Posts Tagged ‘biography’

James Lipton and the Actors Studio did it for fun with the actors…..Now, I’m doing it for fun with the writers.
Now, I have one hell of an imagination (as most of you know), but what eleven year old kid, when given a school essay to write, would dream up a story about bomb disposal?
Author and writing extraordinaire, Chris Nickson. That’s who.
From that moment on, Chris realised he was born to be a storyteller. Um, yeah, no kidding.
Leeds-born Chris moved to the good old U S of A at the tender age of 21, where he stayed for thirty years.
Now if you are a music lover, then you may know him as the well-known music journalist, Chris Nickson, where he has written for numerous publications, including Global RhythmNo? Well Chris also broadcast on NPR, and is the author of The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to World Music, Solid Air: The Life of John Martyn and the forthcoming Nice Up the Dance: The Story of Studio One
To top that, he’s also a singer-songwriter and guitarist.
However, maybe you know the name ‘Chris Nickson’ if you have a love for celebrity biographies. Chris has written several including ones for Will Smith, David Boreanaz, Ewan McGreggor, Mariah Carey, and Superhero Christopher Reeve.
In fact, in an interview on Laydilejur: Books and Stuff…, Chris boasts “At the height of it I was doing five or six (biographies) a year, as well as plenty of music journalism – to nourish the soul. I was very lucky, I was a writer and I was making a good living. If it was prostitution, it was definitely at the call girl end of the scale.”
No, still haven’t heard of him? Even though he has published over 28 non-fiction books? What rock have you guys been hiding under?
Chris is also author of the Richard Nottingham Series. The first, The Broken Token, was published in 2010. This was followed in 2011 with Cold Cruel Winter, which was subsequently named one of the 10 Best Mysteries of 2011 by Library Journal.
And Creme De La Crime has just released Constant Lovers, the third in the series. It’s US release date is set for May 1st, 2012.
Come the Fear, the fourth book in the Richard Nottingham series will be released in the UK in July 2012.
Also, 2011 saw the e-book release of late singer-songwriter John Martyn’s biography: ‘Solid Air: The Life of John Martyn’.
So, let’s see what self-confessed Yorkshireman and devotee of good tea and digestive biscuits made of our interview. 
1.  What is your favorite word?  Actually
2. What is your least favorite word? Debt
3. What turns you on?   Hair
4. What turns you off?    Hatred
5. What sound do you love?   Birdsong
6. What sound do you hate? Banality
7. What is your favorite curse word?   Fuck
8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?   Musician
9.  What profession would you not like to do?  CEO
10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? “Bugger Off!”
 Contact Information

For more information regarding Chris Nickson, please check out his website, Facebook, twitter, blog, or email Chris at chrisnickson2@gmail.com

If you want more of me, I can be found on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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When I look back at the first book I wrote, I feel a twinge of guilt for my characters; all five of them to be precise, if I want to be picky and count the minions.

Why do I feel guilty? Because, unforgivably, I neglected to give them a life. I just dumped them on the wintery London streets of Shad Thames and said “Right, off you go and do this.”

To their credit, they did what I asked, but not to the best of their ability, and that is solely down to me, because I did not spend the time in getting to know them. A year ago, I would have sworn different. I would have told you my heroine was an independent woman, owned a bar and lived a relatively normal life with only her handsome neighbour next door for support. The hero, and her love interest, was an actor who was quiet and thoughtful and ……. Oh my God, so boring!!!

Then I met Kristen Lamb. She told me to write a back story for my antagonist, so I did. I proudly wrote four pages and emailed them over to her. Her reply? “Crap, do it again.” I was mortified. How could it be rubbish? (Yeah, ok, you can stop laughing.) But she was right. It was absolute tosh. Oh, how naïve I was back then.

The reason it was rubbish, and it’s so clear now that I cringe every time I think about letting Kristen read it, was this. My first antagonist was a nice, wholesome, little rich girl who went nuts because the guy she liked was in love with someone else. There was no venom about her. She was kind to others, well liked, popular at school – you get the picture. But my reasoning for creating this totally unrealistic girl, who went off the deep end, was because Glenn Close had done it in Fatal Attraction. If a block busting movie could do it, why couldn’t I? The problem was, Glenn Close was not the normal, hard working, successful woman she appeared to be before Michael Douglas slept with her. If you look closely, she was actually a borderline psychotic and her back story would have backed this up with actions, events and certainly haunting issues.

I was guilty of analysing the plot of a story too much and just letting the characters roll along for the ride. Now, however, and much to my husbands annoyance, I analyse and pick holes in everything on TV. Still, men are there for us women to annoy so I think it is a win-win situation. 😀

So, this is what I have been taught, and would strongly recommend to anyone creating a character:

It starts with their creation. They need a look, a height, and a style. Personally, I look for a picture of an actor or actress and go from there. Then give them a home, a childhood, parents, siblings, pets, school proms, jobs, friends, enemies, lovers, fears, stressors.…. you get the picture. What they do with them after that is then up to you. They can use them, annoy them, play with them or kill them. They can go to jail or become President, but their back story must lead them to the moment you start your book. You cannot have, like I did, a nice antagonist who turns in to a crazy, killing machine, because it is convenient to the plot.

If you are stuck, then I would suggest writing your own biography first. Start with where you were born, who your parents were, if you have any siblings. Remember your childhood memories, relationships, good and bad. Jobs you’ve liked and jobs you’ve hated. Gravesides you have stood at. Tragedies you’ve had the misfortune to bear. All these things define who you are now.

Oh, and one really important thing I have learnt is this. Your protagonist does not have to be perfect. Perfect is BORING! Give her a flaw. Make her human. I guarantee your reader will not dislike them for it.

Look at Mel Gibson in the first Lethal Weapon – he was a suicidal drunk. And Frasier, from the TV show of the same name, has serious commitment issues, but do we hate either of these characters? Do we ‘eck. In fact we become more compassionate towards them.

Now, as always, I want to know something. I want to know who your favourite protagonist is and what flaw they have. Hmmmm….. has that got you thinking?

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