Nick and Lesley Albert yearn to leave the noise, stress and pollution of modern Britain and move to the countryside, where the living is good, the air sweet, with space for their dogs to run free. Suddenly out of work and soon to be homeless, they set off in search of a new life in Ireland, a country they had never visited. As their adventure began to unfold, not everything went according to plan. If finding their dream house was difficult, buying it seemed almost impossible. How would they cope with banks that didn’t want customers, builders who didn’t need work, or the complex issue of where to buy some chickens?
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I always write in my study which is a 12’x12’ upstairs room in the centre of our house. It’s my quiet workspace, with a large desk, computer, printer and plenty of space for all my research notes. The window has a great view of the bird table in our courtyard, so I can easily watch the birds and squirrels feeding. The study walls are decorated with family snapshots, a few of my best photographs taken from around Ireland and several framed prints by Sam Toft and Edward Hopper. The largest picture in my study is a reproduction of Monet’s La Promenade, painted by an artist friend. All these pictures, and the view out of the window, are handy for those moments when I need a little distraction whilst searching my mind for that illusive word.
Ideally, I’ll start my day by catching up with emails, fan mail, social media and marketing. It’s amazing how much stuff authors have to do these days, outside of research and writing. On a good day, my desk is clear and I’m ready to write by around 2pm.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Not really. I like to have a clear desk, a quiet room and a focused mind before I begin writing, but once I’ve sorted my notes, I’m good to go.
– Is there a drink or some food that keeps you company while you write?
I try to avoid snacking whilst I’m at my desk, that’s a slippery slope to biscuit crumbs in your keyboard and a bum that overhangs the seat! I’m English though, so a nice cup of tea four times a day is a legal requirement for writing.
– What is your favourite book?
Hmm. That’s a tough question to answer honestly. My book collection is somewhat eclectic; I’m not sure what that says about me. As well as a library, I have dozens of stacked boxes bulging with hundreds of golf books, biographies featuring authors from all walks of life, loads of thrillers, some sci-fi and the complete works of Sue Grafton, Lee Child, Tom Holt, Terry Pratchett and William Shakespeare. I’m never without a book. One secret I can reveal, if I’m writing comedy, I’ll only read thrillers – and vice versa. When I was a student living in Norwich, England, my first flat was next door to the best second-hand bookshop in the city. What heaven! Back then I read a lot of sci-fi books and thrillers, purely for the escapism. Because I was from an Air Force family, I also collected hundreds of military biographies. Other favourites in my collection were Clive James, David Niven and Spike Milligan. These books were treasured possessions, I still have most of them now. If I could only have one book to read, it would be the life story of British Air Force pilot Robert Stanford Tuck, ‘Fly for your life’ written by Larry Forrester. Not only is it a cracking tale of bravery, it is a really well written memoir.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
Although I’m best known for my comedy memoir series, ‘Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds’ I’ve also written a twisty thriller called ‘Wrecking Crew’ featuring Eric Stone as the reluctant hero. I’ve agreed with my publisher to write at least five books in the Fresh Eggs series. With three books recently published and the writing of number four progressing well, I’m already thinking about what I will do in 2022. I’d like to produce more comedy and at least two more thrillers. My ideas folder is bulging with notes for new books. There’s already a fully worked-up sequel to the thriller ‘Wrecking Crew’. The working title is ‘Stone Façade’ and it brings Eric Stone and his friends to Ireland in search of a missing journalist. At first their task seems mundane, but soon they are dragged into a dangerous local feud and a desperate race to save the life of a young woman.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Obviously all of the characters in my memoirs are based on real people, although the faces and names are changed just enough to ensure nobody is offended or sued! When I’m writing thrillers, the characters are more of a complicated cake-mix, made up from ingredients I’ve gathered from real people.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
As such, the answer is yes. I don’t carry a notebook anymore, but I always have an A4 pad ready on my desk. If an idea pops into my head when I’m out and about, I’ll use the memo function on my phone to record a short audio message to myself. Later, I can add it to my written notes.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
Nothing really comes to mind. I’ll read most things, as long as it’s well written.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
It would be an honour to work with someone like Lee Child or Tom Holt.
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
Right now, I’d stick with Ireland. We moved here in 2004 and haven’t looked back. It’s a beautiful country, awash with history and interesting stories. Of course, when Ireland is awash with rain, I may dream up a plot-line which takes me to a warm sandy beach in Spain or Portugal!
Thank you, Nick Albert and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in early 2020.
Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.