January 2012


Nicky Wells is the author of Sophie’s Turn and is working on a sequel. She was born in Germany but now lives in Bristol, England, with her husband and sons. (Interview by Swati Sharma)

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  1. 1. Tell us about Sophie’s Turn.

    Sophie’s Turn is a modern romantic fairy-tale and the first part in my Rock Star Romance trilogy. Honest, funny, utterly charming and occasionally bittersweet, it tells the story of one young woman’s entanglement with a rock star. One fine day in Paris, Sophie Penhalligan finds herself engaged to love-of-her-life-from-a-distance and rock star extraordinaire, Dan Hunter. A dream come true … if it weren’t for the small problem of her very recent and very prior engagement to Tim Renfrew, Sophie’s (somewhat boring) boyfriend of two years. Sophie is not given to duplicity and she abhors the idea of betrayal. Yet what is a girl to do when a rock star proposes? Sophie’s Turn traces the developments in Sophie’s life leading to her bizarre double-engagement, and describes how she turns her situation around.

  2. 2. Describe your heroine in 10 words.

    Funny, feisty, honest, romantic, naive, star-struck, clumsy, loving, determined, resourceful.

  3. 3. What inspired you to write this novel? How much time did you take to write it?

    The inspiration arose one night while watching TV with my husband. I was pregnant and highly hormonal and had already resolved to take time off work to write my own personal all-time-favourite romantic comedy before baby’s arrival. You’ve also got to know that I’ve always had a bit of a ‘thing’ for rock stars, especially those with long hair and lovely voices. So that night, when somebody who I could quite fancy (I can’t remember now who it was, blame the dippy hormones!) appeared on the telly, I said something along the lines of, “whoa, look at him… how could a girl ever resist?” And my husband teasingly said that it was a good job I was a long way away from the star in question or else he might get worried. Thus was born the essence of the problematic of my plot. Girl in stable relationship meets man of her rock-star dreams. Now what? Naturally, this isn’t meant to imply that Sophie is me or the other way round; and I hasten to add that Sophie’s Turn is entirely a work of fiction. Nonetheless, this provided the inspiration. I am a prolific and incredibly fast writer. Once I had meticulously planned the plot in every last detail (which took about two weeks), I spent about three months writing the entire novel in its first draft. I should add that I had left work at that time and so writing was my full-time occupation, if you wish (apart from being pregnant, of course - which was hard work in itself).

  4. 4. What was your journey to published author?

    Ah well, that’s an interesting question. In the eyes of some, I am still not a ‘published’ author as I eventually decided to independently publish my work through Kindle Direct Publishing. In the eyes of the indie movement, I am very much a published author. And actually, I like to consider myself thus; in my opinion, the distinction between who’s ‘published’ in the traditional sense and ‘independently published’ in the emerging sense is becoming increasingly blurred, and also becoming irrelevant to the readers. Right, but how did I make the decision to go ‘independent’, you want to know? First of all, when I finished the book, I did nothing with it for two or three years. My first baby was born and I didn’t have time to think about publishing and, to be honest, that had never been my original intention. But then some friends read Sophie’s Turn and loved it, and my interest was piqued. Could I be published, perhaps, after all? I pounded the agent trail but came up negative. Never one to give up easily, I went back to the drawing board and did a critical re-read of my work with a view to a publishable, marketable manuscript. I made some fairly drastic edits and then had the entire script beta-read and proofed by a group of people. Then, almost two years later, I did the agent trail again. This time, I got a lot of responses, although not the one I was really waiting for. Mostly, agents were telling me that they (honestly, and hand on heart) weren’t taking on new writers at that time. (This coincided with first financial meltdown a couple of years ago). A few others said they liked the idea, but it wasn’t for them. And lastly, I heard that agents really liked my work but that they couldn’t take a risk on a new writer in the current climate. Or words to that effect. And then, last July, my husband mentioned something about Kindle Direct Publishing. He’d heard a programme about it on the radio, and within a few weeks, I had headlong launched myself and my manuscript into the heady and exciting world that is ‘independent’ publishing. I am really proud of what I have achieved, and I have had more than 20 extremely positive reviews and lots of informal feedback from readers.

  5. 5. What’s to come in the Rock Star Romance trilogy?

    Sophie’s Turn is the first part, introducing Sophie and Dan and the core love interest at the heart of my work. The sequel, which is two-thirds complete and scheduled for release this August, picks up from the ending of Sophie’s Turn and introduces a very important new character. It features two weddings (but whose….? Oooh, you’ve just got to wait!) and lots of travel. Part three, which is in the planning stage, concludes the saga but I really couldn’t say how or I’d give the whole game away!

  6. 6. Why have you decided to write this novel in a series rather than writing it as a standalone novel?

    That’s a really interesting question. As I mentioned previously, the ambition behind Sophie’s Turn was to write my own all-time-favourite novel. Alas, it didn’t quite work out that way! It didn’t work out in the sense that Sophie didn’t deliver the ending I really wanted. Oh no, ma’am, Sophie developed ideas of her own and when she finally resolves her conundrum … well, she didn’t do what I thought she’d do, or what I’d dream of doing. The epilogue, which hadn’t featured in the original plan at all but turned out to be a critical part to the actual ending of Sophie’s Turn, throws Sophie’s story wide open. There’s a huge, glaring question there … which had to be answered. Therefore, I decided to write a second novel to end the story. But Sophie got herself into such a tangle that the second novel itself takes her even further away from the ending I’d envisaged all along. Hence there’ll be a third part. And then, I will finally have that all-time-favourite, perfect, romantic and star-struck novel that I set out to write in the first place. (Obviously this is not to say that Sophie’s Turn isn’t perfect, or couldn’t be read as a stand-alone. It is, and it can. But if you like it, there will be more!)

  7. 7. Which part was the most fun to write?

    Oh, oh, oh! Which bit to choose? Several scenes stand out. When I was writing Tim’s de-slugging adventures, I was giggling with glee and enjoyment. The scene when Sophie first recaptures Dan in the dressing room after the covers gig in the pub in Islington…. That had me very dreamy. But I think one of my personal highlight is the sequence where Dan appears at Sophie’s office (swoon!) and takes her out for a five-star dinner and a romantic sleep-over.

  8. 8. In your case do characters lead the story or does the story lead the characters?

    A-ha! I’m a control freak so I started out leading the story and the characters. I had them on a really tight rein, too! That didn’t last long because they rapidly took on ‘real’ personalities and started doing and saying things that I hadn’t envisaged. Case in point: I didn’t plan for Dan to gate-crash Sophie and Tim’s engagement party! I had given him a disgruntled, annoyed, cross, hurt and sulking role. When he suddenly just walked in … well, that came out of nowhere. And actually, that kind of occurrence turned out to be the best bit about writing. It kept happening more and more, and the sequel is really taking me for a ride at times, but I’ve learnt to ‘go with it’ and trust myself to bring it back to script as and when. Some of the best details emerge this way, and I love it!

  9. 9. Can you tell us little about your writing schedule?

    I write when the boys are at school. That sounds like I have a lot of time, doesn’t it? But part of the time when the boys are at school I spent working at school myself; I volunteer as a teaching assistant, and that takes up a fair bit of the week. And obviously, I am busy on the social networking sites, which is also a lot more time-consuming than I would ever have thought possible. At minimum, I write one hour per day, even if it’s last thing at night. On a ‘clear’ day when I don’t have to be in school, I probably spend four hours writing. If I had my way, I’d do eight hours a day (and the sequel would be finished by now….)

  10. 10. Who are your favourite authors?

    Where to start? I love Jane Green, Catherine Alliott, Jill Mansell, Sophie Kinsella but I also enjoy reading Dean Koontz, John Grisham, Noah Gordon, Stephen Fry. I just love reading, full stop!

  11. 11. What are you reading right now?

    I’m currently reading Diary of a Mummy Misfit by Amanda Egan, which is great fun and definitely resonates with my own experiences of seeing children through primary school! In the last two weeks, I’ve also read Janice Horton’s Reaching for the Stars, which was very yummy and I really enjoyed, and The Star Child by Stephanie Keyes: a great, captivating read.

  12. 12. What are you working on at the moment?

    The sequel, sequel, sequel to Sophie’s Turn. This second book in my trilogy is in five parts, of which I have just commenced part four. This means I am just about two-thirds of the way through a first draft. I am at just over 100,000 words and I’m expecting to total about 150,000 words or slightly more. In print, that would equal about 450 pages, which is a great length (in my humble opinion).

  13. 13. When we can expect your next book?

    I am planning to release my next book this coming August. With a bit of luck (and given enough time), I should complete a first draft within the next two to three months. Then I’ll let the entire manuscript rest for two months before re-reading and editing. I will also be asking beta-readers for their opinion and then, when all that’s done, the proof-reading stage will start. Once again, I’ll be asking several readers to help out so that takes a little time… and before we know it, it’ll be August! Watch this space… I’ll be keeping everybody updated on my blog at, and also on Twitter and Facebook.

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