Today’s Guest Blogger: Sylvie Nickels is here with us today to discuss her writing, her life and her fifth novel, Courage to Change.
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Sylvie Nickels and I’m rather old as indicated by the fact that I have been writing since I was ten years old and that is over 70 years ago.
2. What project-in progress would you like to discuss today?
The current one is nearly finished but has been at the back of my mind for a long time. So far my books have been aimed for the general adult reader and a common theme has been the effect of war on the children and grandchildren of participants. My current project, Courage to Change, is aimed at teenagers/young adults and the theme is addiction.
Brief synopsis. Nicola (Nikki) Wood’s father James is an alcoholic. The book opens on her twelfth birthday party which, as usual, he ruins. Eventually he leaves home and, because her mother Ann is short of money, she takes a job and Nikki goes to live with her grandparents (the Grampies) who pay for her to go to a private school. Determined to keep control of her life, Nikki has ambitious plans for her studies and exams.
Nikki meets Baz on the internet and eventually his parents. She takes her first alcoholic drink by mistake, likes the effect, is sure it’s OK as long as you keep it in control. Over the coming years, through exams and relationships, she becomes more dependent on it. She also meets her now-sober father. Eventually her drinking brings her to a life style quite alien to her aspirations. A friend of her father drives her to the village where her father lives and dumps her outside the village hall. A man helps her in and she finds herself at a meeting of a self-help group. Her father is speaking, stops when he sees her and holds out his arms. All it needs, he says, is ‘the courage to change’ (which is the title of the book.)
The book is written in the first person by Nikki herself, now in rehab and on the eve of her 20th birthday.
- What inspired you take on a project like this?
The fact that I was once addicted myself – indeed I would say that I am in recovery rather than cured though I have not indulged in the addiction for 35 years.
- How do you find the time to write?
With difficulty at the moment, as I am a full time carer. On the other hand, writing is an absolute marvel as an escape route. So I manage it!
- During your travels, what country impressed you the most and why?
Finland is the country to which I return the most often. I like its huge horizons, its clearly defined seasons, and its people who are slow to get to know but friends for life once established. My last book, ‘The Other Side of Silence’ was largely based in Finland.
A country I have not visited and would very much like to is China.
- If you could time travel, what period would you want to live in?
The dawn of history in Europe – to see if I’d have the initiative to enter history, and to see if I really could have walked from England to continental Europe.
- Write me a story in three sentences, 100 words or less.
“For the tenth time in ten minutes he asked what was for supper. ‘Do you remember,’ I asked, ‘those big rivers we canoed down – in Europe and North America?’ For an hour, while I chopped veg, chopped fruit in preparation for supper, and set the table, he gave me a vivid account of adventuring 30 or 40 years ago, before asking again ‘what are we having for supper?'”
- When you aren’t writing, what do you like to do?
Reading, yoga, bird watching, travel (not currently practical).
- Where can we find out more about you and your books?
This gives a bit of info about me, and more about the books I have currently available. I’m working on a new blog, but it’s not live yet.
- What advice would you give to a budding writer?
Don’t wait for inspiration. Write. Write every day – even if it’s rubbish and only for a few minutes. If you can’t do it, perhaps you should question whether you have the stamina to be a writer…