Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
My pen-name is Johanna Nield, and I’m 61 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Born and bred in North Wales (UK), I live in a seaside town that’s surrounded by hills and lush countryside, with Snowdonia’s peaks tantalisingly visible on a clear day.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I grew up with two younger sisters and a baby brother (he’s 16 years younger than me) in a close-knit family with several aunts, uncles and cousins living in the same town. Mum was a stay-at-home mum while Dad’s work took him all over the UK and abroad.
I left school half-way through my A levels to start work in the local Health Authority and I’ve worked full-time ever since, with the exception of a two-year break when my son was born. I completed my education as an adult, and recently graduated with honours to gain a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with Creative Writing.
I live with my husband and our cat, Dave, in an Edwardian town house a few minutes’ walk from the sea. I work full-time as a Revenue Analyst for an international private healthcare company.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’ve been approached by a publisher and we are discussing contractual details. I can’t share more than that at the moment.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve loved writing since childhood: I liked to write stories to entertain myself, often inspired by the books I’d read. I won a few Creative Writing prizes in school, around the age of 11, which gave me the confidence to write more. I began writing regularly in my early teens, spending hours in our cold dining room, tapping away at a beloved second-hand typewriter. I write because I can’t not write.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
About eight years ago, when I began to receive positive feedback on my first novel. Prior to that, I had shared very little of my work and considered writing to be a very private hobby.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Two separate pairs of friends had gone through some life-changing events, which made me think a lot about life, death, love etc. At the same time, a song just wouldn’t leave my head. Somehow, out of all that, I found two characters living in my head … and we just took it from there. The writing process was very organic: the characters did their thing in my head and I wrote it down!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The book is about new beginnings – new for Tasha, who has decided to move on with her life after a messy break-up; new for Jamie, who is faced with a tragic series of events; new for both of them as they muddle through the aftermath together.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
The ‘New Beginnings’ books are written in the first person, in the form of a blog or diary. I’d originally intended to publish it in instalments via an online blogging site, but it quickly became too time-consuming. I’d never written in this style before and although it came quite naturally – I feel that Tasha was simply using me to tell her story! – I frequently found myself checking that she wasn’t inadvertently commenting on something she couldn’t possibly have known.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The book is as realistic as I can make it and comes with an ‘adults only’ warning. Some of the experiences are based on events that affected friends, but I’ve also drawn on incidents in my own life.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I know most of the places mentioned in my books, but I didn’t travel specifically to research them. For example, my son lives in Glasgow so I’m very familiar with many areas of that city, and I’ve spent holidays in the Lake District, and visited Portmeirion several times. The town where Tasha lives is completely fictional, but based loosely on several Cheshire towns with which I’m familiar.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I designed them and I’m woefully aware that they don’t pack a punch. I retained the same image for all three titles (so far!) because it’s one long story told in three parts. I’m looking forward to working with a professional cover designer in the near future.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Life is short and rarely pans out the way that you’d like, love is precious wherever or however you find it, and every ending brings the opportunity for a new beginning. Cheesy, perhaps, but true!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Ruth Hogan is my current favourite author: I loved ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’ and have just bought ‘The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes’. Her characters are so real, I physically missed them after finishing her book! I also love Kirsty Logan’s books: her writing is enchanting.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My friends, including online friends that I have yet to meet in person, have always been very supportive.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Only for the fortunate few. I’m realistic enough to accept that most authors don’t earn enough to make a living from writing. Thankfully, I write because I love to write, not because I hope to make a fortune from it.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Because book three didn’t end in the way I had originally intended, I am constantly reworking it in my head. As soon as book four is finished, I will write my original ending and see how it goes.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned a lot about myself as I was challenged to examine my views on various aspects of modern living. I also learned that it is possible – and very educational – to write from a character’s point of view that is different from your own!
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’d love David Tennant to play Jamie, and Felicity Jones to play Tasha. I have had actors in mind for most of the main characters since I began writing book one, and created a Pinterest board for them – https://www.pinterest.co.uk/johannanield/new-beginnings-the-movie/
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Just write! It doesn’t matter what you write, just get into the habit of writing every day. Don’t think about it too much, don’t edit as you write, just write.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you. Don’t be shy with your feedback. Feel free to contact me on Facebook or Twitter.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading ‘1599: a year in the life of William Shakespeare’ by James Shapiro. I’m an ardent Shakespeare fan and this book has been on my ‘Want to read’ list since it was published.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It was probably one of the ‘Dick and Dora’ starter books in primary school, but my first favourite book of my own was an illustrated children’s version of ‘Heidi’ by Johanna Spyri.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to meet William Shakespeare, to learn how he works and what inspires him, and to ask him why there are so many gaps in the recorded minutiae of his life.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy reading, photography, colouring, collecting David Tennant and ‘Doctor Who’ merchandise, going to the theatre (preferably Shakespeare), and planning art projects that never actually materialise.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
TV: ‘Doctor Who’ (I’ve been a fan since it started). Anything with David Tennant in it.
Films: Sci-fi, RomCom, Marvel/DC comic movies, Pixar movies. Anything with David Tennant in it.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love salads, most cheeses except Cheddar, chicken, chocolate, Italian food, Mexican food, Indian food, Chinese food … I like food!
My favourite colour is red, although recently I’ve found myself drawn to blue and some shades of green. My wardrobe is predominantly black.
I have very eclectic tastes in music: Queen, Nirvana, Stone Roses, Coldplay, The Script, Elbow, Rag’n’Bone Man, Muse, Prodigy, The Proclaimers, Biffy Clyro, Manic Street Preachers, Snow Patrol, Faithless, Stereophonics, Jack Lukeman … loads more! I also enjoy opera and classical music, when the mood takes me.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
In the future, I hope someone will have invented a way to transfer thoughts into writing 😉Otherwise, if I can’t write then I’ll be reading.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Making sure my family are okay, and that they and my friends know how much I love them.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
I don’t want a headstone: I want my ashes to be scattered at sea. But, if I had to have a headstone, I’d be happy with ‘Dearly loved, sadly missed’
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Most of my updates etc are announced on Facebook or Twitter:
Special offers are announced on my blog (which feeds in to FB & Twitter):
My website is for more information:
Amazon Authors page is http://www.amazon.co.uk/Johanna-Nield/e/B0041OVD16
Thank you, Fiona 😊