NIKKI BRICE

We’re introducing you to people who are part of the Betterwrite world. Welcome to NIKKI BRICE.


Nikki, what’s your connection with Betterwrite?
I’ve been an associate editor with Betterwrite since 2013 and have loved every minute of it!

Tell us about your work.
Stories are everything. Stories make us human. To be human is to create, to learn, to grow. Novelist Meg Rosoff once said, “Without stories we are trapped in static versions of ourselves.” Helping authors tell their stories just seems like the best job in the world! And working at home means there’s coffee and cake on tap; you can’t argue with that.

What work are you doing at the moment?
I’m working on a tremendous historical novel about a little-known member of a very well-known royal house. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy when it’s published in a few months’ time.

Nikki Brice – Shakespeare Lover

What do you like about your work?
One good thing about being an editor is that you can constantly have your nose in a book – any sort of book – and get away with calling it work! Every single book you read helps you become a better editor for your authors. I love reading everything from classics to new releases. I read across all genres.

What don’t you like?
Tax returns! Apparently I have to do them.

As an editor, have you got a personal bugbear?
The thing I probably dread most when I open a manuscript is seeing sentence after sentence running into each other, separated only by commas. It can take a lot of time unpicking and restructuring. But that’s part of what editors are here to help with!

What has pleased you in your work?
I love it when an author I’ve helped is pleased with the outcome and gets to see their work in print. An author recently thanked me in glowing terms in her book. She also sent me a gift in the post. I wasn’t expecting either and so they were lovely surprises.

Whose writing do you enjoy? Favourite title?
If I had to choose just one novel as my favourite – although I’d much rather I didn’t have to! – it would be The Lord of the Rings, which I reread about every five years. Having said that, the book I’d take to my desert island would be Shakespeare’s First Folio from 1623.

What do you like about Tolkien’s writing?
I think Tolkien had a great insight into some of the universal issues that dominate humanity, such as the nature of good and evil. I studied Old English, the language of the Anglo-Saxons, at university and fell in love with Old English poetry and Anglo-Saxon culture. Tolkien was the master of these sorts of now-extinct languages, which he used as the basis for his Middle Earth languages. His work is shot through with variations on the Old English language and the Anglo-Saxon culture.

Give us a quote.
“Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” (Gandalf to Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring.)

What’s your favourite word in English?
Disingenuous. It comes in so handy and covers a great range of personal behaviour, from vaguely insincere to downright deceitful.

Favourite saying?
“There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.”
It’s from Hamlet, and it couldn’t be more true!

Apart from your work, what plans or ambitions have you got?
In my spare time, I teach Shakespeare to local primary school children, and write and direct short plays for nearby theatre groups to perform. One day, I’d like to publish my Shakespeare workshop notes and also my short plays so that others can use them too. I also want to put together, in a short book, all my family history research dating back to the Civil War, and give to it everyone in the family.

What have you learned about life?
It goes too quickly! And it’s very precious.

What have you learned about people?
You can’t predict what people will do next. We’re all full of surprises. Wouldn’t life be dull if we weren’t?

Tell us something quirky about yourself.
I love local history and stories about another world that perhaps just hovers at the edge of our own. I’m often to be found traipsing my young children around stately homes filled with stories of ghosts and strange happenings; or through the glorious countryside that is the Ribble Valley in Lancashire, looking out for the Pendle witches or the remnants of nearby stone circles; or across the eerie ruins of long-dissolved abbeys.

Tell us a story, up to 30, 60 or 120 words:
I once had to run for my life, quite literally, from an enormous falling tree on a stormy night when I was heading back to my car after work. I was still working in the law at that point.
I was pregnant and wearing high heels, so couldn’t run. Despite being propelled several feet through the air when the tree crashed down around me, baby and I were both unharmed.
The ambulance paramedic said that if I’d run just a foot or two to my left or right, an ambulance wouldn’t have been needed.
Three months later, I left the law and focused on editing. Since then, I’ve done my best to embrace every opportunity that’s come my way
. (119)

ROB MATTHEWS

We’re introducing you to people who are part of the Betterwrite world, starting with ROB.


 

Rob, what’s your connection with Betterwrite?
I’m a freelance editor. I wanted the Betterwrite website to be a shop window for our work. A designer friend set it up – I just supplied the words.

Tell us about your work.
I’ve done loads of non-fiction edits and proofreads.

What work are you doing at the moment?
Mainly fiction. And I work with other editors. When a job comes up I think: who’s the best person to do this one?

What do you like about your work?
Working from home. Long breaks with tea and cake.
And writers appreciate what we do to improve their work.

What don’t you like?
Correcting the same old mistakes in writing that come up time and time again.

Have you got a personal bugbear?
Fiction writers who don’t use contractions in their dialogue, with lines like “Do not go there.” No one speaks like that in real life. We say “Don’t go there.”

What has pleased you in your work?
I complimented a writer and they texted back: “I’m on the train. In my head I’m doing somersaults … your comments mean so much – I was scared you would tell me I was crap!” It’s nice to encourage someone. Writers need encouragement, like we all do.

What didn’t please you?
I worked for ages on a difficult edit, and the author ‘ghosted’ – just disappeared, and stopped communicating. I only got half my fee.

What amused you?
I told a writer to cut a gratuitous sex scene. His wife emailed to say: “I’ve been telling him to cut out those sex scenes for ages but he won’t listen to me – he’ll do what you say because you’re his editor!”

Whose writing do you enjoy?
I love Bill Bryson’s books.

Favourite title?
Notes From a Small Island, describing his adventures as an American arriving in the UK in the 1970s. He’s updated it in The Road to Little Dribbling.

What do you like about Bill Bryson’s writing?
I love his dry wit. He describes life’s simple pleasures: a nice cup of tea, a walk in the country, a lovely view. Then he catches you out with a shaft of dark humour.

Give us a quote.
At a tourist venue, he’s surrounded by a coach party of noisy, selfish old people. Then he adds: “I smiled benignly and stood back, comforted by the thought that soon they would be dead.”

What’s your favourite word?
Discombobulated. It just sounds great.

Any other quotes?
“…the multitudinous seas incarnadine”, from Macbeth. Wow, Shakespeare’s language is like music!

Favourite saying?
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Apart from your work, what plans or ambitions have you got?
To enjoy our garden – it’s been a jungle for years.

How will you realise this ambition?
By following my wife’s instructions obediently. That works well in most areas of life, I find.

What have you learned about life?
It’s challenging and messy, but good overall. The first 70 years is just the warm-up act.

What have you learned about people?
It’s best to treat them just as you want them to treat you. (But I often forget!)

Tell us something people may not know about you:
I love World War Two Jeeps, and my younger son loves military tanks. We had a great day at the Yorkshire War Experience, watching these old vehicles in action.

Finish with a story, true or false, with a beginning, middle and end, up to 30, 60 or 120 words:
My life was going nowhere. I went to a ‘deliverance service’ and met the love of my life. We’ve been married 17 years. We’ve done a low-maintenance garden together! (29)