Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed graphic designer and author VH Nicolson about her career, her experiences with a writing group, and writing her romance novel, Hunting Eden. She shares what motivated her, and the advice she has to inspire others.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
A branding and marketing girl to trade, I have worked in the creative industry for over two decades. I run my own graphic design business and have done so for the past six years.
Back in 2015, I set up my own business, I craved flexibility, a job to allow me school pick ups and drop off for my son, setting up on my own was the only solution and it’s been a crazy rollercoaster working within the online market. However, I have never been so grateful being set up for digital delivery during the pandemic.
If it hadn’t been for me spending so much time online, I would never have discovered the copious amount of author and reader groups on Facebook.
And the great thing about being a graphic designer is I can also create all my own social media marketing, graphics and book covers, I do it all myself.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
When I was a little girl, I used to read like crazy. Read anything that was lying around. Consumed papers, magazines, packaging – anything. When the local library van used to make its rounds, ninety nine percent of the time I would be the only child on that library bus. I loved reading. I still do. My passion for reading runs deep and started from a very young age.
Taking yourself off to a magical place. Imagining the people, the places, feeling the emotion, everything. I simply adore it. Last year I read over one hundred and fifty romance fiction books. I just love them. It’s then I had my idea for my own book.
When did you take a step to start writing?
During lockdown, my passion for writing blossomed. I had always dreamed of becoming an author. But it was then I felt it way down deep in my soul, it was time. Also TL Swan set up a writer group at the same time. It was definitely divine timing. Like all the planets aligned. I owe it all to TL Swan for her guidance and mentoring, without her, my book would never have been published. She cheered our writing group on every step of the way.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Around nine months. But I wrote seventy percent of it in three months. The words flowed, as if the story was ready to be told. Then the ideas for more and more books kept on flowing.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Hunting Eden?
I’m a true romantic at heart. They say the best writers are the ones who read a lot. So that’s what I did. And I wrote a book within a genre I love. It helps I live near a magical historical town on the east coast of Fife in Scotland. There was a love story involving that town begging to be written.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Hunting Eden?
Combining comedy and romance. It’s a difficult one to balance. I knew I wanted to write a romance novel, that was the easy part, making it funny and unique at the same time as being hot and steamy, it took a bit more time.
I know it paid off, the reviews from readers have all commented on how funny it is. And a fellow author friend also sent me a message informing me that it was a difficult thing to do but I nailed it. It was a risk, but I’m so glad I took it.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
The hero, Hunter King, came from a thread of thought I didn’t want to have him having any major traumas in his life. A funny, smart, sexy, stellar guy who had it all, but was missing love in his life.
I wanted him to find love, be complete and find the missing part of his jigsaw, someone to share all his abundance and greatness with. And his beautiful Heroine, Eden Wallace, demanded her story be told. She kept waking me up in the night, talking to me, it was constant. I just had to write her story or she wouldn’t have shut up.
She’s a dreamer, a believer in true love, although not for her and she is scared by her past, never trusting her judgement. Love always finds a way though.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
The main two themes of my book are hope and trust. There are three antagonists within my debut novel, and each of them tries to threaten those themes, preventing my beautiful couple to live their dreams and find happiness. They’re a cocktail of sinful traits.
What is the inciting incident of Hunting Eden?
When Eden believes her heart belongs to another, Hunter King shows up to prove her wrong.
What is the main conflict of Hunting Eden?
Trust. Having had her heart broken in the past, Eden walks a fragile zip wire never truly trusting anyone. Her walls are up so high, you can barely see her petite frame but can Hunter King blow them apart?
Did you plot Hunting Eden in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
Both. I plotted out the first ten or so chapters, then slotted in other ideas as I went. But often I would wake in the morning with a new fresh idea or plot twist and would run to my laptop to jot it down.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Hunting Eden need?
I outsourced to an American editor as I wanted to have a book edited in American English. Most of the editing was converting my British English.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Do it. Do it today. Grab a notebook. Put pen to paper and jot any ideas you have down. It doesn’t matter if it’s all gobbledygook gook to anyone else, doesn’t have any flow or exact sequence. Just get all those one words, ideas, plot twists or sayings down. I’ve often found when conversation is flowing, I pick up incredible words or sayings or a quote. Write it all down, even if you never use it in one book, save it for the next.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Oh yes! My first book is based on Eden, who is a triplet. Each triplet sister is getting her own book. I am already half way through writing book two, Inevitable Ella, and book three, Unexpected Eva, is all plotted out. Each sister has her own unique personality and each deserves their own unique story. After that I have another three books plotted out.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I have to admit it was so scary writing my first book, with no one other than my beta readers for guidance. But I trusted them and they were all right, I had an epic unique story to tell. My book made its way into position number thirteen in the Sports Fiction category on Amazon eight weeks after release and I’ve never been so proud, sandwiched between the likes of Val McDermid and Meghan Quinn, just wow. It blew my crazy little mind, that me, a wee scottish lassie, could be sitting among those incredible authors. If it’s possible for me, it’s possible for anyone.