Michael Lipkin: Congratulations on your first novel Ellipsis, the story of a man pushed in front of a train and the chilling investigations and revelations that ensue.
Can you give us a little bio about yourself?
Nikki Dudley: I was born and grew up in London. I work for a charity that promotes reading for pleasure, which is perfect for me! I have been scribbling things down for years; mostly poems, sometimes stories. I decided to make it official and study Creative Writing and English Literature at University.
I focused mainly on poetry on my BA, but on my MA I had to submit the first 10,000 words of a novel—the birth of Ellipsis.
Once I went on to complete Ellipsis, I started submitting and found Sparkling Books to publish it. Ellipsis came out in hardback in April 2010, paperback in September 2010 and is now available as an ebook.
I’ve also had a chapbook of poetry and an online ebook of poetry published in the past year.
How did you decide specifically to write mysteries?
I’ve always been drawn to unusual, dark stories. I love stories where something extraordinary happens, and I don’t mind if it isn’t explained. I like to see how characters adapt or fail to adapt to situations. I wanted to explore this in my own writing.
Who are your favorite mystery writers and other writers?
I read Auster, Murakami, Saramago, Japanese crime writers, Andrey Kurkov, Chandler and Conan Doyle. One of my favorites is Kurkov because he writes stories that are both mysteries and comedies.
Saramago creates amazing worlds— bleak ones, but when he throws his characters into their new life, he thinks of the most unusual ramifications for humankind that are both realistic and gruesome.
Where did you get the ideas for Ellipsis?
Obviously the events are fictional— I’ve never pushed anyone in front of a train! A London tube station seemed a natural place to start. I know the sights, the smells, the sounds, and the people so well. The idea of someone being pushed just came from a few incidents that I heard about when I started writing.
And I knew I wanted to have two main characters—one who knew what had happened in the tube station and another who was consumed by the need to discover this information.
Ellipsis is tightly bound together with repeating symbols, images, parallels, ironies, and striking metaphors. As I read, I had the impression that it all just flowed from your mind. Is that true?
I was always told by my Fiction lecturer to plan each chapter meticulously. I saw her point, but it has never really worked for me. I like to work hard on a beginning and know where I’m going to end up (roughly). In general, I write without restraints, though, both in fiction and poetry.
How is Ellipsis doing and what plans do you have for future books?
Ellipsis is doing quite well. It has been received well by readers and has had coverage online and in newspapers. It’s exciting to have an ebook out there, as I think this will make it spread to places far and wide.
I’ve just completed a sequel, titled Semblance. I’m giving it to some trusted readers and will have it edited by publishing friends and/or a professional editor.
What would you say makes your work unique?
A lot of writers sound poetic when they write, but as a true poet at heart, I think this is more true of my novel. I want every image to be unique.
Additionally, I respect writers who can write in a succinct way. I always try to do this as well, which is why my chapters are often short. I don’t want to overwrite when I can say something powerful with fewer words.
What do you hope to accomplish in terms of larger effects on readers?
I want people to believe my writing so much that they can relax into the story and the characters. No matter what happens with the plot, I want my readers to believe it because the book is well written.
My books can be dark in places but they’re also interwoven with a strange sense of hope, however faint it may seem. I wouldn’t want my novels or poetry to be completely devoid of hope.
On that note of hope, at least a strange sense of it, thanks so much for giving us this interview and continued good luck with your writing.
Thanks Michael. It was great to chat to you.