Hi Nia, thank you so much for joining me for a chat today. It’s great to welcome you back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for your new novel. Can you tell me a little about Choices, Shape, Losses Break and what inspired the book?
‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’ is a real shift in tone from my first novel ‘Love Punked’. I’ve described it as My So Called Life meets Top Boy meets Skins! It’s a Contemporary Fiction/Contemporary romance hybrid and it’s interwoven with some challenging themes and issues which aim to get the reader continually re-evaluating their assumptions about risk and threat.
It’s set firmly in the 90’s where, shunned and struggling at home and school, teenager Lorna Davies clatters into chaotic and charismatic Shay O’Driscoll and Leon Barrett at an illegal rave. As Lorna’s talent for dancing sees her unexpectedly employed in the strobe-lit heart of 90’s club culture, her world is turned on its head by her budding friendship with Shay and Leon. For the boys, their high-risk lives endanger all three of them in an association that blurs the lines between friendship and dependency.
As the risks escalate, Lorna’s best friend Hannah, her brother Dan, her bully-turned-protector Nico and her unexpected friend Rosa watch with concern as she is thrust ever closer to harm in an intoxicating new landscape. When life-threatening events threaten to separate them permanently, Lorna, Leon and Shay juggle love, loyalty, sacrifice and exploitation as their lives change beyond recognition. Will the losses they face break them all?
‘Choices’ was inspired by some of my own experiences of rave culture in the 90’s and the people and places that I knew back then. I actually sat down to write it back in 2016 when I realised that two people who were really important to me back in those days, would have turned 40 that year. Their impact on my life has been pretty significant but we lost touch. I guess in some ways, ‘Choices’ started off as a bit of a tribute to them but in typical ‘pantser’ style, it turned into something very much unexpected. ‘Choices;’ is written to be a standalone novel but there are 3 further books in the series. The next one is due for release later this year.
Which songs would feature on a playlist for this novel?
Music is a massive part of ‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’. 90’s club culture was- and remains- an important part of my life. My friendships and experiences of that world were huge inspirations for the characters and events in the novel. This playlist could go on indefinitely and so I’ll pick my top 10:
Paul Van Dyk- For an Angel
Prodigy- No Good, Start the dance
DJ Taucher- Ayla
Dodgy- If you’re thinking of me
DJ Flavours- Your Caress
Dub Pistols- Cyclone
Faithless- Salva Mea
Marc and Claude- I need your loving
I work full time in an incredibly busy inner-London social work team. Writing is truly my escape from the madness and demands of my work life! I have terrible insomnia and only need 4/5 hours sleep a night so my writing process is that I write while everyone else sleeps- I love the coziness of sitting in the gloom tapping away and creating characters and places.
I’m absolutely a pantser, I never plan anything when it comes to my novels. I’ve written 4 books and both ‘Love Punked’ and ‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’ are available right now on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, rated 5 stars, I have another two finished novels that are due for release later this year. I’m finishing one that’s nearly complete and I’m working on 3 other ‘new’ ones that are only 20 or so pages long each so far. I do like flitting between them all and I genuinely work out the plot as I go.
I guess one thing that’s changed is that I am far more conscious of streamlining my writing as I go- I had a real journey to edit down ‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’ and I’ve learnt lots of lessons from that heartbreaking process! I definitely challenge myself as I go now (“Does this actually progress the plot?” “Is this scene truly necessary?” “Is this character essential?”) . I’m definitely more succinct in my style!
What’s a typical writing day like for you? Do you prefer silence? Coffee?
Alas, I wish I had a ‘day’. I write between about 10pm- 2am and it’s literally just me sat on the sofa in the semi-gloom, tapping away in front of whatever Netflix crap I’ve got on. I do dream about having a week in some remote little cottage, tapping away in front of a babbling stream or a roaring fire but then I realise that the wifi would probably be rubbish and I’d spend most of the time swearing at the computer!
The second Mrs. De Winter in Rebecca just for the sake of grabbing her by the shoulders and asking, “What’s your bloody name, love?” I’d also want to immediately get her some therapy to address her blind devotion to a man who freely admits he murdered his first wife and can’t even be arsed to refer to his wife by her name……I mean, does he even know it? All I hear now when I read ‘Rebecca’ is Destiny’s Child singing ‘Say my name’ in the back of my head….
How do you keep the motivation to write going?
I LOVE writing- I always have done. It’s what I imagine people who knit, sew, paint or craft feel- it’s that sense of making something from nothing. It’s free- it costs me nothing more than the energy to tap my fingers and a few pence of electricity a month. Being a self-published author is a tough gig in terms of marketing, sales and profile, You have to work freaking hard for every sale, every review. I enjoy that process of social media and publicity but what keeps me going is reviews- it’s people sending me messages saying they love my book pr people leaving reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, It’s amazing to think that people are out there with my characters in their heads- I love that!
How do you create a character and how important is it to pick the right name?
Characters are already in my head. Forty+ years on this earth and twenty spent as a social worker, I have met so many thousands of people that creating characters from assembled parts and imagination is the easiest thing in the world for me. My characters are shades of people I’ve known or they’re sometimes the idealised versions of people I wish I’d known. Some have lived in my head for years and years and others just arrived unexpected. In ‘Choices’ , there are so many characters who are dear to me from pieces of people in my personal life but one key character (Rosa) literally just arrived as I was typing! She landed without so much as an ‘excuse me’ and exploded into the story. She was like some weird sort of magic trick- POOF- she arrived fully formed.
My favourite character in the world is in ‘Choices’, I can’t imagine loving any character that I read about elsewhere or write in the future as much as I love this character. They genuinely hold my heart. I’ll let you work out who it is….
Names are everything- the way people use your name is also critical. Nobody in my family was ever referred to by their full name unless they were in trouble OR if the priest had come for tea…….For me, the way people shorten your name or the nickname they use does define their relationship with you. For example, my partner has NEVER called me by my proper name. If he ever does, I’ll know we’re in trouble. Same with him- I can recall on one hand the number of times I’ve used his.
I use names of real people in my life- I guess it’s a bit like a tribute in some ways even though the characters will often be VERY different from their real life counterparts. I also use my favourite names, the ones I’d have called my kids if my husband didn’t get a say in it!
I love Caitlin Moran – I’ve grown up with her writing (we’re similar ages and I’d read her stuff as a teenager) and I love her style. I love Penelope Lively too. Sally Rooney and Candice Carty-Williams are fairly recent additions to my favourite lists just because their characters are just the most perfect things. The truth is though, I admire (more and more) the hundreds of thousands of authors who self-publish and who will never get their voices heard above the small circle of their readership. Some of the best things I’ve read have been by author’s writing for fun (Potterhead? Read Loten’s ‘fanfiction’ – it’s incredible). I admire anyone who writes just for the hell of it. It’s bold and it’s brave. As a reader, it’s a bit like treasure hunting- when you find the gold, it’s incredible.
What’s next for you?
I’ve written 2 follow up books in the series, both of which are ready for release. I’ll probably be releasing the 2nd one in October and the 3rd one in the New Year. I’d like to have got a lot further with my other 4 ‘works in progress’ too if I can but that will very much depend on what’s going on with work and how well the teenagers I work with behave themselves (I’ll give you a clue: the odds aren’t great….)
Any other advice for new writers?
Write. Write it if it’s good, bad or ugly but just write! I’ve got loads of little bits of things that will never be books or any good but they were fun to write! Write for you, not a readership. Write because you want to and NOT because you want a book deal. Find your voice and your style and then keep going. Get your friends to read your stuff, throw it out to the internet to have a look at.
Most importantly, embrace negative feedback. Don’t get huffy or disheartened and DEFINITELY listen to what people are saying to you.
Self-publishing is easy and free- give it some thought. Keep the quality high (proof reading is key!) and remember, what have you got to lose?!
About Nia Lucas…
Nia is a UK-based author of Contemporary women’s fiction who is passionate about writing amazing, strong and relatable female characters who readers really invest in- She loves to write stories about the best mate you wish you’d had!
Nia’s Welsh heritage and her life as a practising Social Worker with teenagers and their families heavily influences her work as does her love of all things 90’s, especially Rave and Clubbing culture. Nia’s first novel, ‘Love Punked’ is rated 5* on Amazon and her second 5* rated Novel ‘Choices Shape, Losses Break’ is now available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited!
My verdict on Choices Shape, Losses Break.
Shunned and struggling at home and school, teenager Lorna Davies clatters into chaotic and charismatic Shay O’Driscoll and Leon Barrett at an illegal rave in 1995. As Lorna’s talent for dancing sees her unexpectedly employed in the strobe-lit heart of 90’s club culture, her world is turned on its head by her budding friendship with Shay and Leon. For the boys, their high-risk lives endanger all three of them in an association that blurs the lines between friendship and dependency.
As the risks escalate, Lorna’s best friend Hannah, her brother Dan, her bully-turned-protector Nico and her unexpected friend Rosa watch with concern as she is thrust ever closer to harm in an intoxicating new landscape. When life-threatening events risk separating them permanently, Lorna, Leon and Shay juggle love, loyalty, sacrifice and exploitation as their lives change beyond recognition. Will the losses they face break them all?
Lorna is not sure where she fits in the world. She’s struggling with bullies, both in her home and at school.
When she meets Shay and Leon at an illegal rave, she begins to see the vision of a different life. However, as the risks of knowing these two boys escalate, her friends can only look on in concern as Lorna is thrust toward this new potentially harmful life.
This is one of those books that I couldn’t put down. From the first page, you’re thrown into the action and I was reading way into the early hours. I knew that this was going to be a rollercoaster of a novel and I wasn’t wrong.
Lorna, Shay and Leon are all complicated characters with many layers to them. I found their dynamic interesting. The change in point of view toward the end of the novel was an effective way to add another element to this book.
One of my favourite things about this novel. aside from the strong characters and compelling plot was the nostalgia I got for the 90’s. It took me right back to being at school. I would have been a couple of years younger than Lorna but this got me even more engrossed in the story. I really don’t know what else I can say about this novel without giving anything away.
Choices Shape, Losses Break is a gritty look at what life can be like for teenagers who have not had the easiest start in life. There are some parts that are not easy to read. This novel challenges perceptions and attitudes and it’s definitely worth reading. I am still thinking about it long after I finished it. It has left a big impression on me.