Author Nigel Blackwell and His Paris Love Match

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!

Author Nigel Blackwell
Author Nigel Blackwell

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.
Paris Love MatchWhat 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.

Witney Green - close to where Nigel grew up (photo courtesy of Nigel Blackwell)
Witney Green – close to where Nigel grew up (photo courtesy of Nigel Blackwell)

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.

The very beautiful and brave Angelina Jolie and her man, Brad Pitt, in Mr. and Mrs. Smith

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?

Jack and Joan… love this movie!!

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.

Montage of the UK - photo courtesy of Nigel Blackwell
Montage of the UK (photo courtesy of Nigel Blackwell)

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.

Sideni - photo courtesy of Nigel Blackwell
Sideni (photo courtesy of Nigel Blackwell)


Isn’t Nigel great?

Need more Nigel?  I mean, c’mon… we all need more Nigel in our lives… catch up with him at his website, or follow him via his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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!

The Reveal of Amber West’s The Ruth Valley Missing

On my first ever Monday blog post, I am pleased to participate in the big REVEAL event for my Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday partner-in-crime, Amber West.  Shortly, the multi-talented author will publish her debut mystery novel, The Ruth Valley Missing.

Take a look!


Jameson Quinn is sick of trying to find herself in the big city. After a gallery opening ends in a trip to the ER and an argument with her self-involved boyfriend, she decides to take off for the peace and quiet of a small town — Ruth Valley.

The small town has everything Brooklyn lacked: simple people, peaceful surroundings, and a feeling of safety. Jameson even finds the perfect house to rent from the town’s most eligible bachelor, Sheriff Jack. Life is finally headed in a promising direction.

But something isn’t right. A young man is mysteriously injured, then disappears — and Jameson finds he isn’t the only person to suddenly vanish. The suspicious behavior of an abrasive nun and a creepy priest set her off on an investigation of what’s really happening. Will she figure out the secrets of Ruth Valley before she’s the next to go missing?


Did she hook you? She sure as heck hooked me!

Please join us in celebrating Amber’s BIG news!  Share on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media outlet you desire.  And, Goodreads users… we can add it to our bookshelves here!

Amber West – wife, mother, friend, photographer, blogger, and now author!!

Congratulations, Amber!!

Friday FabOoolousness – A Writer’s Life….in Movies

Everyone loves movies, particularly writers.  Writers find it extremely helpful to use movies as tools to identify crucial elements to the story making process, and even better yet, as research.

So, why not reminisce about some of the recent decades’ most popular movies about writers? 


Romancing the Stone (1984)

This widely successful film stars Kathleen Turner as fictional romance novelist, Joan Wilder. 

Joan is lonely, living with her cat in her New York City apartment, when she receives a phone call from her recently widowed sister who claims to have been kidnapped by antiquities smugglers. As ransom, the smugglers demand a treasure map that Joan received in the mail from her brother-in-law.

Ransom demand in hand, Joan sets off to Cartagena, Colombia.  After a bit of a wild and crazy detour, Joan learns that other criminals want this treasure map as well.  She meets Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) and he promises to guide her through the jungle for a small monetary fee, not aware of what he’s gotten himself into. 

After sharing a romantic exchange, Joan and Jack decide to follow the map on their own.  They find a beautiful emerald, but not before one of the kidnappers (Danny DeVito) finds them.   One thing leads to another; Joan finally exchanges the stone for her sister, and shares her adventures in Cartagena by writing a novel when she returns to the city. 

Romancing the Stone has romance, action, suspense, and comedy.   In 1985, the movie was followed by a sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, also starring Turner, Douglas, and DeVito.   

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if all writers encountered a love affair, mystery, or adventure of our own to help push us through our stories?


Her Alibi (1989)

Tom Selleck stars as Phil Blackwood, a fictional mystery novelist who meets his muse while sitting in a courtroom.  Blackwood forges an alibi for Nina (supermodel Paulina Porizkova), the beautiful Romanian woman accused of murder, and she is released into his custody. 

Blackwood takes Nina back to his house and begins plotting his story as he fantasizes himself in the role of his protagonist living with a mysterious woman.  Suspicions set in, however, after a police detective pays him a visit and places doubts in Blackwood’s head about Nina’s innocence.  Blackwood further questions just how well he knows this woman after she throws a kitchen knife across the room, stabbing and killing a bug crawling up a cabinet just inches from his face.

Not knowing if he’s made the right decision to protect this woman, and definitely not able to stop his romantic feelings for her, Blackwood follows Nina to a clown festival where they encounter the Romanian operatives responsible for the crime in which she was accused. 

How far will writers go to find the ever-important muse?


Misery (1990)

Based on Stephen King’s novel, Misery stars James Caan as fictional novelist, Paul Sheldon.

On his way to deliver a new novel to his publicist, a story not related to the successful series that his readership has grown to admire, Sheldon crashes his car deep in the desolate woods during a blizzard.  Badly bruised and with multiple broken bones, including both legs, Sheldon is rescued by Annie (Kathy Bates), a nurse who just so happens to be his number one fan. 

Grateful for her hospitality, Sheldon agrees to let Annie read his new novel.  Unfortunately for Sheldon, she doesn’t like the new story and is offended by his language.  This disappointment sends Annie into a crazed tailspin where she obsesses about other mistakes in his storytelling; she tortures him, drugs him, spills hot soup on him, forces him to burn his manuscript, and finally takes a sledgehammer to his ankles.

Eventually, Sheldon escapes, and the movie ends just as he meets another number one fan…

Writers, how painful would it be to be forced to burn one of our manuscripts?  Does this story make us re-evaluate the importance of a “number one” fan?    


Secret Window (2004)

Based on another Steven King story, Secret Window, Secret Garden, this psychological thriller stars Johnny Depp as fictional author, Mort Rainey. 

Secret Window keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, watching as Rainey spends most of his days alone in his cabin, agonizing over his wife’s (Maria Bello) affair which has created an untimely case of writer’s block. 

What’s worse than a writer suffering from writer’s block?  Being accused of plagiarism, of course. 

Rainey doesn’t believe he, the successful writer, stole the work of his crazed accuser (played by the great John Turturro).  After his dog is murdered, Rainey hires a private investigator (Charles S. Dutton) to look after the man. 

The movie takes an interesting turn when it’s revealed that Rainey is actually suffering from an identify disorder and has assumed the role of his character.  He lives out his story first hand by imagining the man accusing him of plagiarism, and by seeking revenge against his unfaithful wife and her lover (Timothy Hutton), thus overcoming his writer’s block. 

Are writers really this crazy?


Did you enjoy any of these movies? What other movies about writers do you enjoy?  Writers, do you use movies and television programs as research for your stories?  I’d love to hear from you!

Friday FabOoolousness – Beating the Heat with Movie Madness

Due to the horrendous Texas heat this summer, we’ve been staying indoors as much as possible.  What’s the best pastime when stuck inside?  Watching movies!

We’ve made it to the theater a few times, but mostly we’ve picked up the $1/night rentals at Redbox or caught an almost-new release on the cable channels and On Demand.  Mostly, we’ve focused on comedy and suspense, but occasionally we throw in some action and the supernatural. 

Grab the popcorn, and turn out the lights! Here are just a few picks of what we think is worth a watch.

Laughs, Laughs, and More Laughs

First Place goes to…..

Horrible Bosses – hands down, laugh out loud funny, from start to finish.  Everyone knows that Jason Bateman and Jason Sudeikis are funny, but what about Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx? 

Personally, we thought that Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Spacey stole the show.  Jennifer Aniston’s sexy role is a far cry from the “Rachel” we all know and love; Colin Farrell nails the coked-out tool roll; and, Kevin Spacey’s character is the perfect combination of paranoid and crazy. 

While Jaime Foxx didn’t play that large of a role throughout the film, we did laugh out loud every single time his character was called by name….   

Honorable Mentions go to….

Just Go With It– starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston.  Watch out for scene stealers Bailee Madison, Griffin Gluck, Dave Matthews, and Nicole Kidman.  Sandler and Aniston’s chemistry is fabOoolous throughout, but the entire supporting cast makes the movie. 

Grown Ups – starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider.  Everyone saw the advertising for this film, but there are many more laugh-out-loud moments than what we saw in the trailer.

Hall Pass – starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis.  We had actually heard that this film was a disappointment, but we have to agree to disagree.  Granted, we watched it late at night, but we laughed a lot – in particularly during one scene that caught us completely off-guard. 

Edge of our Seats Suspense

First Place goes to….

The Lincoln Lawyer – without naming names, someone in my household must see every single movie starring Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Phillippe.  Because of this, someone else in my household does not want to see every single Matthew McConaughey and Ryan Phillippe movie, which is why we had to wait for this film to be available at Redbox. 

After we watched The Lincoln Lawyer, that same certain someone loved it just as much as the Matthew and Ryan fan did.   In other words, men and women alike will enjoy this flick.

From the trailer, everyone knows that Matthew’s character is defending Ryan’s character for a murder that he actually committed.  But what we don’t know pulls the audience smack-dab in the middle of masterful suspense.  To what lengths will one go in covering up a crime?  Do we ever know all who are involved? 

A very close second goes to….

Limitless – starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro.  What would you do if you were handed a mysterious pill that promised to activate 100% of your brain, as opposed to the usual twenty percent?  Would you take it?

Attention writers: Cooper’s character is an author, and after he takes the pill, he finishes his novel in just around four days.  Does this tempt you, even the slightest bit? 

It’s Not Real, but it’s Still FabOoolous

The award for the most awaited release of the summer goes to….

Fright Night – this much awaited remake did not disappoint.  Colin Farrell finally brings the bad-boy vampire back to the big screen.  Viewers experience a vampire that actually feeds on humans and still has the ability to seduce every female in the audience.      

The story remains very close to the original 1985 horror film, but also introduces a few new twists to make it its very own.   A few of the 3-D special effects were great, and we even saw a tiny cameo by one of the original Fright Night actors. 

While Roddy McDowall was and always will be the great Peter Vincent, vampire hunter, David Tennant makes the role uniquely his.  Every scene of Tennant’s is brilliant and very entertaining.   I’d say more, but I don’t want to ruin it for those who haven’t seen it yet.      

The award for heroes of the summer goes to….

Transformers 3: The Dark of the Moon – once again, Bumble Bee and Sam’s (Shia LaBeouf) relationship, as well as Optimus Prime and Sam’s relationship, made me cry.  Yes – for the second Transformers movie in a row, I actually teared up.  Never in a million years did I think I’d enjoy these movies about robots transforming into cars and saving the world, yet alone grow to love these Autobots the way that I do. 

Josh Duhamel’s role grows immensely in this third film and hallelujah for that!  Everyone needs a little more Josh in their life…  Oh, and don’t worry – many cringed, especially the men, when it was announced that Megan Fox would not reprise her role as Sam’s girlfriend; but, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s character fills the void perfectly.    

The award for the biggest surprise of the summer goes to….

I am Number Four – based on the bestselling YA novel of the same name, this science fiction hit targeted for the younger generation pleasantly surprised the thirtysomethings in this house.  We immediately called family members, young and not-so-young alike, and recommended a quick trip to Redbox.

Every single one of them loved alien John Smith (Number Four) and his handler/warrior/guardian, Henri.  The special effects in the fight scene at the end are absolutely fabOoolous, and the anticipation for a sequel is astounding.  The Power of Six is on book shelves now; does anyone know when the movie starts production? 

Not every movie can earn a top spot, but a few other films that kept us entertained and out of the hot-summer heat include: Priest. Life As We Know It, You Again, Date Night, The Hangover Part 2, The Mechanic, The Rite, The Dilemma, and Little Fockers.

Next up on our must-see list:  Sucker Punch, Season of the Witch, Arthur, Red Riding Hood, and Your Highness. Which one should we watch first?

What’s the last movie that you watched? What’s next on your list of must-sees?  Do you prefer going to the movies or staying in?  Have you tried a Redbox near you?  I’d love to hear from you! 

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