Adventures Among Books:
with author, James Nicol

Author, James Nicol

Children's author, James Nicol, stopped by to talk to us about his adventures among books and writing A Witch Alone, number two in The Apprentice Witch series.

He lives on the edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens in a house with too many books and too many musical instruments with his partner and a black and white cockapoo called Bonnie.

How old were you when your adventures among books began?

I remember books from a young age - The Giant Jam Sandwich and There Was An Old Woman Who Swallowed A Fly vividly! Though I wasn’t the best reader at school (I was in a slow readers group!) But I think it was the less than inspiring reading schemes we had. Thankfully one of my Nana’s gave me a copy of 101 Dalmatians and I was hooked! 

What does your typical writing day look like?

I don't really have a typical day I don’t think! And it really depends on what part of the process I’m at. First drafts happen whenever there is time to write down a few lines or chapters. Editing requires more concentration and time so I do have to be a bit more focused. Though I try not to spend too long sitting or staring at the screen so I’ll work for an hour or so then do something else for 15 minutes or so to have a break. 

Can you tell us what A Witch Alone is about?

It picks up from where The Apprentice Witch finishes and Arianwyn and Salle are having a holiday in Kingsport, staying with Grandma at the bookstore.

After an eventful encounter with royalty Wyn is given a secret mission by the High Elder of the witches to retrieve a special magical book from deep within the Great Wood!

(WNV: You can buy A Witch Alone from Amazon and many book shops)

Following the success of The Apprentice Witch, did you suffer from Second Book Syndrome when writing A Witch Alone?

The Apprentice Witch

I’d already written quite a bit of the second book before The Apprentice Witch came out - which I think was good! But we did quite a lot of rewriting and changes to the plot to try and stick with what we knew readers were enjoying about the first book, the cosines, the relationships the cake!! I think part way through the editing I did feel I should have found it easier having done it before but I was lucky to have fab support from my editor and plenty of time to get it right (which I hope we have!)

What’s been your favourite The Apprentice Witch/ Witch Alone moment?

There are so many great moments I try to cherish every little step along the way. But it’s delightful meeting readers and now readers who have loved The Apprentice Witch and want to ask questions and are excited for the new book. That smashes everything! 

Who was your favourite character to write?

I do love them all in different ways, I love writing mean Gimma and spiky Miss Newam. But also some of the supporting characters like Aunt Grace and Uncle Matt. 

How did you celebrate A Witch Alone’s book birthday?

Oh well that was Beast from the East week so I mostly sat at home and watched the snow as everything got cancelled! But I have now celebrated with a joint launch with my lovely friend Vashti Hardy who’s book Brightstorm was published the same day as A Witch Alone and this week had a local launch for friends and family. So I’ve made up for the snow!!

James Nicol and Vashti Hardy's Book LaunchAuthors James Nicol and Vashti Hardy at their joint book launch for A Witch Alone and Brightstorm

What’s the best part of being a children’s author?

The readers are the best! 

What are you currently working on?

A draft of book three has just gone to my editor at Chicken House and I’m planning some other bits and pieces to follow on from that - watch this space! 

Our website is called In the spirit of all things green can you tell us if there are any writers you envy?

Sooooo many!  But I’d go for Katherine Rundell for certain! Her writing is just exquisite and effortless! I met her at a launch party and totally went to pieces speaking to her! Thankfully she’s lovely!

Many thanks to James Nicol for taking the time to drop in at to talk about his adventures among books. You can find out more about James and The Apprentice Witch books on his website and follow him on Twitter @JamesENicol

Read more inspiring interviews...

·        Vashti Hardy, author of Brightstorm
·         Katherine Wiseman, author of Gangster School
·         Tony Bradman, lead author of Project X
·        Jini Reddy, author of Wild Times
·        Lorraine Cannell, author of Hollow

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