January Author Spotlight on Nolwynn Ardennes

We're kicking off the 2010 spotlights with a special guest here at A Writer's Dream. I'm a big fan of her work already and am jazzed to introduce Nolwynn Ardennes to AWD.

Nolwynn Ardennes is the other pen name of author Aasiyah Qamar. Married with a son and a stepson, she resides on the island of Mauritius where she tries her best to masquerade as a homemaker and domestic goddess. While Aasiyah sets her stories on this beautiful island, Nolwynn touches base with another place that is very close to her heart: London and England in general, as well as other big European cities.

Click below to read the full interview!

Welcome Nolwynn!

Nolwynn: Hello everyone! I wanted first of all to say thanks to Rae for this wonderful opportunity to be featured on her blog. Rae has been more than brilliant with the support she gives fellow writers and to be under her umbrella of encouragement is viewed by me as a wonderful token of association and endorsement.
Rae has been truly a keen supporter of my writing ever since we met and has been a staunch supporter and motivation behind getting my debut novel Storms in a shot Glass out and into the readers’ world.

Thanks Nolwynn! You know, me I'm picky about my reading but when I come across some goodies I shout it to the rooftops! I know readers will soup it up especially if they're looking for a nice, new unique voice. :-D

Let's dive in and get you introduced.

How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

Nolwynn: I write a lot of contemporary romance. By contemporary, however, I mean these are stories that take place in today’s world, using people that live in our age and who face the same concerns and issues we people of the 21st century face. That will be the main link between my works in this genre though, since contemporary to me means a lot of scope. A contemporary romance can be light and funny, or dark and intense, or fast-paced and action-packed too. There is such depth and scope in this genre that just maybe it’s the reason it appeals to me so much – there is really no big restrictive on you when writing about today to abide by this age and era’s rules of etiquette or some other social convention, the way it will happen in a historical. Contemporary gives me freedom to spread my works to wide and far between berths, giving me a whole pitch to cover and exploit in a way I deem best. I don’t find contemporary restrictive at all, so maybe that’s why I find such an affinity for it.

That's interesting because I know a lot of readers looking for some fresh new contemporary stories although some authors feel the variety is limited because we know our world. Looking at the world through different cultural lenses can lend some great stories through a variety of character types. You described some great aspects of how there are still some amazing stories to be told in contemporary times but in so many different ways. Is there anything in particular that inspires the variety of your stories in the contemporary genre?

Nolwynn: It depends a lot to me on whose character’s story I am about to tell. Just like every person is unique and different and doesn’t have the same life experience as someone else, the characters feel this way to me too. Everyone lives different lives. I’ll take one example here – I have 2 heroines: Jane Smithers (Storms in a Shot Glass) and Amelia Jamison (Walking on the Edge). Both are young London women who live in the upper-end, rich areas of the British capital, in the same contemporary setting. Yet their stories and the pace that directs their lives are totally different, at world’s end even. Why is that so, while they’re both living in the same world – it’s because they are inherently different, unique, people and it’s this uniqueness that allows me to breathe more into every story I pen down because I am, at the heart of it, telling this person’s story and her journey through the plot.

Each author comes across different challenges in their writing. What are some of the biggest ones you find yourself facing when you write?

Nolwynn: Making the suspension of disbelief that fiction requires an almost automatic and natural happening for the reader. Let’s face it – we all as readers come to a story, be it in written or visual form, knowing that it is fiction. Yet in some instances, we may go ‘get out of here!’ so much the story is ludicrous, or else we may be nodding all the way through the experience and going, ‘yes, that’s exactly it!’

I want my work to have this resonance with reality and with my readers’ reality too, so that they too will be nodding and going, ‘this sounds so much like the real life.’

Keeping it first of all original and next fresh is also a challenge. The story cannot be a rehash of what’s already out there, otherwise why would readers bother with you? Keeping it fresh comes when you have been writing, even as early as the second book itself, because it is easy to re-enact what you’ve already done and just change one or two angles in it. Freshness should mean that your next story is of a totally new shape and dimension, that you aren’t at all re-enacting your previous work.

How do you deal with these challenges?

Nolwynn: It’s not easy, I will admit it! There are some days when you’re just so tempted to take the easy way and rehash a previous work, especially if it had seemed to work and a publisher liked it enough to acquire it and if you’re already in the stage where you know if the reader feedback is good or not.
But I know that taking the easy way out would be letting myself down, as well as the other people who have believed in me enough to put their trust and faith in me. I think here of my mentor, a wonderful lady who took the time to nurture the scruffy newbie that I was and show her the possibilities a world of author-dom opened. My biggest supporter has also been my husband, and I don’t wish to ever let him down. He always backed me in every decision I took, and he was there through all the struggles and rants and raves and plain miserable days when writing and the publishing world were enacting a bad episode on me.

So I buck up and I try putting whatever remaining neuron is left in my brain after dealing with a rambunctious 6-year-old little boy to good use, and I think. I think all my stories through, always trying to keep abreast of storylines that may sound similar to what I’m thinking of doing and trying to find a new and unexploited angle for my work. ‘What sets it apart?’ is what I ask myself, and I know I better come up with something really substantial to set me apart from what has been done. This takes care of the originality part.

The freshness issue has not been easy to grapple with – it is so tempting to find that such type of story worked for you once and why not do it again, and again, and again? But then you’d be writing yourself into a corner, a dead end actually, and when you’d find yourself facing the wall at the end of that cul-de-sac, it will be too late to turn back and travel the path to where you’d started. I take myself out of this dilemma by hopping across those berths I mentioned above, the different shores of contemporary that are there in front of me. To give me freshness, I will tackle another scope from that genre, and that will generally trigger something completely different for me. Case in point, I did this with Storms in a Shot Glass, which is a light romance with comedic undertones, and the next release that will come right after it – Walking on the Edge, my second novel (coming out June 4, 2010) is a fast-paced and intense mystery thriller that blends in romantic suspense as well. My voice may be the same in the two, but these are two very different stories, as distant from one another as day and night. Yet they both flowed from my pen and the main purpose behind the two is the same – two different who never should have met let alone fall in love will have a lot to battle and overcome to find the place where they can both exists as one. Same principle, but yet, different – original, and fresh.

I like that! When I'm diving into a book, I appreciate the different styles that pop up when my favorite authors tell different stories. Although they may be different stories told in a different way, the author's voice is a consistent comfort.

Looking a bit closer at your work, which aspects did you find most difficult while you were writing?

Nolwynn: I needed a grasp on the characters, the best I could to make them seem true and like real people that leap off the page and exist in 3-dimensional scope in the readers’ mind. Before being able to make the reader feel this, I had to feel it myself, and getting to know these two protagonists was the biggest work I had to undertake. The issue also arose because Storms in a Shot Glass features a good deal of its happenings on the basis of relationships. I had to explore these relationships and also from the perspective of the protagonists, Jane and Michael. I had to delve into their family history, each one of them, to find what made them tick and why they were where they were at with the people in their lives and entourage. This required a complete backstory, a full story in itself actually, to be able to portray them as the people they were today. Getting this grasp on how they became the people they were when the story starts was just the starting point of this journey – I also needed to base myself on this framework to know and project how they acted and reacted and interacted with others during the scope of the book.

Jane and Michael thus had to be real people, as real as you and me and I had to know them better than they knew themselves. That I would say was the hardest aspect of this book – things couldn’t be this way just because. There had to be a credible basis behind it and it boiled down to – who are Jane and Michael?

Let's zip it back a little and take a look at your overall writing. What would you say are your main concerns as a writer?

Nolwynn: To not disappoint a reader. To give her the best possible reading experience. To make her have faith in good stories because a good story was delivered to her.

I want to do all this, and I also want to remain true to myself and to what the people who believe in me hoped to see me achieve – to write good, solid stories that stand on their own two feet and have a fully functioning body and a good head resting on those shoulders.

I don’t want to write myself into a corner.

I don’t want to ever let the flame and passion for writing that burns inside me die down.

Those are my main concerns, and I find that as long as I take the time to consider them, I do a good job. I want to keep on doing a good job. For as long as I’m alive.

Thanks for coming by AWD and letting me pick your brain, Nolwynn!

Check out more about Nolwynn Ardennes and her work on the web:

Facebook: On FB Groups: Aasiyah Qamar & Nolwynn Ardennes – Authors


J Hali Steele said...

Put two good people together and what do you get--the best of both.

Nice job, you guys!

Sandy said...

Wonderful questions and fantastic answers.

Z, that's what I need to find within myself.


Hales said...

Hey what a great interview! You're like everywhere. I love that and your answers were not short and sweet but informative!

Marguerite Hall said...

Great and informative blog! You have been busy haven't you?


Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Hey Joann

Lol, lovely words indeed! Thank you, thank you!!

Big hugs!

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Hey Sandy

We all just got to dig deep and find our own shining light - does that remind you of anyone talking? Yups, it's the same lady we both were lucky enough to meet!

Hugs right back!

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...


Lol, being everywhere is called *whisper*, promo...

Frankly, Rae mentioned she wanted to do a spotlight and I was like, just tell me when! And the anwers just came from her questions, which really made me think a lot before I could answer.

Glad if anything could help you through what I said here. Managing to help anyone even in the smallest bit is what I consider an achievement.


Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

Hey Margie

Glad you could drop by! Busy, lol, yups. Booked solid sounds more like it *wink*

Glad you enjoyed the blog and the answers.


Sandy said...

Yep, Z, that lady taught you well. Me, it takes a little longer to sink in. lol