It is always a pleasure to be able to support one of your own. Therefore, I am very excited to be able to host this interview with new Irish author, Nicola Cassidy. Right now, I am just tearing through other books to get to December Girl. Nearly every day, a new, wonderful review of Cassidy’s debut novel pops up online and it is driving me mad I’ve not been able to open it yet. Stay tuned for my review early next year but, until then, I hope you enjoy my chat with Nicola!
Hi Nicola. As a new author, bookworms might not be familiar with you. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Not familiar with me, surely not?! I’m a writer and blogger, living in Termonfeckin, Co. Louth. I’m Mum to two little girls and married to Ronan. I’ve wanted to write a book all my life and my dreams came true this year. I still can’t quite believe that I’ve managed to do this and when I hold the book in my hand, it doesn’t feel like mine. Imposter syndrome! At the moment I work part-time as a marketing manager and I fit in my writing and blogging work and meeting family demands around this. I also sing in a band.
You have had a varied career: from political PR to marketing and finally as a full-time author. What made you give up a steady job to become a writer?
I actually still work – I haven’t taken that plunge yet! It is very difficult to make a proper living when starting as a debut author. The dream is to someday support myself with my writing, but we’re not quite there yet! I like that I’ve had a varied career as I think you need to experience different jobs, different characters and situations to help make you an all rounded writer.
Tell us how you became a published author. What was the most difficult part of getting a publishing deal?
I pretty much went down the traditional route – I got an agent and we set out about submitting to various publishing houses. The most difficult part was the waiting while on submission. I felt on tenterhooks all the time and it drove me batty if I’m honest. I was five months pregnant when I first went on submission and the baby was nearly five months old before I got my deal, so emotionally, I was all over the place during that time – as you can imagine! Still, I never gave up and even if I was still waiting now, I don’t think I would give up. You really have to believe in yourself, grit your teeth and get on with it. If a book isn’t selling, move onto the next one and the next one after that. That’s what you have to do if you want to be a published author.
December Girl was inspired by two true stories (an eviction in Dowth in 1880 and a baby kidnapping in Dublin in the 1960s). Can you explain what was it about the stories that stuck in your head?
When I was reading the essay about the eviction, which I found in a local story collection in Drogheda Library, I was taken by the emotions that must have been involved. The essay was quite academic and factual, taking newspaper coverage at the time, but as I was reading it, I imagined this man and his family, battling to keep their home and eventually being evicted. What happened after that was devastating for them and it felt so wrong – that they had really been wronged by the authorities, by the people in charge. The fact that it all happened in such a spiritual place lent itself to the theme of my book and I knew I wanted to write about it. The kidnapping was something I’d seen on TV, and I was fascinated by the story of a woman taking a child and holding onto it. It was hard to believe that her husband went along with it – and I wanted to try and explore how that would come about and the emotions involved for everyone – the family left behind and the child itself.
What is your favourite part of December Girl?
I think the kidnapping scene which is now the opening chapter of the book. When I sat to write that it just flowed and it’s barely been changed or edited.
I am very happy to be one of the book bloggers who received a copy of December Girl. How important do you think it is to involve bloggers and social media in the promotion of your book?
As a blogger myself I think it’s vital. Every blogger has a platform, whether it be thousands or a handful. Seeking reviews and getting to know bloggers is more than promotion though, you’re delving into a community, one that can be very supportive and helpful if you are willing to become part of it. I have a digital contract so most of my sales will be online. It makes sense that I work with the people who are online! I think social media is a wonderful sales tool too – a lot of my promotion is carried out on Facebook and Twitter.
What is next from Nicola Cassidy?
Next year, I plan to write another historical fiction novel and possibly get started on a sequel to December Girl. I’d love to write two books next year, but I don’t know if that’s a bit much to ask! We’ll see I suppose. 😊