On the road with me this month is author and ex-journalist Nadia L King. Nadia and I seem to have hovered around each other in a circle of mutual friends, but as yet have never actually met in person.
This may surprise many of you, since after quizzing Nadia for this interview, we really have a lot in common, least of which, is our secret addiction for reality show 'Married at First Sight' (oh dear, did I really reveal that out loud?) and the fact we were both audience members at the YA Fiction session at the recent Perth Writers Festival and still managed to avoid making a connection.
Nadia's YA novel Jenna's Truth was recently published by Aulexic Books and I have no doubt we'll be seeing more of her novels in the coming years.
Ladies and Gentleman of the writerly world, fill your tanks as we go weaving along the winding road of the writing journey of Nadia L King.
You claim to be a late bloomer in terms of dedicating your time to writing. What was the trigger that made you start writing on a more full-time basis?
After a career in public relations and time out to raise a family, it was the winter of 2015 when I found myself itching to write but unsure where to start. I couldn’t believe I had travelled so far through my life reading everything in sight and hardly writing anything creative.
One evening I found myself making small talk with a NY playwright on a rooftop bar overlooking the city. I earnestly sought his advice (utterly cringeworthy I know). The playwright looked over his scotch and sighed. Then he gave me the best advice I have heard.
‘Just go home and bloody write.’
After school drop-off the next morning, I came home, pulled out a notepad and a biro, and started writing. I sat hunched over the notepad and wrote as if my life depended on it. I wrote for five hours solid and I haven’t stopped. I write every day and often wake to phrases running through my head.
Once I gave myself permission to write, my life changed. My life has always been blessed, but now colours are brighter, people are even more interesting and when emotion bubbles up, I have somewhere to pour it. Sometimes it takes a very long time to get to where you’re supposed to be.
Your novel ‘Jenna’s Truth’ was published by Aulexic in October 2016. In your own words you were surprised to have it published. Why is that?
I didn’t write with a view to publication. I just wanted it to go out into the world and had planned on emailing it to everyone I had ever met. The story was born from the tragic, true story of Canadian teen, Amanda Todd who committed suicide after suffering from bullying and cyberbullying for several years. Obviously having the story published meant it has had a much wider reach. Ultimately, I wanted as many teens as possible to read the story and know they aren't alone.
‘Jenna’s Truth’ is a novel for Young Adults. Is this the genre you would like to stay with?
Most definitely. I recently heard WA author, Kate McCaffrey speak at the Perth Writers Festival. Kate said that YA fiction allows people to know they’re not alone. I wholeheartedly agree with Kate. YA Fiction helps writers put some hope out into the world and what could be better than that?
The theme of Jenna’s Truth is anti-bullying. Was the need to write this a personal one?
My need to write was instinctive; an intuitive reaction to being moved by Amanda Todd’s story. I couldn't believe the world had lost such a vibrant, beautiful soul and I tried to make sense of it by writing a story with a different ending. The stats on teen suicide are horrifying. Bullying and teen suicide are inextricably linked so it seemed the right course of action to try and highlight the catastrophic effects of cyberbullying.
Have you or a family member been effected by bullying.
I think almost everyone has a story of bullying. I was a beige kid who grew up in North London during the 1970s. At that time there weren’t many other beige people around. I remember one Asian boy and a pair of African twins in my school. We seemed to be the only non-white people around. I caught the eye of a group of skinheads who were much older than me and I spent much of my childhood racing my bike as fast as possible away from this group of boys who used to chase me with a big chunk of two-by-four. I’m rather proud that they never managed to catch me!
Do you believe stories such as yours and other WA YAFiction authors such as Kate McCaffrey’s, Julia Lawrence’s Diane Touchell’s are an important tool towards social change?
Absolutely. By writing stories like (Julia Lawrinson), and (Kate McCaffrey), and and (Dianne Touchell) many different teen experiences are normalised. These books show teens that they’re not alone and open up opportunities for discussion on issues such as early on-set dementia, teen pregnancy, bullying, and mental health.
You have a background in journalism and have been published in the US and Europe. What area of journalism have you worked in and what sort of articles have you had published?
All through my high-school years I was desperate to become a journalist. Upon graduation I was extremely fortunate to be offered a position with based in Claremont. In the last couple of years, I have written essays on creativity and articles related to the writing process.
If you were to describe your writing style in three words, what would they be?
Real, gritty, and hopeful.
You are currently working on a new book called Sam and Ranga. Can you give us the elevator pitch on it?
I guess this is where I do a big face palm! I recently abandoned this project after being pulled at by another bigger story. has merit for younger readers but I am more passionate about writing for YA readers. My new manuscript is a coming-of-age story about sixteen-year-old Jack Rollins. Jack lives for manga and graff but his Dad wants him to stop messing about with little-kid stuff and get serious about life. While Jack battles his father at home, he also tries to make sense of the confusing feelings he has for his hero, legendary street-artist Dan Perez and Jack’s best-friend, the free-spirited Ophelia Arya. I am thoroughly enjoying writing this first draft and have taken to reading manga. I’m seriously thinking of taking up skateboarding and martial arts but my husband thinks that could be taking my research a step too far!
Who do you think the next local emerging author is to watch out for?
A few local authors whose careers I’m watching with interest and who I’m enthusiastically cheering on are - Louise Allan, Monique Mulligan, and Sandi Parsons.
You are originally from Dublin, if we were road-tripping there, where would you recommend we drive to and why?
It’s been a very long time since I lived in Dublin and I never lived there as an adult. My family and I visit New Zealand regularly to catch up with extended family and that’s where we’ll be this Easter. This trip we’re looking forward to visiting the original Hobbiton movie set from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy; finally seeing the tiny living lights (glowworms) in the Waitomo Caves; relaxing in Rotorua’s geothermal pools and watching our eldest girl fly a Cessna over the Kapiti coast.
What or who has been your great influence in writing?
Japanese author, Haruki Murakami is my literary hero. He writes about everyday life (albeit with magical realism) in such a simple and beautiful way. I am slowly working my way through everything he has ever written and although I’m a fast reader, I read his books slowly with a pencil in hand so I can jot down notes in the margins.
If the local library was on fire, which book would you run in and save?
Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood.
Which reality TV show would you never admit (except to me) to watching?
I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but Married At First Sight.
What’s your favourite junk food?
I have an unhealthy attachment to salt and vinegar crisps.
What’s the best book you’ve read this year?
I don’t usually read crime fiction but a couple of weeks ago I read a book by Melbourne author, Emma Viskic. It was ‘bloody brilliant’ (my own words) and I adored her diverse characters and lively writing.
If you won a trip to anywhere (all expenses paid) where would you go?
I am busting to get to Japan one day. Last year, I just missed out on going to Tokyo with my husband, so fingers crossed next time he goes for business I can tag along.
It seems to be a thing between local authors to interview each other. Do you think anyone reads them? (I do hope so!)
Writers are such a supportive and lovely bunch of people that I definitely think our interviews are read. We all seem to be fascinated by each other’s writerly experiences!
Thanks Nadia for being cruising with me. Let's meet up soon.
If you'd like to come on 'The Road' , please drop me an email or make a comment at the end of this article.