Saturday, 5 September 2015

The Z (Zodiac!) Files: Nicky Black ~ Aquarius and Capricorn

Welcome to my new feature The Z Files, in which writers show how the characteristics of their star sign influence their work... I gave the instruction to treat the subject as seriously (or not seriously) as they liked!
Links to previous posts are listed at the end.


Why Aye, today it's a canny pair of bonny lasses from up The Toon... er, sorry about that.  Ahem!  I'm delighted to introduce Julie and Nicky, who together make up the writing team Nicky Black.  I got in touch with Nicky after reading their gritty Geordie drama The Prodigal which I enjoyed very much; you can see my review HERE with links to both Amazon sites.

 Julie blonde and Nicky black!

Okay, so Nicky is Capricorn and Julie is Aquarius....

...how has this combination affected their working relationship, and how did The Prodigal come about?  This piece is the longest I've received, by far,  (partly because there are two of them, of course!), but I've only chopped it down a little bit because it's most interesting :) 


Nicky: "Since there are two of us in Nicky Black it makes it a little less straight forward as you can imagine, but it really made me think about how much Julie and I have in common, how much we don’t and how that makes us a brilliant team.  Also, when I look at the list of Capricornian traits, I wonder why I have any friends at all...:)."

(Note: that's only the bad ones...
...let's look at it more positively!)
"I think as writers and friends, we share some of the characteristics of both star signs, but we are clearly individuals."

"I met Julie when I was about 28 and she was in her early 40s (I’m 47 now, but don’t tell anyone...).  She was, indeed friendly but chose her friends with care and certainly didn’t suffer fools gladly.  She was a community worker, and her humanitarian and unprejudiced empathy with people living in riot-torn estates was clear to see. I’d known her for several months before she casually told me over a cup of tea that she’d written a movie, as if she were buttering bread for sandwiches. The screenplay was called ‘Heads’, and I asked if I could read it. I read it and I loved it.

In awe of this amazing writer, and being a determined and ambitious Capricorn, I took up her challenge to work with her to get the movie made. She knew I was a hard worker, meticulously organised and not in the least ‘arty-farty’.  In 1998 we set up Hard Place Productions (based on a Fringe play Julie had written and directed called Between and Rock and a Hard Place).  

We can both be self centred, and are both most definitely independent.  We both gave up our jobs (okay, that’s batty) to try something new.  In the end, ‘Heads’ didn’t make it, but my goodness we had some laughs. "


"I began to edit Julie’s work.  She liked my ruthless ‘red pen’ and honesty.  And in 1999, she shoved a writing competition in my face and said, ‘you could do that, Nicky.’ I dismissed it pessimistically and though I was thoroughly sceptical about the whole charade, I came second in the competition.  And that’s how it all started. I wrote some short pieces for the Live Theatre and started taking being a writer more seriously, but never thought I could make a living out of it, so a hobby it remained.

Julie began writing for Hollyoaks and Casualty, but her ambition was always to be original and produce her own work.  The Prodigal was commissioned by Granada in 2001.  She would write ten pages, and I would read and edit.

Sadly, again, time moved on, ITV regions ended and the producer moved on to other things. The Prodigal gathered dust. Julie, stubborn to the core when she wants to be, refused to let the option run on and on and bought it back from ITV with a view to selling it to independent producers." 


"By 2006, never satisfied with my income, I’d moved to London for my day job and I forgot about writing all together.  Then about 5 years ago, my career going really well, director of a company, I sensed that typical Capricornian depression descending.  I needed something to do that would make me proud. 
 
Julie, too, was feeling a little down.  The Prodigal was going nowhere, another rejection.  ‘Why don’t I try writing it as a book?’ I asked.  I took the Prodigal by the (Capricorn!) horns and started editing - locked away, solitary for hours and days at a time.

So what’s next?  Well, I mentioned ‘Heads’ earlier.  It’s set on Valley Park in the rave era of 1989.  That’s all I’m saying for now, other than it certainly demonstrates the youthful outlook of a pair of old birds."


I am very much looking forward to Heads!  If you'd like to keep up with Nicky and Julie, you can follow Nicky on Twitter.

.... and I've chosen these writers of some reknown as typical examples of the two signs....

Cynical Capricorn, Douglas Kennedy (one of my favourites) ~ 
many of his characters embrace long periods of solitude....


... and independent and forward thinking Aquarian, indeed: Virginia Woolf



Up next, a Sagittarian lady with a few strings to her bow, followed by a sceptical Leo!

Previous posts:
Leo and AriesTerry Tyler and Julia Proofreader
Gemini: Shelley Wilson

18 comments:

  1. This is of particular interest to me, as I proofread The Prodigal, and am fascinated to learn more about the authors of the book (no, this isn't a plug, it's just the facts!) I heartily recommend the book, and would love to see it made into a TV serial.

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    1. I can confirm it's not just a plug - it was Julia who recommended the book to me! I'd love to see it on telly too.

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  2. Hi Terry - nice to meet Julie and Nicky .. and how very interesting learning about their writing lives. I'm a capricorn - so that whacked me across the 'gunwales' - and reminded me to get stuck in and get off my butt ...cheers to you all - Hilary

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  3. Ha ha, thanks for reading, Hilary! Yes, I loved finding out how the book came about :)

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  4. Really am enjoying this series, lovely to read about the adventures of this writing duo.

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    1. Thanks, Rosie - hope you'll find the time to contribute once RS is over, but I promise not to nag you anymore!! :)

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  6. Fascinating idea!
    I'm really enjoying it too, Terry.

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    1. As I am doing it! Looking forward to the New Romantics' contribution :)

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  7. I'm thoroughly enjoying this feature, Terry, it's great to read how a writing duo can work together so well. Looking forward to the next post.

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    1. I know - that impresses me hugely, I don't think I could do it! I've got 3 more Geminis to come, which should interest you in particular!!

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  8. This was great. It just goes to show how those of certain Zodiac persuasions can confound everyone by working well together when in theory they shouldn't. Brilliant! I really enjoyed this and hats off to Nicky and Julie for their persistence!

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  9. What a nice story of two very different signs working together so well, sounds like a yin and yang partnership! As a Cap.I have always enjoyed Aquarians' easy going demeanor and ability to have fun anywhere! The perseverance with their original project is so admirable, glad Nicky and Julie are finding new inspiration working together too :-)

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    1. I can imagine what you mean - I always think Aquarians and Capricorns are oddly similar in some ways; probably because some Aqu are Saturn ruled, like Cap; the more loony ones are Neptune! :)

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  10. So far, you've hit all the signs in our family. My daughter and grandsons lived with us for quite a few years. Holly's an Aries. Ty's Gemini, Nate's Aquarian, and my husband's Capricorn. A lovely mix.

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    1. Well done us! Much more to come- thanks for reading! x

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  11. What a team! Proves the adage about persistence. Well done both! And another fascinating post. Thanks. :)

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