1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?
Hi, my name is Nic Winter and I’m a Scottish mystery writer, originally born and bred in Glasgow.
2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?
My debut mystery is A Season to Kill (A Darcy Sinclair Novel) and is the first in the Darcy Sinclair series. A Season to Kill is a murder mystery/domestic noir. Some have called it a psychological thriller but I will always likely refer to it as a murder mystery.
3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?
My main character is Darcy Sinclair. She is a thirty seven year old litigation lawyer and a mum of two. Darcy was in my head for the longest time and most likely, looking back, this was because in a lot of ways, Darcy is absolutely a reflection of self analysis of my own personality which I wasn’t even aware of until I read back the first draft. Freud would have a field day with me! Darcy’s strengths are her methodical and analytical mind, her sharp gut instinct and her ability to to engage in a two minute psych evaluation of people. She is super kind hearted and tends to put others needs before her own which I see as a strength of character. Her weakness are the little moments of self doubt she experiences, feeling not quite “good enough” and having the inability to say no to people when she should.
4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?
The hardest scene to write was actually my favourite scene by far to write. It’s the penultimate scene where Darcy comes face to face with the killer. I had to dig deep emotionally for this scene as it is where Darcy’s past crashes with her present, raking up a plethora of unresolved gut wrenching emotions from her childhood which, ironically, helps her out in the end. I went back to this scene many times to not only get Darcy’s reactions to the unmasking of the killer and the emotional issues it dredges up for her but I also had to perfect the actions of the sociopath, the killer in the book. I wanted to be sure the scene packed a punch however, that it also answered questions of how and why for the reader as it is a whodunnit.
5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?
I choose to self-publish A Season to Kill.
6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?
I would say there are many difficult parts to writing, depending on your personality. Some writers find it hard to focus on one project or discipline themselves to make the time to write, especially when you are tired; however, fortunately for me, I find this relatively easy. Unfortunately for me I am a complete technophobe, so navigating through practicalities like building a website or social media, reels, etc are way outside my wheelhouse or comfort zone. My best advice to another writer is to focus…focus on one project at a time and devout your full mental and emotional energy to this, until you are happy you have brought it to fruition.
7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
A Season to Kill is the first in the Darcy Sinclair series and I am currently writing A Deadly Shade of Winter, which shall be book two and so on. Each shall be a stand alone mystery/whodunnit; however, of course Darcy shall remain the main character with reoccurring characters. You could read any one of them as a standalone however, I always feel it is better to start at the beginning, to get a real feel for the characters and the setting and follow along with the characters emotional journey and development. Each of my books shall also have a seasonal backdrop with A Season to Kill being set in the autumn time.
8. Who are some of your favourite authors, what are some of your favourite books, and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?
One of my all time favourite authors is Agatha Christie. She was and still remains one of the masters of the mystery and by the time I had finished reading her collection of books, around age twelve, I knew I had found my genre. I was always scribbling away little stories when I was a kid, add in loving to solve puzzles and being a keen observer of human nature then the mystery genre was perfect for me. I also enjoyed Elizabeth Peters mystery books when I was growing up. Then I picked up everyone from Patricia Cornwall to Michael Connelly and Stephen King to James Patterson. I have always been a fan of Ann Rule, the true crime author. At the moment, I am enjoying the American authors Lyndee Walker and Melinda Leigh who write fabulous psychological thrillers.
9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?
I wish I could answer what has been the best way to market my books with more clarity and self assuredness. However, marketing is a little outside my wheelhouse and I am just learning the ropes.
10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?
As I tend to read more mystery and psychological thriller, the only one thing that annoys me as a reader is when I have invested time trying to figure out whodunnit it and it turns out to be a complete stranger. I understand this if it is, say a serial killer book, however, when I am expecting the killer to be one of the characters and then the killer’s introduced in the last three pages, I have to admit, this drives me mad.
11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?
As my debut is just releasing, I haven’t had much interaction with many reviews as yet, with the exception of Beta and ARC readers however, I shall read any and all reviews and if any are negative, I shall have to take it on the chin. I will carefully consider if there is merit in any negative feedback as I believe this is a great way to learn and hone your skill as a writer. However, I am sure I will also have a good cry!
12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?
I have many quirks as a writer, too many to mention. However, one of my main ones is that I have to have the ending completely plotted out on my head before I start to write. A lot of it I completely wing, however the killer and the victims and the ending are all there. My favourite saying about writing mystery is feeling that I am playing a game of chess against myself, therefore I have to know exactly where all of my players, or characters are placed at all times, for the mystery to work. I also have to write chronologically, so even if a great scene comes to mind I don’t write it, I file it away to memory and continue on. I cannot hop about. I also cannot write multiple stories at once! I am strictly a one book at a time writer. I love to listen to music that reflects the mood that I am writing at the time, so for example, if I am writing an emotional scene then I will tend to listen to something lyrically dark.
13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?
The best advice that I ever got as a writer was to know when you need a good editor, do your research and make sure you find an editor that you work well with and you understands your voice and one who will tell you exactly what works, and most importantly, what doesn’t. My advice would be to make sure you find your genre, write what piques your interest psychologically and emotionally; for example, what do you love to read? What are you passionate about? I think this makes your own writing flow so much better, as it is then something you are familiar with and authentically you. I also feel finding your own voice extremely important, by this I mean finding what POV you prefer to write in. I think some writers have struggled with this because they try to write the same way their favourite authors write but it might not suit their own dialogue. I lie to read some third person POV books but I could never write a full book like this, my own voice is always first person narrative.
14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?
I am currently working on the second Darcy Sinclair novel, which is A Deadly Shade of Winter.
15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:
The best place to find me hanging out is on Instagram where we have a great little writing community. I can be found there and love to connect with other writers and readers.
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