This interview took place in 2018 and has been re-published several times. I’m including it in this round as Nigel is currently working on the sequel to ‘Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas’ which is due out in 2021. If you haven’t yet read ‘Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas’, I would recommend it.
What made you want to write a book?
It was always something that was within me ever since I was a teenager but whenever I saw my future it was more writing a script because of my fascination with film. I wasn’t really an avid reader as a kid or a teenager but as I grew older I had this idea of writing a novel but I didn’t really have much life experience you kind of need to write one. When we booked the Las Vegas trip 6 months beforehand I knew I was going to write something on it. It was going to be my first proper piece of work and as soon as I came back I was full of motivation and enthusiasm. I’ve never felt anything like it before, I went for it and wrote the first draft of the true story within like 2 months and it took another 7 years after that to get it right but I managed to get that first draft of it done. Initially, I wanted to keep it as a keepsake between me and my friends but I enjoyed it so much I wanted to write a bit more fiction around it. I wanted to include things that had happened in my life which had nothing to do with Vegas and just write a more compelling story which would be more accessible to everyone else really rather than just between me and my friends.
Was it always this book you wanted to write?
Maybe not this type of book in terms of being a 6-day trip but the idea I initially had was doing a university type book as that was the extent of my life experience at that point. I had a great time during those 4 years and I thought I could write something around that. I never thought of writing a crime thriller, psychological thriller or any kind of war-based book but I have so much admiration for those people who can conjure up something from nowhere. It was always going to be based on something which I had experienced which is something I’ve learnt about myself. I think my strength is I have to live through it first and then, whatever happened, change it but I have to have that basis of having lived through it.
Who is the book aimed at?
That’s a good question. I initially thought it would appeal to men but a lot of women buy it and I get a lot more feedback from women, like middle-aged women aged anywhere between 40-60 which has really surprised me. I do think it is appealing to a younger crowd too. I think from where I sell it in WHSmith, I’m always going to attract that specific reader. As long as people are enjoying it that’s the main thing.
What were the easiest and hardest parts of the book to write?
The easiest part funnily enough was what lots of people say is the hardest part and that’s getting that first draft done. The hardest part has definitely been the editing process. It’s a minefield. Whoever becomes an editor, I have a lot of respect for them as I could read through it 400 times and then on that 400thtime I could notice a spelling mistake or a grammar error and wonder how I didn’t notice it the first time. Even my editor was the same, she read through it a lot of times and was picking up things after each read through.
What can we expect from your next book?
More of the same really. I don’t want to give too much away in terms of the way it ends but it will follow on as a sequel but it will be a totally different story which centres around the main character and again I hope it’s another exciting adventure. Ricky is thrust into a different realm and the end of this book leads us in nicely to the sequel.
There are lots of references to spirituality, fate, destiny and being a seeker in the book. Does that describe who you are?
Certainly, yes. Over the last 10 years or so that’s how I’ve felt and I’ve opened myself up to that side of life really. I’m fortunate that my girlfriend is very much into that so when you read that side of the book, a lot of that has come from her. I wouldn’t say she converted me as I was always like that without really knowing it. Sometimes it takes someone to point out why you think the way you do to really understand it. I like that aspect of the book as hopefully it might resonate with other people who think in a similar way but aren’t too sure why they are thinking that way.
Maybe it’s the spiritual side which appeals to female readers?
Maybe that is it. On the face of it, people see the book as about a lads’ trip, but I do see it as a lot deeper than that and I think it will appeal to a number of people. You’ve just hit the nail on the head that the spirituality side and that emotive side of the whole reason for going to Vegas will connect with people.
I really enjoyed the male friendships throughout the book which come through strongly. Was that an important aspect for you to highlight?
Definitely, yes because the main character Ricky goes with friends and I wanted his friends to be that supportive rock behind him who encourage him to find the answers. In typical male camaraderie you do have that taking the mickey out of each other and you do what lads do. It’s billed as 4 single guys go to Vegas and you’re going to do what 4 single guys do. It is an insight into that male psyche but I wanted to get away from the stereotypes of just focusing on one thing. I wanted the male characters to have that depth to them as well and that kind of caring side to it. In this day and age, it’s becoming more and more talked about in the media especially around aspects of mental health and you know it is ok that guys do have that bond and can talk to each other on an emotional level and encourage each other. It doesn’t always have to be all about drinking, meeting women and gambling. There is another side to it and that is true amongst my own group of male friends and I’m sure it is for other groups of male friends as well.
In the book there seems to be a link between anger and passion, is that a strong theme for you now or was it during the trip?
Yes, the main reason for going to Vegas was the breakup which a lot of people could relate to when you’ve been in love with someone, it‘s gone wrong and you split up. It can lead to anger and questions need to be answered. Anger stems from some sort of passion and I also think that I touch on having become stagnated in life and this frustration can again lead to anger. Many people feel the same whether due to the end of a relationship or feeling stuck in a dead-end job when you feel like you’re worth more and can do more. It does lead to frustration and anger and I tried to get that across so people can relate to it and get the message that you can do something about it. You can change so don’t settle for how you’ve become.
What advice would you give to any budding writers?
Never give up! Keep writing, keep reading and try different avenues. I started the book before I started writing within music and I think writing in music helped me hone my craft because you’re exploring other avenues. Anything is inspiration and my phone is full of notes. I think the main thing is people might criticise but don’t let it deter you at all, keep going with it as there will be people out there who do connect with your writing.
How long did it take you to write the book from having the first thoughts to the end?
The thoughts started when I was 18/19 and the book was released last year when I was 35. There’s another tip to not put off things that you can do today as I think I left it too long. I lacked motivation and was stuck in a rut which is true to what the book talks about.
Do you have any favourite books or authors you would recommend or have influenced your writing?
The likes of Nick Hornby and ‘High Fidelity’ because that’s kind of a soul searching entwined with music so that very much hit home. I saw the film before I read the book so the film resonated with me initially. Then the likes of Rex Pickett’s, ‘Sideways’and again I watched the film first and then read the book. The book was so much better and blew my mind and that’s the closest book I read which is similar to mine. It’s about 2 guys who go on a bachelor party up to Napa Valley and the wine country. The one who is getting married is a ‘Jack the lad’ who wants a final fling beforehand and the man who takes him, the best man is a lot like Ricky, he’s coming out of a marriage, is a writer and is trying to get over some demons so yes it really does resonate. Then there’s the side of Hunter S. Thomson’s, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’,the brutal, depraved side of life which I liked to explore as well so somewhere between the two ‘Lost in Manchester, Found in Vegas’ kind of fits in.
Where can readers find you on social media?
Facebook: NJCartner author Website: Njcartner.com Twitter: @njcartner Sonicbandwagon.com is where my music and travel reviews are.