Nick Rippington is an author proudly basking in the glow of winning his first award for his debut novel Crossing The Whitewash. He originally hails from Bristol and is a fanatical Gashead- that is a supporter of Bristol Rovers. He has worked on six national newspapers, a myriad of local ones up and down the UK and two sports news agencies. He currently works on the sports desk of the Daily Star and the backbench of the Daily Star Sunday.
- Please describe your debut novel Crossing the Whitewash in a single sentence.
It is an urban thriller which pitches gangland London on a collision course with rugby-mad Wales in the build up to the rugby World Cup.
- Tell us a little about your life till now.
I am a career journalist originally from Bristol, UK. I have worked across the country, firstly as a reporter, then as a sports reporter and later as a sports editor and subeditor. Six years ago I took the plunge and left Cardiff, where I was working as an assistant editor, to take up a job on the News of the World which, at the time, was the biggest-selling newspaper in Europe. It was a dream job that turned into a nightmare. Having made the move to London, the phone-hacking scandal business suddenly erupted and Rupert Murdoch decided to close down the paper at a few days notice. With a young family to support and worrying career prospects, I decided to realise my lifelong ambition and write and publish a novel.
- Your book has won a prestigious award sponsored by Writer’s Digest and has got many mentions in the media. How does that make you feel?
The honourable mention in the Writers’ Digest self-published Ebook awards came out of the blue. My book is a very English-centric one and the awards were based in America. I was delighted to get recognition from the judges and their comments were terrific. It was a perfect boost to me. Writers need some kind of reassurance that they are on the right track so when I read their comments it made me determined to keep going when at your lowest point you can think about maybe packing it in.
Obviously I have been able to use my contacts in the media to get publicity, but as a self-published author you have to work at the marketing and PR side of things to get a look-in. All that is handled by the media departments at a traditional publisher but I tried to cash in by launching at the same time as the Rugby World Cup, and managed to get some newspaper and radio interviews on the back of it.
- As you might be aware, there is much debate going on about the merits of traditional publishing vs. Self-publishing. What made you opt for the latter?
Crossing The Whitewash wasn’t my first novel attempt, but every time I have approached agents and traditional publishers the knock backs get so frustrating – soul destroying really. There are so many would-be authors out there but the big publishing houses only go for something tried and tested they KNOW they can sell. Too many rejection slips can put you off writing altogether but these days there are so many tools out there to help you self-publish. Before I published Crossing I went to a conference about self-publishing run by the Writers & Artists Yearbook in London and there was so much good advice I took on board that I made a conscious decision then and there to publish the book myself. Since then I have met many Indie Authors. It is a great community and the fabulous thing is we don’t see each other as rivals but help each other out when we can. I write a blog about the whole process from first draft to publication, www.imgoingtopublish.wordpress.com which is worth a look for anyone considering going down the same path.
- Name three books that you believe have influenced your life the most.
Great question. To be honest I am not sure how to answer it. I read a book about sports journalism by Michael Parkinson when I was at school which gave me great advice, but can’t remember what it was called. He said whatever you do don’t tell anyone you want to be a sports journalist because everyone wants to get into that field. Learn your craft first, then work your way into sport. I followed his advice to the letter. Another book that influenced me was All The President’s Men, because that showed me how important journalism was, even though many people try to write reporters off as just chasing scandal. It was brilliant work by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein which changed history. As far as my most influential book in writing was concerned it has to be Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying. I was moping around bored at home and my mum said “why don’t you read a book?” I sneered but she gave me this one and I couldn’t put it down. It gave me my love of reading and prompted me to want to write a book as good as that, with some monumental twists and turns that make you gasp.
- What’s the best part of being an award-winning author?
It’s nice to be asked to do things like this and to be able to communicate with people who have read the book and are interested in how it came about. Just calling yourself “an author” after wanting to be one, and being treated as such, is fun, too. For the first time in my life I can say I am my own boss, to a certain extent.
- So how did the idea behind your book get sparked?
The book actually started as a comedy. When I moved to London I found some of the London-based hacks who had been there for years were pretty dismissive of everything to do with Wales and rugby. It made me wonder how a dyed-in-the-wool cockney would react if they were thrust into the middle of Wales during a big rugby event. After four years and some critical advice the plot developed and it became the thriller it is now, but it all started off with the main protagonist Gareth, his motivations and reasons for his world being turned upside down.
- Finally, can we expect more books from you in the future?
I am working on what I would call a prequel to Crossing. It is about the family of Arnold Dolan, the bad guy in the book. It’s based in the early 80s when Arnie’s dad Maurice is a budding career criminal planning a post office robbery to get himself out of financial difficulties. Mainly though it is about the interaction between him, his family and his brother Clive, a soldier who is about to depart for the Falklands War. I’m still working on the first draft but I think it’s coming together nicely. Meanwhile, at the beginning of June I am releasing Crossing as an Audiobook with Audible.
Watch the trailer of Crossing the Whitewash now!