Author Nicky Wells has beamed herself over from the UK to pay a visit to my blog today. Like the rock stars she writes about, Nicky is on tour! There is much to celebrate with the current release of Sophie’s Turn by her new publisher Sapphire Star. A romantic comedy, this is the first volume of Nicky’s rock star trilogy Romance That Rocks Your World.
Nicky, it’s a pleasure to have you drop by! Please give my readers a teaser about Sophie’s Turn!
Slapper. Slut. Adulteress. These are hardly words that Sophie Penhalligan would normally use to describe herself. Yet this is exactly how she is behaving, all things considered, even if she isn’t quite married to Tim yet. And it’s all happening because her past is coming to tempt her! Nine years ago, she met her teenage idol and rock star extraordinaire, Dan, up close and personal. Well, almost. Now Dan has crash-landed back in her life. How could Tim ever stand a chance against the charming, handsome singer? How could she?
Sophie, now twenty-eight and a budding newspaper journalist, is happily embroiled in a relationship with Tim, her boyfriend of two years. Until recently, she was confident that Tim would eventually propose—probably as soon as he could get his act together. But just as Tim’s persistent inaction is beginning to cast a cloud over their relationship, Dan’s sudden reappearance turns Sophie’s world upside down. Thus unfolds a roller-coaster of events including an ill-fated trip to Paris with Tim, a night of unfulfilled romance with Dan, Sophie and Tim’s engagement party gate-crashed by Dan, and Sophie’s professional secondment to accompany Dan’s band on their revival tour—at Dan’s special request and very much against her will.
And then, one fine day in Paris, Sophie suddenly finds herself engaged to Dan while her erstwhile fiancé Tim is… well, doing whatever it is Tim does back in London. What is she to do now? Who wouldn’t give anything to meet their favorite star, let alone marry him?
Find out how Sophie gets into this impossible situation, and how she turns it around, in Sophie’s Turn, the honest, funny and sometimes bittersweet story of one woman’s entanglement with a rock star.
PS – Sounds fabulous and fun!
PS – I’m always curious how other writers develop their characters. We all have our own methods. What works for you?
Developing strength of character… If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger. Or so they say. I find the same applies to my novel’s characters. I try to kill them to make them stronger… err, not quite. But I do throw an awful lot of upfront criticism at them, poke holes in their backgrounds and their life, pressure-test each ‘legend’ to within an each of its… life. So how do I develop real, authentic, strong characters?
First things first, the baby needs a name. When I created my leading lady, I started with a name. I trawled through hundreds of baby names on the Internet, waiting for one to speak to me, to grab me, to call out to me: I am your heroine. It wasn’t an easy feat as it had to be a name owned by nobody I knew at the time. I wanted to avoid any kind of associations in my mind between the fictional girl I wanted to create and a real person. Well, you know what it’s like: you get introduced to someone, you know somebody with that name already, and you immediately make a sort of connection, form an impression. With a real person, you’ll probably revise that later, but I didn’t want to fall into this trap with a fictional character who couldn’t defend herself!
Eventually, I settled on Sophie. Ironically, by now there are quite a few Sophie’s in my life, but there weren’t back when I started writing. So, Sophie it was.
What next? I wrote a long list of things about Sophie, describing her appearance, her likes and dislikes, her mannerisms, her personal history. From a previous attempt at writing a novel, I recalled that I wouldn’t remember, halfway through, whether her eyes were blue or brown, as incredible as it may sound. More importantly, I am liable to changing my mind, so where blonde hair might have suited her at the beginning, towards the end she might suddenly ‘feel’ better as a brunette. Thus, to knock any misunderstandings on the head, Sophie and I, we agreed on these things before I ever wrote the first sentence of Sophie’s Turn. And to be absolutely clear, we even wrote a contract, she and I. I use it to this day for the sequels (and what a blessing it’s proved).
Breathing life into the character. In order for my characters to be real, plausible, authentic, loveable (or hate-able), they need motivation. They need to grow, and change, and deal with life. To get the story rolling for Sophie, I asked myself two questions. What does Sophie want from life? And is she getting where she wants to be? In Sophie’s case, the answer was quite simple. Actually, she’d love nothing more than settling with a gorgeous man somewhere in a nice little house with a couple of children and a lovely part-time job that she enjoys. At the start of the novel, she has a job that she adores, and a really close friend who acts as her extended family. She rents a flat that she likes but would be even happier if she could buy it. And she has Tim, her boyfriend of two years, who she is reasonably happy with… but…
This is Sophie’s starting point. Things are good, but.
And it is this that sets the story off for Sophie as there is something missing in her life. Initially Sophie thinks she is discontent because Tim isn’t proposing. As far as she can see, all the other pieces necessary for happiness in her life are more or less in place.
But actually, she gradually realises that there is more amiss with her life than she thought. Specifically, she is missing some kind of excitement, some glitz and glamour. And at this moment Tusk and Dan come back into her life. While the flashbacks ought to have served as a hint to Sophie, it is bumping into Darren (the guitarist) at the airport that really opens her eyes to her own motivations. In this way, I moved Sophie from the ‘mostly happy’ into the ‘confused and uncertain’ state of mind.
Things get even worse when Dan starts wooing Sophie in the most romantic way imaginable. Here she is, straight as an arrow, never lied to anyone, only looking for fairly simple ingredients to her happiness… and Dan throws a massive spanner in the works. What’s a girl to do?
Planning the development in Sophie’s motivation was closely linked to the development of the plot as a whole. So after the character profile and basic thoughts on her motivation, my next step wasn’t actually outlining her evolution, as I spelled it out above. The actual next step was to plan the plot in meticulous detail, and then dovetail her emotions, motivations and actions with the storyline. It’s a little bit of a chicken-and-egg question, and I tend to do a little bit of this followed by a little bit of that… a kind of incremental, interlinked character-and-plot development
Best friends and happy families! And this, in a nutshell, is my approach to creating and developing a lead character. To me, the most important thing is to get into my characters’ heads. I treat them as though they were real persons, my best friends. And yes, that may involve holding the occasional conversation with them, arguing and debating with them and, sometimes, telling them off. Sophie, Dan, Tim and Rachel have become part of my family, and I’ll quite often regale my children at dinner time with Sophie’s adventures or mishaps. Not that I’m a mad writer, or anything.
About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!
Rock On! Nicky Wells writes fun and glamorous contemporary romance featuring a rock star and the girl next door. She recently signed her work with U.S. publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing. Nicky loves rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, Nicky is a wife, mother, and occasional teaching assistant.
Originally born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993, and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C.
Visit Nicky on her blog where you can find articles, interviews, radio interviews and, of course, an ongoing update on her work in progress, the second and third parts of the Rock Star Romance Trilogy. You can also follow Nicky on Twitter and find her on Facebook. Nicky is a featured author on the innovative reader/author project, loveahappyending.com and has joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Nicky also has author pages at Sapphire Star Publishing and, of course, Goodreads.
Nicky, as always, it was lovely to have you stop in for a visit. Have a fabulous time on your blog tour and come back soon!