Like most of the other writers I adore today, I first met Nigel Blackwell on social media back in 2011… that’s how I usually start off with my author interview introductions. But not this time!
Nigel is one of the very few writers that I actually met in person before stalking on Twitter or Facebook. One Saturday morning, sitting on the floor of a nearby community college’s writer’s workshop, I met Nigel. We shared lunch and talked about our writing journeys—kind of odd for strangers, but his kindness and generosity made me feel right at home. He shared tips, such as craft books that I needed to read, and helped me understand the importance of loglines. We were instantly friends.
Soon after, I joined Nigel’s local writing group and he was one of the very first (and few) I bounced plot and story ideas off of while writing Football Sweetheart. He has since helped me with the logline for FS2, and most recently, helped me with my very first book trailer (to be released soon). Seriously, his generosity goes on for days and days—he is simply a gem.
Oh, and did I mention he’s British? I could listen to Nigel talk for hours. I mean it… hours.
But before I ramble on, here’s a little bit about Nigel in his own words:
Nigel Blackwell was born in rural Oxfordshire in England. He has a love of books, a PhD in Physical Chemistry, and a black belt in pointing out the obvious.
As a teenager he toured Europe and loved seeing the wonders of the world and the people in it. Since then he has been fortunate enough to travel across Europe, North America, the Middle East, and Japan, and hasn’t been anywhere that doesn’t have the potential for a story.
He now lives in Texas with his wife and daughter, where they enjoy the sunshine and listen to the coyotes howl at night.
Before we jump into the interview, check out Nigel’s blurb for his debut suspense novel, Paris Love Match…
Paris Love Match
Getting a taxi in Paris can be hell.
Piers Chapman expected a boring business trip to Paris.
What he didn’t expect was to fight over a cab with a beautiful girl.
After a bad meeting, Sidney Roux just wanted to hail a cab, go home, and have a glass of wine.
She didn’t expect to fight over a cab with some pompous British tourist.
Neither of them expected another man to jump in their cab.
Or to be involved in a gun fight.
Or a car chase through the streets of Paris.
Or for the man to die.
But they’re thrust together when the mob demands they return what the dead man stole.
Will Piers and Sidney work together?
Will they find what he had stolen?
Will they stay alive?
And will they do the last thing they expected?
Will they fall in love?
When you were a small boy, did you dream of one day writing a bestseller, or did you have something else in mind?
When I was five I wanted to drive a train. My dad worked for Great Western Railways. I thought that was so cool, and at age 15 I did drive a train. Ok, it was at the Cotswold Wild Life Park and it used to come of the tracks regularly, but hey, I was a train driver.
When I grew up, I don’t think English teachers in the UK considered anything younger than 100 years old worth teaching! I read a lot even in my elementary school days. At age 12 we had to read Chaucer. I didn’t understand a word! I much preferred the likes of HG Wells, Ian Fleming, Arthur C Clarke, Asimov, and anything that didn’t require translating! That was when I started writing. I used to go through pens like there was no tomorrow; it drove my parents nuts, but they were very supportive. I never gave the idea of writing serious thought. Science and math were pushed hard at school, and that’s the way I went. I’ve been really happy over the past few years to get back to creating stories.
Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?
I wish I knew. I think everyone has ideas for stories, it’s whether you can fashion them into something that has a purpose. For me, that always takes work.
Once I’ve got an idea and I’m writing, I find that I dream about my stories. Usually between 3am and 5am I have these vivid dreams, like I’m running about as one of the characters. I keep a pad by my bed and write stuff down. I don’t turn the light on, so sometimes it’s hard to read when I get up!
Who are a few of your favorite authors?
Lee Child, definitely. His style is crisp and sparse, yet eloquent in so few words. He makes a gripping story from a handful of ingredients and a well-paced revelation of character motives.
Other authors are Paul Wilson (the Repairman), Caleb Carr, Michael Crichton (Esp Great Train Robbery which has great style, atmosphere, and attention to detail), Dean Koontz, and … It’s a never-ending list, which is a good thing, right?
The cover art for your book is amazing. Did you design it yourself?
LOL. No! I’m an engineer. If I had designed it, it would have been 46pt bold courier on a white background. The ISBN number would have been on the front, too. I mean, everyone loves those 13 digit numbers, don’t they?
Actually, the cover was done by Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations using a great picture my publisher, Jillian Dodd, found. The models in the picture were also in a whole series of related shots that suited the theme of the book, and worked out well for things like the book trailer.
Many writers imagine a celebrity or familiar face when developing their characters. Did you have anyone particular in mind when writing Piers and why?
Not really. I’m actually terrible at recognizing people, so images don’t stick very well.
Speaking of celebrities, who are you thinking of at this very moment?
Angelina Jolie. My mother survived breast cancer twice. My sister fought it for twelve years. I feel very sorry for her, and hope her preventative surgery is successful. As a celebrity figure she gets a lot of attention, but she does help raise awareness for all those people who face cancer without such public support.
Besides writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?
I love skiing and I love being out on the mountain in the cold air. I used to like surfing, but being in the middle of Texas put paid to that pastime! Of course, dog walking seems to have taken over my life recently.
I wouldn’t be myself without asking about television – what are your four favorite television programs airing today?
Four?! Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to see much TV. Top Gear would certainly make the list. Sad, I know, but how they take seemingly easy things and effortlessly turn them into a major disaster always makes me grin.
What is your favorite movie all-time?
Arrrggghhh. Just one? Now I’m the other way round to the TV question. Probably The Third Man because of the acting, the atmosphere, and the photography. Oh, and there’s Alien, Gregory’s Girl, 2001, Despicable Me (love the minions!), Romancing the Stone, Indiana Jones, anything James Bond, and … what’s that you say? Oh yeah, sorry, but how can anyone stop at just one?
What snacks do you order when at a movie theater?
Popcorn. With Butter (even though it’s probably some concoction from a chemical plant).
No doubt… I actually try to stay away from the “butter” at the theater.
You’re originally from England… share a bit about your hometown/region and tell us what made you decide to move to The States.
I grew up in a small town in Oxfordshire. There was very little to do there and unlike everywhere else around it, it wasn’t picturesque (and that’s putting it mildly). The rest of Oxfordshire, however, is beautiful. The UK varies dramatically in just 50 miles. From the rolling countryside of the Cotswolds, to the rugged hills and mountains in Wales, to the wonderful coastline around Devon and Cornwall. I miss that variation.
I came to the US with my job. It was only supposed to be for six months, but 15 years later I’m still here and a US citizen. I love the open spaces and sunshine in Texas. Yes, it gets hot, but I can’t help but smile when the sun is shining.
I consider you one of my favorite Brits (and Donna Newton, of course!!)… and if you haven’t already noticed, I love getting lost in translation with British sayings… have any new ones for me?
Well, thank you!
After the weekend with Donna at the DFW writer’s conference there aren’t many saying left!
There’s “tosh,” which means rubbish (as in that’s tosh); “give it some welly,” means to speed up, or use more muscle to get something done; and to “get shirty” means to get annoyed. Another favorite of mine is to be “at her majesty’s pleasure,” which means you’re in prison (they’re called Her Majesty’s Prisons). And if you know all those I’d say, “well stone the crows,” which means I’m amazed (though in your case I wouldn’t be!).
Nigel, I get shirty way too often. LOL. Thanks for the new phrase!
Lastly, you recently adopted a beautiful dog… tell us a little bit about her and how you instantly fell in love.
Ha ha! I didn’t instantly fall in love. An Alsatian attacked me when I was young, and I haven’t wanted to be near a dog since. But my daughter’s wanted a dog or cat for a long time, and some friends of ours were moving into a smaller place and couldn’t take her. When I went round to see her I was hyperventilating, but she’s really well-behaved and it’s worked out well for both of us. She’s a cutie, loves to walk and is unbelievably obedient. Though she does consider a large portion of the kitchen floor an extension of her sleeping area.
Isn’t Nigel great?
Do you have a question for Nigel? Have you read Paris Love Match yet? Have any fun (and clean) British sayings you’d like to share with us that might get lost in translation over here in the states? We’d love to hear from you!
Be sure and stop by Goodreads for a chance to win a copy of Paris Love Match!