Amazing Grace: Author Q&A with Kim Nash
Breathing life into Little Ollington
Kim Nash has been immersed in the publishing world for many years. Working on PR and social media at publisher Bookouture, she is PR guru to their authors, promoting the new releases of their books. She’s now secured a publishing deal herself with Hera Books, and her first book is due for online release on 10th April, with book two coming out later this year!
As one of our contributing editors on Have a Lovely Time, we’re extremely proud of Kim and can’t wait to read her debut novel, Amazing Grace.
Read our interview with her about the inspiration behind Little Ollington where her main characters, newly-single mum Grace and her son Archie, try to build a new life together.
1. Describe your upcoming novel Amazing Grace in one sentence.
A funny, heartwarming, feel good romance about finding your own path and changing your life one step at a time.
2. Is Little Ollington based on a specific place?
It is totally fictitious, but I’ve based it loosely on places around Staffordshire, which is the county I live in and know really well. Little Ollington is a place that I’d love to live though! And the house that I picked for Grace to buy and renovate is based on a house around the corner from mine, it’s one I’ve always had my eye on!
3. Why did you choose a sleepy village for this novel?
My protagonist, Grace, had already lived in a busy town location with her then husband, and I wanted to give her a total contrast in her new life as a single mum with her son. I wanted her to live through the trials and tribulations of fitting in to a small community. The difference after living in an impersonal town, where people just get on with their own lives, adds another dimension to the story.
4. How did you come up with the name?
My son is called Oliver and, mainly, he’s Ollie. When he knew I was writing a book, he of course asked if I had a character called Ollie! It gave me the idea to create a name somehow connected to him, but I didn’t want to write him in as a character. Naming the village after him I thought was a nice alternative. I got a sketchpad out and wrote down lots of words that had every derivative of Oll, Ollie and Oliver that I could think of. Then I put all the prefixes in: Little, Great, Over, Field, Ville, Ford etc. When Little and Ollington came together, I knew immediately it was right for the setting of Grace and Archie’s new life. I hope everyone grows to love Little Ollington like I do!
5. The first rule of writing is, write about what you know. Do you think that’s important when deciding on a setting for a novel?
I think it probably makes it easier, rather than it being more important. If, as a writer, you are familiar with a place and have that image in your head when you are writing, the words flow more fluidly because you can picture it. Well, it does for me anyway. Otherwise, you’d be trying to work it out yourself as well as trying to explain it to the reader, making it harder work for yourself – in my humble opinion! Maybe that’s something to progress to, but particularly as a newbie writer, I felt I needed a ready-made image.
6. Do you think it’s easier to write about a fictitious place, to have the freedom to mould it into whatever you want?
Yes, I do think so. You don’t have to worry that someone will discover a flaw, if you’ve not quite got something right. You’re in total control of what the place looks and feels like. As a writer, it should be anything that you want it to be. It’s your creation and your story after all.
7. Do you think you can convey the true ‘feel’ of a place in words?
I do. I hope that when people read Amazing Grace, they see that picture of Little Ollington in their minds. Description is so important in helping to capture an atmosphere. You want readers to feel it’s palpable, through your words. I love the fact that everyone will see it differently, in the same way that they will identify with the characters differently, but the prompts you place hopefully give them that same impression of the feeling of being there.
8. How important is the backdrop to your story?
The setting is as important as the characters and plot. As a prolific reader, I look for novels that draw me into the whole scenario. I want to lose myself in all of it, the story, the characters AND location. When I write, I want people to invest in, and relate to mine. When I read, it’s like a film running in my head, so for me the backdrop is a hugely important part of the jigsaw.
9. Would you ever write about a place based on research alone, without having visited?
In this day and age, more than ever, the internet holds a wealth of information, images and even videos, and these can be really useful if you can’t get to a specific place. It’s then your job as a writer to bring it to life through words. Obviously, research trips would be even better still, but can be quite costly – although enjoyable! I think what paper-based research misses, however, is the emotional connection you can only feel for a place when you’ve physically been there. It’s always the feeling you want to convey as a writer, not simply the appearance so a visit can be invaluable to really weave that into your writing.
10. Have you ever been inspired to travel somewhere, based on a book you’ve read?
All the time! Can I give you my top three recent ones?
I’ve just devoured a book called ‘Summer on the Italian Lakes’ by Lucy Coleman, which made me want to jump head-first into the pages! Lucy’s mouth-watering descriptions of the food had me drooling, and at times I could close my eyes and feel I was there, lazing at the pool or strolling through the meandering streets of a little Italian village.
I also loved ‘Somewhere Beyond the Sea’ by Miranda Dickinson from last summer. It’s set in St Ives and I’ve never wanted to visit Cornwall more – to kick off my shoes and feel the grainy sand between my toes on the unending beaches that she describes. Miranda is great at scene-setting and I loved that she even did videos from the location, which brought it to life even more.
My final pick is one of Kat French’s books, ‘Bed and Breakfast on the Beach’. It made me want to pack my suitcase immediately with summer clothes and flip flops and book a one-way ticket to Greece. When you find out what’s in the basement, you’ll understand even more!
Kim’s Final Thought:
“A great book, written in a fabulous setting, should make you feel like you’ve visited the place without leaving your armchair.”
I hope that’s what I’ve achieved with Little Ollington and Amazing Grace. You’ll have to let me know!
‘Amazing Grace’ by Kim Nash is out on 10th April. Order online through one of the links below: