Owen Nicholls, whose wonderful romantic comedy, Love, Unscripted, is published today by Hachette / Headline is the next author in our interview series.

Owen is a screenwriter with a Masters in Scriptwriting from the UEA.

His first screenplay – a biopic of the filmmakers Powell and Pressburger – is currently under option to Bedlam Productions, the BAFTA and Academy Award-winning producers of The King’s Speech. His work has appeared in Empire and NME, and in 2018 Love, Unscripted was selected for the Escalator Scheme run by the Writers’ Centre in Norwich, where he currently lives with his family.

What inspired you to write?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. My parents always have a stack of books by their bed, and as they were both teachers, reading was rife in our house. I think I only saw it as something you could do for a living when I was about 15. Reading EMPIRE magazine I saw a review for a Screenwriting ‘How To’ book that explained, ‘Hey, the movies you love? Someone actually wrote those.’ Since then I’ve wanted to tell stories in any medium I can. Writing Love, Unscripted was the first time I really, truly persevered with a novel.

What’s your favourite book/piece of literature?

I’m going to wimp out and use the “you wouldn’t make me pick a favourite child” defence. Instead, I’ll list a few things I keep coming back to. Books – Dept. Of Speculation, High Fidelity, The Little Prince, One Day, anything by Laura Lippman. Film – A Matter of Life and Death, Its A Wonderful Life, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, WALL-E and The Big Lebowski. TV – Spaced, Fleabag, The Wire, Pure and The Simpsons. Music – Regina Spektor, Frightened Rabbit, Nina Simone, Radiohead and Bjork.

Where do most of your good ideas come to you?

Annoyingly late at night when I’m trying to sleep. Sometimes when I’m driving. I’ve learned to be okay with them appearing at inopportune moments thanks to a fantastic Ted Talk with Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love,). She talks about creative impulses and “whatever that thing is” that comes and gives us our ideas. Her story about Tom Waits finding peace with inconvenient inspiration is one for the ages.

Where do you write?

There isn’t really space for an office in our current house. Instead I’ve carved out a little corner of our bedroom. Contrary to what films and books and adverts tell you, all you really need to write is a pen, a piece of paper and an hour every day. It’ll take some time but eventually you’ll end up with something you’re proud of.

Owen’s writing space

An inspirational note written for Owen by his wife to encourage him to keep writing. 

What is your writing process?

Before I was lucky enough to find the magnificent Hayley Steed (and she in turn found a home for Love, Unscripted) I had to work around my 9-5 office job. Every single lunchtime – without fail – I’d find a quiet corner and write solidly for sixty minutes. I’m a planner so almost always free hand an outline of what I want the story to be, chapter by chapter. I don’t need everything mapped out before I can write but I do need to know where I’m going. I’m also a big believer in the trick of stopping midway through a sent…

…ence, so when you next sit down to write you can start straight away.

Where did the idea come from for LOVE, UNSCRIPTED?

I’d wanted to write a romantic comedy film script for years, especially one set over the course of one long, eventful night. I knew it would be a tough sell to try and pitch an original screenplay by an unproduced writer in this genre, but then a friend suggested I write the idea as a novel instead. It fit so perfectly and let me tell the story exactly how I wanted to, flicking between the two timelines of ‘meet-cute’ and ‘break-up’, showing the highs and lows of a real relationship.

How do you relax after a day of writing?

If we’re all in the house, we’ll eat together as a family, without fail. Every other night I’ll read to my children (5) and (3) and put them to bed. This is always a welcome transition from the fictional world I’ll be living in during the day, to the real world of home life. Once they’re settled, I’ll find and get lost in a story someone else has told. That may be a cinema trip, something from the TBR pile, the latest, interesting show on TV or an album from whichever artist I’m currently obsessed with.