Friday, October 7, 2011

Interview with Nell Dixon

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? 

Crikey, I could paper my lounge with the rejections I had before I sold The Cinderella Substitute to the now defunct Moonlit Romance e press. I was determined to sell THE CINDERELLA SUBSTITUTE to someone – it had been right up the chain at Harlequin Mills and Boon, and almost acquired by three other publishers before Moonlit Romance bought it. It’s still available as an audiobook from Audiolark and has just been bought for large print so my persistence paid off eventually. Where is your favourite place to work? I work in a small office upstairs at home, it’s an alcove off the landing with a view of the garden and the fields beyond.

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.

Nell’s latest relase is Renovation, Renovation, Renovation published by Myrmidon. After renovating twelve houses in seven years Kate wanted a ring on her finger and the forever house. Instead of her dream home and her dream man, she lands house number thirteen, Myrtle Cottage. A crumbling seventeenth century money pit. Trapped by the credit crunch on yet another renovation project with her now very ex boyfriend, Steve, will she ever find the forever love she’s after or will it just be more renovation, renovation, renovation?

To find out more about Nell and her books, do visit her website at 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:


Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

Thanks for the interesting interview. I love reading Nell's books and this one is no exception.

Phillipa said...

What Nell doesn't say is how much she gives to new writers and old hands - like me. Anyone will tell you that she is the most generous person with her time and writing advice, always ready with a practical solution that makes perfect sense and makes you smile!

Anna Jacobs said...

Very wise words indeed. You need both dedication to your writing and pig-stubborn persistence to succeed.

The new book sounded so interesting, I preordered it.

Lizzie Lamb said...

A great blog post Nell. I've been a fan ever since BLUE REMEMBERED HEELS and when I first met you and Phillipa (Ashley) as your library talk all those years ago. Had great fun on Twitter last week when you and Kate Allen hosted #renovatethehospital. Have downloaded your first chapter to my pc. Fist time I've ever done that [hope to get a Kindle for Christmas. Love the sound of Renovation, Renovation, Renovation. It'll soon be sitting perched on my TBR pile. Lizzie Lamb

Nell Dixon said...

Thank you all for the lovely comments. I must send Phillipa the fiver for her compliments lol