Inspirational author alert.
For today’s blog post I have interviewed author Nina Kaye and all I can say is – what a fabulous and inspiring person!
I have just finished her book, Take a Moment, and I am in awe of her writing such a thought-provoking and warm-hearted book.
Hope you all enjoy the interview.
Hey Nina, welcome.
Can you tell us a bit about how you started writing?
I’ve spent most of my life as a ‘frustrated creative’ – someone who wanted to follow a more creative path, but who fell into a ‘safe’ career. I dreamt of being an author from a young age, when I was devouring the likes of The Babysitter’s Club and Point Horror. At 17 years old, I even flirted with writing outside the classroom when supposedly studying for my exams.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and it was a life-changing illness that got me on the path to becoming a serious writer.
In 2014 my body essentially ‘broke’, and I spent months rehabilitating from a raft of confusing and debilitating neurological symptoms. During this time, I turned to writing to support my cognitive and physical rehabilitation, and the silver lining to all of this is that it led to me achieving my dream of being a published author.
What’s the main inspiration behind Take A Moment?
The main inspiration for Take A Moment is my own experience of living with a life changing illness.
When I became ill, my body failed me in incomprehensible ways: I experienced uncontrollable shaking and tremors, difficulty walking, loss of balance, faltering speech. My vision and hearing were distorted; I lost my ability to concentrate, couldn’t find words, could barely eat and I would fall flat on my face several times a day. That was only part of the picture.
I was eventually diagnosed with a condition called Functional Neurological Disorder (FND). Simply put, my nervous system isn’t working properly and there’s a problem with the messaging between my brain and my body. It isn’t a degenerative condition, but it can be as physically debilitating and life limiting as MS and other neurological diseases, and it’s a condition for which there is no known cure.
I’ve managed to reclaim my previous quality of life to a certain extent, but I’ve been left with chronic symptoms. These include pain, cognitive difficulties, fatigue, and a nervous system that’s stuck in high alert. And I still occasionally have acute flare ups of the symptoms I mentioned earlier.
When I started writing Take A Moment, I wanted to raise awareness of neurological/chronic illness as well as tell a good story. I chose to write about a character with MS so that it wasn’t too close and because many of the symptoms I experience overlap. It was important to me to get across what it feels like to have your life suddenly shattered, while at the same time keeping the story light and humorous.
Are there any parts to the story that are truer to life?
My main character Alex’s story is entirely fictional, but her experiences are drawn from my own: losing my independence and feeling suddenly vulnerable, concern about being unreliable, being treated differently, and facing professional barriers. On the positive side, some people can surprise you. In the organisation where I work now, I have hugely supportive managers who let me manage my health situation my way, while also allowing me to be the ambitious person that I am. Characters like Emmanual and Matt in my story are a reflection of the wonderful people in my life who have both supported me and cheered me on.
Like, Alex, I’ve lost a lot through becoming unwell, but I’ve also found a huge positive, which for me is writing and finally achieving my dream of becoming published author. Through adjusting my expectations and accepting that there are some things I can no longer do, I’ve found a new path to happiness. That keeps me going through the hard times with my illness.
Another part of the story that’s drawn from my real-life experiences is the music side of it. I’m a self-confessed karaoke lover. I was also briefly the lead singer in a rock band. During my rehabilitation, I penned the lyrics to a song that had personal meaning for me, and once I had those lyrics, a talented musician called Willie Glass helped me put music to them.
When the storyline for Take A Moment started to come together, I saw the perfect opportunity for the song lyrics to feature in it and for my main character, Alex, to bring them to life on the pages. Having her as a karaoke fan and being involved in a band like I am/was slotted in perfectly too. The song – also named Take a Moment – is a recognition of the struggles many people experience in life, while others live theirs as if on autopilot. It’s a message to be kind, to care and to open our eyes to what’s going on around us – and to make a difference where we can.
I’ve since had the song professionally recorded and have released it as a charity song, all proceeds of which will go to the MS Society and FND Hope UK.
How has your own view of the world changed since you became unwell?
Becoming chronically ill during my adult life meant that I knew what it was like to be treated as ‘normal’, and now I know how it feels to have a disability. They’re two very different worlds, believe me, and at first, the stigma of my illness weighed heavily on me.
Too often the focus is on what people with disabilities and long-term health conditions can’t do rather than what they can – and I’ve gained some incredible strengths and insights through having lived this experience. I wanted to show this through my story: that being differently abled is not the end, it can almost be a new beginning, provided the right support is in place. I’ve also set up a network for colleagues with disabilities and long-term health conditions at my day job, because I feel so passionately about equality, inclusivity and opportunities for all.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on my next book, which will be published in spring 2022. It’s another romance, this time set in and around Edinburgh’s waterfront – a bit lighter and more humorous than Take A Moment, but it still gives a nod to the harder realities of life.
Nina Kaye’s latest book – Take a Moment.
Life is better lived in the moment
Meet Alex. She has a wonderful fiancé, a job she thrives in, and a best friend she’s known since childhood. Life’s not perfect, but it’s pretty fantastic. Until a shock diagnosis suddenly throws everything off course.
But Alex has never been one to back down from a fight. Now single and unemployed, she packs up and moves from her Glasgow hometown to vibrant Birmingham for a fresh start. In a new job, in a new city, she’s learning all over again what’s important in life.
Friendship, fun and even romance lie just around the corner – but can Alex get out of her own way and learn to just take a moment, and live?
Nina Kaye is a contemporary romance author who writes warm, witty and uplifting reads with a deeper edge.
Nina started writing her first novel when she was seventeen (and locked in her room, supposedly studying for her future). It was a short-lived experience that ended as soon as Nina’s exams did, but the dream of writing never left her.
Nina lives in Edinburgh with her husband and much adored side-kick, James. In addition to writing, Nina enjoys swimming, gin and karaoke (preferably all enjoyed together in a sunny, seaside destination)
Nina’s website is here.