Nita Round is here to chat about life, jobs, gaming, and her latest release, Raven, Fire and Ice.
Please welcome Nita.
Before we begin, thanks so much for stopping by today for a chat.
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.
Where do you live and does it play any part in your writing?
I live on the outskirts of the county town of Stafford, on the edge of Cannock Chase. We’ve only recently moved here from Heath Hayes, which is also close to Cannock Chase. Most of our possessions are still in boxes because the house needed so much restoration work, but we are getting there.
When it comes to writing, I like to use real things, and real places as much as possible. For example, after I graduated and left London, I moved to Stafford for a while, and that’s where I based “Fresh Start.” It’s still possible to go and visit the pub where one of the characters worked, the café, and Lichfield Cathedral.
The towers of Cannock Chase make an appearance in the upcoming book “A Touch of Truth: Raven, Fire and Ice.” Although the towers, in reality, are far different to the ones in the book.
How many different jobs have you held? What was your favorite (not including writing)? Your least favorite?
Oh lord, I have had more than a few jobs. Some in London, some Stafford, some elsewhere. I’ve probably missed a few, but here are the ones I recall.
Sandwich maker, cleaner, assistant in a shop, furniture removals, bar person, waiter (and yes I can serve with spoon and fork), sommelier, DJ, journalist (computer magazines), technical help assistant, envelope stuffer, database designer, systems manager, data analysist, book reviewer, restaurant manager, hotelier and technical writer. I also ran a lonely hearts site online which found some fame in the national papers. Is that enough?
I loved being a DJ even though speaking in front of people scares the hell out of me. I liked being in technical help too. Then I could take lots of things apart and fix them. I admit though, that I hated all of the office jobs I had after I left London.
You studied psychology at university. Do you get out your school texts when developing characters? Seriously, though, how often do you dip into your psychology tool box to craft your characters?
I still own and use every text I have ever bought, not just the psychology. I don’t specifically dip into the psychology texts for my characters, although I think my past knowledge must influence everything I write now. Perhaps it doesn’t help that my specialities were not clinically or socially based. So for me, it was all experimental psychology, artificial intelligence, and a lashing of criminology thrown in to feed my darker side.
I started a second degree later on, but enjoyed the undergraduate courses so much I started any course that interested me. So to psychology add palaeontology, geology, genetics, microbiology, physics, chemistry, quantum mechanics, and others. Turns out I had a natural bent for astrophysics.
What do you like to do in your spare time for fun? And can you tell us what it means to be an avid LARPer?
Spare time? What on this blessed earth is that?! I worked in a hotel, so 18 hours a day, six days a week and a half day of 8 hours on Sunday didn’t leave much room for hobbies.
That said, I always found time for games. Any games. Computer games, board games, and role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, the Call of Cthulhu, and so forth. When I had the time I wrote adventure scenarios, created new worlds, and loads of fictional characters. I’ll bring all of them out to play one day. So that includes making hand-built scenery, painting miniatures, and so on.
LARP – Live action role play. A kind of let’s pretend for adults. We dress up and wield weapons and cast spells with almost total abandon. I have to admit I have not played much in recent years. The local group closed down and when most of my buddies moved away the adventures fizzled away. We used to run adventures on Cannock Chase too and ignored the odd looks from walkers and joggers alike.
I recommend LARPing to everyone, especially if you can go to a full weekend event. Awesome fun.
As you can see, I love gaming, but I enjoy other pastimes as well. I walk, on Cannock Chase mostly, but we go to all kinds of lovely places across the UK as well. Walking is such an important part of my life. As is the garden, and I love growing our own fruit and vegetables. It’s so rewarding to think my damson gin contains damsons from my own garden, and the very berry vodka is made from my berries or those I have foraged on a walk.
Tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?
A Touch of Truth book one, “Raven, Fire and Ice,” is speculative fiction that can be best described as a kind of post-apocalyptic steampunk. There are airships, a very Victorian psychometrist (someone who reads objects), a dashing captain and a leather-clad Amazonian bodyguard. They meet in a tower in Mid-Angle, where they come together to solve a crime with a paranormal twist.
Book two of the series, “Raven, Sand and Sun” is already written, and continues the adventure begun in book one. I plan several stories in this world, with these characters.
The inspiration for the story came from several places. It started with a single line, “Blood, blood everywhere,” and so I assumed that I would start a crime thriller. But then along came a character called Lucinda Ravensburgh and she would have none of it. She is a very demanding woman and rapped my knuckles whenever I thought of anyone else. From then on, the story became hers, not mine. I suppose then ideas bubbled up from the murk of my mind and filled in the details. Like the towers of Mid-Angle, it all starts with something ordinary and then ends up as anything but.
How would you describe your writing process?
A sequential Panster.
Pantser because I write on the fly, or by the seat of the pants. No outlines, no plans, no details. Nothing. I start with the first sentence, or a character, or nothing more than the working title. I don’t even know where the story is going to go. Every chapter is as much a surprise to me as it is to the reader, although the reader gets a polished version, not the very rough draft I produce. But as I begin, I have no idea who is who, what is going to happen, or how it ends.
A sequential writer because I can’t go on to the next scene until I have finished the one I am on. Some people can write random scenes and then put them in the order they want. I couldn’t do that, even the thought of such a process fills me with dread. I’ll stick with my A, B, C approach.
Do you have a crush on any of your characters?
That would be telling. They get so jealous when I look at anyone but them…
I love all my characters, even the secondary ones. But I love to write about strong women, especially when they’re put in places they should not be, like in “Knight’s Sacrifice,” I sent the two main characters to Hell and one jumped into the Pit. An interesting place, but not for the faint hearted.
If pushed I would admit that I rather like Captain Stoner of the airship Verity, Please don’t tell Lucinda Ravensburgh I said that, she’ll get jealous and if I misbehave, she won’t let me write book three in the series.
If you were planning a romantic evening, what would it include?
Any evening spent alone with my wife is romantic. We’ve been together almost 24 years now, and married for 12 so we find it is the simple things that matter most. Sitting outside, holding hands, and watching the stars, for instance.
If I wanted to make a romantic evening then it would be a meal at home. We would have olives and sparkling wine in a candlelit garden. Dinner, also candlelit, would be paella, because this is her favourite, and we don’t have it often. A nice bottle of red wine, and most likely with paella it would be a Faustino I gran reserve. Then if we can manage a dessert it would be apple and rhubarb crumble with custard. All homemade. Then coffee and a cuddle.
Or on a pleasant night, a picnic out in the garden, with pillows and cushions to lie on as we nibble away at little plates of savouries. Don’t forget the candles and music.
Before we finish, I have to ask about Rosie. How much does she love the hills and forests of Cannock Chase? Do these rambles aid your writing?
Rosie is a full ruby King Charles Cavalier spaniel and she is a bundle of joy. She responds to Rosie, Ya bugger, and Pudding, as long as she gets a treat or a cuddle, and for her either is good. We got her when she was a year old because no one wanted her. How anyone could want to get rid of such a wee thing I’ll never know. She does have lots of health issues, so that might be a part of it, but when she is racing around chasing birds and squirrels you’d never think so.
I usually start my writing day as I am having breakfast, and Rosie helps by sleeping across my feet and keeping my toes warm. But mid-late morning, she starts grumbling. This is the time I must get my coat, get a pocket full of treats, and drive her to the Chase for her walk.
Rosie is such a big part of our life. Because of this I wrote a short story, called, “Tigger and Me” which features in “Love is in the Air,” a recently released anthology of Regal Crest authors.
We both love walking; it is where I get my best ideas for the day’s work. If I can’t decide what I want to happen next, I walk, and by the time I get home again I have an answer. So yes, the rambles help me to write, they clear my mind and sometimes it’s all I need.
Thanks so much for chatting today.
One more thing. I’m going to ELLcon in August and I’ve even agreed to be on a couple of panels. Hope to see you there!
Lucinda Ravensburgh sees the truth in everything she touches. When Captain Magda Stoner of the airship Verity, asks for her help in a very strange and messy crime, Lucinda cannot refuse. From that moment on, Lucinda’s life is changed forever. She discovers, no matter what the obstacle, nor the troubles they encounter, finding the truth is paramount.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Nita was born in Wolverhampton and was taught silver service almost as soon as she could walk. Most of her life has been spent in the family business which has included bar, night club, restaurant and hotels. At various times she has escaped to London to study and work as a free lance journalist, then as a systems manager. She wrote her first book at age 22 whilst commuting from Stafford to London and then shelved all 600,000 words of it.
Now, Nita lives in a leafy suburb of Stafford with her wife, Elizabeth and their King Charles Cavalier, Rosie. She writes kind of full time, but when she isn’t, she loves being outdoors in the garden, walking the dog on the heathland and forests of Cannock Chase, or visiting places of interest and national heritage. Any other free time is spent reading, cooking, and drinking wine. She likes making flavoured alcohol and her damson gin has been blamed for many a headache. No one has learned to say no though.
CONNECT WITH NITA ROUND
Thanks so much for stopping by today.