1. Did you know as a child that you wanted to be a writer?

Yes, I only ever wanted to be a writer.

2. What type of articles did you write when you worked for various magazines?

After I graduated from university, I joined IPC Magazines as a sub-editor on a romantic fiction magazine, writing articles, short stories and 30,000 word novelettes to help pay the mortgage. After a period as editor, I decided it was time to go freelance and so I started writing full-time for women’s magazines.

3. When I turned 40, I suddenly realised I wanted to be a published writer. Did the same happen to you, too?

Not really, no, because as I mentioned, I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I started being published in magazines when I was 22 and it was real buzz, because, suddenly, everybody was prepared to pay me for something I’d created. But I wrote a lot of unpublished and unpublishable material before I got there!

4. How did you come up with the idea for “The Ice House”?

The book had its roots in my profound interest in two themes: the damage that families can do to themselves and the nature of truth. I have always been fascinated by crime and what drives people to commit murder, so I took that interest and decided to run with it. My recollection is that I simply sat down at wrote those first four pages, I hadn’t planned anything!

5. You took about two years to finish this book. How did the process go?

I wrote the book as soon as my second son had gone to school. Children are so noisy, so I think I just needed the peace and quiet! I have always been fascinated by the challenge that crime fiction represents to an author, and I wanted to know if I could carry an intricate plot for 100,000 words, and keep readers guessing, while I was portraying characters under considerable tension. It takes me about a year to write a thriller now.

6. Now, so many books later, you must have more confidence in you abilities. Is that right?

Not necessarily! The main difference between published an unpublished authors is stamina – most people give up at 10,000 words. However, self-doubt is every author’s friend. Without it, you will never be able to edit your own work successfully.

7. Was having your first book published difficult?

Yes! It took a year for my agent to sell it and a year before it was published.

8. How do you handle criticism?

Writing is appallingly hard work, you need skin like a rhinoceros to take the knocks, but when someone says – ‘I really like your work’. WOW! The whole exercise is one long ego trip.

9. As you show a deep psychological insight in the characters you invent, it would interest us to know if you have studied that subject?

No, I didn’t. I read French at the university of Durham, but I rather regret that now. Psychology or politics would have been a better choice. However, at the time, I took the advice of my teachers who told me to read what I was good at, and I happened to be good at French. The trouble was I wasn’t interested in it and only stuck it out to gain a degree! I spent more time on extra-mural activities than I ever did in the French department, but I gained a broader education as a result, which I think has helped me gain insights into people’s psyches…

10. Would you care to tell us who your favourite authors are? Or books?

Anything at all. I read a great number of books – fact and fiction – although my favourites are crime and thriller novels because they’re always the most exciting! I do read other crime authors, although not in the same way as I did before I was published. Sadly, when you understand how a plot is constructed, there’s less surprise. But I love great characters… which is why “Hannibal Lecter’ stands out like a beacon from the last 20 years. I guarantee Thomas Harris’s startling and original creation will be as long-lasting, and spawn as many derivatives, as Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’.

 

 
© 2005 Nickie Fleming/Jansan