I am happy to introduce Nick Wilford, a ‘new to me’ author sharing an interesting interview and a book that sounds like a great read!
Hello, Nick…welcome! Please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? Where do you live now? Family? Pets?
I’m originally from Brighton, England, but moved to Glasgow, Scotland in 2003 to study journalism. As I enjoyed writing, I figured it would be good to pursue a career that involved doing it on a daily basis. I met my wonderful wife the following year, and since then I haven’t looked back! I’ve got one daughter, Eve, and two stepdaughters, Hannah and Emma. My stepson Andrew, who sadly passed away in 2013, is now our guardian angel. We’ve also got five boisterous pups who keep us on our toes – Pippa, Rudi, Tobi, Charlie, and Benji.
Where did you get the idea for Black & White?
My book is all about an ideal, disease-free society that has a darker side. There’s no dirt, and the initial idea came from a passing thought I had about how much more I could get done if everything stayed clean all the time – but it developed into something much bigger.
Why did you choose this genre (is it something you’ve written in before)?
I have written speculative fiction, with a previously published novella that was set in contemporary times, but this is the first time I’ve written a dystopian. I wouldn’t say I chose that genre though, it was just what seemed to most closely fit the genre.
Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc, you’d like to share?
I used NaNoWriMo twice when writing this series – the first time in 2012 to start the first book, and the second time in 2014 to finish the draft of the second book. That latter occasion was the only time I’ve won!
What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?
I’m tempted to say the title; that always seems to be the most difficult for me. With this series, however, I sat down and brainstormed one day, went out to walk the dogs, and came up with titles for the whole series!
What was the most difficult thing about this one in particular?
With this book, the society had a complete reset of history when the ruling party came into power; in other words, they deleted everything that came before, for their own nefarious purposes. I constantly had to bear in mind that there were certain things the characters wouldn’t know, and even phrases they wouldn’t say.
Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and do you like it?
Yes, I’m a full-time freelance editor. I definitely enjoy it, as it takes a lot of brain power, it keeps me engaged when I’m not writing, and I learn things from it all the time.
What do you love that most people don’t like and wouldn’t understand why you do?
I love getting up early to write – like 4 a.m. early. It’s perfect for me because I get pretty much total peace and it’s almost a magical time – it’s hard to write during the day because we’ve got a pretty crazy house with kids and dogs making plenty of noise. I find it really hard to sleep in late any more, and usually that’s not an option because the dogs want to get up anyway!
What was your first job?
My first job was a paper boy – I did that from age 13 (well, a week before my birthday, which was technically illegal) up to nearly 17. It got me used to early starts, because I now get up before work to write (and work starts at 6am). I also get to tell people that I’ve always worked with words in some form!
What do you want readers to come away with after they read Black & White?
I hope that it will make readers think about issues of acceptance. Our society doesn’t seem to be getting any better in that regard, only worse. It’s still hard to believe that someone like Donald Trump can be president – and in the UK, we’ve had Brexit, which many voted for out of xenophobic reasons. None of that had happened when I started writing this, but I think it’s made it more relevant. There’s also the idea that it’s possible for one person to make a difference, which is inspiring.
Would you rather have a bad review or no review?
That’s a tough one. Is it better to have a strong adverse reaction or one of indifference? I would hate for anything to write to be greeted with “meh”. If it’s a less favourable review that has some constructive criticism, something to build on, then I’ll take it.
What genre have you never written that you’d like to write?
I would love to try my hand at a historical one day, because history is a passion of mine. It would mean a lot of research, of course, and I’m always impressed by authors who go to great lengths to make sure everything rings true. An alternate history is something that’s quite appealing, because it contains greater scope for invention.
What character in your book are you least likely to get along with and why?
Probably Ezmerelda, one of my two young teen protagonists. She’s very smart and matter-of-fact, and she’d probably get annoyed with me for failing to keep up with her speed of thinking!
How did your interest in writing originate?
The first proper things I wrote were sketches for my drama club at school. I had an idea about being some sort of comedian, and even started writing a TV sketch show with a friend. I still like to have some element of humour in my writing, even with a story that can appear quite grim, but I soon realized that I’m more comfortable staying behind the screen than trying to perform for others to see!
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
My favourite author is Terry Pratchett, and what I like about his work is that, even though it takes place in a fantastical world, it features characters you can relate to and recognize and even messages that are relevant to issues that affect us. That side of it has a large bearing on some of my own work, particularly this new series.
My favourite band is Mansun, and my favourite album of theirs is Six, which I’m actually listening to as I write this. It’s an amazingly creative cocktail of musical ideas and lyrical thoughts, some of which overlap each other, but you can make out of it whatever you want. It’s like a haunting dreamscape and inspires me a lot.
Place you’ve visited
I went backpacking when I was younger and visited Uluru in Australia. It was a breathtaking sight, especially watching the sun go down behind it and the sky sift through changing shades of pink and orange into black. Getting to climb up it and sit on top was cool too!
Place you’d like to visit
I’ve always wanted to see the pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt and still hope to get there some day.
TV show from childhood
My favourite program as a kid was Red Dwarf, about the last survivor of the human race who is stranded on a spaceship 3 million years in the future, with a hologram, a robot, and a humanoid creature who evolved from his cat as company. It’s brilliantly observed character comedy, with some neat sci-fi concepts in there as well.
TV show from adulthood
Well, actually my favourite show is Red Dwarf. I’m kind of stuck in my ways! But The Big Bang Theory is something that I’ve really enjoyed recently.
Which do you prefer: Board games/card games or television?
We don’t play board games as much as we watch TV, so I’d have to say I enjoy them more as they’re more of a treat. They do bring out my competitive side a bit too much though!
Thank you, Nick…I enjoyed learning more about you. I am so glad you joined me today!
Nick’s Question to readers:
Do you enjoy speculative fiction? Is there a particular type that you prefer and why?
I’ll pick the winners after the tour. The prizes are three e-copies of my collection A Change of Mind and Other Stories and a $10 Amazon giftcard.
What is the price paid for the creation of a perfect society?
In Whitopolis, a gleamingly white city of the future where illness has been eradicated, shock waves run through the populace when a bedraggled, dirt-stricken boy materialises in the main street. Led by government propaganda, most citizens shun him as a demon, except for Wellesbury Noon – a high school student the same age as the boy.
Upon befriending the boy, Wellesbury feels a connection that he can’t explain – as well as discovering that his new friend comes from a land that is stricken by disease and only has two weeks to live. Why do he and a girl named Ezmerelda Dontible appear to be the only ones who want to help?
As they dig deeper, everything they know is turned on its head – and a race to save one boy becomes a struggle to redeem humanity.
(This is the opening of the book)
At first no one could explain how the strange boy came to be there in the middle of the street. One minute it was just the gleaming and silent hovercars, the next minute there he was, like a blot on the landscape. One of the vehicles bumped him as he materialised, but it didn’t seem to bother him. That, at least, was no surprise to the crowd of onlookers who quickly gathered around this curiosity.
“Who are you, boy?”
“He just popped out of thin air!”
“What is that dark substance on your skin, and clothes? I’ve never seen the like!”
Mallinger was a sight unlike any ever witnessed by the citizens of this unnaturally clean city. Black streaks of grime marred what would otherwise have been an appealing face. His brown hair hung shoulder-length, lank with grease, and seemed to contain things that were… alive. And his clothing seemed to be one loose thread away from falling apart: he wore a grubby tunic that could have been white in a different millennium, a brown waistcoat that seemed to be made from some sort of muslin cloth, and ill-fitting britches worn to a shine not just at the knees, but over their entire surface.
All were just as dirty as the boy’s face and other areas of skin that could be seen through the various holes in these garments. But of course the onlookers had no words for things like “dirt” and “grease”. The boy seemed just as alien to them as a visitor from the planet Zarglemoof, a place of which they also had no concept, being outside the confines of the land of Harmonia.
The lad was shielding his eyes, as if blinded by his surroundings. Nonetheless, he became aware of a tall and officious-looking man in front of him, who gave the impression of being in charge. He wore an immaculately tailored suit and bowler hat, which were – like all the other citizens’ clothing – all white.
“Where did you come from, boy?” His tone was not unkind.
The boy kept his eyes fixed on his threadbare shoes, as if trying to anchor himself in this unfamiliar environment.
“Fusterbury,” he managed at last, in a voice which seemed too guttural and deep for a boy of his size.
The man frowned. “Where? I know of no such place in the land of Harmonia.”
“Perhaps he’s a devil,” shouted a woman in the crowd. “He should be arrested!”
“Hush!” said the man. “I see no grounds for such an accusation.
“Now tell me, boy,” he said, hunkering down to meet the boy’s eyes. “What is this strange substance on your face and hands?”
The boy rubbed his fingers down his cheek, frowning in confusion. “Well, it’s just… dirt.”
“Dirt?” The man said the word as if trying it out for the very first time. “Is it… a part of your skin?”
“Well, it feels like it is. It’s been there for as long as I can remember.”
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Bio: Nick Wilford is a writer and stay-at-home dad. Once a journalist, he now makes use of those early morning times when the house is quiet to explore the realms of fiction, with a little freelance editing and formatting thrown in. When not working he can usually be found spending time with his family or cleaning something. He is the author of A Change of Mind and Other Stories, a collection featuring a novella and five short stories, four of which were previously published in Writer’s Muse magazine. Nick is also the editor of Overcoming Adversity: An Anthology for Andrew.