My First Time...with Nick Clark Windo
Nick Clark Windo originally studied English Literature before training to be an actor. Now, as well as writing, he works as a communications coach and film producer. He lives in London with his wife and daughter where is he is currently beavering away on the next novel and is Executive Producing on a TV adaptation of The Feed which is due to start shooting very soon.
Nick will be reading and chatting at The Riff Raff on Thursday 12th April. Snap up your tickets before they're all gone >>
Here's the blurb for The Feed...
'Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams. If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down?
For Tom and Kate, in the six years since the world collapsed, every day has been a fight for survival. And when their daughter, Bea, goes missing, they will question whether they can even trust each other anymore. The threat is closer than they realise... '
Read more My First Time interviews >>
Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book?
A lot of ideas for The Feed had been cooking for a long time, but there was a specific moment when things coalesced. I’d got into a bad habit of checking Twitter up until the moment before I went to sleep and one night I barely slept.
To be more specific, I did sleep, but ‘refreshed’ my dreams every few seconds throughout the night: a thumb would swipe down in my field of vision and wham there was another dream. It was exhausting. It also made me wonder, upon waking, what will happen to our thought processes when we’re directly connected to machines. Cue The Feed…
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting?
Well The Feed isn’t my first. I wrote that when I was at school, and if I could say something to myself back in time about it, it would be, ‘I know you enjoy doing this, but take it seriously, too’.
In terms of The Feed I wish I’d known some of the structural solutions before starting to write. It would have saved a lot of drafts…but then I probably needed to go through all those drafts to find the solutions.
What’s your go-to procrastination method?
Making tea and checking the news. I don’t count walking or having baths as procrastination – they’re essential parts of the writing process.
What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing it?
Good question. I never thought of doing this! I’ll come good on this with book two. For The Feed, I was pretty relaxed throughout. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard work, or that it didn’t take a long time or a lot of head-scratching – it took years and over 20 re-drafts – but I knew where the book was going, I knew when it wasn’t working, I knew it would take time to get it right and I just kept at it. I enjoyed it.
Best thing about writing your book?
Oh actually writing. Going for a walk, letting the mind wander around a scene, getting back to the desk (or – better, an outside table in the spring or summer) and then living through the pen.
It’s that wonderful and rare thing when, if there are no other calls on your time (rare), you can lose yourself: time stops mattering. It’s exhausting and nurturing at the same time.
And the worst?
It’s not nice when people don’t like it. Is that stating the obvious? At any stage, really, whether it’s early readers, industry folk or paying customers, it can hurt – and it’s worrying, because belief is fragile and you have to believe to write.
At the same time, that criticism is absolutely essential in shaping a novel: I believe criticism helps you sharpen, shape and harden your own opinions about the novel you want to write. (To be clear – that’s not saying that your opinion is always right. Always question your opinion off the back of a criticism, but if you think it is right after that process, then back yourself.)
It’s easy to take criticism personally but that’s not very useful – it means you stop seeing the novel, which is what really matters.
Go-to writing snacks?
Tea, nuts and water. The tea and water have the additional benefit of making me go to the loo quite a lot. There’s nothing like a leg stretch to unlock a stuck scene.
Who or what inspires you to write?
All the books I’ve ever read and all the people who’ve written them! And films and TV and music and conversations I overhear – all of these things get into my head and merge and morph.
Some things inspire a character, or something a character might do; others inspire a bit of the world. A lot gets forgotten, of course, or just goes missing. Hopefully none of the good stuff. But there’s inspiration all around if you’re looking for it – where else do ideas come from?
The book that changed you?
I find this question so difficult! I’ve been reading voraciously since I was very young and I think most of the books have changed me. You learn about life by reading.
You get to live lives you’d never otherwise know. Furthermore, by reading you’re constantly honing your awareness of what effective writing is so it actually doesn't matter whether you’re reading ‘good’ writing or ‘bad’ writing; in fact, read it all. Is this a cop-out answer? I hope not. I think the reading process changes the way we think and see the world…
Your pump up song?
Oh god...maybe if I had one I’d be able to fuel a tantrum! But I do listen to music while writing. Usually it’s classical or jazz: something with an appropriate atmosphere rather than with lyrics, which tend to snag my attention.
Having said that, I listened to the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album 'Push The Sky Away' about 1,000 times while writing this novel. That was an atmosphere thing but also due to a lot of weird coincidences in the lyrics. I was on draft 10 or so of The Feed when I first listened to it and there were a lot of weird coincidences.
If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer dead or alive, who would it be?
I mean, Hemmingway knew what he was doing, didn’t he. And he was fairly reticent about talking about writing, so that would be quite an opportunity. I think we’d need more than a bottle of wine though.
One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get published?
Take your time. Take your time to get the novel right because people will usually only read it once. Take you time to stagger who you send it out to and then take your time to think about any notes they give you and to change the novel accordingly before you send it out again (for the same reason).