Today, Books by Banister is shining a spotlight on contemporary romance author Nicky Wells. Having recently re-released the first book in her Rock Star Romance Trilogy, Nicky's here to tell us all about Sophie's Turn, her path to getting published, and what inspires her! If you'd like to win an e-book copy of Sophie's Turn, check out all the giveaway details highlighted in yellow below. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to the always delightful and entertaining Nicky Wells . . .
1) Can you give us a brief overview of SOPHIE'S TURN?
Sophie’s Turn is a glamorous, contemporary romantic comedy featuring a rock star and the girl next door. One fine day in
Penhalligan suddenly finds herself engaged to her teenage crush and love-of-her-life-from-a-distance,
rock singer and star extraordinaire Dan Hunter. But there is the small matter
of her very recent, but very prior, engagement to Tim. Reliable, honest,
trusting Tim, her boyfriend of two years stashed away safely in his mews house
in Paris South Kensington while Sophie is drinking rather too much
champagne with Dan in . What is a
girl to do? Find out how Sophie gets into her predicament and how she turns it
around in Sophie’s Turn, Part 1 in
the Rock Star Romance Trilogy. Paris
2) What's your favorite quality about your hero/heroine?
Do you know, nobody has asked me that before and yet this is such a good question. I think my favorite quality about Sophie has to be that she follows her heart and her instincts. She has been in denial about the true nature of her relationship with Tim for some time, and when Dan reappears in her life, it jolts her into recognition. Not immediately, and not rationally, but she acts on the instinct that she needs to make some dramatic changes in her life. And then she totally goes with the flow, just to see what happens. I adore that. I also adore her strength of character in the end… but I can’t say anymore right now or I’ll give it all away!
3) What made you want to write SOPHIE'S TURN?
I have always had, and presumably will always have, a soft spot for men with long hair and gravelly, strong singing voices. I have no idea why, it’s just how I am wired. My husband is quite indulgent of this little foible of mine. One night, when we were watching telly (I was quite pregnant and highly hormonal at that time) some long-haired, gravelly-voiced celebrity came on and I mock-swooned. “If he proposed, how’d a girl ever say no?” I said to no-one in particular. My hubby just laughed and remarked that it was a good job that I was already married to him. I laughed too, but it got me thinking. What if Jon Bon Jovi proposed to me tomorrow. What would I do?
Well, those weren’t my exact thoughts but it kind of went that way, and the core conundrum was born. I spun a story around that in my head that very night and got planning the next morning.
4) SOPHIE'S TURN was originally self-published, then it was picked up and re-released by Sapphire Star Publishing. Can you tell us more about your journey with this book and do you have any advice for indie authors who'd like to hook up with a publisher?
You are absolutely right. I elected to have a go at publishing my masterpiece independently in July 2011, electronically on Kindle to begin with. Subsequently I connected with an amazing group of bloggers, gathered reviews, launched a blog tour, joined a fantastic reader-author project called Love a Happy Ending and established my author platform.
I also learned a lot about the publishing industry that I didn’t previously know. Specifically, I discovered that there was a cadre of smaller, emerging small press publishers out there who would consider direct submissions. I watched and observed and learned from others, and eventually came across Sapphire Star Publishing on Facebook in January 2012. I was intrigued by their website and their outlook, so I fired off a submission. It was a very different submission from ones I had done in the past; I had a stack of positive reviews behind me, a growing social networking platform, and a strong idea of how I wanted to promote myself and my brand. When I received a full submission request, I tried hard to keep calm. Been there, done that. But shortly afterwards, an email arrived offering me a publishing contract and I was delighted to accept.
My advice to indie authors who’d like to hook up with a publisher?
First of all, do the legwork and know what the publisher is looking for. Next, polish your manuscript, or at the very least the parts you wish to submit. Typos matter. Grammar matters. Presentation matters, even in electronic format. Give it your best shot, rather than shooting yourself in the foot.
Third, formulate a plan for marketing and branding yourself; include that in your pitch to demonstrate that you’ve got your business hat on as well as your author’s hat. Don’t be hesitant to brag about your platform, your Twitter following, your Facebook likes, your blog hits, your reviews.
And last, be yourself and have fun.
5) How long did it take you to write SOPHIE'S TURN? What is your writing process like?
It took me about three months to write Sophie’s Turn, and another few months to edit and polish. However, owing to the arrival of not one but two babies in the interim, what should have been a seven to eight month timeframe got drawn out over several years.
The sequel, Sophie’s Run, took six weeks to plan, fourteen weeks to write and a few weeks to edit. I’m just in the last stages of chopping it down to size before Sapphire Star Publishing commences the serious editing rounds!
My writing process… well, you probably got the gist of it just now. I plan. I’m an obsessive planner. I plan the storyline in an iterative process, going back and forth between overviews and detailed plans. I do the research at this point—or at least as much of it as I can envisage. Eventually, I’ll have a one-page crib sheet for each section of the plot, typically about 20 in all, and then I’ll write. Once I write, it’s like an unstoppable force until I finish. Of course my characters take me on detours, and of course I adjust as I go along. But that, roughly, is the process. When I’m done, I dump the manuscript out of sight and leave it to mature for a few weeks while I get planning the next book. And so it goes…
6) If Hollywood comes calling and asks you to sign over the movie rights for SOPHIE'S TURN, who would you like to see play Sophie, Dan, and Tim on the big screen?
Oh, well, that’s a great question and one I have considered in some detail. Ideal world?
Meet: The Dream Cast for Sophie’s Turn
Dan the Rock Star…. Played by Ewan McGregor! (Or Jon Bon Jovi, but he’d have to adapt an English accent!!!)
Sophie… Played by Keira Knightley!
Rachel … Played by Emma Watson!
Tim… Played by Jude Law!
[Keira Knightley as Sophie]
[Emma Watson as Rachel]
[Ewan McGregor as Dan and Jude Law as Tim]
7) What are you working on now?
I am working on two things at the moment. First of all, I’m editing the rough draft of Book 2, Sophie’s Run, before it goes to Sapphire Star for publisher editing. And second, I am writing the final part in the Rock Star Romance Trilogy. The working title is Sophie’s Encore…
8) What comes first for you -- character idea or plot idea?
Plot idea, very definitely. They come out of the randomest places. Just the other day, while I was blow drying my hair and letting my mind wander, I found myself wondering what would happen if I ever met my high school sweetheart again, and whether I would even recognize him. This gave rise to the rough outline for my fourth book… Watch this space!
9) How do you think of titles?
Great question. For Sophie’s Turn, I had a working title of “
for the longest time; pretty much until the eve of self-publication! I thought
it was apt and intriguing. When it came to designing the cover, however, I
found the title was totally unsuitable and didn’t actually do what I wanted it
to do at all. Enter the new, revised title of Sophie’s Turn.
For the sequel, Sophie’s Run, I spent days agonizing what title to choose. Stick with ‘Sophie’ in the title, or focus on the core idea, or both? I bounced ideas back and forth with my writing buddy and my beta readers and eventually decided that Sophie’s Run would be best. The title for the third book announced itself to me while I was planning, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was perfect. (NB: this assessment is subject to change, based on previous experience—hahaha!)
10) How did you end up with the cover art for SOPHIE'S TURN?
Isn’t it gorgeous? Sorry, I had to say this. Holding the paperback in my hand, I can really appreciate the great job my publisher’s designer did here.
The cover for Sophie’s Turn started out as a signpost on a pink background with the obligatory butterfly and flower. It was cute, it was charming, it was a little bit on the naïve and innocent side: like Sophie at the start of the book. My husband handcrafted it for me, it was beautiful.
However. After a few months, I decided that I could no longer ignore the nagging voice in my head that called for something with more panache; something more glamorous, sophisticated, romantic, mysterious. I connected with a long-term friend and very talented designer, Jessie Dalrymple, and asked her to start from scratch. The cover you see today was her idea in concept. Sapphire liked it so much, they decided to take it on and polished fonts, backgrounds, effects and such. I am absolutely thrilled with it!
11) What are your thoughts on love scenes in books? Do you prefer to read/write sweet/romantic encounters between your hero and heroine or spicy ones?
I like a little bit of both. I’m not shy of injecting quite a bit of spice into my love scenes, but it doesn’t need to be explicit to the last detail. There’s got to be something left for the imagination! As for reading… well, I have a thick skin and am not adverse to quite a lot of heat.
12) Who are the authors who inspire you?
I adore a large cadre of writers of contemporary romance such as Jill Mansell, Sophie Kinsella and Jane Green. However, I think my greatest inspiration comes from crime writers like Sue Grafton, Jeffrey Deaver or Lee Child. Their stories leave me breathlessly turning the pages, and I try to emulate some of their ideas to keep my books fast-paced and page turning.
13) What genres do you like to read? Do you stick to one or are you eclectic in your reading tastes?
It might be easier to start with what I don’t read. I don’t very often read non-fiction and I have to confess that I don’t have the patience for autobiographies. (I don’t think I’ve ever read one, ever; I must be a philistine!) I am also not a huge fan of science fiction. I used to be but I’ve kind of fallen out of love with it; I don’t know why.
Other than that, I read everything. Romance, fantasy, literary, crime, thrillers, suspense, mystery: I’m game.
14) What was the last book you read that really WOWed you?
There’s too many to count. I get wowed by a book quite easily. If I can’t put it down, if it makes me laugh or bite my fingernails, then I’m official wowed. You don’t like a cop out answer? Ok then… let me think… it would have to be… The Labyrinth by Kate Mosse.
15) If you could be plopped down in the middle of any book, which one would it be?
Five Go Down to the Sea by Enid Blyton. I know, weird! But I’ve always adored their innocent little adventures, and I love the seaside. As I child, I was always searching for the elusive secret tunnel or hidden pathway. Now that my kids are old enough for these stories, I am rediscovering them one by one and their uncomplicated, low-tech nature infuses me with a yearning for days gone by. So yes, I stick by my guns. Five Go Down to the Sea.
16) If you could invite any five people (living or dead) over for a dinner party, who would they be and why?
Jon Bon Jovi, definitely. Marilyn Monroe. Enid Blyton. Joey Tempest (Sorry, there will be a theme here, obviously). The Queen. And (because five is an uneven number if I host with my lovely husband): Freddy Mercury.
Fast and Flirty
Favorite scent? Joop! For Men
Favorite color? Blue
Favorite food? Lobsters. Scallops. Prawns. Pizza. Not necessarily all together.
Favorite word? Mellifluous. Discombobulated.
Favorite article of clothing? Jeans
Dream vacation spot? A lighthouse on a headland down in
. In winter! Cornwall
Dream vacation spot? A lighthouse on a headland down in
Favorite time period in history? 1920s
Favorite girl's night out drink? Strawberry margarita
Favorite date night activity? Date night activity? I’m a married woman!! I haven’t dated in years… **Furrows brow, trying to recall long forgotten past** Dinner. Lovely food, and the unspoken anticipation of what’s next, with a built-in let-out clause. Hm. Maybe that’s why there are so many dinners in Sophie’s Turn?
Favorite song? Tough It Out by FM
Celebrity hottie on your laminated list? Nathan Fillion
Book blurb: Slapper? Slut? Adulteress? Sophie Penhalligan's life and moral universe is turned upside down when rock star Dan proposes to her in full knowledge that she is already engaged. She has always loved Dan, in a remote-crush kind of way. She thinks she loves her fiancé, Tim. What is she to do?
It's all happening because her past has come to tempt her. Nine years ago, she met her teenage idol and rock star extraordinaire, Dan Hunter, up close and personal. Well, almost!
Now Dan has crash-landed back in her life just as Sophie is happily embroiled in a relationship with Tim, her boyfriend of two years. Until recently, she was confident Tim would eventually propose. But while his persistent inaction is beginning to cast a cloud over their relationship, Dan's sudden reappearance poses a whole new dilemma.
Having accompanied Dan's band to Paris, Sophie suddenly finds herself engaged to Dan while her erstwhile fiancé Tim is... well, doing whatever it is Tim does back in
Sophie's Turn is a glamorous contemporary fairy tale that will make chick-lit and romance lovers laugh, cry and rock along every step of the way.
Sapphire Star Publishing is pleased to offer an international give-away of one e-copy of Sophie’s Turn. To be entered in this giveaway, please answer the following question in the comments below:
Who would be the rock star you couldn’t resist if he proposed to you today?
Don't forget to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you win! This giveaway will be open until on Sunday, October 21st. The winner will be contacted via e-mail and the name will be announced here on this blog. Good luck, everyone!
Purchase Sophie's Turn:
Where to find Nicky Wells: