featured author - winter 2019
michael nye talks about his new (and older) books
When I began writing my first book, “Mayfly” I thought it was the one book that we’re all supposed to have in us. Having just published my 6th book “The Reed Cutter” I am just about getting used to the fact that the old maxim is slightly less than accurate! I prefer to call the books a family rather than a series because, whilst loosely chronological they were written to be readable singly or, more or less, in any order.
This latest book is a step into a new generation, with my original two characters, Jim Stratton and Amanda Donaldson appearing by their influence rather than their names. The book follows the adventures of Lois Turner (who first appears in the fifth book “The Ballad of Masie and Linda”) as she makes discoveries about wrongdoings that have affected hers and the life of other people. As she sets about righting some of these (in her own unique way) she discovers more about herself than the ever thought she would.
Writing of each new book gets a little bit more complex as they interact with established characters whose actions have to be both in character and in keeping with the history of the (unrelated) clan of folk that I appear to have created over the past seven years. Where I started out with two main characters (plus a handful of supporting ones) in Mayfly, over seven years, this number has now gone over fifty (with even more supporting roles) and a timeline that spans over 90 years.
When I was sufficiently into the writing of Mayfly, I decided that I was going to do pretty much all of the work myself (apart from some proofreading and final printing). I chose watercolour as a medium and all covers are done larger than life (usually A2) using old Reeves and Winsor & Newton paints. Yet again each cover tells its own story by taking references that can be found in the text of the book. Once finished I stick the paintings to the side wall of the house on a day when the light is just right, and then photograph them with a halfway decent digital camera. Originally this was just to see if the images would be suitable when I sent them to the printers, it being my intention to have them professionally copied somewhere. When the word came back that they were absolutely fine as they were, I set about adding titles etc. and enjoying each part of the cottage industry feel that had come about.
Then, once Mayfly was out, I did wonder, “What happened to Jim and Amanda next?” Cue “Here we Go!” which was supposed to tie up the loose ends. It did but produced a load of its own which I addressed in “Emily’s Journey.” Which again it did but there were a few more loose ends to deal with for Jim and Amanda as well as the new characters of Emily and Deborah that first appear in “Here we Go!” In short, I have a whole clan of friends stomping around my brain and I’d miss them if they weren’t there. I do sometimes think I should charge them rent but they are mostly quite tidy people and they do pay me back with their stories. I sometimes do feel that my characters are actually dictating the tales to me, which is just a tad worrying (on account of the fact that they don’t exist). I remember one episode of Mayfly which unravelled itself in a far different way that I’d got planned because Jim and Amanda had other ideas. After six books (with another in preparation for publication next year) I should be used to this but when Lois, on the spur of a moment, made what amounted to a major decision in “The Reed Cutter,” I was pretty much completely blind sided by it. Each time I read through during the edit process I thought “Did I actually write that?” but was put off changing it by Lois (who, let’s remember is a fictional character) peering menacingly over my shoulder. But it’s OK, Lois, it’s still there as you dictated it to me and as, no doubt, it really happened in the space that you occupy in your world!
The “Mayfly” family of books so far are; Mayfly, Here we Go! Emily’s Journey, Nearwater, The Ballad of Masie and Linda and The Reed Cutter. All of the books have river, canal and even a little bit of seawater flowing through the thread of the story, but I do hope that their appeal goes beyond their being books for waterways enthusiasts. They are available from my website (which links to Amazon and Kindle)
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