Friday, July 16, 2021

Nicole Trope

Nicole Trope went to university to study Law but realized the error of her ways when she did very badly on her first law essay because—as her professor pointed out—'It's not meant to be a story.' She studied teaching instead and used her holidays to work on her writing career and complete a Masters' degree in Children's Literature. After the birth of her first child she stayed home full time to write and raise children, renovate houses and build a business with her husband.

The idea for her first published novel, The Boy Under the Table, was so scary that it took a year for her to find the courage to write the emotional story. Her second novel, Three Hours Late, was voted one of Fifty Books you can't put down in 2013 and her third novel, The Secrets in Silence, was The Australian Woman's Weekly Book of the month for June 2014.

The Boy in the Photo is now out in the US from Grand Central Publishing.

Trope lives in Sydney with her husband and three children.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The title is chosen by my editor and as such, I have very little input- but I loved this title from the beginning. I think it does a fairly good job of introducing readers to the story. Daniel is abducted at six-years-old and with each passing year, his mother is sent an age progression photo by the police as they continue to search for him. He goes from being the child she is raising to the boy in the row of photos on her fridge. It’s a terribly sad image but it lets readers know what has been lost and when Daniel returns, he is so very different to the child his mother was expecting, it seems that the boy in the photo no longer exists.

What's in a name?

Daniel began life as Orlando but after discussion with my editor, it was changed. And as soon as it was changed-his personality came into view. When he was Orlando, I was somewhat removed from him but I have always loved the name Daniel and had no trouble finding my way into the little boy’s mind. When I name characters, I search through databases until something just feels right. It’s amazing how changing the name of a character can help the writing of their traits and quirks.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

This is exactly what she would think I would write. I have always been a bit of a catastrophizer. If something can go wrong then it will. As I get older, I have tried to leave this way of thinking in my work but as a teenager I was very pessimistic.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Beginnings are more difficult. I usually have an ending in mind but the beginning is a necessary way for me to find the voice of the novel. If I can nail the prologue or first chapter then I find the whole book flows. As such I will write and rewrite the first few pages until they have the flow I’m looking for. Sometimes it’s necessary for me to write the final chapter so that I can get it out of my mind and focus on the start. With this novel, the line ‘Megan, they found him,’ was an easy way to get myself into the first chapter. It repeated itself in my head until I wrote it down and from there everything worked.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I write about families in crisis and I’m a mother so my experience of raising children and everything that can go wrong always influences what I write. A novel can start as a scenario that has only crossed my mind, a small worry and I then shape it into a story where the very worst happens. But for the most part, my characters grow and change and survive whatever happens to them-some don’t of course. I do feel I am part of every character, man, woman or child because their voices are in my head and even when they do something that I wouldn’t do, there is some part of me that I know might react that way.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

The news is a great source of stories as well as reality television. I am a big fan of crime series and of course I read an absolute fortune. I read everything from romances to detective fiction, always interested in how a novel comes together. But sometimes, inspiration strikes from something someone says or does that has no real weight until a story forms in my mind.
Follow Nicole Trope on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: The Boy in the Photo.

--Marshal Zeringue