Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Writer's Wednesday: Chatting to Christy Jackson Nicholas

Today we chat with Christy Jackson Nicholas

My name is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. I do many things, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing and photography. In real life I'm a CPA, but having grown up with art and around me (my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected me, as it were.  I love to draw and to create things. It's more of an obsession than a hobby. I like looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or a fragrant blossom, a dramatic seaside. I then wish to take a picture or create a piece of jewelry to share this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others.  Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus I write.  Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. I do local art and craft shows, as well as sending my art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.

Welcome, Christy!

1. What sparked your interest in writing? Your proverbial light-bulb moment?

Finding my father. I was raised by a single mother, and never knew my father. He was never even told I existed, so I searched for him since I was 15, and found him when I was 30. My parents got married for the first time after I got them back together, and that inspired me to write a novel based on their true love story.

2. Which genre are you most comfortable writing in?

Historical fantasy. I love history, but I also love fantasy, so being able to mix the two is a delight. I’m too lazy to go to all the work of world-building that high fantasy requires, so I work with an already created world I’m familiar with.

3. Would you say you draw most often from your own knowledge base when writing or do you research for fresh material?

I start with my own knowledge base, but have to stop frequently to look things up. For instance, what sorts of foods would be available for a picnic in 18th century northwest Ireland? What fruits, vegetables, or grains would they have? Did they enjoy pears? Would they even have a picnic? My favourite source is – to look up those words you didn’t realize weren’t in use until AFTER your manuscript is set.

4. I do the same, always stopping to check something! Tell us a bit about your work. How, for instance, do you choose your titles?

It took some brainstorming to come up with my title for Legacy of Hunger. Since it is set against the backdrop of the Great Hunger in Ireland (1846) I knew I needed something to refer to that. Legacy came from the main thread in the trilogy I’ve written – a magical brooch that is passed down within the family, the legacy of a druid in the distant past who had gifted it to an ancestor.

5. Love the thought of a book passing down! We love to read excerpts. Share with us your favourite bit of writing from you latest book.

Majesta looked up from her breakfast. “But why Ireland, Valentia? There are plenty of men much closer. We could plan the summer in New York, once we’re done with our duties here. You’re much too old for the debutante circuit, but I’m sure we could find you a suitable match among the gentry there.”

“Val can’t find a local husband. She has to import one that will deal with her Mouth!”

She sent her brother a withering look. Ever since he’d discovered that her name, Valentia, came from the name of Valentia Island, or Beal Inse, in the Irish, he had teased her. Mouth of the Island quickly became ‘The Mouth.’

“Actually, yes, I do wish to go to New York, as that would be a perfect opportunity to continue on to Ireland. American men are so boring. I have been corresponding with a painting teacher in Galway. He sounds delightful.” Valentia nibbled at her toast, glad her father had been called away that morning. Mother could be brought around, especially with the lure of a prospective husband. Her father, on the other hand…

Putting down her work, Majesta pulled her glasses off and pinned her daughter with a sharp look. “A painter? That doesn’t sound like someone worth crossing the Atlantic for, dear. What’s really behind this?”

Heaving a sigh, Valentia realized she should have known she couldn’t fool her mother for long.

6. Who do you identify with most in your work? And why?

For this novel, I would have to say I identified most with the main character’s Lady’s Maid, Maggie Curran. She’s a somewhat mousy girl, raised as a servant, but interested in books, new places, and thoroughly competent at what she does. I’m not a leader of men – I’m a doer of things. She’s the same.

7. If you could choose who would play (the character you identify with) in the movie or series made from your work, who would it be?

Maggie is a sweet round, brown wren of a woman. I think she would be best played by someone who can play demure well, and still get things done. Jennifer Lawrence comes to mind – she is a little tall for what I pictured Maggie, but as long as whoever plays Valentia is taller, it would work. I would pick Anne Hathaway for Valentia, I think – someone who can be both kind and imperious as needed.

8. Which four words would you use to describe yourself?

Crafty, determined, helpful, practical.

9. Which four words would you use to describe your work?

Descriptive, historical, adventurous, magical.

10. I have to throw this in! That list of favourites we’re all interested in!

Favourite movie: The Quiet Man

Favourite TV series: Outlander

Favourite colour: Green

Favourite food: Pizza

Favourite drink: Hard Cider

Favourite pet: My cat, Zathrus

Favourite season: Autumn (I love the colors!)

Favourite place: Ireland, of course!

11. Often personal fame and prominence for your work go together, but frequently authors prefer remaining in the background while hoping their work will assume the limelight. Is this true for you, or don’t you mind a bit of fame?

I would be happy either way. My main goal is to create something that others can enjoy, even after I’ve gone. As an artist, I’ve created some local fans. I’ve had people come up to me at Dragoncon and tell me they love me and my artwork – it’s an odd feeling!

12. Tell us about your next book (we love to know what to look forward to!).

Legacy of Hunger is book one in the Druid’s Brooch series. I’ve already written the next two books, and both are prequels to this one. Legacy of Truth recounts the life of Valentia’s great-aunt, and Legacy of Luck recounts the adventures of the great-aunt’s grandfather, Eamonn. I still haven’t decided yet if I want to push the story back farther into the past.

13. What comes next, besides a new book project? A holiday, an event?

I do art shows for my jewelry and photography; June 12-14th I’ll be in Pittsburgh at the Three Rivers Arts Festival with my jewelry.

14. And finally, if you could choose one person, living or dead, you would like to meet, who would it be and what would you ask of that person?

Eleanor of Aquitaine, definitely. She’s one of my heroes, a fascinating woman. I would ask her how she kept from going mad for ten years, while exiled in the tower by her husband.

Thank you for visiting with us, Christy!

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