There’s a great urban fantasy novella out there in the ebook world and I’m excited that its author Sohie Nicholls is here today to dish all things RUBY SLIPPERS! What girl doesn’t want to wear a pair of ruby slippers? Sophie Nicholls is an award-winning poet. Her full-length novel, THE DRESS, will be released in 2011.
L.A.H.E. : What was the first book you fell in love with?
S.N. : Probably Jane Eyre. I live not far from the ‘wuthering’ Yorkshire Moors and I devoured everything by the Bronte sisters. For a while, I kept a diary in italic handwriting and wrote as if I were Charlotte. Oh, yes. I think I must have been a rather intense child.
L.A.H.E : What’s your favorite scene from your book?
S.N. : That’s tricky. I think probably the very first scene – because it’s something I often thought of doing when I worked in an office but never quite did.
L.A.H.E. : Who/what provided your greatest inspiration in writing your book?
S.N. : I wrote it from out of myself. I don’t really know where the heroine came from. She started whispering to me one day – and she wouldn’t go away until I’d started to write her down. At the time, I was at a crossroads in my own life and this is the story that I probably needed to write. I seem to remember that I was also reading the novels of Jean Rhys and Marie Darrieussecq, which are about people who feel somehow different or isolated or step out of their lives in some way and have to work out where they’re going and who they might really be. There’s a certain way of looking and experiencing, of feeling your way forwards.
L.A.H.E. : What struggles did you have to overcome in writing this book?
S.N. : Many. I wrote the first draft almost ten years ago and it’s gone through several stages of crafting and redrafting over the years. For a while, a literary agent was interested but she wanted me to turn the manuscript into a 60,000 word novel – and I knew that just wasn’t right for this story. Which is why publishing it as an ebook is such a gift. I think that shorter novellas can work so well in this format.
L.A.H.E. : Who would be cast in the movie of your book?
S.N. : Wow. Good question, I’ve never thought about this although the way that I write is quite cinematic – I see the scenes very clearly in my head. I think it would need to be someone like Sally Hawkins from the film ‘Happy Go Lucky.’ I love her work. Or perhaps Emily Watson. I adore her in ‘Breaking the Waves.’ And Ruby Slippers is a ‘close-up’ kind of story. It would need the kind of actress who can hold a scene with just one small gesture or facial expression, someone who draws you in.
L.A.H.E. : What’s the most awkward moment you had [and wouldn't mind sharing] in high school?
S.N. : I had so many awkward moments that it’s hard to pick just one. At school I was miserable a lot of the time. I never felt that I fitted in. I was the ‘teacher’s pet,’ the ‘swat,’ the Head Girl – although I desperately would have loved to be part of the cool crowd. I was anything but cool. And now I feel great tenderness for that younger me who wasted so much time wishing she could be less ‘different’ (whatever that might mean). I wish I’d been able to embrace my quirkiness and my creativity a little bit more.
L.A.H.E. : Do you have any advice for new writers?
S.N. : Write. Write. And keep writing. Love the process of writing and don’t worry too much about the end product. Let yourself be messy and all over the place and don’t worry too much about not knowing where you’re going. That can come later. Plenty of time for redrafting and editing. But start with just writing and enjoying the feel of your pen on the paper, your hands on the keyboard. Trust. Let your ruby slippers take you wherever you need to go.
I created the Word Sauce ecourses for people who want to write or want to write more and I absolutely love this part of what I do. We talk about lots of issues that come up for writers – at whatever stage they might be – over at my blog.
L.A.H.E. : What are you working on now? Can you share a blurb from your new book?
S.N. : I’m in the final stages of work on THE DRESS, my full-length novel that’s due out this Autumn. Right now, I’ll just say that it’s another story about being an outsider, about finding a life that’s the ‘right fit.’ It’s the story of a woman called Fabbia Moreno who arrives with her daughter Ella in York in the North of England (which happens to be where I live) and sets up her vintage dress shop. They soon become a part of the community but there are darker forces at work – people who don’t want them around. And there’s a secret in Fabbia’s past – something she can never share with anyone and that threatens to risk her chance at happiness. I’ve indulged my passion for vintage and woven lots of detail of vintage clothes and dress-making into the story. I’ve loved every minute of writing it.
L.A.H.E. : What fuel flavors your prose? [chips, popcorn, chocolate, etc....]
S.N. : Definitely chocolate. Very dark chocolate. And I’ve recently discovered coconut water. Divine.
L.A.H.E. : If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you most like to go?
S.N. : Oh, there are so many places that I haven’t yet seen. I’d love to go to Africa and Morocco. My favourite country is Italy – I lived there for a while – and I dream of hiring a house by the sea, perhaps in Ischia or Sicily, and writing every morning and then swimming and eating delicious food and then writing again. My idea of paradise.
L.A.H.E. : And lastly—Who is your favorite James Bond?
S.N. : Well, I grew up with Roger Moore but I actually never really liked those films. Even as child, I thought that the women got a rough deal in those stories. However, I did actually love Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace. I thought he was pretty irresistible. And I loved that Judi Dench had a larger role this time. But I’d like to see a female take on James Bond next. What would a female secret agent do? How would she operate?
Ever wondered what would happen if you were to just step out of your life for a while? What do you do when your life just doesn’t feel like the right fit anymore? This haunting dream-like novella follows one woman’s journey through a mysterious London landscape and back to herself. At around 16,000 words, it can be read in one sitting… or savoured slowly. Recommended for wearers of red shoes everywhere.
‘Peonies’ by Mary Oliver is a poem Sophie has always loved because it reminds her that everything, everything is there each morning to be fallen in love with, over and over again, as long as she’s willing to keep an open heart. Here’s a bit from the poem:
‘Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.’
NEED MORE SOPHIE? Get it here.