Men of Arrows - Nadia Crighton

'Men of Arrows' is a fantasy/fiction book written by first-time author but longtime journalist Nadia Crighton.

Based on her own personal on-going drama in a relationship with 4 kids and uncertainties as to what lay ahead, Nadia describes how she rose from that dark part of her life and created an amazing book that we think should be made into a movie! 

Brian spoke with Nadia who is currently in New Zealand about the book and what lies ahead!...

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G’day and thanks for joining us on the MyLife… MyStory podcast and we’re going to be talking right now about a book called ‘Men of Arrows’. It was actually written by a long time friend of ours Nadia Crichton, who happens to be in New Zealand right now, and we want to find out what inspired a journalist like Nadia to write an amazing book of fiction!

Nadia welcome to MyLife… MyStory, now as soon as I opened up this book I immediately saw it was  dedicated to…”My beloved father who taught me to chase my dreams and never give up”…

Well, you don't give up, do you?

No! (laughs)

So in a nutshell, tell me, just your background briefly then tell us what made you create a book like this? And then I'm going to see if I can actually understand some of the characters. I think I've started to work a few of them out.

I've always been a writer… I think I could probably write before I could sleep properly!

It's always been a dream through school and I always wanted to be a writer, and when it came to the end of school, I wanted to be an author - I wanted to write books my whole life, so I decided that I wanted to make sure that I was involved in an industry where I kind of kept my creative flair and ability to write and get better at writing.

So I became a journalist! - That was a good ’20 something’ years ago.

You don’t look it!! (laughs)

And I’ve worked for numerous magazines throughout the years, and slowly I’ve got about 20 maybe 30 half-finished books.

So it was always something that I'd start and I’d never finished, which was crazy because my life revolved around deadlines, but I never put that into my own creative work. It was a thing I did on the side.

Back when I wrote Men of Arrows, I went through some pretty horrific trauma, in terms of relationship trauma and being a mum of four children and didn't know financially how I was going to survive and having a fear of banks selling your home and all those awful things that you don’t want to think about as a successful business woman, I sat down on the couch one night and I looked at the bottle of wine next to me and I thought, you can either disappear into that or you can disappear into your writing.

And I just grabbed my laptop and Men of Arrows was born and it just started from there!

Wow!... That actually encapsulates a whole lot that says everything!... We don't need to talk anymore 😊

Listen, what I've done is I've looked at a few of the characters that you've got here, and I’m guessing … we’ve got Horan, Aeron, Amee - Maccabee - Jones – Eadric… Mother ANU, goddess of the Earth and Light, is happy because of something that happened then…

So… ‘Horan was my teacher… He was one of the great men of Arrows that had been seriously injured many moons past’… I'm guessing that's your dad ?

Yes… So it was more kind of basing it off an incredible teacher and somebody who is a very strong person, but on the same side being able to be incredibly sensitive and guiding through that kind of process.

It's the same with Aeron - It's about a boy who is struggling with becoming a man and the weight of having a lot of expectations put on you and I think all of us, regardless if you’re male or female, understand the implications of that particularly I think it was written for pre-teens to understand that a lot of us have a lot of pressure on us.

I think particularly in this day and age, teenagers have an awful lot more pressure on top of them, so it's kind of showing that even through the most adverse places that you find yourself in, you can make great friends, you can learn incredible things, and you can overcome certain feelings and things as you go on.

I think particularly as you see Aeron’s character grow, you really get a sense that he's almost got anxiety, that he's always double thinking.

He's always overthinking things and how he deals with that and how others help him deal with that kind of finding that inner peace and that inner alignment with himself.

It's got a lot of underlining connotations in there for teenagers.

So that through difficult times and things like that, when Red Raven comes into it, particularly, she comes into as a character who's doing things that she shouldn't be doing as a girl, what’s acceptable in that culture as a girl, and again, overcoming those boundaries of that she can do anything she wants if she puts her mind to it and changing other people’s perspective of what she's capable of and what they think that she's not capable of.

So there's definitely a lot of undertones in there that have come from a lot of different experiences in my own life and kind of other people and their influence over me and kind of characterising that within the characters in the book.

I haven't read the whole book yet, but I'm just guessing that Aeron is you?

Yes, very much. (laughs)

Amee, McCabe, Jones and Eadric… Your kids or family rather?

They’ve definitely got aspects of different personalities from people that are close to me.

The main characters definitely have gone on to my own life or those who are very close to me to kind of build a character around that original source, but a lot of the characters in the book are completely 100% fictional, that I just created this person.

And I think that's why it was such a wonderful escape, because I created these people that weren’t real.

They had lives, they had personalities. I always have a log book next to me writing down the characteristics that I was bringing out in each of them, so if you went back to that character a chapter later, you knew exactly where you were up to.

And I'd wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning and think, “oh my god, Aeron’s stuck there!.. Like, I've got to get him out of there, I've got to do this or I've got to do that…

So it almost became a fictional fantasy world that I could disappear into writing it as much as I hope that when people read it that they were able to do the same.

It's quite amazing to think,  as a mainstream journalist for many years, to suddenly come up and go back so far back in time, yet relate it to something that’s happened, perhaps to yourself and your own family and all the rest of it, for people to think, well, how do you do that? How do you do that? What’s going on up there?

I think sometimes it's just that creativeness that it just kind of pulls out of you, and then you have a character where you find that you're writing about situations and they’re reacting in a certain way that you realise that that’s actually a part of yourself, and so you start thinking, well, how did I overcome that?

And you can rewrite that in your character and how they're coping and how they don't cope.

I mean, there's definitely situations where Aeron in particular, doesn't cope with the situation, with what’s going on.

I think it's more that you can kind of pull on your character more into having a better understanding and also make them more relatable to the reader that they're not just this fictional character, that they've got human qualities, emotions and feelings that most of us have gone through in our adult life and in our teenage world.

Well, I've only read, as I said, the first three chapters so far, and it's locked me in. It's definitely locked me in because I just see (that’s what I like!), yes, we know you personally. That's one thing, but even if we didn't, I can just see that there’s this young kid learning, and that's the big thing.

Learning as life goes on. There's battle scars, … ‘Master Horan’s scars of battle’ … I'm reading about just words I've picked out a few phrases there.

So having written this now, back in 2020  I think it was, how has that helped you I guess move on from the dramas that have been happening or have happened in your life, does that really help a lot?

Oh it certainly did. It was a great escape. I'd sit down in the evenings and I would immerse myself in a book, and I think I mean, I'm not too sure if it's the same for many writers that are creative writers and work in the industry, and it sounds quite crazy when you tell people that for a job, I write up to 10,000  words a week and they go, ‘OHH!’ and then what do you do for pleasure?

Well, I sit there and write about 10,000 words a week!

And they think you're nuts, but I've never been much of a reader, I was when I was younger, but I think it's the editor in me, and when I read a fantasy book or a good written book, I'll analyse it.

So I'll get to the bottom of the page and I'll say, “oh, look, there's an orphan on that page, or they should have turned those words out and that's a good way to structure a sentence or there shouldn't be a comma there”…

And I get to the bottom and I think, ‘what the hell was that page about?’

And it's actually quite difficult for me to be taken away into a fiction book, but I think I get the same amount of enjoyment out of writing a fiction book and relaxation out of writing fiction as what anybody does that loves to read.

I can read anything, and as long as it’s educational, I'm a self-help Queen guru because I can lay in bed at night and switch off and read anything I'm learning, but if it's got anything to do with fiction or characters, I think it's that mindset of getting taken away… “Oh that's a good way to describe that!...”

And my editor brain kicks in and I can't switch off, so for me, writing is hugely therapeutic.

When I wrote this book, I actually wrote it during the whole time (I was having dramas) and then life became rosie and great again, and I actually stopped writing it, and I allowed one of my really good friends, I said, do you want to have a read? And she loves fantasy fiction books, and she said, you'd be crazy not to finish that. You need to finish that.

And I'm waking up at night thinking of those characters, so I very much said, ‘right I've got  30 manuscripts that I've never finished. I'm setting myself a deadline, and I'm going to treat it like it is if I have a deadline for work.

And I did… I made sure that I was dedicating 4 to 5 hours to it every week. And I did, and I pushed through and I finished the book. And I was just incredibly proud that I finally did it because I've been saying I was going to do it since I was 14.

And now everybody's nagging me for book two, which now I've got to focus and get book two out because there's a lot of people wondering what’s happened to these characters!.

Exactly - Well, we will be waiting for book two as well, I’ve got to finish book one first, but you've sucked me in, that's for sure!... Fantastic!!

So is there a movie in the wings you're going to sort of get the rights for Hollywood or whatever?

I tell you what. I dream every night that somebody calls me up and says, we read your book on Amazon and can we have the movie rights or the Netflix rights to it, I think that would be just the pinnacle of my dream.

Men of Arrows really proves that you can have a dream in your childhood and you can be pushing well, I'm not going to say my age, but you could be getting closer to an older person and you can still get those dreams.

If you really want to do something, just do it, even if you've done it before and you've given up and you've failed or just do it, because that day that I hit publish on that book and having complete strangers come up to me that had read it saying that was amazing… particularly there was a couple of mothers at the school who bought a copy and they'd read it to their young boys, and because there's a lot of hunting and all of that kind of stuff, their pre-teen boys loved it. They thought it was incredible.

And to have these teenagers right through to 35, 40, 60 year olds coming up to me going, that was incredible… It was awesome! And it was difficult to do.

I think you get so used to being a journalist and a writer, you kind of put it out and you don't really care what anybody thinks about it as long as your Editor's happy and it gets through Grammarly, you're not very precious about your writing.

But with something like a book, it's very personal. I can't imagine how people feel doing it that aren't writers, that put something out because it's almost like you're giving your child out there for people to analyse and scrutinize, and I think I'm partly used to that because I'm a journalist and I'm a professional writer, but to do it off the back and not have that where, you know, you're constantly scrutinised for what you write and things like that, it's a big deal!...

But it was great.. Fantastic. So now I need to get back into book two!!!

Absolutely… Well thanks again Nadia for joining us again on MyLife… MyStory, in fact YourLife… YourStory, we’ll let you get back to writing book two ‘Men of Arrows’. 

And if you want a copy of ‘Men of Arrows’, on Kindle or you want a hard copy, just click the link below and it will take you right there!

© 2020-2022 Nadia Crighton as told to Brian Pickering

To buy this book, Kindle or Paperback, simply follow this link:
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