Monday, November 20, 2017

Life IS Pain, Princess....




Always fun to reference The Princess Bride. And what about the quote above? Sage words from Mr. Hemingway? For me, yes. Happy, saccharine writing is bad writing, from me, anyway. Finding some silver linings, perhaps, some windows of redemption, in a world gone otherwise dark? Now there's some territory to mine.

To wit, this excerpt from my work in progress. Kind of an undercurrent of much of my work. What about you? You prefer happy writing, or at least, happy endings? Is your best work extracted by giving voice to your pain? Please weigh in...


Losing her cut him to the quick, and the pain never ebbed. Only deepened, in fact. And where was the mystery in this? She was the love of his life, and this love redoubled with each beat of his heart, and continued to do so no matter her absence, for it was a devotion born not of possession, but bequeathment. A heart given over. A life. He missed her beyond all measure, but his wish was no longer for her return, but for her happiness.  For one fallen faithless,  his lone, remaining gospel. And so it pierced like a knife, one he wasn’t certain he’d pull out if he could. No masochism in this, pray tell; no ill-conceived martyrdom. He simply feared what would happen when the blade at last came out; that all the life would run out of him, and it wasn’t the emptiness which scared him most, but rather the thought of what cold, sinister things might find their way in.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Author Interview: Nillu Nasser, All the Tomorrows.

Sometimes we can’t escape the webs we are born into. Sometimes we are the architects of our own fall.

Akash Choudry wants a love for all time, not an arranged marriage. Still, under the weight of parental hopes, he agrees to one. He and Jaya marry in a cloud of colour and spice in Bombay. Their marriage has barely begun when Akash embarks on an affair.

Jaya can’t contemplate sharing her husband with another woman, or looking past his indiscretions as her mother suggests. Cornered by sexual politics, she takes her fate into her own hands in the form of a lit match.

Nothing endures fire. As shards of their past threaten their future, will Jaya ever bloom into the woman she can be, and will redemption be within Akash’s reach?

“Make no mistake: while All the Tomorrows is character driven, those who enjoy a good plot will not be disappointed… This is superb writing.” ~ Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews

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It is with gratitude and excitement I welcome dear friend and elegant scribe Nillu Nasser to the blog.


1. Welcome, Nillu! I’ve heard you talk a little about the inspiration for this novel, and it's very compelling. What can you tell us about that moment in time, and how it became the genesis for your tale?

I’ve always been a daydreamer. There are some images I just can’t shake, and that’s when I know a story is worth telling. With All the Tomorrows, there was one scene I could vividly see, as if it were already on film: a filthy, older, Indian man, pressed up against a window. He was sad, and not a threat. I wanted to know more about him. What brings someone to spy on a family? Could there ever be a reason to act that way? Could you feel sympathy for someone who other people might class as a monster? Could a man like that find his way back into being a functioning member of society? The novel grew from those questions. 

2.  Tell us about your publisher, how you connected with them, and some unique aspects of their approach.

Evolved Publishing is a small, hybrid US press. When I finished writing All the Tomorrows I looked around for which publishing house might be the right fit for me. I was keen to sign quickly if I could, to keep my momentum going, to carry on learning about the industry. I really wanted to find the right person to trust my manuscript to so I could keep on creating. I knew a couple of authors at EP, and they encouraged me to submit. They were kind enough to share their experiences with me, and it seemed a great fit. The team at EP is very passionate and collaborative. I get more of a say in final decisions than I would at other houses. I was thrilled to get an offer. The CEO puts a lot of focus into editorial quality, and I loved the fact that I was signed for three books, so they are investing in me as an author long-term. I couldn’t have been luckier with my editor and cover artist. I’m so proud of the book we have created together. 

3.  People sometimes fret that a literary novel can't include a riveting plot, or a thriller doesn't allow for deep characterization. But early praise for All the Tomorrows suggests your literary novel has pulled off both--tell us how.

This is such an interesting question! Most people so far have said that the novel is an easy read, and in some ways that surprises me, as it raises some challenging themes. I want it to challenge perceptions, certainly. I think my style has been influenced by critique groups I have been a part of, in which authors have written a cross-section of work. I often trade feedback with fantasy, thriller or romance authors, for example, and these wonderful authors have influenced me. I live in fear that mine will be one of those books readers drift away from. That was not something I wanted. I wanted it to be a book people devour, as there are so many other forms of entertainment to compete with. So I wrote chapter endings that often have a small reveal. My editor helped me to make the most of small moments to keep the reader turning the page. 

4. What were the most rewarding, challenging, and surprising aspects of writing this novel?

I’ve wanted to write a novel for years. I started many. What surprised me is the persistence it takes to finish a story. I underestimated the grit it takes. There’s always this fear at the back of your mind, that you eventually learn to ignore. It’s like a little woodpecker: you’re not good enough, no-one is going to read this, why are you wasting your time? Eventually you realise that every creative leap is an act of faith, and you find little tricks to keep on chipping away at your creativity until it becomes a swell. I also found it surprising how awkward it is for some people to engage with a first-time novelist. They have no way of knowing if you are talented, and after a while I wonder if they might think you’re a bit deluded. It’s not like baking a cake. There’s no immediate taste test. So for both readers and the novelist, this sort of work is a test of patience!

5. Your story's setting is vivid and distinct: what can you tell us about the research that went into it?

All the Tomorrows is set in Mumbai. I wanted a culture that suited my themes of gender and traditions, but one I was at least half-way familiar with. I’m Indian, although I was born in the UK. I know lots about Indian culture, and I loved the opportunities the setting brought to the story: the colour, the food and traditions. I’ve visited India twice, once as a child and once in my early twenties. My recollections are broad brush strokes: the smell of street food, the sticky heat, the palaces in Jaipur, child beggars pressed against cool taxi windows. For details I turned to travel guides and photo books. Friends sent me pictures of their own travels there. I watched Bollywood movies to drink up the setting. The geography was a bit more difficult. I used Google Maps for the layout of Mumbai, and picked beta-readers who would be able to alert me to any glaring errors, and guide me to make the setting a bit more authentic. I hope I did it justice. 

6. What projects are next for you? 

I’m signed to Evolved Publishing for three literary fiction novels. My pace for novels tends to be about one a year. My next novel, Hidden Colours, tells the story of an acrobat and a journalist in Berlin. It’s about grief and chance, and about race and fixed viewpoints. I usually try and write for a couple of anthologies a year, but with three small children life gets really busy, and the novel has to be my focus. I’m itching to get to that place in the process when the connections all start fizzing, and you just pour it out onto the page and trust that the magic will somehow happen. I hope you’ll read All the Tomorrows, and be back for more when novel two is ready. 

You can get your copy of All the Tomorrows here


Nillu Nasser is a writer of literary fiction novels. She has a BA in English and German Literature, and an MA in European Politics. After graduating she worked in national and regional politics, but eventually reverted to her first love. She lives in London with her husband and three children. For further information or to say hello, visit www.NilluNasser.com. Sign up to Nillu’s newsletter for a reader freebie plus, from 6-13 November only, to celebrate the release of All the Tomorrows, newsletter subscribers will receive a multi-author e-book bundle of fiction about contemporary women: www.NilluNasser.com/mailinglist 







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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Musclewood: a Labor of Love Revisited

In 2014, I set aside a mostly finished manuscript into which I had poured my heart. A dark but hopeful tale, and the reasons I stepped away from it were very personal, but it was something to which I knew I would always return. That's the way of things, after all. Our truth will always call us back home.

It needs an overhaul, and it'll take time. Anything worthwhile does. I'll keep you posted along the way, and as always, I'm grateful to have your support as I sojourn. To those of you beside me when I was living this--2012-2014--you have my thanks, and my heart, as ever.

Here's the opening. Musclewood.




“In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.” 
Czesław Miłosz




​Buried things, it seems, have a knack for not remaining so.

In 1978, the small, Midwest town of Jacksonburg having agreed by democratic majority to submerge itself, watched as the Serpent River was dammed and its banks spilled over and flooded the entire municipality.  Once a prime source of commerce and life, the river now became an angel of death, consuming the town with indifference.  Sherriff’s deputies had performed a walk-through the evening prior, to ensure every living soul had in fact been evacuated. No official report exists confirming the result; one may perhaps assume in this town numbering fewer than 2000 souls, one gone missing would have been noteworthy, or perhaps even floated to the surface.


Monday, September 4, 2017

It's Alive! How to Find the Heartbeat of your Story

Very grateful to the great folks at Author Magazine for running my piece on the importance of finding the heartbeat of your tale....what do you think? What has that process been like for you?

I hope you enjoy the article, and your feedback as always is welcomed!



Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Book Report: Draft 1, Done

Finishing draft 1 of Cucariva tonight, and dispatching it to some wonderful beta readers. Will process the feedback and revise and seek a publisher, and in interim will get a little work on D Rose 2, David Rose & the Forbidden Tournament.

Thanks as always for your support. Here's sample from the climax of Cucariva, hope you enjoy...

They met full stride at the center of the bridge, an uncertain congress in the glare and shadow of this uncertain hour. Not quite day; no longer night. That smallest of hours just before things begin to happen. Before the birds sing, and the breeze lifts up from the river; before children rise, and give voice to the waking day. A space between, and unto this breach they stepped, two men, arrived at last at final Calvary.  



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rachel's Room: A Scene

Here's Rachel's latest entry. Her turn on some good characterization & dialogue. I asked her what it was from--a short, a school assignment, or what, and she just shrugged. "Something I wrote," she said. She is, after all, a writer....


 Jane couldn't believe what she was hearing. Elias was lecturing her about his disappointment in her, going on about how he couldn't understand why she was still like this, a sly criminal. But for years Elias would say, “ You are a terrible person. What is wrong with you?” Every time Jane attempted to change, the response was always, “ You'll never change. You just can't.” He was partially right about that, however. Jane sighed. How could he complain about how she was when he never helped me? He never suggested that she could be a better person. Only a worse one.
    “Enough!” she screamed. Elias stood there in place, not at all shook by the sudden outbreak and anger.
    “What?” he said calmly. Elias had an expression that showed that he was angry, despite his sweet tone. Jane shook her head at him and took a deep breath.
     “ You're my brother by relation, but you're not my brother by heart. You never were.”
     “Ouch,” Elias joked. Jane flared with madness and pushed him against the bland walls.
     “This is no joke, you may take it like one, but I don't.  I'm willing to do anything, you know. You best watch yourself.” She pushed Elias harder and then let go. He gasped to catch his breath and smiled.
      “If you do anything to me, that'll just prove me right. You're a criminal that doesn't deserve anything you have.”
     “I have nothing to say to you Elias,” she stated. She knew that he was in fact right. If she did do anything to him, that would be giving into what he said about her.  Jane bit her lip.  She looked at her brother and studied him for a second. Elias shared a passing resemblance to her. They both had the same piercing blue eyes, and the same caramel colored hair. It bother Jane that they looked so similar.
     “Then leave, Jane,” he told her. Jane blinked. His three words had actually ended up hurting her. She hadn't expected him to say that. She shrugged it off, knowing that those hurt feelings weren't gone.
     “Ok.” Jane nodded at him as she walked out the door. She turned the corner and headed outside. She kept on walking, she didn’t know where she was going, but it didn't matter. Jane recalled everything they had said today, and let it sink in. As she sat on a dirty bench, she started breaking down. The tears began to flood, but Jane tried with all of her willpower to hold them in.
    “Are you ok?” a woman asked her.
    “No, I'm not,” Jane fiercely answered. “I never will be.”

Monday, December 19, 2016

At the End of the Tunnel, Light: Update on Work in Progress

Pleased to report my literary-suspense manuscript, Cucariva, is nearing the end of first draft. I'm pretty excited about it but like any first draft I know it may be improved: I have a few terrific beta-readers lined up but if you are interested, please let me know. Here's an excerpt:

With dark comes cold and he shivers but does not rouse from his slumber against the stone, grown cold against his back. Rather sees himself from on high, some celestial remove, telescoping eye of a voyeuristic moon. Lunar eyebrow raised at this strange hominid figure drawn up in chilled repose against this marker of the dead. He feels in his sleep for what covering there might be, but his hands find only a ghost-white latticework of cobwebs, garish, of the sort sold to Halloween revelers. He sheaths himself no matter, cocooning for the viscid warmth. Mummified creature, All Hallows Eve has passed, save here, where lives only death and spirits abide no aegis but the explication of their demise.
And now such spirits as here dwell amble forth from out the shadows, coin of the realm for all days to come. Approach this prostrate, swaddled figure, raise him up, these non-corporeals, by force of will reserved for the indignant dead. The earth beneath him tremulous, shifting, falling away, dark waters rising in its wake. He is trussed up in his cobweb suit, Sunday best, and is it Sunday or who rightly knows, in this madness which time forgot? Limbs splayed, flush against this sacred stone, come before this patronage of peers who row into the onyx waters of this world fallen away. Strange and spectral oarsmen sallied forth for this the hour of midnight judgment. Through gauzy lens he watches a giant, moonlit hare lope uncertainly across the firmament. Put down your bow, Orion, I'm only grazing here.