Book Nerd Interview
N.P. Griffiths lives in Chafford Hundred, Essex, where he writes steadily and works for a large company specializing in information technology. He is currently writing the next book in the Isabella’s Heiress series. Isabella’s Heiress by N.P. Griffiths (published by Clink Street Publishing, RRP $14.99 paperback, RRP $6.99ebook) is available online at retailers including amazon.com and can be ordered from all good bookstores.
Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Telling stories is a way for us to escape reality for a short period and immerse ourselves in someone else’s life whilst forgetting about our own. I think that is a necessary tool for opening the eyes of young readers whose only experience of the world is what is immediately around them.
It’s also just fun to get away from your own life once in a while even if it’s only for an hour or two.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I’m not sure. A lot of writers these days have been to university but I left school at 16 and went straight to work, so I guess that maybe? I did a lot of writing when I was a teenager but that creative urge left me when I left school and didn’t return until much later.
Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
Wow, this is a difficult one as there are so many books to choose from. My favourite book within the fantasy/sci-fi genre is probably The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. Their re-imagining of a Victorian England completely changed by the success of Charles Babbage’s machine is brilliant and it’s one of the few books that I go back to from time to time and re-read.
Outside of my genre I would have to say The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld is probably the book that comes to mind. His description of 1920’s New York, the use of the psychology of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud in the capture of a murderer and the prejudices of high society was great and really brought that era to life for me.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
I guess how to read. I was one of the last in my year to learn but, apparently, they couldn’t stop me once I got the hang of it. I’m still pretty rubbish at maths, though, if I’m honest.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
It was a single line from Steven King in ‘On Writing’. I forget exactly what he said but basically it came down to “get rid of your television if you’re serious about writing a book”. I went without a television for about eighteen months on the strength of that and managed to finish the first two drafts of Isabella’s Heiress before the temptation to get a new one overcame me. That having been said, I’m single with no children. I can foresee trouble for anybody who tries that with a family to contend with.
Can you tell us when you started Isabella's Heiress, how that came about?
I first got the idea for Isabella’s Heiress in 2005 but didn’t start the book until early 2007 when I was doing a course at City University in North London. The course was one that taught the techniques of novel writing and the opening three chapters of the book were part of that.
Once the course was over I worked on the book for the next few years, completing, re-drafting and refining it until it’s where it is today.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Emma?
I guess there is quite a bit of me in Emma but I think I can safely say that I discovered she is a far, far braver person than me as the story evolved.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Wow, that’s a tough one. Possibly Emma and Hermione Grainger. I don’t think they’d get along but you can be pretty sure there would be fireworks.
For those who are unfamiliar with Taryn, how would you introduce her?
Taryn is in many ways a foil to Emma, the stories main character, in that she was always the one to remind her there was more to life than schoolbooks and exams. When Emma meets Taryn in the afterlife they have to overcome a painful history between them that drove them apart as adults. For all that, Taryn has a huge heart and her only desire is to help Emma, even though this interferes with her own needs and her existence in that world becomes increasingly tenuous as a direct result.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
I guess, don’t let yourself be put off by the knockbacks you receive in life. I know it sounds like a cliché but there are so many times when receiving letters from agents, thanking me for my submission but saying that I wasn’t right for them, when it would have been easier for me to just stop than to carry on. But carry on I did and I feel that experience was a strong learning curve for me that toughened me up to the realities of the publishing industry.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Hah, I’ll never tell, otherwise I’ll have to find a new one.
Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
Probably the Piazza Del Campo in Siena. It’s a medieval square and the same buildings that were there in the 14th century surround it now. Because Siena is a walled town you cannot see the square from a distance. This means the first time you see it is when you enter through one of the narrow alleys or side streets and it’s hard not to be stopped in your tracks, particularly if the first time you catch it is after dark.
What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
I never did a summer job but I did do two paper rounds, one every morning for five years and an evening one for three years. I can’t say either was particularly memorable but they both taught me to be disciplined from a young age so I guess they served me well.
When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
Yesterday, in response to my eight year old nephew telling me he loved me.
Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heartbreak, or having never loved at all?
True love with a guarantee of heartbreak every time.
When was the last time you cried?
Probably when my Nan died. It was a while back now but I was really close to her and she had a huge impact on my life.
What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I was a teenager during the eighties, which was a pretty cool decade to grow up in. Looking at what came before and after, I’m pretty sure it’s the decade I would have chosen. There was an air of innocence about then that isn’t around now. Oh yeah, and there was no social media (I am so glad I’m not a teenager in today’s world).
What's the loveliest thing you have ever seen?
Probably the Northern Lights. I saw them many years ago and it was like nature’s own psychedelic light show.
Where can readers stalk you?
Well if they want to cyber stalk me I have a webpage at isabellasheiress.com where I have a blog, a Twitter page at @neilpgriffiths and a Facebook page at facebook.com/isabellasheiress. Oh yeah, they can reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org as well. They’re all pretty new but I’m slowly starting to work with them, so if anybody wants to send me a question on these, I’ll be happy to answer.
In her fight to survive she meets friends, both old and new, and uncovers a world inhabited by two warring clans of angels, one bent on the ultimate destruction of mankind, the other committed to our salvation. A way out presents itself but with the forces arrayed against her Emma starts to wonder why, of all the people who have found themselves in this position; she is being singled out for such special attention.
As time passes more questions arise for Emma. Who is Isabella, the woman she is constantly mistaken for? Who are the mysterious Cado Angelus who cast a shadow over Emma's every move? And what part does Emma have to play in the events that will soon unfold in her world and ours.