Meet Author Sophie Nicholls – Q&A With The Lady Who Brought Us ” The Dress”

Back in  July  I read “The Dress” by @wordsauce and absolutely adored it. 

Here is what it’s all about :-

“Meet Ella and her mother Fabia Moreno who arrive in York, one cold January day, to set up their vintage dress shop. The flamboyant Fabia wants to sell beautiful dresses to nice people and move on from her difficult past. Ella just wants to fit in. But not everyone is on their side. Will Fabia overcome the prejudices she encounters? What’s the dark secret she’s hiding? And do the silk linings and concealed seams of her dresses contain real spells or is this all just ‘everyday magic’? Among the leopard-print shoes, tea-gowns and costume jewellery in Fabia’s shop are many different stories – and the story of one particular dress.”

Now, the lovely lady herself is here answering a few questions put to her

What was the inspiration for The Dress?

The Dress began with a very real vintage emporium, Priestleys Vintage, set in a little courtyard just off Grape Lane in York. I had always been fascinated by the shop, which is very atmospheric. It seemed like a place that a story might begin. Fabia’s shop is a highly fictionalised version, of course, but it is inspired directly by Priestleys. 


Some authors say that they know how their stories are going to end before they even start writing. Is this true for you?

Yes, with The Dress, I knew where the story began and where it would end – but I wasn’t sure exactly what might happen in between. My writing tends to be very character-driven. As the characters of Fabia and Ella grew, they told me where they needed to go next. 


Would you say that authors often base their characters on real people they know or have met? Do you do this?

I think that, inevitably, we draw on aspects of our own lives when we write but often this is at a very subconscious level. It’s not necessarily something we intend. Many readers have asked me whether I’m Fabia or Ella, and I think it’s true to say that there are parts of myself or my experiences in all of my characters. 
What is your favourite book, and why?

This is such a difficult question. There are books that I love for many different reasons but the book that had the most profound effect on me early on was probably Jane Eyre. I was much too young when I read it and it gave me nightmares – but it’s a book that I return to again and again. I grew up very close to the Moors where the Brontes lived, the landscape that finds its way into so much of their writing.


Would you recommend creative writing courses to anyone who aspires to become an author?

I think that creative writing programmes can be enormously helpful in providing a structure that supports people in developing both a regular writing practice and a  mastery of their craft. I’ve taught creative writing for many years and what students tell me is that a good writing workshop gives them the motivation to keep writing. Knowing that they need to produce something to share with fellow students pushes them to write regularly; and practice in giving other people feedback helps them to become more critical and effective readers of their own work. Good writing teachers, in my opinion, facilitate this process. Writing is solitary. If nothing else, it’s wonderful to surround yourself with a supportive community of writers when you’re starting out. I lead an MA in Creative Writing at Teesside University where I work with students from all over the world. It’s a very rich environment in which to write.
What would you say is the best thing about being a writer?

Writing doesn’t feel like work to me. I love every minute of it. I love every stage of the process. Even when I feel stuck with something, I love the challenge of writing through that, finding a solution. I would write even if no one ever read my work, but it really is such a privilege to have readers, and to have the chance to create a world on the page and then have people actually want to step into that world with you. I’m always fascinated by the many different ways people read into what you’ve written too. In a sense, readers remake your writing. I love the idea of a story being passed along, finding different forms.
Is writer’s block a real thing? If so, how do you tackle it?

These days, I’m always juggling so many things – family, teaching, writing – that those hours when I can just write for myself and spend time with my current book project are precious. Give me an hour to write and I’ll hit the ground running. I usually know what I need to write next. I think it’s different for everyone but, from my experience of working with people over the years, a ‘block’ usually comes from not being able to let go and just write. You need to stop worrying about whether it’s good enough or what kind of writer you want to be. Just write and keep writing. You can rewrite and edit later. 


Do you have a favourite book about writing?

I have many but here are my top three. Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones resonated with me deeply and I return to her approach again and again in my own teaching. I also urge all my students to read Stephen King’s On Writing. It really doesn’t matter whether you want to write commercial fiction or not. There is something for everyone in this book – real, practical, common sense advice. Finally, Margaret Atwood’s Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer On Writing. Provocative, inspiring, original. It’s Margaret Atwood. Finally, I think that the best way to learn to write is to read as a writer. Read, read, read. As much as you possibly can. And definitely not just books about writing.

Thank you so much Sophie your time its much appreciated 💞💞 

You can find Sophie here 

And you can buy the wonderful book here


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