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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, writing partnership Nina Whyle talk about the inspiration behind their new spy thriller, From Dusty With Love.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed Nina Bowden and Clare Whyle, who make up writing team Nina Whyle, about their new spy thriller, From Dusty With Love, and their creative writing process.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
Nina: Clare & I have been friends for years. When we met over twenty years ago it became very apparent that we both had a burning desire to write as a living.
Clare: It spurred us into action and drove us to self-publish, after facing the inevitable rejection from literary agents.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
Clare: Ever since I learnt to write, I have always been writing stories. My mother bought a second-hand typewriter for my 7th. Birthday. If I wasn’t annoying neighbours with pactising the recorder on shed roof, it was the clacking of old fashion typewriter keys!
Nina: I started writing short-handed plays during my university days while studying theatre, then I penned a dark comedy short film while working as an assistant film editor called, “Sucking is a Fine Quality in Women and Vacuum Cleaners,”. But it wasn’t until I left the film industry to care for my newborn that I got serious about writing and started mapping out the outlines of our debut book, Moving Up On Manolos.
When did you take a step to start writing?
Clare: Nina & I started swapping chapters in 2008 – me in Copenhagen and Nina in London. What started as a simple exchange of ideas grew into something much bigger.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
Clare: Difficult one, as life and work has a habit of getting in the way. Nina had worked on some stories some years before (as scripts) and we started collaborating, fleshing the characters and storyline out. I would say probably 6 months for Moving Up on Manolos.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Clare: This one has taken a little while as life got busy, the story was based on a script, and it’s completely changed from the original idea. Maybe across two years it was finally edited and proofread.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write From Dusty With Love?
Nina: We both share a passion for writing and wanted to create a series instead of a standalone story. While our previous books have had crossover characters, Dusty’s journey is just getting started.
What were your biggest challenges with writing From Dusty With Love?
Nina: Our biggest challenge? Time. With our full days, finding the discipline to write books is tough. We dream of a life where writing is our sole focus and livelihood, a lifelong dream for both of us.
Clare: We know our readers enjoy our books, but it’s hard to find the time to produce more. Nina and I often daydream of our perfect writer’s retreat complete with a handsome personal chef, where we could write all day and truly flourish.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
Nina: We love developing the underdog character, watching her blossom amongst the doubters and life’s unexpected twists and turns. Dusty is far more resilient and smarter than she or anyone else initially realises.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
Clare: The old James Bond villain: a foreign evil genius with impeccable manners, someone you actually find charming until you know what they’ve done.
What is the inciting incident of From Dusty With Love?
Nina: Dusty gets fired from yet another job, and her acting career is stuck in neutral. Her flat mate Jodie drags her out for a wild night out. The next morning, with a hangover and in dire need of aspirin, Dusty discovers a business card in her pocket that changes everything.
What is the main conflict of From Dusty With Love?
Clare: Dusty has many conflicts, but her biggest conflict? Her sister Coco, the ultimate bridezilla. Coco has given Dusty the responsibility to plan the best hen weekend ever, but there’s one problem… it’s the exact same weekend as the mission.
Did you plot From Dusty With Love in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
Nina: We did a bit of both. While we had a general plot in mind, we also allowed ourselves to write freely and let the story take its own course. One of the benefits of co-authoring is being able to bounce off ideas and bring them to life in ways we never could have imagine alone.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did From Dusty With Love need?
Clare: We hired a professional editor to help with the final product. As writers, you can easily become word blind and miss important details. We hired an editor to help us catch any mistakes and ensure the clarity in our storytelling. It’s easy to get caught up in character voices during dialogue and forget to indicate who’s speaking, which we have a habit of doing, missing off who’s speaking to whom, as we’re caught up in the dialogue, fully imagining conversations in that character’s voice, everything is alive and well until someone says is that Bernie speaking or Coco? Our editor helps us catch these mistakes and make necessary edits.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Clare: Just write it, even just for yourself. Get it down and see where you go with it. Once it’s written, it’s written. You never know who’ll your meet next, it may be someone who loves it.
Nina: Just start writing! Don’t worry if it’s good or not, just get it down on paper. Discipline is key. Set aside a specific time and place to write, even if it’s just a short amount of time each day. Consistency is key in getting it finished and staying motivated.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Nina: We’ve already finished the first draft of book two in the Duty Call series. Dusty’s back in action, and she’s got a license to thrill. Current working title being “A License to Thrill.’
Clare: And we’ve also begun plotting book three. So, brace yourself for more many action-packed adventures.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Clare: We love writing, as I’ve said, we’d would love to do it fulltime as a job. We dream and hope that it will happen one day. I especially love the feeling of holding the first proofread paperback in my hands, it’s better than all my Christmases put together. We are proud, this is our fifth book together and we continue our dream together, better than a marriage really ;)!
Nina: For us, the ultimate goal is telling stories. There’s something magical about seeing a story come to life on the page and having people read our work and enjoy it.
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