– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on a blogtour to promote ‘Pivotal’ by Nikki Vallance.
About the Author :
Nikki Vallance is a writer and coach who works with others to unlock their writing talents. She runs coaching programs and one to one sessions to help aspiring writers achieve their goals.
She began writing ‘Pivotal’ nine years ago, whilst still working in her recruitment career, following a flash of inspiration in a session with her own coach. She has given talks and presentations on her writing process and career.
‘Pivotal’ looks at the multiple paths a life may take at the crossroads of each significant decision. Nikki is fascinated by what makes us who we are and how much control we have over our destiny, and interviewed a number of hypnotherapists in researching the book.
Nikki is married with her own blended family of five children. Although a beginner, she’s a big fan of Argentine Tango, which she hopes to dance in Buenos Aires one day.
Author: Nikki Vallance
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Hashtag Press
Publication: October 17, 2019
Availability: Paperback & eBook
Dulcie Braybrooke is breaking through as a celebrated ceramicist.
Elizabeth is a lonely City head-hunter.
Annie is a teacher who’s lost her verve.
Liza is a lap dancer with a strong will and a tough life.
When a mysterious bequest throws each of the four into chaos, they seek support in the guise of hypnotherapist, Dr Kath O’Hannon. Through a process of self-discovery, their new-found knowledge weighs heavily, as they unpick four decades of life choices. They could accept the windfall, yet if they do, something entirely unexpected lies around the corner…
‘Pivotal’ is a relationship mystery, which portrays the impact of a shared life-changing dilemma on four seemingly unconnected lives. It follows a cast of strong women in their forties whose lives are disrupted by an extraordinary event, and explores the common experiences and dilemmas of ordinary women, who might be questioning the paths they have chosen. A book with many twists and turns, it is a mystery within a mystery. A story with relatable characters that prompts the reader to consider the decisions we make in life, the paths we take, and what could happen with even just the slightest change of direction.
Is it self-determination or destiny? How many doors does one person open in a lifetime? When you pass through a door, does your life change forever? Or, do you have power over who you become through the choices you make?
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’ve changed direction several times in my career. I have a chemistry degree, studied and worked as a Big 4 auditor before falling into a long successful career in recruitment.
I guess though, I’ve always been a writer, having written an anthology of poems as a child, a number of songs and a daily teenage diary. Although I continued to use my skills during my career, creative writing took a back seat for quite a while.
In 2003 I qualified as coach and I ran my coaching business for a number of years alongside my full-time positions, working with senior managers and executives to help them unlock their career potential.
I began writing my novel ‘Pivotal’, whilst still working in my recruitment career, following a flash of inspiration in a session with my own coach.
Then in 2016, I decided to combine my writing and coaching skills and launched The Writers’ Pod to help others nurture their writing talents. Working for myself also gave me the flexibility to juggle the two and opportunity to focus on finishing my own novel.
I live in Hertfordshire with my second husband. Between us with have a blended family of five children across two hemispheres. Although a beginner, I’m a big fan of Argentine Tango, which I hope to dance in Buenos Aires one day.
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I’ve always loved reading. I must admit some of the best stories I’ve read have been those treasured books of my childhood. All the Enid Blighton’s, Mrs Frisby and the rats of NIMH (Robert c. O’Brien), Gobbolino The Witches Cat (Ursula Williams), The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis), 101 Dalmatians (Dodie Smith) and its lesser known but equally – if not more so – brilliant sequel, Starlight Barking (Dodie Smith).
I went on to read all sorts of fiction from Nevil Shute to Iris Murdoch, Oscar Wilde to James Herriot, Dickens to Daphne Du Maurier. Having discovered a second-hand bookstall in our local covered market, I even consumed the Mills and Boon back catalogue with a guilty voraciousness.
Now, I read an eclectic mix ranging from thrillers to historical fiction to romantic comedies. I’m always excited to read books by debut authors too. It can be a bit of a risk but it’s a great way to find new favourites, as I did in 2017 when I read Ruth Hogan’s, The Keeper of Lost Things.
In non-fiction I’m a sucker for books supporting Positive Mental Attitude and wellbeing. I’m also fascinated by what makes us who we are and how the brain works. I’m currently reading an excellent book by Jodie Jackson – You Are What You Read. If you are disturbed by today’s doom and gloom news and want to feel less despondent and more empowered, it might be just what you’re looking for.
Is there an writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
It would have to be Mary Wesley. Firstly, she became a best selling author in her seventies, which fills me with admiration and should give hope to any aspiring novelist that it’s never too late. More importantly I loved every single one of her novels, which are full of sass, guts and individuality. I’d ask her how she was always able to find one perfect word where others would use ten.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
I’d invite PJ from my novel, Pivotal. He’s a professional Argentine Tango dancer and could teach me to dance. If we put in the hours, like they do on ‘Strictly’ I hope I’d have half a chance of getting past the basic steps!
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I wouldn’t say I have any rituals. I do write my first draft longhand. I find it helps my creativity flow more easily. I tend to write for about 2 hours at a time which produces, on average 1200 words. I annotate the scribbles with a shorthand code where I notice repeated words and for any continuity checks or further research. I pick these up in the second draft as I type– a kind of first edit.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
Often people ask me where they might find inspiration to write and imagine it’s hard. My ideas come from all around me. Sometimes, there are so many it’s like trying to tame wild horses! Usually, that happens when I’m meant to be working on an edit or have a deadline to meet.
All of my characters are fictitious so no-one around me need worry. Having said that when Ali Smith on Desert Island Discs described the process of writing a novel as “a giant hoover, it just hoovers up everything that comes through you” it completely resonated with me. Maybe a gesture or a phrase from someone I know will appear somewhere…
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
I’m a bit of both. For most of my stories I have a clear idea of the main story arc, characters, twists etc but then I write free flow and see where the characters take me. For Pivotal, the premise and the four main characters were clearly formed almost as soon as the idea came to me. During the middle section I did create a spreadsheet with a timeline and family trees for the main characters to maintain consistency. With multiple points of view, twists and turns I might otherwise have literally lost the plot!
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
Many people say they’ve always wanted to write a book but have no idea where to begin, so you might say the biggest challenge is getting started. For those that do start, many keep it secret or do not finish for fear of being judged as ‘not good enough.’ This lack of confidence weaves a common thread through writers’ lives. Those who succeed are the ones who find a way to tackle it when it threatens to take over. A good support network or group, a cheer squad and a coach can make all the difference.
Often people complain about a lack of time too. If you dig a little deeper, more often than not there’s something else going on. Either it’s back to a lack of self-confidence or it doesn’t feature as a high enough priority for them. When it comes down to it, we all have the same number of hours in a day. If you want something badly enough you have to make space for it.
In a nutshell: Do keep writing and Don’t give up. Persistence is the key to success.
What are your future plans as an author?
I’m definitely writing more novels. I have three strong story outlines and long lists of ideas for further novels. I’ve already started book two which is still contemporary fiction but this time based on a true story romance. I’d love to write historical fiction too and have two front runners as ideas for this genre. I’m also keen to capture my experiences and knowledge in a guide for new writers to encourage them to keep writing.
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Two thirds of the way through there is a scene in the club where Liza works. Something might kick off…
The club had an edge to the air. It fizzled and cracked with tension. Liza knew times like these were dangerous; testosterone and excessive alcohol an unstable mix. Throw a spark to that tinderbox and it would surely ignite. Tonight, Candy was the spark.
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Nikki Vallance.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds
P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!