Author Interview with Nia Lucas!

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Hey guys, today on the blog I have a great interview with author, Nia Lucas. In this interview, we get to find out more about Nia and her latest book, Choices Shape, Losses Break, as well as discuss her writing process, her favourite fictional world, what she wishes there was more and less of in the Young Adult genre and much more. Read on for the interview!

Hi Nia! Would you be able to tell us a bit about yourself and your book, Choices Shape, Losses Break?

Hi! My name's Nia and I'm a Social Worker by Day and an Author by night! I love creating strong, complex and endearing female protagonists who grab the reader, capture their hearts and drag them along on their journey. I aim to write 'the crazy best mate you wish you'd had.' My novels, released on Kindle, aren't one specific genre. They're generally a contemporary romance/contemporary fiction crossover with a strong splash of Young Adult although it's important to clarify that my novels aren't written for young teenagers - they're aimed firmly at Young Adults and beyond. My first novel, "Love Punked" was released in Summer 2018 and my second novel, "Choices Shape, Losses Break" was released in April on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.

My novels often reflect the 90's club and rave culture that I loved (and still love!). Dance music is still a big part of my life and to my kids' mortification, I still love clubbing. I write books that reflect those amazing nineties times and the people that I knew and grew up with. My writing heavily features teenage experiences, whether that is in reflections or past events or in the current narrative because I believe that those years lie at the heart of all of us. 

'Choices Shape, Losses Break" follows teenager Lorna Davies. Struggling with life at home and at school, she clatters into chaotic and charismatic Shay O’Driscoll and Leon Barrett at an illegal rave in 1995. As Lorna’s talent for dancing sees her unexpectedly employed in the strobe-lit heart of 90’s club culture, her world is turned on its head by her budding friendship with Shay and Leon. For the boys, their high-risk lives endanger all three of them in an association that blurs the lines between friendship and dependency.

As the risks escalate, Lorna’s best friend Hannah, her brother Dan, her bully-turned-protector Nico and her unexpected friend Rosa watch with concern as she is thrust ever closer to harm in an intoxicating new landscape. When life-threatening events risk separating them permanently, Lorna, Leon and Shay juggle love, loyalty, sacrifice and exploitation as their lives change beyond recognition. Throughout the book, the reader is constantly prompted to reevaluate their perceptions of risk and exploitation as the choices that Lorna, Lee and Shay face, risk breaking them all.

Are there any particular reasons you write about the topics you do? Have you always been drawn to hard-hitting topics?

I can remember watching 'teen' programmes like 'Dawson's Creek' and 'Beverly Hills 90210'  or reading books aimed at a YA adults audience and thinking "Who in God's name are these people? Who the hell thinks this is how teenagers behave and interact?" I saw twenty-somethings playing teenagers on the TV, I read books in which teenagers had the sort of insight and vocabulary that I struggle to achieve at forty! The people I grew up with and the experiences I had were so removed from the teenagers of the TV shows or the YA fiction that I read (or the fiction that I read now as an adult) that I wanted to reflect something more 'real'. Growing up is the hardest thing but it's also such a shaping and seminal period in our lives. The experiences I had as a teenager have completely shaped me into who I am now. They affected the choices I've made in my career, in my parenting and in my hobbies and interests. I am, at the cusp of middle-age, the product of those years and I embrace that. In my head, I'll always be that 16-year-old jumping in cars and going clubbing - she's just older, rounder and has to dye her hair ginger these days...! As adults, if we pigeon-hole any books centering on teenage characters as 'Young Adult,' it narrows people's range and experiences. We were all affected by those teenage years - I want my older readers to reminisce and my younger ones to wonder how the hell we survived 90's adolescence with no mobile phones!!  

As a social worker, I spend every day supporting teenagers whose lives are filled with challenge and hardship. Their lives are so removed from most people's lived experiences that I feel like I have a responsibility to open up people's eyes to the issues they face. To weave these challenges into a novel is a tough gig - it's a fine line between realism and lecturing! I also want to celebrate characters who buck convention. Those bad-lads who have hidden vulnerabilities, the potential for change in all of us, the risks of exploitation, the prejudices that we unwittingly perpetuate are all really important things to consider as both a writer and a reader.

"Choices" is a novel that addresses a lot of very complex and emotive issues - I am very open in the intro that some people may find the themes challenging. I wouldn't want anyone to be blindsided by it but at the same time, I don't want to put anyone off! 

Issues of sex, complex and abusive relationships, youth violence, risk, exploitation and loss affect all of us or the people we know at some stage in our lives. In "Choices," Lorna, Lee and Shay's journey includes challenges but also those moments of pure teenage giddiness and daftness are just as important and feature heavily!

Do you have any sort of writing routine - how do you tackle writer's block?

I write when the rest of the world sleeps! As a chronic insomniac, I write late at night and into the early hours - it's like my relaxation. My day job is pretty intense and demanding and writing is my chance to just escape.

Writer's block is a tough one - I usually have a few books on the go so I can flit between them if I get blocked with one. I'm currently actively writing 3 new novels and I'm finishing off a 4th. I've got 2 that are ready for release and they'll be out later this year. I guess I've got the luxury of a lack of pressure on me - if I had deadlines or demands on my writing, I might feel differently! 

If you could meet only one of your characters, who would it be and why?

Ahhhh, that's a good one. I am entirely in love with one of my own characters and it's a very narcissistic thing! Nico D'Angelo in "Choices" is an amalgamation of so many people that I've known, fancied, loved and cared about that meeting him would be an amazing thing but it would probably break my heart too! I think though that if pushed, I'd want to meet Lorna from "Choices." I'd want to meet her and just hug her.

Quick! A YA book genie has granted you 3 wishes! What do you wish there was more/less of in YA literature?

- More realistic teenage characters as opposed to adults writing their bland interpretation of teenagers. If your characters don't swear then you are not writing them accurately... ! Don't be Dawson......
- A more honest attitude towards sex and teenage sexuality and the impact that those early sexual relationships have on us as we mature
- Less petty drama. Have a bit more respect for your audience - if you need drama in your narrative, make it real and make it challenging. Use emotion with depth and colour.

If you could live in any fictional world, what world would it be and why?

I'm a product of my youth - throw me into the 'Buffy-verse,' pass me the frosted lipstick and choker necklaces, stake me up and I'd be good to go!

Finally, are you currently working on any projects you could tell us a little about?

"Choices" is written as a 'standalone' novel but Lorna's story continues for a further 2 books which are written and finished. I'm working on the 4th which is a flashback novel set in the 70's. Lorna's story continues on until her late thirties which I've really enjoyed writing. The 4th book is about her Mum and her parents' back story.

Another novel I'm working on right now  is about a forty-something single mum whose own teenage misdemeanors return to her in a very unexpected manner. She's a really complicated character and I am loving writing her!

Quick-Fire Questions:

Spring or summer? Spring. Being ginger, the sun is not my friend.......
Dogs or cats? Dogs. Cats are proper sneaky bastards....
Tea or coffee? Neither - I don't drink either of them. Caffeine-free diet coke is my drink. I'm pretty sure that if I donated blood, it would actually be brown at this point, so high is my consumption.....
Sweet or savoury? Oooooh, probably sweet although I'd trample my own kids for a Lime Dorito with salsa......
Hardbacks or paperbacks? Paperbacks. Hardbacks are the smug twats of the book world...

I had a lot of fun interviewing Nia today and spotlighting her book, Choices Shape, Losses Break. If this book has caught your eye, why not add it on Goodreads or check it out on Kindle (it's on kindle unlimited)! You can also connect with the author on twitter, @BooksNia.

Until next time,
Happy Reading!

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