Today, Author Nicola Furlong joins us. Nicola pens mystery and inspirational novels, produces interactive books for the iPad, creates funky, high-relief paintings, podcasts about genre writing (The Novel Experience), and teaches electronic publishing, when she’s not playing Old-Timer’s hockey, growing blossoms and bamboo or eating chocolate fudge.
Nicola is the author of HEARTSONG, the first book in her new inspirational women’s fiction series, the Sisterhood of Shepherds. She has also written two stand-alone mysteries (TEED OFF!, republished in print & ebook 2014, and A HEMORRHAGING OF SOULS, now available in ebook), and six inspirational cozies from the CHURCH CHOIR MYSTERY series. She has also germinated a gardening guide for the West Coast, and adapted two of her novels to screenplays; both were optioned for television.
Please welcome Nicola!
One of my favourite quotes is, “Show me your garden & I shall tell you what you are,” by Alfred Austin. Perfectly suits me, my writing and my gardens. My personal palette brims with vivid hues and striking contrasts, demonstrated by my wild cottage plantings, my love of wearing dazzling colours, and my creation of complex characters. I am dead fortunate to garden in a small seaside town on southern Vancouver Island, BC.
When did you first discover that you loved writing?
I’ve always loved reading and stories, encouraged by both parents from an early age. Happily dove into the battered green Penguin mysteries handed down from my father, via my older siblings. After my dad died, I yearned for a creative outlet and thought he would be proud if I scribbled a whodunit.
Now, after having written a number of mysteries, I’m embracing the challenge and opportunities offered by writing the Sisterhood of Shepherds, a family saga with quirky characters, inspired by members of my family.
Why do you write the type of books that you do?
As I mentioned, my parents were into books, and since my Dad was a huge mystery/crime fan, nothing suited me better than disappearing into Gaudy Night, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The Thirty-Nine Steps or any other mystery from his vast collection of old green Penguin books.
When he passed away, I decided to write a mystery as a way of honouring him. I followed the classic first novel approach and penned a first person mystery called Teed Off! It starred a character much like myself, named Riley Quinn. She’s curious, athletic, driven and addicted to chocolate, and when someone she loves dies mysteriously, she’s hell-bent on discovering what happened.
What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?
I tend to bore easily, so find it tricky to maintain focus. Creating compelling stories and complex characters is hard mental labor. Though there are numerous times that words, ideas and dialogue tumble out effortlessly, alas there are countless instances where the big zip happens, and I’d rather be biking, playing hockey or gardening. Sounds foolish, but idling in front of a computer screen and expecting something creative to ensue takes faith, hope and chocolate. Often a lot of chocolate.
Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Harper Lee’s compelling story of family, racism and redemption. It showed me how a single isolated incident in a small town could be a powerful universal theme.
I would cherish the opportunity to meet Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful novel, focused on family, truth and hope. As a tomboy with an older brother, I identify directly with Scout and her challenges to please her family, her society and yet be herself. I understand that the author had many challenges, some personal, some writing and some societal, in creating the final version. Her perseverance is inspiring.
What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?
Spending a year and many thousands of dollars enhancing my supernatural thriller, UNNATURAL STATES, with video, music, sound effects and photographs, before finally turning it into a nifty online multi-media experience called a Quillr®. The process was a gas, involving hiring 12 actors, finding dozens of suitable filming locations, directing, shooting and editing 50 brief videos/scenes, organizing a fake rock concert, and learning tons of new software.
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?
A magnifying glass for making fire, a sharp, serrated knife for basic survival, and for my soul and entertainment, the collected works of Agatha Christie.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
If you are like me and thirst for entertaining stories without misogyny and violence, please welcome to your reading shelf the Shepherd family of Oregon in HEARTSONG, a story of love between sisters, family, and a song that will reach right in and take hold of your heart, seizing it until the very last page.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
As mentioned above, I’m currently jiving with Faith, Hope and Charly Shepherd, my plant nursery family from Heartsong. It’s great fun, as the concept combines so many elements in my own life. I understand the joys and vexes of having many siblings, I adore digging in the dirt, and nothing gets between me and my chocolate fudge.
In the next novel currently underway, Homefires, Charly and her extended family have a gas planning a charity Halloween event, while the three quirky sisters continue to explore their greater calling by assisting an ailing father face a past wrong. Of course, there’s some crazy antics, fabulous treats and heart-warming sentiments.
Once finished, I’m going to jump back in and rewrite my darker, more complicated and controversial novel, UNNATURAL STATES. After that, another season in the Sweet Shepherd Nursery. I’ll be long overdue for some sibling laughter and a hit from Charly’s awesome cookies.
What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Write something, anything, everyday. Don’t edit, don’t second guess, and don’t stop.
Please tell us about the featured book.
As I revealed above, the novel is HEARTSONG, the debut in my light-hearted, inspirational series called the Sisterhood of Shepherds.
Some families have hope. Others have faith. The Shepherds of rural Oregon have Faith, Hope and Charly, three quirky sisters whose lives change forever when they reluctantly answer a personal calling to help others make amends.
In HEARTSONG, thirty-something single parent Charly Shepherd is satisfied with her life raising two children and thousands of plants in her family-owned Sweet Shepherd Nursery. Then, tragedy strikes. As she and her siblings struggle to keep the nursery going, Charly begins to believe her family’s destiny is greater than raising flowers. When the three sisters reluctantly delve into family secrets to help their ailing father fulfil a promise, their lives change forever as they pursue a new inspirational path of discovery, heartache, humor and redemption.
The series has its own tagline: Experience friendship, family and forgiveness – Join the Sisterhood of Shepherds.
Where can readers find you on the Internet?
Please visit me, my art and my gardens online: