August 11, 2011

One Day Exclusive Interview with David Nicholls

I am so pleased to host an interview with David Nicholls author of One Day. I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar with David and other bloggers. I was only able to ask two questions but David was kind enough to talk a lot about each question so enjoy!!

Hi. How did you find writing from a woman's perspective?

David Nicholls
: Well, my first book was written from a male perspective in a first person voice, and that I found very easy. It was kind of like improvising. And the second book I wrote was in the third person voice, but it was very much from the male point of view, from the central character's point of view.

And in One Day I wanted to write in the third person but to sort of jump between these different points of view. And I think my approach to that was not to worry about it too much. As I've said, I feel much closer to Emma than I do to Dexter. I think there's sort of a lot more of my personality in Emma than there is in Dexter. And I tried not to think of it as sort of taking and putting on a voice or a guise or giving a performance.

I really think, in most aspects of Emma's life, in her feelings about relationships or politics or work or family, her feelings are pretty close to my own. And I think the worst thing you can do is kind of do an impersonation of what you imagine to be a kind of female psyche, because I think you end up exaggerating differences and stereotyping.

So, I genuinely didn't think about it too much. I think there were certain experiences I would have felt more self-conscious. I'd still be very wary of writing in a first person female voice, perhaps, or writing about sex or about childbirth in the first person female voice. Then I'd start to think, "God, you know, this is tough."

But, a woman working in a restaurant who wants to be doing something else and is worried about the future, I would think my experience with that would be universal. What I don't like, particularly in books about relationships, is a kind of exaggerated difference, the kind of that he said/she said thing, because the attitudes and the experiences of my female friends are much closer to my own than one might imagine from that kind of heightened poverty and sexual awe.

I don't recognize it in my relationships with my female friends or in real life relationships between men and women. I just don't buy that men just want to drink beer and watch football and women just want to buy shoes. I just don't think that that's the case. And so, I didn't worry about it too much.

What was your favorite scene in One Day to write originally?

David Nicholls:
Well, I loved writing the long, protracted Emma/Dexter battles. I love that back and forth, that kind of banter, that sort of Beatrice/Benedick, Katherine Hepburn/Cary Grant repartee. So, I loved writing them kind of arguing on the beach on holiday. I loved writing their meeting in Paris. I loved writing the scene in the maze where they're reunited after a long time apart.

I like writing those two-handers. I find the process of writing a little bit like improvisation. It's kind of improvising with yourself. And I'm very happy writing like that. I could keep going forever like that.

The most striking chapter for me in terms of the experience of writing it was with the scene where Dexter takes a lot of drugs and goes on an all night bender and then goes and sees his mother, who is terminally ill. And I was a little nervous about that because it was the first time I'd really written a serious passage in prose. I'd written serious scenes in screenplays, but I'd never really written something that was quite that somber in prose. I'd always written largely kind of comedic scenes until then.

So, that scene and chapter was a little intimidating to write. But, I wrote it very, very quickly in longhand, I think in a single day. I think it's about a 4,000-word splurge and I just wrote it out in one go, and I loved writing it. And I don't usually write like that. But, I would think, again, probably if I looked at the longhand version and looked at the final chapter, they'd be pretty close.

So, that was the biggest change for me in terms of how I actually go about writing a book. It was much more emotional, I suppose, much less a methodical way of writing. And I’m still very proud of that chapter. It sort of took me by surprise and I enjoyed writing it very much.

Thanks again David!!

Novel Featurette

About the Film
Release Date In Theatres Nationwide August 19
Genre Romantic Drama
Studio Focus Features
Starring Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Patricia Clarkson, Ken Stott, Romola Garai, Rafe Spall
Directed By Lone Scherfig (“An Education,” “Italian For Beginners”)
Screenplay By David Nicholls; Based on his novel

Twenty years…two people. Directed by Lone Scherfig (director of “An Education,” Academy Award-nominated for Best Picture), the motion picture “One Day” is adapted for the screen by David Nicholls from his beloved bestselling novel One Day. After one day together – July 15th, 1988, their college graduation – Emma Morley (Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway) and Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess of “Across the Universe”) begin a friendship that will last a lifetime. She is a working-class girl of principle and ambition who dreams of making the world a better place. He is a wealthy charmer who dreams that the world will be his playground. For the next two decades, key moments of their relationship are experienced over several July 15ths in their lives. Together and apart, we see Dex and Em through their friendship and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. Somewhere along their journey, these two people realize that what they are searching and hoping for has been there for them all along. As the true meaning of that one day back in 1988 is revealed, they come to terms with the nature of love and life itself.

About the Author/Screenwriter David Nicholls
Born in Eastleigh, Hampshire, David Nicholls attended Toynbee Comprehensive School and Barton Peveril Sixth Form College prior to studying English Literature and Drama at the University of Bristol. Having graduated, and keen to pursue a career as an actor, he applied for and won a scholarship to study at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York. Following his studies there, he returned to London in 1991. There he worked in a number of bars and restaurants before finally earning an Equity card. He worked sporadically as an actor for the next eight years, appearing in plays at the Battersea Arts Centre, the Finborough, West Yorkshire Playhouse, and Birmingham Rep. In between jobs he worked as a bookseller at Waterstones, Notting Hill.

A three-year stint at the Royal National Theatre followed, with Mr. Nicholls understudying and playing small parts in, amongst other plays, Arcadia, Machinal, Inadmissible Evidence, and The Seagull. During this period, he began working as a freelance script reader, before taking a job at BBC Radio Drama as a script reader/researcher. This led to script-editing jobs at London Weekend Television and Tiger Aspect Productions. He also began to write, developing a screen adaptation of Sam Shepard’s play Simpatico with director Matthew Warchus, an old friend from University. He also wrote his first original script, the situation comedy, Waiting, which was later optioned by the BBC.

Simpatico was filmed in 1999, starring Nick Nolte, Jeff Bridges, Sharon Stone, Catherine Keener, and Albert Finney. Mr. Nicholls was now able to write full-time, and his first U.K. television production followed soon afterwards; the hourlong I Saw You, directed by Tom Vaughan and starring Paul Rhys and Fay Ripley, won Best Short Drama at the annual Banff Television festival. He next wrote four episodes of the top-rated series Cold Feet, and his work on the show earned him a BAFTA Award nomination. He was again a BAFTA nominee for the “Much Ado About Nothing” episode of ShakespeaRe-Told, starring Damian Lewis and Sarah Parish. The latter later then starred in his original teleplay Aftersun, directed by Peter Lydon and also starring Peter Capaldi. His most recent work for television was adapting Thomas Hardy’s book Tess of the D’Urbervilles into a miniseries, directed by David Blair and starring Gemma Arterton.

His first novel, Starter for Ten, was featured on the first Richard and Judy Book Club. He has since written the novels The Understudy and One Day. He adapted Starter for Ten for the screen; Tom Vaughan directed the feature Starter for 10, which starred James McAvoy, Rebecca Hall, and Alice Eve. Mr. Nicholls then adapted Blake Morrison’s memoir And When Did You Last See Your Father? for the screen; Anand Tucker directed the feature [And] When Did You Last See Your Father?, which starred Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent, and Juliet Stevenson.

Mr. Nicholls is currently working on his fourth novel, as well as a feature film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.

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