis) not long after.

Posted by Lucy Brooke

July 13th 2010

Hello there, Not a question but a compliment! I've just finished The Secret Intensity (after reading the Obs. review) and had to tell you I truly enjoyed it. All the characters were believable and even the "baddies" (Aiden and the Dogman) had warmth and humour. Alan Strachen's story was great - especially his sex-life! In fact, all the sex was fab and properly sexy (and this coming from a woman!). Can't wait for the next one; you've got a new fan.

William Nicholson responded:

That's the kind of compliment I really appreciate - particularly about the writing of sex scenes. It's famously difficult, and I really bust myself to get it right, in tone, in truthfulness, without resorting to the easy option of making it all ridiculous. So I value your response. Thank you.

Posted by Val Hewertson

July 11th 2010

After reading the Observer Review a few weeks ago, I've just finished Secret Intensity which I loved and am glad to see the sequel is out in September. I'll also be getting Rich and Mad for my teenagers. Keep them coming please...!

William Nicholson responded:

I'm really pleased you liked my two most recent books. Rich and Mad is a one-off, I think, but the Secret Intensity world is rather taking me over. All the Hopeful Lovers comes out in September (in hardback), and I'm now planning the third one in the sequence. This method means I can keep on going deeper and deeper into my characters' lives.

Posted by yasmin steers

July 10th 2010

hi, im a big fan of your 6 fantasy books (i found them in the school libary) and i was wondering, what do the characters look like? i know that wildman has golden hair, but what about kestrel, bowman, pin-pin, mumpo, seeker, morning star ect. look like?

William Nicholson responded:

Not many people work out that I've written two fantasy trilogies. In a way all six books follow on from each other, even though in two different worlds. As for what they look like, I'm afraid I can't add to what's on the page. When I began I very much wanted readers to create their own image of my characters, because I believe that reading is collaborative - you and I make the story together - which means every reader's experience is unique. That's why I asked the original publisher not to put pictures of any character on the cover. Since then there have been so many editions in so many countries that I've kind of given up protesting. But I'd still rather you joined me in the act of creation.

Posted by Seán

July 8th 2010

I finished the first draft of my fantasy novel a few weeks ago. This set me over the moon, the novel being planned out in my mind for three years and the first draft has been re-written twice already. I left it a few weeks so it would settle before editting but when I went to edit it, I was hit with a flash of inspiration. Basically, instead of killing the King off in the first chapter, he's going to live until the midpoint or so. This is to make the plot twist all the more shocking. Now when I thought about how to go about this, I have to write the new chapters for the start and edit the later chapters to suit. This will take a very long time. Have you any advice for keeping the passion for a piece of writing during the editing process? This one change will take quite some time to do, and I'm sure it will be the first of many changes. While it is great that I'm now polishing my novel and turning it into the masterpiece that I know is hidden in my head, it's quite exhausting mentally to know I'll be at this for a good few weeks and most likely months before it's completed.

William Nicholson responded:

I know this stage, and it is very hard. I suggest you give yourself a further break - maybe for a few days turn your mind to what you might write next - and then back to the novel and start planning in detail how you'll make your new beginning. It's very like doing a route march, really. Rests give you new strength. Many times in my screenwriting career I've had to re-inspire myself to do a new draft, and I've always been astonished at how one can find the excitement returning.