Please welcome Nikki Copleston to my blog. Nikki worked in London for many years before moving back to the West Country where she was brought up. In 2016, she published the award-winning The Shame of Innocence, featuring DI Jeff Lincoln, and in 2018 published a DI Jeff Lincoln short read, A Saintly Grave Disturbed. Most recently she has rewritten and published an earlier Jeff Lincoln crime novel, The Price of Silence (2019).

Nikki is a member of Frome Writers’ Collective, which supports and promotes writers in the Frome area. She’s also a founder member of Stellar Scribes, a group of novelists from Wells and Glastonbury who love to share their passion for a good yarn, mainly through talks and events in libraries.

Fascinated by history, Nikki enjoys exploring with her camera, photographing landscapes and quirky architecture, old and new. She and her husband now live in Wells, Somerset, with their cat.

In 2019, she rewrote and published the very first Jeff Lincoln crime novel, The Price of Silence, and has just published the fourth in the series, The Promise of Salvation.

woodland twenty years after her disappearance, DI Jeff Lincoln promises Sonia, her mother, that he’ll find out what happened to her. His efforts are hampered by his new boss, though, who’d rather he investigated an incident at the country club.

But then local aristocrat Hugh Buckthorn dies, apparently in a bizarre sex game, although Lincoln suspects murder — and he’s soon proved right.  Once a headline-grabbing playboy, Buckthorn had become a respected art historian, returning to the family seat of Greywood Hall with plans to restore its fortunes. But who wanted him dead?

Searching for Buckthorn’s killer, Lincoln and his team at Barley Lane uncover a trail of fraud and deception going back decades. And then Sonia decides to take the law into her own hands…’

This is the fourth book in the series featuring DI Jeff Lincoln.

Hi Nikki, thank you for coming along today, and your books sound absolutely fascinating…

If you don’t mind, it would be lovely to start out our chat with a little known fact about yourself, and that is, what hobby do you miss most from your childhood?

I wish I had kept up my piano playing. Mum was a professional pianist and piano teacher, as her own mother had been, but although I was an enthusiastic pianist, I wasn’t very good!

Its never too late to go back to the keyboard Nikki, and I bet you’re being modest. I always think anyone who has had the chance to play an instrument is so lucky. Even better when they don’t mind sharing their skill.

Still thinking about your childhood, were you an avid reader?

I read Enid Blyton and lots of pony books, but my main vice was comics – Girls’ Crystal, June and Schoolfriend, Bunty, Judy

My goodness they are a blast from the past – and what a wonderful memory. I don’t remember Girls’ Crystal though. I must look that one up, and Enid Blyton certainly was on the shelves of most children in my day too.

One of my burning questions is when and why did you start writing?

I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing. I always loved doing compositions and poems at school. I even won a prize for one of my poems!

Congratulations! I guess that may have instilled more confidence to continue writing.

So, Nikki, are you a “re-reader” or are you a “read-it-once-and-I’m done” person?

I rarely re-read books unless it’s for my book group. One exception was Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes at the Museum, which I loved the first time but which meant even more to me on a second reading, years later. She is about the same age as me, so a lot of the references she makes strike a chord with me.

That is interesting as I know people often enjoy knowing an area or a people or a time that resonates with them, I think it gives even more investment into the story. I recall someone at the event asking you about your connections and knowledge of Salisbury that you write loosely about in the book. She was obviously keen to know more.

Now, if you don’t mind me being a bit of a nosey parker, could you tell us what your writing space looks like?

I write at the dining room table. The little bedroom I’d originally earmarked as ‘my office’ became impractical when Harvey the cat arrived in our lives, and I was constantly going up and down stairs in response to his pleading for food, water or attention. Working downstairs is more practical after all!

Thanks for sharing!

A lot of people talk about book titles. Many say just how difficult it is to find the perfect one, so how do you come up with the titles of your books?

They kind of arrive, which sounds bonkers but it’s true. They usually arrive fairly early on in the writing, luckily.

Yes, that’s lucky. I think its so important to get it right, and no, its not bonkers at all. Sometimes the title can be hidden in amongst the storyline I think.

Now I’m wondering about the actual writing process. How do you begin writing, do you do an outline, just write or is there a specific plan?

I have ideas and a basic outline. It’s become easier as the series has progressed, because some elements, such as Lincoln’s progress on doing up his house (or not!) and his relationship with Trish Whittington are ongoing storylines.

Thank you. I find it fascinating to know how individuals work. We all have our techniques.

Can you describe your writing in three words.

Visual, engaging, surprising

Fantastic. And it seems you didn’t even have to think about that at all!

It seems the biggest question that appear on most of my communities is what challenges have you faced getting your work published?

It takes so long to hear back from agents. I understand why that is, but I was too impatient to get on with the second Jeff Lincoln book to wait for agents’ responses to the first one. And I couldn’t face the disappointment of rejection. So I’ve taken the self-publishing route, working with SilverWood Books to produce all four crime novels. I would love to have an agent and be traditionally published, but it’s not going to happen.

Thank you for your candour. It really is a minefield and I totally respect the timing and rejection issue. It can be such a test of patience and a raft of hard knocks when you want to get it out there. Rejections are hard to take.

The next issue of course is selling your work. So many have asked what the best way forward on that. Long gone are the days when publishers took the marketing mantel. What challenges have you faced marketing your work, and how have you overcome them, especially considering Covid!

I find it hard to promote myself. Like most writers, I’m naturally shy and find it hard to do what feels like bragging. But I know if I don’t try to encourage people to read my books, all my writing efforts will be wasted. 

That’s funny. I thought I was the only shy kid on the block!

A lot of hard work goes into the ‘craft,’ of writing. Many readers may not fully appreciate the time it takes to write a novel. How long did it take to develop your latest book?

I began working on it in the summer of 2019, and it was sent to the publisher in May this year — so about two years.

Thanks for sharing again Nikki.

What inspired you to write this particular book?

I wanted to show how the disappearance of her child had affected the character of Sonia, a woman who was already at breaking point when her daughter went missing.

That really is well worth a read.

Thinking about life as a writer, which I feel is a lonely occupation unless you co-writer, then it may not be quite so much, but what impact did covid-19 have on your writing career?

I thought lockdown would give me time to work on the novel, but the anxiety of the pandemic got in the way. Instead, I tackled various household chores that I never have time for usually, like decluttering.

What book would the book world never be the same without?

I can’t think of any specific book, but I think the Bronte sisters had quite an impact on the evolution of popular fiction.

What is the best piece of advice you have received related to writing?

Never mind if the first draft is rubbish. You can edit something you’ve written and make it better, but you can’t improve an empty page.

I absolutely love this, Nikki. If you don’t mind, I’m going to share it with others on my network!

Extra tips: All writers need to read and be read. Read widely, even outside your usual comfort zone, and absorb how other writers achieve the effects you’re aiming at yourself. You don’t have to spend a fortune – borrow books from the library. Try and find a writing group in your area or on the internet and share your work so you get and give feedback. That helps put a distance between yourself and your precious writing, so you can be more objective about it. Frome Writers’ Collective was a game-changer for me, with opportunities to hear others’ work, take part in competitions and get feedback from other writers.

Absolutely! Well said. I’m always banging on about getting together with other writers and FWC are fantastic at linking you up. The support you get from this group and links to the group is phenomenal.

What can we look forward to with your next writing or novel at the moment?

I’ve just started the fifth Jeff Lincoln novel, and I hope to submit more short stories to magazines and competitions.

Here is the list of Nikki’s books:

The Price of Silence; A Saintly Grave Disturbed; The Shame of Innocence; The Promise of Salvation. These are the four titles in my crime series set in Wiltshire, and featuring DI Jeff Lincoln.

Contact Info & Links

PRIMARY CONTACT INFO:

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.nikkicopleston.com

Thank you Nikki for allowing us to gain a fabulous insight into your world of writing and all the best for the future. Please keep in touch.

Please, anyone who reads this blog, feel free to comment. As always I will say for the sake of real readers, as opposed to scammers who have been known to be vile: Keep it clean. Be polite. Be respectful, or I will take it down immediately.

As you will be aware I’m not a professional blogger, but I think it’s great to share all kinds of genres. If you were interested in the authors package “Home – I Love Surprises (ilovesurprisesuk.com)” then maybe you can take a gander and have a chat with them? They support local businesses, as do I.

I Love Surprises are great, it’s another way of marketing and selling books. And selling books as we know, can be really exhausting.

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