Creative Frontiers met Nora Fountain who told us all about herself (well, nearly all).
CF: Tell us a little bit about Nora Fountain
NF: I always had visions of being a spy. That’s possibly why I chose to study languages. The nearest I’ve got to that was sending Helen in Love Thine Enemyinto France as a member of the S.O.E. My large family of five children, thirteen grandchildren and numerous steps and halfs give ample food for thought about relationships and I get to travel to see some of them or spend holidays with them. With them I’ve enjoyed France, Italy, Greece. I love to travel, I love Europe, I love the Med. Russia’s on my list of places to go – I have a smattering of the language – and possibly Bhutan.
CF: What subjects or genres do you like to read?
NF: I enjoy reading well-written romance and historical romance. Add to these the research books I need for whatever I happen to be writing – at the moment, fourteenth-century Italy, the Black Death, and also (different WIP) Second World War, plus customs, clothes and diet for the period.
CF: Who are your favourite writers?
NF: I used to enjoy Margaret Pemberton and Noel Barber because they write lovely war stories I could only aspire to. I now enjoy contemporary writers like Christina Jones, Pamela Fudge, Veronica Henry and others who guarantee a nice bit of escapism.
CF: What subjects or genres do you like to write?
NF: I write contemporary fiction and fast-paced historical fiction. I’ve also had a go at crime fiction with Chain of Evil. I love to be so immersed that when I take a break, I’m surprised to find myself in the here and now, not in another place, another time.
CF: How did you know you wanted to write?
NF: It was required at school and uni. I soon came to realise I enjoyed the writing process itself but wanted to expand my horizons away from the purely academic.
CF: How did you get the confidence to start?
NF: It wasn’t an issue. Stories came tumbling out. It was when trying to find an agent or publisher that my confidence took a battering.
CF: If you can remember the day you went from non-writer to writer, how did that feel?
NF: It felt euphoric! A publisher wanted my book! This was only surpassed when I held my first copy in my hands.
CF: Do you find novels or short stories easier to write?
NF: I prefer writing something longer where the characters can develop and take on a life of their own. I always did want to run before I could walk.
CF: How (and where) do writing ideas come to you?
NF: They spring to mind unbidden, often in the form of a picture or scene. Walking through the local woods where I used to live brought a vast harvest of ideas.
CF: What writing methods and discipline do you practise?
NF: I’m not too methodical, probably not methodical enough. I have to fit in some translation work which brings in the pennies and which I enjoy.
CF: How much do you edit and polish?
NF: I edit and polish endlessly. The more I comb through a manuscript the more it flows. Once the story is down in rough, the real work begins. By the end of the story the characters have developed to such an extent that I feel I really know them and can fill in lots of details at the beginning of the book. When I’ve just about finished I go through the first chapter again. When that’s done, I go over the first page and finally the first paragraph.
CF: Which do you find easier: constructing characters or building a plot?
NF: They go together. As the story unfolds, a purely mental process, the characters become so familiar you just know how they would react in given circumstances.
CF: What’s the hardest thing about writing for you?
NF: Finding the time and trying to ignore the housework!
CF: What do you most enjoy about writing?
NF: Travelling in my head and meeting lovely or sometimes horrible characters of my own invention.
CF: Do you fall into writing ‘dumps’ and, if so, how do you get out of them?
NF: If I feel a bit of a writer’s block coming on I sometimes write a particularly lively scene a few chapters ahead and fill in the story in-between.
CF: If you’ve suffered rejection, what works for you in dealing with it?
NF: It used to be devastating. I’d have to wait till confidence returned and reality kicked in. Now it’s par for the course, all part and parcel of being an author.
CF: What are you working on at the moment?
NF: I’m working on a contemporary set in France and a historical set in Italy in the fourteenth century.
CF: What further ambitions do you have for your writing?
NF: I’d like to see two of my historicals made into films!!
I’ve had novels and novellas published by Hale, MWSL and Thorpe. One historical,Blackthorn Child, went straight onto Amazon Kindle where it proved a bestseller.
I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I belong to the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Chartered Institute of Translators.