Interview with YA writer, Nicole Van Niekerk

Hi everyone! I’m very excited to bring you the FIRST EVER interview for The Breathing Ghosts Series Blog! I’m thrilled to be interviewing the up and coming writer, blogger, singer and musician, Nicole Van Niekerk, who is currently working on her historical fiction novel, London Bridge is Burning Down.


Above: the talented Nicole Van Niekerk

1. Hi Nicole, and welcome to The Breathing Ghosts Series Blog! For anyone not familiar with your work, can you tell me a little about yourself?

Thank you very much. Well I started off studying Acting, then moved swiftly to Music. I’m 25 and immigrated to the United Kingdom from South-Africa in 2008. I’ve always been really fascinated with English History and Culture.

2. What made you want to start writing? I actually wrote extensively about this on my blog the other day.  I was quite a hyper-active child with an extreme over-active imagination. In our world they call that ADHD. Oh, the box society forces us into. Sedation was a no-go for my awesome parents so I focused my energy on various activities. This brought me to writing; it was the best way for me to pen down my frustrations, fears, fantasies, hopes and dreams for the future. My own personal healing method.

3. Your novel-in-progress, London Bridge is Burning Down, is a historical novel set around the time of the Great Fire of London. What is it about writing historical fiction that you like? What challenges does it pose?

Wow. Good question. I’ve never thought of this until now. I very often day-dream about the way life was lived years ago. I’m fascinated by the fashion, the lifestyle, the language they used. Especially Tudor, Elizabethan and Stuart periods. I suppose this is because it’s glamorised and romantic in my mind, and unknown to most people so the imagination is free to roam as it pleases. Although reading my novel, you will quickly discover that history has a way of repeating itself and it is not glamorous. There is war, betrayal, poverty, illness and devastation, but also hope, love, growth and honour. The challenge for me was doing extensive research. Often I would be writing an exciting piece and think to myself, ‘oh wait, could this have happened?’ And then I would have to go fact check. It also meant that the novel took longer to write. The other challenge was the language. A lot of the novel is written from my protagonist’s point-of-view by use of a diary. I had to research and the write the Diary, using language that she would’ve used in the 17th century.

4. You’re also a musician. Do you feel there’s any link between music-making and writing?

Oh, yes! I definitely do. Playing with my progressive hard rock band, Big Mouse Tree House, (formerly known as Ask Seek Knock,) I believe writing to fundamentally be story-telling. It’s vivid, awe-inspiring, dramatic story-telling which takes the reader on a journey through an emotional adventure. Music does just that as well; it tells the audience a story that takes them on an emotional journey. Writing and Music for me cannot be separated from one another.

4. What inspired you to write London Bridge is Burning Down?

I was inspired to write this young adult historical fiction novel by my own identity battle when my family and I immigrated to the UK and hope it can guide others through theirs.

5. What is is about? (Can you give us a synopsis? :D)

A self absorbed university student finds a kindred spirit in a 17th century Lady when she is forced to choose between sacrificing herself or her values for the good of her family. London Bridge is Burning Down juxtaposes the complexity of finding your identity amidst the pressures of responsibility, expectations of love and loss of control with the confusion and loss of the great fire of London.  I was inspired to write this young adult historical fiction novel by my own identity battle when my family and I immigrated to the UK and hope it can guide others through theirs.

5. And finally, sum your writing up in three words:

Sincere, evocative and unconventional.


Thanks Nicole! 😀 If you want to find out more about Nicole’s writing, please visit her blog. You might also like these other similar titles:

At the Sign of the Sugared Plum and Petals in the Ashes by Mary Hooper (intrigue and drama in the time of the Plague…)

Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (magic and espionage in the Elizabethan era)

Changeling by Phillipa Gregory (heresy, witchcraft and one VERY creepy abbey…isn’t there always a creepy abbey? :p)


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