Today I interview writer Nik Perring whose new book Beautiful Words is published today!
Congratulations on the new book, Nik. Beautiful Words is really unusual. You employ a combination of fact, flash fiction, gorgeous illustrations and, of course, beautiful words. How did the book begin?
Thank you! And thanks for having me over. It's a lovely place. It actually began a couple of years ago when I started collecting words I thought were fun or interesting. I bought a tiny orange notebook and if I found one I liked, for whatever reason (the way it looked, sounded, felt to say it - what it meant or represented, or even what it meant, very personally, to me) I'd pop it in there.
Then I thought it might be cool to have a book full of them but realised, quite quickly when I started to write it, that it would have to be more interesting than some chap telling you what his favourite words were. And it couldn't be definitive. I actually hope in a way that people disagree with some of the entries and start thinking of what their favourites are. And that happened as Lucy and Alexander, and later Lily, appeared and I could see a narrative. And that's when the hard work began!
How did you select the words? There are so many lovely words, I imagine it must have been a difficult task.
A combination of selfish instinct (ha!) and of what would work for the story. Story always comes first. Luckily, I think (and very much hope) that they fit. We're lucky to have such a rich language with so many influences that there are loads and loads to choose from.
Did you have illustrations in mind as you wrote? What did you think of the illustrations when you saw them?
Yep, the idea was that it was always going to be illustrated, but the illustrations were pretty much all done between my publisher and Miranda. And when I saw them I was very, very happy.
The next books will be Beautiful Trees and Beautiful Shapes. How are you going about selecting trees sand shapes? Will there be 26 of each?
There'll be a similar number but, again, it all comes down to what's going to work best for the story/stories. The trees have already been selected, and in a very similar way to the words, which surprised me. The way they look, interesting facts about them (I've only recently discovered that some can communicate with each other - how cool is that!) the shapes of their leaves, what they mean. That kind of thing. And how they relate to Alexander, Lucy, and Lily, and to their lives. Shapes is a secret, for now. (Mostly because it's not done yet.)
Trees can talk to each other? Tell me more!
I'll not give too much away but, when certain trees come under attack from fungus or insects they release things into the air that other, nearby, trees can 'hear' which allows them, in turn, to release repellents to keep them safe and healthy, Ah, nature!
What are you going to be working on next?
Beautiful Shapes! And more traditional short stories, as ever.