Every week we feature a Q&A session with one of our Crime Cymru authors. This week, John Nicholl talks of how his experiences as a police officer and social worker have influenced his writing.
What’s your connection to Wales?
I was born and grew up in the pleasant west Wales market town of Carmarthen, on the River Towy. I spent several years in the West Country as a young man, firstly in Devon and then Cornwall, but the lure of Wales soon drew me back home. I now live on the coast about eight miles from where I was born.
Have you ever had an embarrassing moment/incident? What happened?
When I self-published my first book, I sent an early draft for publication rather than the proofread manuscript. I only discovered my error when several reviewers commented in no uncertain terms. After two years of work, I really thought I’d blown it. But, as embarrassing as it undoubtedly was, the situation was soon resolved, and to my amazement, the book went on to be an Amazon # 1 bestseller in six countries. Signing with a literary agent and a publishing deal soon followed, and the rest is history.
How much of yourself is in your stories?
My books draw heavily on my past work as a police officer and child protection social worker with both social services and the NSPCC. I hope that gives my writing a gritty realism.
If you could go anywhere (real or fictional) – where and why?
Well, given lockdown, the idea of going just about anywhere different is tantalisingly attractive. I travelled down the Nile a few years ago and would love to do that again one day. Lake Como in Italy and the Californian coast are also particular favourites. But for now, I’ll stay in Wales. Not such a bad thing, as we’re lucky to live in such a green and beautiful land.
Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real-life events/people?
White is the Coldest Colour, my debut novel, while entirely fictional, drew heavily on my experiences as a child protection social worker. Writing it was cathartic, although it did engender some memories which were perhaps best left in the past. That time now feels like a different life.
If you like to write to music – what do you choose and why?
I write in the mornings listening to Radio 2. Ken Bruce is a particular favourite. And, yes, I do stop for Pop Master.
Why did you pick your genre?
Given my career, I think it chose me.
Do you do your research strictly online, or talk to professionals in the field or a mixture of both?
I write from experience in the main, although I’ve both researched online and spoken to relevant professional contacts when I’ve thought it beneficial to the story.
Can you tell us about your work in progress/next book idea?
I’m currently working on a female revenge thriller which explores issues of domestic violence. It’s an area I’ve explored before, but this novel approaches the subject from a new, and I hope interesting, angle. The book, as yet untitled, will be published by leading independent fiction publisher Bloodhound Books in October this year.
Book: Slaughterhouse Five
Song: Will You
Film: The English Patient
Read more about John Nicholl
To discover John’s books, follow the link here to his Amazon page