Interview with Nick R B Tingley

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a little village called New Ash Green in Kent, UK. It was quite an experience growing up there because the whole village is rather insulated from the rest of the world - there's a lot greenery and forests nearby and it's one of those villages that seems to attract all manner of creative people. A lot of my neighbours that I knew when growing up there have gone on to become successful artists or musicians or theatre and film actors or directors, so I think there is something about the village that definitely influenced my decision to become a writer at least. It hasn't directly influenced any of my actual stories or characters as yet, but there's always time for that I suppose.
When did you first start writing?
I've been writing for a long time - everything from short stories to film and theatre scripts. But I think my first attempt at a novel occurred in 2004 - so a good thirteen years ago. It was a fantasy novel called 'Such Sweet Lies' and - at the time - I thought it was the most amazing thing ever written. Now I know better - I still had a long way to go - but since then I tried my hand at every writing experience I could get my hands on to develop my writing skills. It all came to a head a year or two ago when I started writing as a ghostwriter for other authors - once I became successful at that, I realised it was about time to branch out with my own work.
What is your writing process?
It differs between projects. Sometimes I plan out the entire story beforehand and then write the draft. Sometimes I have a good start but I don't really know where I'm going with it - so I just write until I get stuck and then I go back to beginning and start again. Other times, all I have is a title I'd really like to use and I just work out a story that will fit the title. It varies really. That is until it gets to the end of the first draft - after that I have a fairly static process. I read it as a reader, rip it apart, and then put it back together. Then sometimes I give it to my wife, who rips it apart and then we chat for hours about how to put it back together. A lot of authors think of writing as this nice creative process where your imagination runs free - but for me, it's a little bit brutal. You have to be a little bit hard on yourself to get the best results from your work. I always say to authors asking about editing, 'If you can't be bothered to enjoy reading your own work, how can you ever expect your readers to read it?' That question is always in the back of my mind whenever I'm writing and that pretty much drives how I put stories together in the end.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The Bluebell Informant came about one day when I was out walking by a river near my home. We'd just had a General Election the day before and I was struck by how many dog walkers I passed who were talking about how surprised they'd been by the result. A little further down the path, I came across an old Second World War pillbox and - despite passing it every day for the past few months - something about it that particular day allowed my head to formulate the story in that moment. Obviously, there was a bit of back and forth over the next couple of years as I altered various bit of the story, but the essence of the book was developed just in that short walk along the river bank. I'd originally wanted to write The Bluebell Informant as a personal exercise to help develop a character I'd been working on but, after a few pages, it just seemed to take on a life of its own.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a bit of a risk taker when it comes to activities outside of writing. Most of the time, I can be found playing rugby, or training at the very least. I'm not particularly great at it and a lot of people are always surprised because they think of me as being quite gentle and small (so not at all like a rugby player!), but it's a great way of getting me away from my desk and clearing my head. Beyond that, a lot of my activities involve some element of risk (or at least thrill seeking) - paint balling, high-wire activities, theme parks, trampolining. Basically if I have to sign a waiver, there's a reasonable chance that I'll do it.
How do you approach cover design?
I'm not an artist, but I can visualise the book covers in my head. For The Bluebell Informant, I probably spent a good few days trying to crudely sketch out how I wanted the cover to look like. Then I used my rather pathetic Photoshop skills to put together a rough version of it. That's pretty much as far as I can go on my own - from that point on I hand it over to the professionals. I let them have relatively free reign with it, but I give my sketches as a reference so they can see how I'm approaching it. Sometimes they come up with exactly what I imagined, sometimes they come up with something better. It's a collaborative process really. The important thing it to find a cover designer who understands the tone and look that you're after. Once you find that designer, you end up using them for everything!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. The Devil's Detective by Simon Kurt Unsworth - a brilliant example of gothic literature intertwined with an engaging detective story.
2. Time and Time Again by Ben Elton - a fantastic, time-travel, adventure thriller. I'm massively into my What If? history so this book about a man trying to stop WW1 from happening was a fantastic read.
3. The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke - a nice crime story that intertwines the dual roles of the police and media investigations in a cold-case murder investigation. It's an utterly captivating approach.
4. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie - A great, classic thriller. It hasn't dated at all and I literally can't put it down if I start reading it.
3. The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons - A good, solid crime thriller. The main character is so engaging and I particularly like the modern spin and references to Jack the Ripper that occur throughout the story.
Published 2017-04-12.
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Books by This Author

The Bluebell Informant
Price: Free! Words: 78,810. Language: English. Published: April 11, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
(4.50)
How do you catch a killer who is already dead? When DS Evelyn Giles is called to a murder scene, it seems like an open-and-shut case. But when the prime suspect reveals a horrifying secret, Giles' past comes back to haunt her. Her greatest nemesis - the Bluebell Killer - is still out there. And very much alive...