Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Interview with Nicola Furlong

I'm pleased to welcome multi-published author Nicola Furlong to the Mine today! Read on for her interview, and make sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing.
I’m the sixth of eight in a long line of rabid readers. Like my father, mysteries were my first love. After devouring whodunits for years, I finally figured I could write ‘the butler did it’, as well as the next armchair Poirot. For my first gumshoe, I stuck close to home and chose a sporty gal named Riley Quinn as my amateur sleuth. After intensive research, which included lugging a forty-pound bag during pouring rain for a couple of professional female golfers, I putted out TEED OFF!, my first crime story.

I was off the first tee, as you might say, and running. Although I had plans for a Riley Quinn series, another idea soon struck home and I delved into darker thriller material for my second novel, A HEMORRHAGING OF SOULS. Once again, my writing plans changed. Though I had this new second series in mind, I lucked into a divine gig and eventually wrote six light-hearted inspirational tales for the CHURCH CHOIR MYSTERIES series from Guideposts.

Definitely diverse! So what's a day in your life like?
I’m very fortunate. I am semi-retired and live in a small seaside town on southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The creative side to my day varies, depending on whether I’m writing, researching, marketing or pondering something new. There are, however, four daily constants in my life: Walking dogs (a giant Yorkie & a spud-coloured Maltese mix; Gardening (crazy about poppies, bamboo & succulents): Exercising (playing hockey with a bunch of old dudes, biking our rural roads or Nordic walking along the seaside), and Eating chocolate fudge (homemade & always available).

What can you tell us about your most recent release?
My latest novel is a departure from the mystery scene. When I was chewing over a new series (by now you’ll know I’m gun-shy of that term), I decided there was enough misogyny and violence out there. I no longer wanted to create stories about heartache; rather I hoped to pen something heart-warming. For the first time, I chose the familiar subject matter of family and gardening, and then planted a question that haunts me: is this all there is to life? Thus in my new inspirational novel HEARTSONG, the Shepherd family and their plant nursery business blossoms, and my main characters discover a calling to help others seek redemption for past wrongs. I think we all have regrets, and it’s these cold cases of the heart that Faith, Hope and Charly Shepherd tackle in the Sisterhood of Shepherds series. And yes, it will be a series as I’m nearly finished Book 2, HOMEFIRES.

That sounds very uplifting. :) You've written a bit of both non-fiction and fiction. What were the challenges with each one?
This’s a tough question as all writing has many challenges. For fiction, it’s mostly in discovering your author’s voice and unleashing it in the right subject matter. Discovering the voice takes time, experimentation and often results in frustration and dead ends. You have to be persistent and have faith, not easy when you may have few results to show for it. Finding the right subject can be as easy as writing in the genre you generally prefer to read, but hitting upon your ideal vehicle may require diving into new areas.

Non-fiction is more about being recognized as a professional and less about crafting sentences. Once you have the expertise, however, then you need to share it in manner that befits your target audience. For example, the writing style, chapter design and book length will differ greatly between writing about growing blue poppies and playing ice hockey. I have to admit bending some of these rules, though, when I self-published my primers on electronic publishing, mystery writing and gardening. I seized upon the immediacy and popularity of ebooks and traded on my expertise and breezy writing manner to deliver succinct and inexpensive how-to ebooklets.

I noticed on your website that you've also done podcasts about the writing process. What's that process like and what made you want to start the podcasts?
I really appreciate that you noticed THE NOVEL EXPERIENCE Podcast. I believe podcasts in general are an amazing yet relatively unknown medium. I’ve always been interested in radio drama and audio books. Several years ago, while creating videos and music for my interactive online thriller UnnaturalStates, I developed expertise in audio and video software. After using iTunes, I discovered their podcasts and quickly saw the opportunity and manner to post audio clips on the Internet.

As a writer, I’m always hunting for suggestions from experts to improve my work and figured other authors would be, too. Most of the writing world infotainment is fan-oriented, not technique driven. I decided to host my own audio interviews with fellow book professionals (so far, several authors, a screenwriter and an editor) and to post them online as The Novel Experience Podcast. It’s been a lot of fun sharing ideas and learning new writing skills. Listeners can find listening links below.

What's your favorite book you've read?
My all-time favourite is a classic: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Harper Lee’s compelling story of family, racism and redemption. It showed me how a single isolated incident in a small town could be a powerful universal theme. Another inspiration is THE RED FOX by Anthony Hyde. This exciting best-selling thriller proved to me that Canadian genre authors could hit the big time. Well, at least some of them can!

What do you hope readers take away from your writing?
I hope readers relate to the characters and find my stories entertaining. I dig getting behind the scenes to learn new things, and trust others do, too, so anticipate that they’ll enjoy discovering a bit about golf, opera or what it’s like being the middle child. Lastly, I’d be gratified if they would be encouraged to buy more of my books and consider recommending my work to their friends.

Thanks for joining us, Nicola! It's been a pleasure getting to know you. Make sure you leave a comment for Nicola, and you'll be entered for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.

Nicola pens mystery and inspirational novels, creates interactive books for the iPad, podcasts about genre writing (The Novel Experience), and teaches electronic publishing, when she's not playing Old-Timer’s hockey, growing blossoms and bamboo or eating chocolate fudge.

The co-creator of Quillr®, a multimedia storytelling platform, Nicola gardens in a small town on southern Vancouver Island, BC. Her other novels are mysteries and include Teed Off! (recently re-published by OakTreePress), A Hemorrhaging of Souls, and six inspirational cozies from the Church Choir Mysteries series. Her ebook how-to primers include YOUDUNIT WHODUNIT! HOW TO WRITE MYSTERIES, SELF-PUBLISH YOUR EBOOK IN MINUTES! and TOP TEN GARDENING TIPS. She has also created her first children’s story, SAVING GRAPE-JELLY CHEEKS, as an interactive musical tale, available on the iPod/iPad/iPhone devices.

You can connect with Nicola at the following sites:                                                                              


Peggy Trotter said...

Welcome Nicola! So glad to see you here on the Mine! The cover of Heartsong is just beautiful! I love your thought of writing something, "heartwarming." I think the world need more of that! It was very interesting to learn more about you.

Nicola said...

Thank you, Peggy. It's wonderful to know there are others who want more random acts of heartwarming! Love to know what you think of Heartsong.

Jacqueline Wheelock said...

Hi, Nicola,
I love interesting turns of phrase, and I just added "cold cases of the heart" to my repertoire! That might even work for a new book title sometime (hint, hint). All best with Heartsong and its sequel.

Autumn Macarthur said...

Lovely post, Nicola! Like Jacqueline, I love that phrase.

And your blue poppies- oh my!

Nicola said...

Thanks, Jacqueline,
Appreciate your comments, but you'll have to stand in line for that book title!

Nicola said...

Thanks, Autumn. Very kind of you. Yeah, the blues are incredible. Know this's a special day for you so celebrate!

Kathy Cretsinger said...

Hey, Nicola. Good interview! Loved learning more about your other books. I love mysteries and suspense. I"m going to have to check these out. Have a wonderful evening.

Amryn Cross said...

Thanks again for joining us, Nicola. :) It was such a pleasure to interview you. You're very inspiring!

Nicola said...

Thank you, Kathy. Really appreciate the compliment and comments.

Nicola said...

My pleasure, Amryn. Thank you for your kind invite!

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Very much liked the interview with Nicola. I had taken her new book "Heartsong" on a vacation this summer believing it would be light-hearted and entertaining. I was right. It was a quick, fun read. The family characters were well drawn and realistic, possessing some of the same strengths and foibles as my own. I also enjoyed the mystery element. Finally, really dug the garden imagery. Good luck Nicola on your next book! P.Praught

Erin Unger said...

I love to golf. This book sounds like a lot of fun to read.

Renee Blare said...

Hi Nicola! Welcome to the Mine. I absolutely love the cover of your book. It's so warm and inviting. I think I would grab it off the shelf just to see what it's about.

Mary L. Ball said...

Wonderful interview. I also enjoy the research behind the scenes. Good luck with your novels, they do sound interesting. :)
Mary Ball

Amryn Cross said...

Mary Ball, you're the winner of the Amazon giftcard! I'll be emailing you shortly. :)

Mary L. Ball said...

Oh, Thank you! I can use it to check out Nicola Furlong novels. :)

Nicola said...

Thank you for your comments. I'm so glad the novel suited your holiday reading. My blooming best to you!

Nicola said...

Hi Mary,
My apologies for the late reply. Really appreciate your kind comments and am glad you won the gift card. Cheers!

Nicola said...

So sorry I didn't reply earlier, but wanted to thank you, Renee, for your interest. Cheers!