Sophie Nicholls is an international best-selling author based in the UK: her contemporary fiction book, The Dress, is available for free today and you can pick it up if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/c5bpfz into your web browser. Sophie was kind enough to write a very interesting guest blog post giving us a little background on her as well as influences in her life and her writing. Scroll down to read more!
Back in February 2011, my dad was lying in the cardiac ward of York District Hospital, waiting for quadruple heart bypass surgery. In the many long hours that we spent talking – about everything and nothing – there was a sense of our own mortality (both his and mine) hovering at the end of his bed. In those weeks, every emotion was heightened.
I’d look through the ward window at a chunk of blue sky and it would seem so much more blue, so much clearer and crisper than it ever had before. There was a renewed sense for both of us that life is precious and there really isn’t any time to waste.
And at some point my dad, a keen long-distance runner, issued me with a challenge. ‘When I get out of here,’ he said, ‘I’m going to run a 10k. I’ll give myself a few months to recover but I’ll run that 10k by the end of the summer.’
And then he looked at me and said, ‘When are you going to write that book you were always going to write?’
He showed me an article in that day’s newspaper about the amazing success story of the author, Amanda Hocking, on Amazon Kindle. And he raised an eyebrow in that way he has.
Well, in fact, I was in the middle of writing a book – but it had stalled slightly as I tried to fit my writing around my busy practice as a therapist and the e-courses and writing workshops that I run. But that night, I came home from visiting at the hospital with renewed determination. I would finish that book – and I would make my dad proud of me.
I was there at the finish line when my dad ran his 10k in September 2011, just five months after his surgery. And at the end of that same month, I released my novel, The Dress. My short collection of poems, Refugee, was published by Salt Publishing a month later.
Would I have screwed up my courage and taken the plunge without that conversation with my dad? I think so, but perhaps not with the same sense of urgency and the feeling of ‘I’ve got nothing to lose.’ I’d spent years teaching creative writing at various universities, researching a model for the use of writing in health care and using writing with my therapy clients. I had written a PhD in Creative Writing and published poems in various magazines and journals, even winning some awards, but I never quite seemed to find the time to put my first book out there until that crisis in my family’s life put things in stark perspective.
Suddenly, time was no longer an infinite thread, stretching to some vague point in the distance, but a treasured commodity to be carefully weighed and savoured. What really mattered to me? What would I regret never doing?
And the particularly magical ending to that first chapter of my story as a writer was that, thanks to a sprinkling of Amazon fairy dust, The Dress – a simple tale set in a vintage dress shop in my hometown of York, about the relationship between mother and daughter, Ella and Fabbia Moreno – rocketed to Number 4 in the Amazon UK Kindle charts. I began to receive wonderful emails from readers asking for more of Ella and Fabbia and the seeds for a trilogy were sown.
In the year since The Dress was published, I’ve given birth to my own beautiful daughter and somehow, in a blur of sleepless nights and nappy changes, I’ve finished work on The Dream, the second book in my Everyday Magic trilogy
For a writer, surely the greatest possible pleasure is to know that people are reading your book and that your words have spoken to them in some way. This was what helped me to keep writing, through the sleep deprivation and all the highs and lows of new motherhood.
Perhaps inevitably, some of my experiences found their way into my writing. The Dream follows Ella’s journey into motherhood and writing her story was a hugely helpful process for me. I loved escaping into the world of my book whenever I could snatch a moment and this New Year, I’ll begin work on my third book, The Glass, which will complete my Everyday Magic trilogy.
I write about what I love – 1930s tea dresses, silk scarves and leopard print shoes, the power of stories, my fascination with the way people’s minds work, the natural world that is all around me here in Yorkshire and ‘everyday magic,’ those moments that shine out from the background noise of our routine lives when we slow down and take a moment to really notice.
My daughter is now ten months old and one of her favourite things is when we sit on the sofa together and I tell her some of the stories from my own childhood, complete with silly voices.
I’m immensely grateful that I’m able to make a living through writing books and working with people who share my love of words and the healing power of stories.
A little about Sophie:
Sophie Nicholls lives with her partner and baby daughter in beautiful North Yorkshire, not far from the medieval city of York in the north of England. She likes swimming outdoors (when the Yorkshire climate allows) and long walks in the local countryside (when it’s not raining).
She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Sussex and teaches popular online courses in writing and mindfulness. You can find out more at her web site: www.sophienicholls.com
Thank you, Sophie!! Be sure to pick up your free copy of The Dress today by clicking here or typing in http://smarturl.it/c5bpfz into your web browser. You can also check out her author page on Amazon if you click here or type in http://smarturl.it/sophie into your web browser.