I'm very old, started writing as a child in World War Two (i.e. over seventy years ago), and have barely stopped since. Much of it has been as a travel writer for major UK newspapers and magazines. In retirement I have returned to my first love of writing fiction and, since 2005, have self-published several novels, two anthologies of short stories, a YA novel dealing with addiction and a true adventure (The Big Muddy – a canoe journey down the Mississippi with my late husband).
A recurrent theme has been the effect of war on the children and grandchildren of participants (as in my trilogy ‘Another Kind of Loving’, ‘Beyond the Broken Gate, and ‘Long Shadows; and in my most recent novel ‘The Other Side of Silence’). Reconciliation is also a recurrent theme as is my belief that it is better to be part of the cure than part of the problem.
More about me and my books can be found at http://tinyurl.com/SNickels-books and www.sylvienickels.wordpress.com
I live in a village in the county of Oxfordshire in England.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is an anthology of short stories celebrating advancing years¸ about which I know quite a lot. In fact mine is rather an interesting generation and there is not nearly enough interaction between the old and the young. This is my attempt to bring us together.
What do you have coming out in the future?
My next project is concerned with the growing problem of dementia in what is a massively increasing number of our ageing population. Having cared for a husband with mild dementia, with all the humour and frustrations that go with short term memory loss, I am also keenly aware that beneath the illness remains a very worthwhile companion and friend. His long term memory remained phenomenal and has led me to create a new type of hero for my next book: a man with mild dementia who provides the solutions to a mystery involving identity theft and internet scams.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
Mostly from my experience and real life.
Yes a lot. Not entirely of course. I use people's characters or incidents, and I think quite a lot of me creeps into my books too.
How have your real life experiences influenced your writing?
Enormously. Surely inevitable since life experiences form one's character and outlook.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
It was my late husband George's. After an extremely active life (Bomber Command during the war, sole survivor of an air crash, three years as a prisoner-of-war, climber, sole survivor of an avalanche, explorer, long distance canoeist) in late life he lost mobility, had many ailments including early dementia. Whenever I expressed concern about the future, he would say cheerfully, "It'll be Better Tomorrow". So I used this as the title of my book.
Is your book a stand alone or a series?
This one is. Earlier ones have been part of a trilogy, though also could be read separately.
Yes, we have a local writing group and pride ourselves on being constructively critical. I also belong to several groups through Goodreads, though some of these I find to be rather time-taking as contributors tend to go off-topic or at times use the group for self promotion.
What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?
It would be the first draft if I didn't know that it would need to be followed by a great deal of re-writing.
What is your preferred writing environment?
A good walk if I need to get over a writing block. Otherwise quiet corner with a pad and pen (I like the physical process of pen on paper), and inevitably in due course a space for my computer.
Ideally I like a plan, but more often than not I get an idea, a beginning and an end, and my characters in due course work out the rest of it.
With many publishing routes available today, which felt the most reliable to you when it came to the many choices?
A good publishing house would be great, but unless you are well established or a celeb this could be a forlorn hope. I find self-publishing quite satisfying and not expensive. The main bind is marketing and the incomprehensibilities of other people's websites!
When did you know you truly wanted to give writing a shot?
Aged ten or eleven. It just seemed the obvious thing to do.