In conversation with... Nina Bell

Hello Nina! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of your latest novel, The Empty Nesters. Can you tell us what it is about?

A: Three friends – Clover, Laura and Alice – have shared school runs, sleepovers and holidays for years, but now that their children are all off to uni, the friendship begins to crack apart. Alice wants what Clover and Laura have, while Laura faces two of her marriage’s major challenges. And Clover has to work out what’s important in her life – and then fight for it.

I can’t wait to read it! Where did you take the inspiration to write this novel? Are you perhaps an empty nester yourself?

A: Our twins left home – one for gap year, one for uni – in September 2008, and it’s taken this long to process how it turns your life upside down. It’s exciting – all that extra time and new opportunities. But sad too – even the dog obviously misses them.

The Empty Nesters was published on the 1st September. At the time of this interview, you haven’t yet embarked on your promotional tour, which will take you, among others, to Henley Literary Festival and Guildford Literary Festival. What is the aspect of touring that you enjoy the most?

A: I love the questions readers ask. It’s interesting, fun – and sometimes challenging – to hear what people think.

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, it seems that interacting with readers – be it via a Twitter account, a Facebook page etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: I sometimes feel I’m getting sucked in because writing can be quite a lonely profession, and suddenly there are lots of interesting and amusing people to chat to. But deadlines terrify me, so I can usually manage to focus on work too.

You were a journalist for women’s magazines and are currently writing a non-fiction book about interior design. Do you think that diversifying your writing is the secret to keep your fictional works fresh and exciting?

A: I do really enjoy writing different kinds of things, and I think it does help. For example, thinking about what sort of a house your characters live in is a good way of getting to know them. Women’s magazines are about what matters in women’s lives, and so are novels, so doing interviews for women’s magazines gave me practice in writing about different characters.

What is your one fundamental piece of advice for aspiring writers?

A: Keep writing. Writing is a craft as well as an art, and the more practice you get, the better you’ll be.

And lastly, is there anything that you would like to share that I haven’t asked?

A: Just that reading novels is probably my favourite way of spending a couple of hours, so I do hope that books don’t disappear in favour of interactive this, that and the other. But I don’t think they will.

Thank you for your time!

A: Thank you, it’s been great to answer your questions.

And now, for a chance to win one copy of The Empty Nesters, click here and complete the form. The competition is open to UK readers only and will close on the 31st October at 1pm.


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