Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sophie's Turn by Nicky Wells - Interview, Excerpt, Giveaway : Featured Author

This honest, funny and sometimes bitter-sweet novel tells the story of one woman’s entanglement with a rock star.

Slapper. Slut. Adulteress. These are hardly words that Sophie Penhalligan would normally use to describe herself. And yet this is exactly how she is behaving, all things considered, even if she isn’t quite married to Tim yet. Aged nineteen, she travelled halfway across the country to honour an invitation by her favourite rock band, Tusk, to join them for the last gig of their tour. And now her past is coming to tempt her... How could Tim ever stand a chance against Dan, the charming, handsome lead-singer? How could she?

Sophie, now twenty-eight and a budding newspaper journalist, is happily embroiled in a relationship with Tim, her boyfriend of two years. Until recently, she was confident that Tim would eventually propose—probably as soon as he could get his act together. But just as Tim’s persistent inaction is beginning to cast a cloud over their relationship, Dan’s sudden reappearance turns Sophie’s world upside down. Thus unfolds a roller-coaster of events including an ill-fated trip to Paris with Tim, a night of unfulfilled romance with Dan, Sophie and Tim’s engagement party gate-crashed by Dan, and Sophie’s professional secondment to accompany Dan’s band on their revival tour—at Dan’s special request and very much against her will.

And then, one fine day in Paris, Sophie suddenly finds herself engaged to Dan while her erstwhile fiancĂ© Tim is... well, doing whatever it is Tim does back in London. What is she to do now? Who wouldn’t give anything to meet their favourite star, let alone marry him?

Find out how Sophie gets into this impossible situation, and how she turns it around, in Sophie’s Turn, a modern romantic fairy tale.

Enter HERE and comment on this post for a chance to win a Kindle copy of Sophie's Turn. The winner will be gifted the book from Amazon.
Ends December 6th 11:59PM CDT


“Just send him up then,” I instructed. “Tim’s back again,” I informed Rachel whose face fell immediately, fearing I would be whisked off to his house and thus spoil our Friday-night ritual.
“Don’t worry, he’s probably just forgotten something,” I soothed. “Look, I just need to nip to the loos. I’ll be back in a sec. Can you keep him entertained for a minute or so?”
Rachel nodded. She had practiced what she called her ‘tolerant behaviour towards Tim’ and could now be trusted to remain civil even when left on her own with him.
To my greatest surprise, I heard her chatting and laughing animatedly as I was walking up the corridor on my return from the powder room. What was going on? Her best efforts at tolerating Tim never stretched to outright gaiety and… wasn’t that just a hint of flirtatious giggle in her voice?
I turned the corner and my heart nearly stopped. There was Rachel, indeed chatting gaily and not a little flirtatiously with a guy seated at my desk, in my chair. But she wasn’t chatting with Tim. Oh no.
No, no, no. No!
I didn’t know whether to go for fight or flight and was dithering in the doorway, but already I had been spotted.
“Sophie!” Dan drawled and rose from my desk chair in one fluid motion. “Hi!”
I opened and closed my mouth a few times, completely at a loss as to what to think or do or say. Dan was strolling towards me in giant strides and Rachel was gesticulating wildly behind his back… a thumbs-up, a big grin and some ruder gestures as well. I shook my head to dispel the images she was conjuring up in my mind and turned my attention back to Dan, who now stood in front of me in all his glory. Brown hair, sparkling blue eyes, trade-mark silky blue shirt (top buttons undone, like always, and I so, so wanted to reach out and touch the little soft curly hair on his chest). He didn’t say anything, just looked, and looked, and I could feel a slow blush rising from my toes all the way up to my ears as his eyes practically undressed me where I stood.
I felt hot and cold and dizzy all at once. It seemed I had temporarily forgotten how to breathe because the blood was roaring in my ears and my lungs kept expanding and expanding and periodically emitting great big snorts of air. The room started spinning slowly as my knees turned to jelly. And yes, there was an odd, warm, exciting sensation low down in my stomach that I had last felt… well, when I was last with Dan. Help!
The office was deserted apart from Rachel, Dan and me. Although the paper hadn’t quite been put to bed yet, editorial and writing staff had disappeared somewhere—probably to have some kind of urgent conference. Rachel and I were off the hook for the late shift this week and so there was nobody to witness my little drama except Rachel. Who stubbornly refused to yield, watching my every move and facial expression with ardent glee and insatiable curiosity. The letters, “I told you so” seemed to flash on her forehead and she was enjoying herself immensely.
Dan was still looking at me with those great, kind, ocean-deep eyes.
“Sophie,” he said again softly.
I still hadn’t said a thing. I had no words to utter. I didn’t know what I was thinking or what I was feeling. Well, that wasn’t strictly speaking true. I was feeling a hot, lusty attraction and the familiar old Dan-induced crazy exhilaration. As always, I wanted to rake my fingers through his hair and bury my head on his chest. And cover his face in kisses. Funny, wasn’t it, that I had never yet even done any of these things. Yet?
Since the last time I saw him, there had been a massive change. A significant change. A change that could not be ignored. A commitment whose token that was currently singeing the delicate skin of the ring finger of my left hand.
How, after all my love and affection and my excitement about getting engaged to Tim…after I had so passionately and sincerely defended my engagement to Tim in the face of Rachel’s doubts and concerns… after all the plans we were making… How, after all of that, could I possibly be feeling what I was feeling right then?
How was it possible that I could be so attracted, so keen, so eager to go with this man who, by his own admission, was “bad news”? Who hadn’t called me in six weeks?
How could I be such a bad person? Was I a bad person?
And still I hadn’t said anything. I became dimly aware of some movement behind Dan’s back and tried to focus my attention. Rachel was sitting a-top my desk and was frantically waving a sheet of paper on which she had scribbled something… I narrowed my myopic eyes to be able to make out her message. There it was, in her big bold hand-writing:


Her ‘Tim tolerance’ was apparently pretty fragile still. As I was looking, she crossed out the second “IT” and replaced it with “HIM” and I let out an involuntary laugh. Dan, intrigued, turned around to see what was amusing me but Rachel swiftly whipped the sheet of paper behind her back and looked her most innocent.
Somehow, this little action of hers had broken the ice and I was finally able to speak.
“Dan!” I exclaimed, with rather more joy and enthusiasm than I had intended. “What are you doing here?”
He turned back to me and ran a finger down my cheek.
“I’m so sorry I’ve been out of touch since our last date.” I could see Rachel’s ears assume Spock dimensions as she tried to catch every word that was being said. “We’ve been sequestered in the studio making new songs and somehow, the weeks just flew by. Will you forgive me?”
What a futile question! The past six weeks were wiped from my memory and there was nothing to forgive. That’s what I wanted to say, but I surprised myself again—this time by acting completely counter to what I wanted to do, although for once in line with what I ought to be doing.
“There’s nothing to forgive,” I said somewhat pompously. “After all, it was only dinner and it’s not like, you know, we’re married!” My mouth was still open to continue my little speech, but Dan reacted to the word married and hastily grabbed my left hand. Held it up to kiss it… felt the ring, then saw it. Then looked at me.
“Ah, well, that.” I spluttered, now distracted from the words that had been formulated so clearly in my head. “Yes. Well, uhm. You see, I got engaged.”
Dan’s eyes softened, then clouded over, then softened again. “I guess congratulations are in order,” he whispered. “But Sophie, how could you?” At this, Rachel fell off her perched position on my desk with suppressed giggles of glee and of vindication: she was not alone in her reaction to my engagement! Her left knee struck the feet of my chair and she grimaced in pain: served her right for eavesdropping.


How did you start your writing career?

Funnily enough, I started my writing career in secret, using a green biro, ruled school paper, and later, a scratchy fountain pen spouting purple ink.  Usually, I would write after lights-out, crouched on my window sill, writing either by fading daylight or by the light of the lamppost outside my bedroom window.  My Mum doesn’t know to this day that that’s what I got up to when I couldn’t sleep, which was most nights.  I was ten, then.

That’s how it all started, really.  Originally, I wrote children’s stories.  As a teenager, I wrote what presumably would be classed as YA fiction.  All of these stories were purely for my consumption and nobody ever, ever saw them.  I’ve still got them somewhere but I won’t say where…  At university, I wrote a number of short stories and then eventually, a pre-cursor to a first draft of Sophie’s Turn.  So all in all, I guess you could say that I’ve always been writing in some capacity (as grand as that sounds) but that Sophie’s Turn only emerged after a few embarrassing and rather disastrous previous efforts.

Does travel play in the writing of your books?

Oh yes indeed!  Sophie gets to travel all over the place, within the UK (to Edinburgh) but also to Paris and New York and then, on tour with Tusk, all over Europe.  Don’t get me wrong, Sophie’s Turn is not a travelling book or a road book.  Nor does Sophie necessarily consider herself as a world-traveller.  It just kind of… happens to her.  Every trip she takes moves the story on significantly.  Great things happen when one travels, after all!  Also there is some intentional dramatic irony in her two trips to Paris, one with Tim and one with Dan.  I found the juxtaposition really helped develop the plot and the contrast between her two loves.
Where do you research for your books?

I use three avenues for research.  First, first-hand research.  Where locations are concerned (whether cities, restaurants or other places), ideally I’d like to have been there.  If I haven’t been there, I try to go there.  And if that’s not possible, I use a combination of two types of second-hand research.  So my second avenue is typically the internet.  I don’t need to tell anybody that you can find out just about anything via the internet; most people out there are probably more savvy internet users than me.  But, particularly for Sophie’s Turn, I had fantastic fun checking out five star hotels, taking virtual tours of the rooms and the restaurants, checking out menus and customer reviews…  Combine that with an experience of having stayed at least once in a four star establishment, and you can really get a feel for what it might be like.  And my third avenue, interviews, can help to supplement internet information.  So for example, while I’ve been to Paris, I’ve never been to New York.  But I do know quite a few folks who have lived in New York, so they got a series of emails from me regarding how you’d travel from the airport into Manhattan, where you might stay, what you would see, where you would shop… and so on.  It’s an involved and fun process, and not one I envisaged engaging in when I first set out to write fiction.  Still, it came naturally with the territory and I do think it enriched the book!

Does your significant other read your stuff?

Absolutely!  When I was writing Sophie’s Turn, he was my first beta-tester.  After I’d compiled a critical mass of chapters, I started reading things out to him every night.  I was heavily pregnant, and I remember lying on the sofa, my legs propped up on his lap, leafing through pages and pages of narrative, reading to him, questioning him, discussing things with him and making changes that he suggested.  It was a really fabulous experience!  He also read the entire manuscript once more when it was all finished.  J

Sadly, at the moment he is travelling too much to repeat the experience with The Sequel (which is very much in progress) so I’m giving him chunks to read and comment on.  I do miss the instant feedback though.  It is wonderful to get somebody’s reaction to your work straightway, while you are presenting it to them…

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your books?

Do you know, I had no idea that these characters would become so… alive!  I had the whole plot planned in meticulous detail.  Every development, every twist and turn, every connection between events, every scene, every dialogue… It sounds anal, but it was all there.  And it all went into the book… somehow.  Yet the characters definitely took me for a variety of rides I hadn’t anticipated.  A classic example is Sophie and Tim’s engagement party.  I didn’t know that Dan would turn up!  I had planned for him to be disgruntled and very jealous, but I never thought for one second that he would just… go.  And introduce himself to Tim!  It was the most bizarre experience because I was writing the story but I didn’t have a clue what was happening.  My fingers were busy typing and I was reading along, waiting with bated breath for new developments.  That was truly surprising, and exhilarating.  It kept happening, and still keeps happening with The Sequel.  I’ve learnt to cherish these moments, and harness them.  Some of the greatest scenes have come about this way…
Do you have a milestone birthday coming up? If so, how are you approaching it?

I do indeed.  Not in the immediate future, but within the year.  My birthday is December 18, and I’ll be 39 this year.  So next year, I’ve got the big four-oh.  Gulp!  My husband is a little behind me on that front (he’s my toyboy, or so we joke) so the plan is to have a HUGE big party when I’m forty-and-a-half and he’s thirty-nine-and-a-half.  We’ll have a joint eightieth birthday party!  In addition, we’ll have been married ten years, so we’re adding this onto the number as well.  AND all of this coincides with me having been in the UK for twenty years, so if we add that too… We’ll get to have a 110th anniversary party of some description!  Sounds corny, huh?  It’s just for a bit of a laugh.  We’ll hire the village hall, invite all our friends and family, slap on the eighties gear and music and away we go….

Morning Person? Or Night Person? How do you know?

Traditionally, definitely Night Person.  How do I know?  I’m grumpy and disorganized in the morning, and I don’t start to function properly until about mid-day.  I drop things and spoil things and harrumph a lot. 
However, that’s had to change with the arrival of two kids and a frantic morning schedule.  I’m still not good in the morning (to put it mildly) but I’ve found ways of coping.  I usually feel dreadfully tired and disembodied, though!  Whereas at ten o’clock at night, I really come awake and alive and have my best ideas.  My body clock and my life style are not happily married, I can tell you this much!

What would we find under your bed?

Everything bar the kitchen sink.  We are very short of storage space in our house, so I’ve put two full size under-bed drawers under the bed.  One contains:  Photo albums, wedding paraphernalia (like a tiara, the big planning book, etc); a blow-up mattress; knitting that I started eight years ago and never finished; calendars and diaries from the past ten years; photo frames that we never got round to hanging up; and a selection of tools (like a soldering iron for mending a toy railway, that my husband recently brought home…).  The other one contains:  a big blue canvas bag-cum-suitcase which we use for family travel and which in turn is filled with plastic bags galore (don’t ask me why); my clarinet and all my sheet music; my husband’s favourite children’s books; more sheet music (for guitar and mandolin); and all baby care books and leaflets we ever collected from various places.

Oh and, dare I admit it, plenty of dust.  I don’t get to go in those drawers all that often…

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

Iceland.  I love colder climates more than hotter ones, so anything to the South of where I already live gets a bit difficult for me (I don’t function well in heat).  And I’ve inherited from my Mum a fascination for this rough, cold, small, isolated country with its ever-active volcanoes and hot springs.  I think it would make a fantastic backdrop for a novel, romantic, thriller or otherwise.


Nicky Wells is a writer, wife, mother and teaching assistant. Born and raised in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993. Having received two degrees, Nicky spent six years working as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C.

Nicky left work in November 2004 to spend three months writing her debut novel, Sophie’s Turn, before the birth of her first baby in April 2005. Since then, Nicky has had another child and qualified as a teaching assistant. Nicky regularly works as a volunteer teaching assistant in her local primary school and also works for the German Saturday School in Bristol.

Nicky currently lives in Bristol with her husband and her two boys and is working on her next novel, the sequel to Sophie’s Turn. When she is not writing, she loves listening to rock music (or simply the radio), reading books and eating lobsters or pizza.




Mierke said...

This sounds really great - I've added it to my TBR pile!


Connie said...

What a great excerpt of this interesting book! Being torn between choosing the man with the solid and "accepted" career vs the one with a more exciting but potentially unstable life can be a difficult choice. Most women are brought up to choose stability, however, we are all tempted by excitement too. I can't wait to read this book and see what choice Sophie makes and why. Thank you for the great interview with Nicky. I adore the UK and Bristol is a fun place to visit. I also look forward to reading more books by Nicky. All the best!

Laurie said...

Hi Connie, Thanks for stopping by. I really loved Nicky's excerpt, also. I had hoped to have read the book in time for this feature post but it is definitely near the top of my TBR for December.

Nicky Wells said...

Hi Laurie, thanks so much for hosting me on your blog. I am truly delighted and honoured to be here, and thanks for asking all these wonderful questions. I hope your readers will enjoy them! Thanks also to those of you who have already entered the competition: good luck, and fingers crossed. I am excited that you stopped by... x

lotsocats100 said...

This book sounds absolutely wonderful! Can't wait to read it.

The name's Kara! said...

Great excerpt! Thanks for the opportunity!

Sheena said...

Sounds like a great read, Can't wait to check it out:)

Leah said...

Thanks for the giveaway and the interview.

sweety said...

Sounds interesting.Thanks for the giveaway!!


Anonymous said...

This one sounds very good. I am putting it on my wish list.
musicalfrog at comcast dot net

Laurie said...

Susan Livingston is the giveaway winner. Congrats!