Today we embark on a great new adventure in the field of author interviews: a cross interview. I interview the lovely Christy Jackson Nicholas and in turn she interviews me on her blog. Enjoy an insight into the inner workings of two Tirgearr authors who just met each other across borders.
Christy Jackson Nicholas is the author of Legacy of Hunger, which is due out in Autumn 2015. She already has two other books published by Tirgearr Publishing.
Hi Christy, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
That’s not an easy answer. I was conceived in England, born in Denmark, lived in Dearborn, Michigan until I was 8, and then south Florida until about 15 years ago. Since then I’ve lived in north Florida, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. I guess I’m a bit of a gypsy at heart!
That sounds like an excellent background for an author. Can you tell us a little about the setting of your new book Legacy of Hungert? Why did that place speak to you?
The book, Legacy of Hunger, is set in 1846. The main characters start out in Pennsylvania, and then travel to Ireland in the midst of the Great Hunger, commonly referred to as the Potato Famine. Ireland is my soul’s home, my ‘anam bhaile’. The first time I visited, almost 20 years ago, I felt immediately at home. I’ve been five times now, and will retire there some day. The magic of the land and the people have something integral within them that I must share with others. The novel is set in several of my favorite places – Ardara, in County Donegal, Achill Island, and Kenmare in County Cork.
Oh, I can totally relate to that. The place where your soul can rest its feet. What inspired you to write in the first place?
Actually, finding my father after searching for him for fifteen years inspired me. He never knew I existed, and when I finally found him, he and my mother got together and got married for the first time. I knew that had to be a love story – so I wrote my first novel. It was addicting.
You truly have an exceptional life, it is an inspiring story in itself. I guess you must have had to do a lot of research as it is a historical novel?
A lot more than I thought there would be! Since the novel is set in 1846, there are many small things that I simply didn’t know, such as what sort of foods would the locals be eating other than potatoes? How would one travel from Pittsburgh to New York, since the railroads weren’t that far west? Or across the ocean – the first steam ships were just being used at that point. I found myself writing about the funicular train and boat system on the Juniata River in Pennsylvania, near Hollidaysburg and Johnstown. After the book was finished, I then got a new job and moved to that area, completely by coincidence.
How amazing! How about your writing routine? Do you have a set routine?
I do set myself a minimum of about 2000 words per day. Usually I can make it, but sometimes I cannot. If I haven’t, I try to make it up within that week. I take the weekends off.
That's a lot of words! I could learn from your routine. And how about music? Do you listen to music when you write?
Absolutely! Silence just highlights the annoying noises around. Some pleasant background music is essential. I usually listen to either 80s rock or Celtic music – everything from Enya to the Pogues.
What do you like least about writing?
The editing process, hands down. I love planning portion, and writing the first draft. I hate the part that comes after – endless editing, changing, shifting, improving, refining. I think because it’s more of an organic process to me than writing it is. I am very methodical in my writing – plan everything out, write scene by scene in order, etc. I can change my plan as I go along, and I frequently do, but still push on bit by bit. After that, it’s all rather nebulous.
How different writers can be! Though I don't like the editing phase particularly, I find it a lot easier than the discipline to sit down and write the first draft. But then again, I write without a real plan. Funny, those differences, don't you think? So, can you tell us a little about your next project.
I’ve already written the first drafts of two more books, prequels to Legacy of Hunger. There will be a trilogy, if all goes well! Legacy of Truth and Legacy of Luck.
Wow, Christy that sounds fantastic! I will definitely want to read Legacy of Hunger! Thank you so much for this interview! I loved meeting you like this.
Valentia had discussed the trip with her mother at length two weeks earlier, when she had first conceived the plan, before they left for Pittsburgh. She had needed the information of her grandmother’s family that only Majesta remembered. Her grandparents’ names, for instance, and where in Donegal they had lived, and what her sisters’ names had been.
“I think the place began with an ‘A’. Amra? Ardra? Something like that, at any rate. Of course, that won’t be how it’s spelled. Irish spelling is infernal. It’s likely got twelve letters, none of which are actually pronounced.” Majesta’s cynical laugh had made Valentia frown.
“And do you remember anything else about the place, mother?”
“I was never there, child. I remember what grandmother said in her stories; but who knows how much of that was truth, and how much was fairytale? Your grandmother had a vigorous imagination, after all. Oh, I do remember one thing she mentioned… a sort of special heirloom. A brooch, I think. Yes, sit tight here one moment…”
Valentia had often heard of the brooch from Grandmamma and had hoped her mother knew more about it. She trembled with suppressed excitement. Majesta went to her desk and thumbed through her papers. After rifling through three drawers, she exclaimed and held one up in triumph.
“Here! This is what I was looking for.”
The thick paper was old, yellowing at the edges and creases. Valentia carefully unfolded the ancient document, and gasped.
The drawing, done in clean, neat lines, was of an intricate pennanular brooch. It was almost a circle, with a straight pin on the curve to go through the small opening. There were delicate intertwined creatures detailed on the circular edge, as well as on the straight pin. Several stones were imbedded in the design. The piece was exquisite.
Valentia could almost see faint sparks of light crackling along the lines, sparks of blue and purple. She blinked her eyes several times to clear her vision.
“It’s… it’s stunning.”
“My aunt had this special piece of jewelry. She never said how it was special, other than being beautiful. Simply that it was priceless and unique.” Her mother’s voice had a dreamy quality, like she had been speaking from a long-distant memory.
Valentia couldn’t take her eyes off the sketch. She was drawn into the labyrinth of line and form, as if she would be lost forever in the art. It looked just like she had imagined from Grandmamma’s description.
Her mother’s abrupt voice snapped her from her reverie. “If you can find this and our family, the journey would be well worth the trouble, I think.”
But now, the fire and the subsequent resistance from her father had quelled her hopes. She pushed through the day’s work as they helped the local people rebuild their lives.
My name is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. I do many things, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing and photography. In real life I'm a CPA, but having grown up with art and around me (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected me, as it were. I love to draw and to create things. It's more of an obsession than a hobby. I like looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or a fragrant blossom, a dramatic seaside. I then wish to take a picture or create a piece of jewelry to share this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus I write. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. I do local art and craft shows, as well as sending my art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.
Tirgearr author page: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Nicholas_Christy/index.htm