My First Time with...Nicola Mostyn
Nicola Mostyn was born in Manchester and has worked as a bookseller, copywriter, journalist and a columnist, most recently for the Big Issue. Her tongue-in-cheek agony column Dear Kitty was nominated for Best New Blog in the Manchester Blog Awards and her short stories have appeared in The Flash (Social Disease) and Liverpool publication SevenStreets. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature and has spent more time immersed in the works of Philip Larkin than is strictly healthy.
Nicola’s debut novel The Gods of Love, was published in February by Piatkus and was named by inews as one of 'ten debuts set to make a buzz in 2018'. Whoop! Nicola is joining us at The Riff Raff on March 15th - you should too. Grab your tickets here>>>
Pic: Nathan Cox
Here's the blurb for The Gods of Love...
Happily ever after is ancient history…
Meet Frida: divorce lawyer, cynic and secret descendant of the immortal love god Eros. She's about to have a really bad day . . .
When a handsome but clearly delusional man named Dan bursts into Frida's office and insists that she is fated to save the world, she has him ejected faster than you can say 'prenup'.
But a creepy meeting, a demon or three and one attempted kidnapping later, Frida is beginning to face the inconvenient truth: Dan is in fact The Oracle, the gods of Greek mythology are real and Frida herself appears to be everyone's only hope.
The world is doomed.
Bridget Jones by way of Neil Gaiman, this smart and quirky story will change the way you look at love forever
Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?
I’d just finished reading C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, in which a senior demon writes letters to his rookie nephew instructing him on how to tempt a human away from 'the Enemy' (aka God) and towards 'Our Father Below' (you know who). I loved it. What impressed me most were the banal, everyday activities the demons used to steer the unsuspecting 'patient' off path. I closed the book and had the very clear thought: I want to do this, but about love. I only needed to look at my own past romantic entanglements to see how easily we humans are led away from our best interests and into territory distinctly more hellish!
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write your first book?
That it is meant to be hard, and you’ll think your work is terrible, and you’ll have no idea where it’s all going, and that’s fine. That’s the work. Your job is just to keep sitting down at the page regardless. I still tell myself this every day and know that I’ll always have to.
What’s your go-to procrastination method?
Over-planning. I’ll spend ages drawing and redrawing three-acts structure charts or chapter plans, all because I’m trying to avoid the mess that is writing. Over planning is pointless, I know this, because all my best ideas come in the flow of writing, but I do it anyway, because that little control freak part of me insists that I can organise my creativity into neat piles. In fact, for me, writing is more like I imagine surfing to be - you can prepare and train but eventually, you’ve just got to get out there and work with what’s thrown at you.
What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing it?
Not a tantrum, exactly, but the biggest emotional moment was when I was writing the book initially, a long time ago, and I had an agent for it but it wasn’t working and I tried and tried and the more I did, the further away it got, and eventually I knew I’d have to let it go. It broke my heart. I just had to tell myself that if it was meant to be, it would come back…
Best thing about writing your book? The feeling of pure joy I had when the book did come back to me. I knew exactly how it needed to be written and I completed it in a joyful burst over six months – an experience that was pure magic.
And the worst?
As above, the heartbreak of letting go of the only thing I’d ever wanted to do with my life. I’d also count this as the best, too, though, because it taught me so much about the importance of trusting the process and staying in tune with my creativity.
Go-to writing snacks?
I don’t snack but of course, like any writer, I’m powered entirely by coffee.
Who or what inspires you to write?
Stephen King was a huge influence on me as a kid, and still is today. The way he uses horror and fantasy to explore the light and dark of the human heart is so powerful and human and reaches so many people. I love that stories can do this.
The book that changed you?
Back to C.S Lewis here. When I was young, I loved the Narnia books and when I read the final book in the series, The Last Battle, I had the sudden realisation of who Aslan was meant to represent. I was gobsmacked. It was the first time I understood what you could do with story, how it could be like a puzzle, containing different layers of meaning and that blew my mind.
Your pump up song?
Well, I like quite melancholy music, so it would probably be something by Bright Eyes! I listen to music all the time when I write, but it has to be albums I know really well so that it provides a familiar but unobtrusive backdrop that effectively shuts the real world out.
If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer dead or alive, who would it be?
Stephen King, without a doubt.
One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get a book published?
Don’t worry about what sells, or what’s cool, or what people think. Immerse yourself in the things that you truly love and write from that place. This is where creativity lives.