Author Name: Christy Jackson Nicholas
Best Known Works: Mythical, Magical, Mystical: A Guide to Hidden Ireland
Top Writing Tip: Write! Write every day. Even if it’s terrible. Write and write some more. And when you stop,write. Don’t edit until you’re done with your first draft.
Hi Christy, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!
What are the experiences that led you to write this book?
I am an accountant, artist, author, and acrobat. OK, perhaps not
that last one – but I needed another ‘A’ occupation!
I enjoy the life and beauty that surrounds us all. I have travelled many times to the UK and Ireland, and find them absolutely fascinating. The history, the people, the very land itself has always called to me. When I am in Ireland, I feel as if my soul has come home, and I ache to remain there the rest of my days. I want other people to experience this epiphany, so I have written a guide to help them plan their own trip, within a budget.
When did you realise you were Pagan?
When I was 14, I had been confirmed in the Presbyterian church and found the comparative religion classes fascinating. I started doing my own research, and found that Wicca spoke to my soul far more clearly than any other religion. I continued in my research, which was much more difficult in 1984 than it is now, and followed my path.
What do you enjoy reading?
Right now my great love is historical fiction, but I grew up on science fiction and high fantasy. Diana Gabaldon is a favourite, as are Robert Heinlein, Anne McCaffrey, Bernard Cornwell, Naomi Novak, Sharon Kay Penman, Robin Hobb, Raymond Feist, Mercedes Lackey, and Marion Zimmer Bradley.
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always loved writing. However, I was never particularly good at it. To this day, I still cringe at the horrible Dragonriders of Pern fan fiction I wrote when I was twelve. Over the years, though, I wrote travelogues whenever I journeyed. I would write down notes about who I met, what I drank, which rocks I tripped over – and it seemed to work. Now I believe I’ve found my voice and my level of craft. I use writing to share my own impressions, beliefs and experiences. I’ve even begun writing novels! I’ve written four, though they are all still in the editing/publishing stages.
How did the topic of your book come to you?
I always loved writing travelogues, and so many people asked me after my trips to help them plan their own journey. Eventually, I wrote an article on how they could do it themselves. That article sort of grew into the book.
Do you plan your stories before you begin?
I am a very methodical, planning person, so I love the Snowflake Method. It helps me plot out the story, the characters, the arcs, etc., before I start page one.
How long does it take you to write a book? Are you a fast or slow writer?
I’m a fast writer. I try to write at least 2000 words a day when I’m ‘in novel’. The fastest novel I’ve written was in six weeks. That doesn’t mean it was the best, mind you! The first book I wrote took six months (the Ireland book). The editing process, however, takes me longer than the writing, as I detest that part of the process.
Tell us a bit about your travelogue.
It contains a section on the myth and history of Ireland, and then a good chunk of practical tips to help you plan your trip. It helps you figure out what time of the year to go, which lodging style best suits your needs and budgets, how to buy a round at the pub, and a list of discount websites to help with your planning. Then there is a huge section of hidden places, sites off the beaten path. There are some popular ones as well, but I prefer the little places, where the other travel guides aren’t taking you, such as Brigit’s Prayer Garden, or Ballynoe Stone Circle.
Who encourages and inspires you?
My parents, my husband, my best friends (who are probably sick of reading my WiPs by now) and my publisher. In fact, my parents were the reason I started writing novels. I wanted to document their love story (it is very romantic) in novel form.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you most like your writing retreat?
Absolutely Ireland. In fact, I can tell you exactly where – County Donegal, right near Sliabh Liag cliffs. 900 feet up above the Atlantic Ocean, where the Gulf Stream hits the land. An incredibly inspiring, stunning place!
Are you published or self-published, and what has been your experience of this process?
Mystical Ireland is my first non-self-published book. I previously had two photo journals self-published via Lulu, one on Ireland and one on Scotland. The Scotland one was picked up by Barnes & Noble online. Now I am published by Tirgearr Publishing, a small ebook publisher based in Ireland. Tirgearr has been incredibly helpful, but brutally honest when it was needed.
Do you think e-books have changed the publishing market for better or for worse?
I think both.
Better, as it allows more authors to be on the market, expanding the options. Authors that don’t necessarily think outside the box, and cater to what an editor thinks the public will like. It lets books get published with a much lower cost of entry.
Worse, in that it allows more authors to be on the market – authors that don’t necessarily go through the editing, proofreading, and beta reading process.
What are your future plans for writing?
I’ve written, as I mentioned above, four novels now. Three of them are in a series of historical fantasy called The Druid’s Brooch series. I hope to continue this series back into history, to find the origin of the brooch. The novel that isn’t part of that series is my first one – my parents’ love story.