Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nicola Marsh Interview...

Following is an interview with Nicola Marsh, a prolific romance writer published by Harlequin, her books released under the Harlequin Romance and Harlequin Modern Heat/Presents imprints.  She’s sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide.
With a heavy schedule, she was still gracious enough to spend the time to answer our interview questions. 

Q: With this month’s release of Marriage: For Business or Pleasure, you’ve published twenty-three books since 2003. That’s an amazing amount of work. How do you manage to write that much and take care of your two children at the same time? Do you schedule a specific time of day for writing? How would you describe a typical day in the life of Nicola Marsh?

A:  Life is hectic!  With my eldest at school, I run around all day after my toddler so writing is confined to nights when kidlets are in bed.  I start my working ‘day’ at 8.30pm.  Most mornings I’m up early too, clearing my inbox, updating blogs, doing promo stuff, before the rest of the household rises.

Typical day? 
      Check emails & do promo

      Breakfast rush, peak hour traffic to school, volunteer at school literacy classes, sneak in
      an hour’s writing when toddler naps, read for half an hour if I’m lucky, school pick up, 
      dinner, chat with hubby, play and baths, phew!

     Sigh of relief, sit in front of PC and connect with my characters. Silence reigns.  Lovely.

Q: We all have to handle rejection. Before selling your first novel, did you ever feel like giving up? What made you keep going?

A:  I was working full time as a physiotherapist when I first started writing.  I’d been in that field for 13 years and always wanted to write a book, so when I started, giving up was never an option.  I was ready for a change of career and I was going to do whatever it took to succeed.  Luckily, I sold quickly, about 18 months after I first started writing.

Q: Writers vary in the way they create their books. Some figure out the complete plot before starting. Others outline by chapter or scene. And some just start typing with only a hint of where it might lead. Which method works for you?

A:  When I first started writing, I used to be a plotter.  These days, I know my characters, write a 2-3 page outline so the bones of the story are there, then off I go!  If I ever get stuck in the ‘sagging middle’, I resort to trusty pen and paper to brainstorm and hash out the next few chapters.

Q: You probably have a clear image in your head of what your main characters look like. Aside from that, do you do an in-depth character study and list all their traits, habits, speech patterns, history, etc? Or do the character traits just develop as you write?

A:  For my early books I filled out characters charts.  These days, the characters develop as I write.  That said, it’s important to nail the characters’ motivations early, as their traits, habits, etc…will stem from what drives them.

Q: How has technology affected your writing? Do you use any special writing software? Listen to your iPod while you’re writing?

A:  Using a PC is technological enough for me!  My followers on Facebook and Twitter know I often call myself a techno-dunce!  No writing software, just a nice blank Word document and off I go.  I never listen to music when writing, much prefer silence.  I think it stems from being surrounded by noise all day, I really value my peace when I sit at the PC to write at night.

Q: What is the hardest part for you in writing a new book?

A:  Sustaining the conflict and rising tensions throughout the book.  I love starting a new book, those first few chapters fly.  And the endings are always fun, wrapping up all the loose ends.  It’s that hard section in the middle that’s always a challenge to write.

Q: Typically, how long does it take you to complete the first draft? How much time do you spend on revisions?

A:  For my 55 0000 word series romance (the Harlequin Romance and Modern Heat/Presents) I can write a first draft in 4-6 weeks.  Then I’ll spend a week on revisions.

Q: What words of encouragement could you offer an aspiring author?

A:   Write, write and write some more.  No matter how uninspired or tired you are, sit down and write, even if it’s a few hundred words.  The more you write, the faster you become, the easier it is, the more habit-forming. The way to discover your voice is by writing.  Play around, try different genres, have a ball, follow your dream.

Q: Harlequin is releasing your twentieth novel this month. Would you like to give us a synopsis of Marriage: For Business or Pleasure? Any interesting facts about its origin or its development? Any favorite lines of dialogue? Any surprises we can expect?

A:  MARRIAGE: FOR BUSINESS OR PLEASURE? is set in a favorite holiday spot of mine.  Cosmopolitan Noosa (on Queensland's Sunshine Coast) is a fabulous place.  Up-market restaurants, boutiques, gorgeous hotels, all set on a fabulous beach.  Noosa attracts tourists world-wide and I’m hoping this book brings a little Noosa magic to my readers.

Nick is my first bad boy hero.  He's wonderful.  And very, very sexy.  His past with Britt catches up with him when she returns from London after a 10 year absence. Britt has no intention of falling for Nick's wayward charms again...but what woman can resist the allure of a bad boy? Sparks fly as the story unfolds...from the sugar cane fields of Jacaranda to hip Noosa to jet-setting London...wherever these two are, there’s guaranteed heat!

My favourite line in the book?

Needs a little background first.  There’s a chapter where Nick and Britt reminisce about the past, in his old bedroom.  Nick still has the star medallion Britt gave him, she tells him because he used to hang the stars and moon for her back then.  They make love.  Here’s how the chapter ends:

“She’d asked for the moon and stars. 
Nick had delivered the whole damn solar system.”

This book is a Romantic Times magazine Top Pick for February.  Here’s what they had to say:

"This lovers-reunited tale is awash in passion, sensuality and plenty of sparks. The terrific characters immediately capture your attention, and from there, the pages go flying by."

As far as surprises go, readers have mentioned they have cried during some of the emotional scenes between Britt and her father (who abused her physically, verbally and psychologically.)  I think it’s nice to layer in some heartfelt emotional stuff between all the banter and passion.

Q:  What’s next for you?

A:  I have a short story in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF SPECIAL OPS ROMANCE, released in March.  Then it’s a double release in May with THREE TIMES A BRIDESMAID…(Harlequin Romance), a Cinderella type story, along with OVERTIME IN THE BOSS’S BED (Harlequin Presents), featuring a dancer and a reluctant workaholic boss.  This book features a scene where lightning strikes the house…yep, I was writing this book last year when lightning struck my house!  Nothing like first hand research!

Since her first book was published in 2003, Nicola has received numerous awards for her writing. For more information, you can visit her website at

A big "thank you" to Nicola for granting our interview and sharing some secrets with us.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great interview, Michael and Nicola. Noosa is such a wonderful place. Seven years ago, I lived on the outskirts of a beach not far from Noosa. The restaurants and shops are great.

    One cafe is run by a very friendly American. The beaches are fantastic on The Sunshine Coast of Queensland and the sand is perfect for jogging.

    I'm looking forward to reading your exciting book, Nicola.


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