Nell Dixon is a Black Country author, married to the same man for over twenty-five years. She has three daughters, a tank of tropical fish and a cactus called Spike. Winner of the RNA’s prestigious Romance Prize in 2007 and 2010, she writes warm-hearted contemporary romance for a number of publishers in the US and the UK. Do tell us the secret of your success, Nell, and if you had any rejections before getting that exciting call?
Do you have to juggle writing with the day job? What is your work schedule?
Excuse me while I laugh hysterically at this one. My work schedule is crazy, all my friends and my colleagues at the charity where I work are used to me now. I work three days for Ideal For All, a disabled people’s charity managing a therapeutic horticulture project. I have three teenage daughters who all seem to have a busy social life and extracurricular activities and my husband, Mr Nell, works shifts. I have a white board in my office with my deadlines on and a word target for each week which I do my best to keep. I’m very disciplined and time management is key to getting everything done.
To plot or not to plot? Are you a planner or do you just dive in?
I’m a pantser. I know the beginning and I know the end but the middle is sort of fuzzy until I work my way through. My characters often surprise me.
Which authors have most influenced your work? And which do you choose to read for pleasure?
I’ve been influenced by lots of writers. Agatha Christie, Liz Fielding, Jessica Hart, Elinor M Brent-Dyer and Andre Norton are all superb story tellers with a warm sympathetic way of writing which totally draws me in every time I pick up one of their books. I read all of them. I also love Betty Neels, those are my comfort reads. I love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books, Jennifer Crusie, my friend Phillipa Ashley’s books, and Katie Fforde amongst others. I also read a lot of autobiographies.
How do you develop your characters?
My characters arrive in my head as a voice. I seldom see them but I hear them. They are always named and fully formed with their own quirks and conflicts.
What do you think an editor is looking for in a good novel?
I’ve worked with a lot of editors at lots of publishers both here in the UK and in the US. I think the common thread is that they want a great story, compelling, believable, warm. Something that speaks to them and makes them want to keep reading, told with a distinct voice.
What advice would you give a new writer?
Read. Read a lot. Which authors do you love? Why? How do they make their stories great? Then polish your mss. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to get it out there. Take your time to make it the best it can be before you send it off.
In what way has the RNA helped you or your career?
Where do I start? There are so many ways. The generosity of my fellow writers in giving advice, and support. The NWS scheme which helped me so much when I was starting off. Most of all for me it was The Romance Prize. Winning the prize was such a huge thing for me. I still have to pinch myself. It helped publishers and agents to notice me but most of all it helped me to finally believe that I could write.
Tell us about your latest book, and how you got the idea for it.
RENOVATION, RENOVATION, RENOVATION is a contemporary rom com with a twist. It combines my passion for historic buildings with my love of writing independent but down on their luck heroines.
To find out more about Nell and her books, do visit her website at http://www.nelldixon.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter
Interviews on the RNA Blog are conducted by Freda Lightfoot and Kate Jackson. If you would like an interview, please contact me at: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org