Today on my blog I am delighted to be joined by John Nicoll the author of one of the darkest psychological thrillers I have read this year ‘White Is The Coldest Colour’.
White is the coldest colour is a chilling dark psychological suspense thriller, which draws on the authors experiences as a police officer and child protection social worker. John Nicholl wrote articles relating to child protection for newspapers and a national social work magazine during his career, but this his his first novel. He lives in rural West Wales, has been happily married for many years, and has three adult children and one grandchild.
Welcome John, you seem to have had a varied working life, as in you have worked as a police officer as well as a social worker and in child services, they certainly are not the easiest careers to be in. Are you able to tell us a brief account of your time in these roles and why your working career has varied?
I initially attended teacher training college after leaving school, but quickly realised that teaching wasn’t for me. I knew I wanted to work with people in some capacity, and joined the police force at the age of nineteen. After a couple of years I became disillusioned with 1980s policing, which was a very different experience from my later extensive work with the force, and decided to train as a social worker. After a year as a trainee in Llanelli, I studied and qualified in Plymouth.
During my social work career I worked for the child guidance service, two social services departments, and the NSPCC. I also lectured on child protection matters at several colleges and universities, and on various post-qualification professional training courses, such as the Welsh police multi-force sexual offences management course. I took early retirement from my post heading up child protection services for Carmarthenshire due to ill health.
Child protection work is difficult, stressful but essential in todays world.
I would caution anyone who is considering such work, unless they are fully committed and make a properly informed decision.
In the past you have written a child protection good practice manual as well as varying articles for newspapers and magazines. When did the idea of writing your own novel transpire, is it something you have always wanted to do or did it come later on from writing for other companies?
I think I always knew that I wanted to write a fictional book, and finally decided to act on my inclinations about two years ago. I very quickly learnt that writing fiction is very different to academic or professional endeavours, and I have to admit that it was a steep learning curve. Editing and rewriting can prove truly excruciating! I hope that the final product was worth the effort.
White is the coldest colour is your first novel, which I have to add is one of my favourite reads of this year so far, did you find it difficult to write due to the nature of the storyline?
Thanks for the positive feedback, it’s appreciated! To be honest writing the book was difficult but cathartic. My child protection career now feels like a different life, which made the book possible. I couldn’t have written the book any sooner than I did.
I must admit I did have concerns about reading your novel due to the nature of the story. I did not have to worry though as I thought the way you had written it was brilliant as you give the reader enough information without going into to much detail so I personally didn’t find it anywhere near as an uncomfortable read as I thought I would. Did it concern you at all that readers may be put off due to the subject of child abuse?
I completely understand your concerns. I decided very early on in the writing process to actively avoid any graphic descriptions of sexual crimes. I wanted to convey the awfulness of such crimes, but without going into any detail. If the book is both entertaining, and communicates just how manipulative and scheming sexual predators have the capacity to be, I’m gratified by that.
I think some potential readers will be put off by the subject matter. The subject matter is shocking, it should be shocking. Child abuse is truly shocking. But, I hope that people are reassured by my professional background, and by the various reviews that confirm your expressed view as to the book’s nature. That said, it’s not a book for everyone, and does contain material that some readers may find distressing. People must decide for themselves if it’s a book they want to read.
I think most readers as well as myself would love to know how you managed to create such a horrible character as Dr David Galbraith.
Galbraith is a monster, but all too real. Sadly, after a career in child protection, creating the character was all too easy.
Your previous work as well as writing must take it’s toll on you at times, what do you do for fun or to unwind and relax?
Yoga, eating out, cinema, live music, travel, reading and family, but not in that order!
Can you tell us some of your favourite authors and books and also what you are currently reading?
I’m currently reading: The English Patient, which is brilliant! I read a lot of historical novels, particularly those set during WW 2. My father was a front line infantry soldier, and his experiences fascinate me. I also read an eclectic range of other books. The Alchemist, Slaughter House Five and Our Man in Havana, are particular favourites. I think Graham Green would be high on the list, although there’s many other potential winners.
Lastly what are you working on at the moment and are you able to tell us about it?
I’m in the process of writing a second book featuring some of the same characters that feature in: White is the coldest colour. I hope to have it finished in six to nine months.
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