Getting to Know You: Nick Boldock

So today, I’m lucky enough to be joined by Nick Boldock. This is how our chat went.

You generally write short stories and contribute to anthologies, have you considered writing something longer like a novella or full-length novel?

I’ve actually started writing several novels over the years – the latest, “Are You
Experienced?” is ongoing. It’s about a drug addict and wannabe rock star who
starts receiving visits from the spirit of Jimi Hendrix after winning Jimi’s
guitar in a competition he doesn’t remember entering. He’s also concealing  a pretty dark secret that is revealed as the story progresses. That may sound like utter madness, but it all makes sense in the story… honest!

I’m also working on a novella at the moment entitled “Turn Out The Lights” which should appear in electronic format sometime in 2012, though I can’t say too much about that at the moment! The story revolves around a group of ordinary men who are forced into committing a fairly extreme act of criminal violence, but I’ll not spoil the story anymore than that… I will say, however, that I think it’s the best story I’ve ever written, and certainly the most complex. I look forward to seeing it come out, one way or another, next year…  

Describe for our readers the genre(s) you write in and why they appeal to you as a writer.

I tend to jump between genres to be honest. Everything that I write is “dark” in
nature but I’ve written stories that could be roughly described as urban drama,
the occasional thriller, some downright weird ones, and the odd foray into
horror too. I don’t like to be tied to a particular label.

What inspires you to write?

It’s a compulsion more than anything. I can’t imagine ever stopping writing. It
would feel like something was missing, like having something amputated. On a
more molecular level, I usually head for the word processor when I’ve read something I like, or when I see posts on Facebook from fellow writers saying what they’ve just had published. Reading other people’s work is a joy, and also an inspiration… and a kick up the arse! Social networking is the most amazing
thing for us writers – we’re always only a click or two away from being among like-minded “friends”. Writers always encourage their peers – it’s like a specialist support network, and it’s something we’re very lucky to have available to us.

Do you have time to read? If so, what are you reading at the moment? Do you have a favourite all-time read?

I’m reading Peter Robinson’s short story collection “The Price Of Love” at the
moment. It’s a wonderful collection of very eclectic short fiction. As for favourite all-time reads, I couldn’t narrow it down to one book but I’d put Jonathan Coe’s “The House Of Sleep” up there, as well as “The Diceman” by Luke Rhinehart, “Maribou Stork Nightmares” by the great Irvine Welch, and like others before me I would hail Dostoevsky’s “Crime And Punishment” as nothing short of a masterpiece. And I’d pick a Stephen King novel if I could narrow it down to one, which I can’t.

Which author(s) would you say have most influenced your writing?

Stephen King, without a doubt. I love the sense of “what if…?” in his short stories, which has inspired some of my own ideas, certainly “On Solitude” (published online at Pulp Metal Magazine) and “Choked” (in Radgepacket: Tales From The Inner Cities [Byker Books]), though neither story is in his style. The short fiction of Hanif Kureishi is a great influence too because of the way he can illustrate a snapshot of someone’s life in a few pages without the conventional mechanism of beginning/middle/end. That isn’t easy to do. Roddy Doyle I adore – he can capture absolute brutality in the middle of vivid beauty, and vice versa, and evoke emotion like nobody I’ve ever read – he’s an amazing writer. Irvine Welch is another big influence, particularly from his short fiction where he lets loose even more than his novels. He shows how liberating short stories can be, in that you really can let your imagination run riot in a way you just can’t do with longer form fiction.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?

Right now I’m focussed on “Turn Out The Lights”, the novella I mentioned earlier. I finished a first draft – all 13,000 words of it – a while back but now need to expand it to 20,000 words. I have the means, and additional plot, to do it…….just got to write the words down! I’ve just finished two short stories – one,
“Superstition”, will appear in the ebook anthology “Off The Record” (Guilty
Conscience Publishing) and another, “A Minimum Of Reason” is going to be in
Paul D Brazill’s forthcoming “Brit Grit 2” collection. I’m hugely excited about both of those releases – they’re both due out in November, hopefully.

What are your hopes for the future?

I’d like to get Turn Out The Lights finished and then try to be a little more dedicated with writing short stories. Like most of us I find I don’t have enough time to write as much as I’d like to. I dearly want to finish the novel, too – this is the fourth time I’ve started a novel and for once I’d like to finish it. My dream would be to see a novel in print with my name on the front – that is the ultimate goal, really.  

Where can you be found online?

I have a website – Primarily it’s a simple way to spread the word about new work and so on, and also I just like playing around with websites! I think it’s important for writers to have a proper online presence – it can set you apart from “the rest” when submitting work, if you can make yourself look that little bit more professional. It’s also an easy way for editors and such to see what you’ve been up to – like an online portfolio, if you like. Plus, you’ve a readymade place to publish your own stuff and tell the world about it!

What do you most like about writing? What do you dislike?

I love the way the outside world ceases to exist once I start banging that keyboard. When the story just flows forth (which sadly it doesn’t always!) then a volcano could erupt outside the front window and I wouldn’t notice. It’s an incredibly cathartic activity.

On the flip side, I can’t sleep when I’m in the middle of a story, because my brain won’t shut down – I lay in bed working out plot twists and such, even when I’d rather be asleep. Other than that, there really isn’t anything I dislike about being a writer. I love everything about it.  

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

Motivation is a weakness… I need that kick up the backside to sit down and get going. Once I’m typing, no problem – but there are always other things that need doing, and I’m afraid I am sometimes guilty of not just grabbing the bull by the horns and getting on with it. Procrastination… well, we can do that tomorrow can’t we!

Strengths? I’m super-critical of my own work, which is an advantage, because it makes me look back at every single word to see if I can improve it in some way. The biggest mistake novice writers make is failing to realise that writing the
story is the easy bit – editing it, then editing it again, and again, and so on, is the real battle, but it has to be done to make that rough draft into the finished article that you can look at and be proud of. You learn to love that editing process, I think, because that’s when the story really starts to come into its own.

How do you feel about the e-book and e-book publishers?

I think it’s inevitable that publishing has moved into electronic formats. There are pluses and minuses to the phenomenon. On the plus side, it provides a whole
new platform and market for up and coming writers to get their work out there,
particularly when the major print publishers are moving further and further
away from publishing new authors or anything vaguely non-commercial. This is
understandable; they are running a business after all, so they have to make
sure they have a reasonable chance of making a return on their investment. The
beauty of electronic publishing is that the overheads are virtually nil, so the
risk is less – and because of that, there is now a whole host of books, short
stories and anthologies out there that you can buy for less than the price of a
loaf of bread – and that has to be a good thing.

On the other side of the coin, the quality control with electronic publishing is
somewhat less stringent than traditional publishing, so it can be a little “hit
and miss” – but there again, if you’ve bought a novel for less than a couple of
quid it doesn’t really matter if it isn’t that great, does it? So it’s win-win all round really.

One thing that’s certain is that e-publishing is here to stay and is only going to
get better, and more inventive. And amen to that.

Thanks again to Nick for spending some time here on elementaryvwatson – it’s been a pleasure.

Vic x


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