Interview with Lauren K Nixon

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I think 'wrote' might be pushing it. I remember having a very tiny exercise book when I was about three and scribbling and drawing a long narrative about going to the shopping centre (I distinctly recall there being a page covered in crazy, lime green zigzags which was definitely about escalators). I realised it would be easier to read if someone wrote down the words more clearly at the bottom, but when I showed it to my seven year old neighbour he broke it to me I hadn't actually 'written' anything - it was all just scribbles! I'd just assumed people would know what it meant!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I lived in a small mining town in North Staffordshire until I was six - it's where some parts of my family have lived about as far back as records go (and probably longer). It gave me a tremendous sense of place, even though we moved away, partly because we went back every weekend to see my grandparents. It's also a place where you can see traces of the past (from several eras) everywhere, and parts of it feel pretty magical at times.

Stafford, which is where I lived until I moved away to Uni, was less obviously magical - in that it's a county town full of office buildings, but there are parts of it that can be beautiful, ancient, or just plain odd when you take the time to look. That's a big aspect in my writing. As are friendship and mischief, and Stafford and my Uni years are definitely to blame for those! (You know who you are!)
When did you first start writing?
I've written stories all my life, but I suppose I started writing fiction in earnest while I was studying for my Archaeological Science Masters, as a means of dealing with all the stress, and as a way to have something in my head other than data.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, there's so many!

Top of the pile would probably be Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkein, Mark Hodder, Ellis Peters, Ben Aaronovitch, Sarah Addison Allen, Sergei Lukyanenko, Lindsey Davies and Jessica Grace Coleman, but I also love classics like Jane Austen, Ngaio Marsh and Agatha Christie, and I have a few guilty pleasures, like Georgette Heyer!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
All the stories I want to tell! Also the sunlight - I live in a valley and it has a particular quality to it that just wakes you up and gets you going. I have real trouble staying in bed when the sun is up!

I suppose another thing would be my cat, who sits on my chest every day at 7.30am sharp and purrs at me until I move.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Singing, gardening, reading, reading about archaeology (the remnants of a past life), putting on plays with my local theatre group and playing board games. Sometimes I knit or crochet, and occasionally I remember about trivial things like housework.

I also proof read on a professional, consulting level, so I get to read a wide variety of things.
What is your writing process?
It depends. Usually I take whatever inspiration has come to me (usually an interesting conversation, or often something I've dreamed) and pick out the skeleton of a plot. This is particularly helpful when I'm working on a mystery, because otherwise I'd never know where to drop clues! Then I write the rest of it, chapter by chapter (a habit I picked up from putting a chapter a week out to writing websites), which always takes longer than I expect and often goes in an entirely different direction than I expect. This is my favourite part. I like dialogue and I like description, so I often have to repeatedly tell myself that less is more! After that comes the editing, which is rather more like pulling teeth.

If I'm working on a prompt, I let it 'cook' for a few days while I'm working on something else, and then I sit and write until I feel like there's an ending.
How do you approach cover design?
I use a great site called Go On Write, where there are thousands of fabulous covers. Sometimes I write a story and go looking for a cover, and other times (usually late at night) I find a cover then try to write a story to match it.
Describe your desk
I have two main workspaces.

The first is the sofa - which is not great for my back, but there's a better view (also it's warmer). It's blue and stripey, and I'm surrounded by books. It also looks out over the garden, which is a good distraction - sometimes I take my work outside instead, on warmer days.

The second is my actual desk, which is better for my back, but absolutely freezing in winter. There are shelves above it with all my notebooks and most current research reference books, decorated with fairy lights (why not?). The walls are covered with maps and pictures, mostly of the things and places I want to write about. My other half describes it as what would happen if thoughts could be taken out of someone's brain and thrown at the wall. There's usually a cup of green tea on the go and a bored kitten lying across my keyboard.
What do your fans mean to you?
The world.

I write for myself - I always have, and even if no one ever read my work, I'd still keep doing it - but it has been lovely finding out that other people enjoy reading my stuff as much as I enjoy writing it. I've found lifetime friends through writing, and sometimes, when I feel like giving it up to get a 'real' job, it's the positivity of my reviewers who get me back on track.
What are you working on next?
I've got a couple of things in the works - a romantic novella based on one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, which started out as a short story prompt; my first, full-length novel, and it's sequel, which is contemporary fantasy and is probably my favourite project; curating the next anthology from The Superstars; and a new piece, exploring life on the edges of a contemporary fantasy world.
Published 2017-01-05.
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Books by This Author

Price: $5.29 USD. Words: 14,080. Language: British English. Published: April 15, 2019 by The Mysterium. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Dark, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
A tale of life, Death and unexpected friendship. To her neighbours, Ottie is a perfectly normal woman. But she is a woman with a secret. One she will take to her grave. More or less.
The House of Vines
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 217,210. Language: British English. Published: December 1, 2017 by The Mysterium. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
At the heart of the sleepy market town of Brindleford is an old shopping arcade. Half-empty and generally overlooked by the inhabitants, it is full of secrets. But all that is about to change: there are darker things afoot in Brindleford. In a church on the outskirts of the town an ancient evil is stirring, responding to the call of the wicked soul in search of it…
The Fox and the Fool
Price: $4.00 USD. Words: 31,010. Language: British English. Published: September 6, 2017 by The Mysterium. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Historical
A Shakespearean Romance, set after the events of Twelfth Night. A refreshing new novella from from Lauren K. Nixon, The Fox and the Fool celebrates love and friendship from the very edge of things.
Echoes of the Light: A Collection
Price: $6.50 USD. Words: 40,810. Language: British English. Published: January 5, 2017 by The Mysterium. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
A brand new collection of stories from Lauren K. Nixon: in Echoes of the Light, nothing is ever quite as it seems...