This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Nuala Casey is the daughter of Irish TV presenter Luke Casey, and the sister of Midsummer Murders actor Daniel Casey. Her first novel Soho, 4am was published on 25th July.
After dropping my little boy off at school, I am usually at my desk by 9am, coffee in one hand, pen in the other. If I’m writing something from scratch I like to write in longhand first. There’s something about the hand to brain connection that gets the words flowing. If I’m editing, I will be typing away furiously to a soundtrack that differs depending on what kind of scene I’m writing. Death scenes are usually accompanied by Mozart’s Requiem; psychological scenes by Einaudi, although Daydream Believer by the Monkees also seems to crop up too, bizarrely! I try to read before I start writing each morning; something to get me into the mood of the piece, usually a poem or a short story. Mornings tend to be dedicated to writing; afternoons to editing, answering emails and updating my blog.
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When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
Sometimes. When I first started writing Soho, 4am, sitting in my flat on Frith Street in Soho looking out at the street below, it wasn’t celebrities that inspired me, but the ordinary men and women going about their business amid the partying and excess. However, if Soho, 4am was ever made into a film I would love the actor Daniel Mays to play him. For me he is very much how I imagine Ade to be. And in my next novel The Last Day of Summer I used the actor James D’arcy as a template for one of the characters.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. One of my favourite novels and one I return to again and again. In this extraordinary book, Woolf condenses a whole life into a day and captures both the beauty and the brutality of life, moment by moment, breath by breath.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
This book took several drafts to complete but the process was helped enormously by the fact that I had enrolled on a Creative Writing MA course and received invaluable feedback and criticism on my manuscript from tutors and fellow students. As for planning, I always have a beginning and end in mind before I start to write and the idea for a novel usually goes through a gestation period of a few weeks where scenes and characters start to formulate in my head. However, once I start writing I find the story starts to come.
What was your journey to being a published author?
When I was in my early twenties I lived in a little studio flat in Soho. I had graduated from university and moved straight to London to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. However, I soon grew disillusioned with the music industry and found myself writing little vignettes of the characters I encountered in Soho. I went on to work as a copywriter, got married and had a child. By now the little Soho vignettes had developed into the first draft of a novel. When Luke was a few months old I decided that it was now or never and enrolled on a Creative Writing MA course at York St John University. There I received invaluable feedback on the manuscript and spent every minute of my spare time whipping it into shape. In April last year, I felt confident enough to send a synopsis and the first three chapters of the novel to literary agent Madeleine Milburn, after reading an interview with her on the Novelicious site. She loved the first three chapters and asked to see more and by the next day I had signed to her agency. Two months later I signed a two-book deal with Jo Dickinson at Quercus – a dream come true.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That once you get published you hit the jackpot. Many writers have to juggle day jobs with their writing and most novelists don’t earn anywhere near as much as people think.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Start it today. I remember being quite daunted at taking that first step, but once you begin you find that the opening sentence quickly becomes a paragraph, then a page and before you know it you’re three chapters in. You will get rejections and knocks along the way but be open to advice and criticism; you will find it helps you develop as a writer. Believe in yourself and the story you are writing, if you’re excited and confident in your novel, others will be too.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am just finishing my second novel, The Last Day of Summer. It’s a psychological thriller set over the course of three days in London and reunites two of the characters from my book. There’s revenge, murder and obsessions galore and as the crowd gathers to attend the grand opening of a restaurant in Soho, London’s golden Olympic summer draws to a shocking close.