Name: Christy Jackson Nicholas
Where are you from: That’s not an easy question. I was conceived in England, gestated in Scotland, born in Denmark, and raised in Dearborn, Michigan and then Miami, Florida. Now I live in Pennsylvania. I’m a gypsy!
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc.
I’m an accountant, artist and author. I live with my husband, Jason, and our pets; a dog named Dax, a cat named Zathrus, and two sugar gliders named Sansa and Arya. We live on a small farm in south central Pennsylvania. I’ve got my master’s in Accounting, and work full time as a Director of Financial Reporting. I’ve had no formal writing education, but have been writing trip reports for decades.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I have a contract on my first novel! I wrote three, actually – a series of historical fantasy novels set in 18th and 19th century Ireland and Scotland. The first is set in 1846, called Legacy of Hunger, and should be out this autumn.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Again, not an easy question. I’ve been writing extensive and detailed trip reports on my vacations since 1996. I write about who I met, how many pints I drank, what rocks I’ve tripped over, all sorts of fascinating details. When I finally decided to put them into a book, I wrote a travel guide on Ireland, and then one on Scotland.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I first became published and someone who wasn’t friend or family bought the book. It was a tremendous thrill! That was in 2011.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first novel was my parents’ love story. They have a fantastic tale of love and thirty years of separation. It always begged to be told, so I decided I had to do it. I took the novel plunge and just wrote it. That started the bug, and there’s no turning back now. I’m halfway through my fifth novel at this point!
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Since I’ve no formal education in writing, I am not certain. I have been told I have a cinematic style – I love rich descriptions of settings. But I also love writing dialogue, and have been told my dialogue is very believable and flowing.
Fiona: Why did you go with Tirgearr Publishing?
Kemberlee at Tirgearr was once a travel agent for Ireland travel. When I approached her about writing an Ireland travel guide, she was a natural choice for such a publication.
Fiona: Would you recommend other authors to go with Tirgearr Publishing?
Absolutely! They’ve been a great help, encouraging my efforts, giving valuable feedback and critiques, and helping me along in this brave new world. It’s all quite bewildering for an accountant with a penchant for historical drama!
Fiona: What help does Tirgearr Publishing give an author?
They explain the process so even a newbie like me can understand each step. They help with editing, book covers, promotion, and follow-up. It’s a very personalized service, and I greatly appreciate it.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I’m a brainstormer. I wrote down about fifty words that could relate to the novel, and started pushing them together until I found one that clicks. The story is of a young lady in search of her heritage. She looks for her grandmother’s family in Ireland, and a special heirloom, a brooch that had been left behind. Therefore she was following a legacy. Because she is doing it in 1846 Ireland, the Great Hunger (sometimes known as the Great Famine) was an important factor. Therefore, Legacy of Hunger was perfect. It is also the first in a series that involves the brooch, so Legacy becomes even more important.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There are several. Family legacy is both a blessing and a curse. Treasure what you have but don’t be afraid to reach for your dreams. Sometimes appearances are a lie. And there is no true safety in the world. Most of all, I wanted to highlight the conditions and issues of that time in Ireland.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
A great deal of it. There is only a hint of fantasy through the first third of the book, though it rises in proportion near the climax. I did loads of research on the period, the people, even the names that were common in each area of the land for my characters.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Searching for a family member is something I did for fifteen years, trying to find my own father. This was before the internet age, and took a lot of time, patience, and some heartbreak along the way. In the end, it was a fantastic result, but I had to psych myself for disappointment. I kept telling myself that my father could turn out to be dead, or a horrible person. Luckily, neither was the case! I wanted to portray some of that bumpy journey in Valentia’s search for her grandmother’s family.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor? I
grew up reading high fantasy and science fiction. Anne McCaffrey and Robert Heinlein are favorites. They are both rich world-builders, and character-driven. My shelves are still filled with more favorites; Diana Gabaldon, Bernard Cornwell, Sharon Kay Penman, Mercedes Lackey, Maeve Binchy. In terms of a writing mentor, I would say that Kemberlee at Tirgearr is mine. She has encouraged me and helped me along this rocky path.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Death Mask by Jim Butcher. Several friends recommended the Harry Dresden novels to me, so I finally gave in. I’m glad I did!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest
? I suppose that depends on your definition of ‘new’! Certainly the aforementioned Jim Butcher isn’t a new author, but he’s new to me. I have beta-read a couple novels from authors from whom I am eager to read more of their work. One of those was Elizabeth Schechter, who writes under a number of pseudonyms. Her upcoming historical fantasy book will be published under Liz Butcher.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m halfway through a historical fantasy novel set in 1797. The Morrigan, the Celtic goddess of war and sovereignty, is a main character. And she’s not happy with being woken in this modern world!
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I’m part of a medieval LARP (live-action role-playing) group called Amtgard. They have been very supportive in all my arts, but definitely with my writing. They have periodic contests with critiques that has been most helpful.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely! It may not be a full-time career just yet, but I can see myself writing for the rest of my life, regardless. Once the bug is caught, it’s difficult to find a cure.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would write the last draft first, rather than after lots of rewrites! Ha! No, I suppose it is all a learning process. Because the characters and plotlines morph as you write, you don’t know how the ending product will emerge until it gets there. Even then, it is still a lump of barely recognizable clay until you refine it and put the finishing touches on. Then the editors get hold of it and changes it to another face. If you still like it, that’s grand! If not, well, I’m not sure. Haven’t had that problem yet!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
The first time I tried to write fiction, it was for a gifted school project in fifth grade. I wrote fan fiction based on the Dragonriders of Pern universe. It was absolutely horrible! That put me off writing for years, except as required by class assignments. I wrote some equally execrable poetry in high school when I was so filled with angst it came bursting from my eardrums. I did try to write a couple of short stories, and participated in a writer’s workshop with Todd McCaffrey – that was probably my first serious attempt. That was in 2009, I think.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Not really, as it doesn’t have a real name yet, other than The Morrigan. I’m thinking of several, but nothing is popping yet. I may have to wait until it’s finished. However, the book coming out in the fall is Legacy of Hunger, and the prequels are Legacy of Truth and Legacy of Luck. They will make up the Druid’s Brooch series.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Sometimes I find the plot pacing difficult. I want to go deep into exposition so badly, to share all that wonderful research I’ve done, the fascinating tidbits I’ve found. But I have to dial back – the readers don’t want all that! At least I know the scene will work, and why.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
That has changed over my lifetime several times, but right now, Diana Gabaldon is my favorite. She writes real characters – they fart and belch. They trip over things. The good guys have flaws, and the villains have virtues. The hero doesn’t stand on a hilltop, with his cloak flowing in the breeze and his hands on his hips, while the heroine doesn’t swoon in his arms.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
In a backwards way, yes. I’ve traveled many times to Ireland, and love the land deeply. That’s the main reason I chose that as the backdrop of my novels. To encourage others to experience the magic of the land. Because I knew parts of it intimately, I could write about them.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
For my travel guides, I’ve provided the photographs and Tirgearr designed the cover. They are currently working on my cover for Legacy of Hunger, and have bounced a couple of rough ideas off me so far. I’m looking forward to the end result.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Editing! I love writing the first manuscript. The words flow so fast sometimes I barely read them. Then I go back and realize I must have been drunk when I wrote that. Editing is my bane.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Oh, so many things to count! But the best thing I’ve learned from writing a book is that I CAN write a book. That’s a difficult challenge. Once you know you can do something, chances are you can do it again, and again. Each time (hopefully!) you can improve your efforts.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write every day. Keep a schedule that is workable. I try to write 2000 words a day, and was able to keep to that on my first four novels. This fifth novel is fighting me, so I’m dialing it back to 1000 words a day. That makes me less frenetic when I don’t make my minimum, and I’m more relaxed. Just keep plugging. And find a writing method that works. I’m a planner, very methodical, so the Snowflake Method works best for me. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s great for me. http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy the ride! If my writing inspires you, do it! Whether it be travel to Ireland, to write your own book, or to search for your family. Follow your dreams.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not in the slightest. I have been a voracious reader since long before I went to school. I can remember all sorts of old fairy tale books, Dr. Seuss books, even reading the Worldbook Encyclopedia my grandparents had.
I remember my first grade teacher being mad at me because I had taught myself cursive. She said I had no reason to know it yet. I replied primly that I had a children’s book written in cursive. She called me a liar, so I brought in the book – Babar the Elephant. My mom had bought it in England, and it was indeed in cursive.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Life itself! I laugh a lot. I cry at commercials. Life is too short to be stoic. If I need a really good cry, I watch a movie like Love Actually.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I would love to meet Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was a fascinating personality, and lived to an incredible age. She saw the crusades, and married two kings, giving birth to two more kings. She led rebellions against her own husband. A strong women in a man’s world.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Nothing – I don’t plan on dying. I’m hoping medical technology catches up to death before I do!
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I make beaded jewelry (see www.greendragonartist.com), take photographs of Ireland and Scotland, paint digitally, and play Amtgard. I also cosplay at Dragoncon and attend medieval fairs whenever I can.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I have varied tastes. Outlander, Game of Thrones, House, M*A*S*H, ER, Vikings, Archer, Monarch of the Glen, Ballykissangel, The Hobbit/LOTR, Avengers, Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, Sherlock Holmes, etc. If it has to do with history, magic, humor, or mystery, I’m interested.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music:
Pizza, sushi, lamb, street food. Forest green and amethyst purple – they were my wedding colors. Celtic music and 80s rock are my favorites. I love all sorts of artists from Enya to The Pogues, Billy Joel to Ozzy Osbourne.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I would have loved to be a musician. My father can pick up any instrument and coax a lovely tune out of it in 10 minutes. Alas, this talent I did not inherit from him! I’m not tone deaf, but I’m tone hard-of-hearing.
Fiona: What is your Tirgearr Publishing page and do you have a website/blog?
Also what is your Amazon authors page
My name is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. I do many things, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing and photography. In real life I’m a CPA, but having grown up with art and around me (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected me, as it were. I love to draw and to create things. It’s more of an obsession than a hobby. I like looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or a fragrant blossom, a dramatic seaside. I then wish to take a picture or create a piece of jewelry to share this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus I write. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. I do local art and craft shows, as well as sending my art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.