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Nina Manning, Author

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Author Nina Manning

Ahead of the official launch of her debut novel, we met up with author Nina Manning. We found out the challenges she faced in getting this book on the shelves, plus her plans for future projects…

Becoming a published author is not easy. There is a lot of rejection and disappointment involved, especially if you go down the traditional route. Still, with continued perseverance, that dream of having a novel published can come true. As demonstrated by the subject of our latest Humans story, Nina Manning.

WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY? HOW LONG AGO DID YOU COME TO BOURNEMOUTH?

I was born in Stratford-upon-Avon – the home of Shakespeare himself! – then moved to a little town in Warwickshire called Leamington Spa. Lived there for about 20 years and then moved down here. I’ve been here for around 20 years as well.

WHEN DID YOU DECIDE THAT WRITING WAS THE THING YOU WANTED TO DO?

It has always been in my blood, really. Ever since I was a kid – I used to love creative writing classes; used to excel in those. And then in my spare time, I would just like to sit and, not necessarily write stories, but create the scenarios and the characters. I used to love sitting there putting little character profiles together, and then go to bed, and then the next day, I would be so excited to almost greet the characters I had created the night before. And as I grew up, I would tinker with little stories.

TELL ME ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF YOUR CAREER, LEADING UP TO PUBLISHING THE DAUGHTER IN LAW…

Catering was where I ended up working. The last five years or so is where it has snowballed towards my career as an author. Beforehand, I had done a lot of blog writing online; I had my own blog and had done some food blogging for The Daily Echo online. And off the back of that, I managed to get a copy editor job with a food company, so that combined my food skills and my writing skills that I honed up to that point.

All that time, I had this story, The Daughter In Law, bubbling away for around ten years. It was at the stage where I had sent it out loads and loads of times and just had so many rejections. Probably had something like 100 rejections off the back of that one novel – publishers and agents. Eventually, last September, I had a very lovely email from an agent, who said they were interested in the book. Prior to that, I had had a lot of emails saying, “We’re interested in the book. If you could send us a full manuscript…” and all that. Obviously then it didn’t amount to anything. But this agent was very interested, read the full manuscript; two weeks later, I was meeting them in London. Golden handshake and they’re my agent!

They helped me polish the manuscript and sent it to 22 publishing houses, and three came back. There was an auction, if you like, with those three publishers, and then my agent and I collaboratively decided which one was the best for me. And we chose one called Boldwood.

WHICH WRITERS INSPIRE YOUR STYLE?

It’s really difficult to say that. This is my first book, so what I think will happen is once people read it, they will then decide who they think my writing is similar to. When I read books, I often say to people if I’m recommending it, “Oh, you’ll like this book because it’s quite like this writer or that writer.” I’m quite looking forward to people comparing me to other people. Or maybe they won’t – I don’t know.

Certainly, as an author, I’ve been inspired by lots of writers. Maggie O’Farrell, Elizabeth Gilbert, Marian Keyes, Lisa Jewell — all these great female writers that I have been reading for years. Maybe there’s little bits of their writing that has seeped through to mine.

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE DAUGHTER IN LAW A BIT MORE. WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM AND HOW DID IT GROW INTO WHAT IT HAS BECOME NOW?

Quite some time ago, I did a degree in psychology and criminology. I’ve always been really interested in people and the way their minds work. The psychology of relationships and all that kind of stuff. And I thought there was this universal theme about mothers-in-law and sons and daughters-in-law, and how mothers have very different relationships with their sons than they do with their daughters. I’ve always been really interested in that, so I just took that theme and ran with it.

Initially, The Daughter In Law was just a family saga, almost like a soap opera-type thing. And as I said before, I sent it out to hundreds of agents and publishers, and one of the agents that came back to me (who didn’t take me up, ultimately) said, “This is really great; I love the concept, I love the title, I love your writing. Would you consider changing it into a psychological thriller?” It took quite a long time, as you can imagine – to rewrite an entire book with the same characters etcetera. But by the time I sent it back to her, she had moved on and wouldn’t take it at that point.

But she inspired me to change it from the family saga novel into the psychological thriller it is now. And I found my darker side, I guess. I knew I wanted to take the book to a darker level — that was the point. It needed to go somewhere a lot darker and I always had the idea of a finale scene in my head, but I was a bit too scared to go there. I thought, “I’m not a psychological thriller writer – I’m just writing this lovely little family saga!” But I found my dark side and here we are.

AS AN AUTHOR, DO YOU PLAN TO STICK TO THE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER GENRE OR EXPLORE OTHER AVENUES IN FUTURE?

I think I have so many ideas for books I want to write. I’m about halfway through writing a young adult book at the moment. That’s no particular genre, really; it’s just under the umbrella of young adult fiction. A coming-of-age novel about a teenage girl. I have a three-book deal with Boldwood, so I will be writing two more psychological thrillers for them, one due out for the end of this year, the other next year. As well as The Daughter In Law, which is out in August.

I would love to write an UpLit novel – that’s a very popular genre at the moment. There are so many books out at the moment with dark topics; people are very much interested in reading something a bit more uplifting. Very character-driven and a happy, quirky ending. So I have a few ideas for writing something along those lines.

ALONGSIDE YOUR AUTHOR CAREER, YOU PRESENT A BOOK REVIEW PODCAST. TELL ME HOW THAT STARTED…

Basically, I read so many books all the time, and I’m in a couple of book clubs. But quite often, we will talk about the book for five percent of the time, and then we talk about everything else going on in our lives, and we’d never really make it back to the book. And I would find that a bit frustrating — I wanted to talk about all these great books I was reading. I had only just started getting into podcasts; noticed a few around, listened to a few. A few people had said to me, “I’m doing a podcast.” I thought, “Oh, what’s that? I’m going to look into that!” And I discovered it’s actually quite easy; you just download an app, record it and upload it to any platform.

I put an advert out on Facebook, though I had an idea of who I wanted to co-host it with me anyway. Someone I knew read quite a lot. And as soon as I put the post out, she was the first one to answer it, saying she was really interested. So we got together and bashed out the first episode about a couple of books we had read around Christmas. We were really nervous – our first one is probably terrible!

HAS THE WRITING AND PUBLISHING COMMUNITY GOT INVOLVED WITH THE PODCAST?

Publishers send me lots of books and I can request books from publishers. Mostly we’re reading books that haven’t been published yet or are on the verge of being. We’re reviewing them around the publication date, so our listeners can hear what great fiction is coming out.

We also do a few author interviews. I do those as a sort of conference call on the podcast. Connect to the author on my phone and chat with them. Hopefully as we grow, we’ll do some giveaways. It’s still quite new at the moment, and with my own career as an author as well, I haven’t had as much time to dedicate to it as I would like. But as the podcast grows alongside my writing career, they may help each other out.

DO YOU INTEND TO BRANCH OUT WRITING FICTION FOR OTHER PLATFORMS? SUCH AS THEATRE, TELEVISION OR FILM?

Well, I’ll let you into a little secret. When I wrote The Daughter In Law, in my mind, I always had this vision of it becoming a film. And quite often when I read, I visualise things and imagine it playing out as a scene in a film or a TV drama. So, when I was writing the book, I always had this image that it could be a film as well. I think I would be thrilled if it got picked up. But that’s obviously something for which I have to wait and see.

WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOU?

Just to continue to be a writer and for that to be my job for the rest of my days. It’s all I have ever wanted to do, and to be able to have a career out of it is the goal!

Find out more about Nina and The Daughter in Law by checking out the book’s Goodreads page and the author’s Facebook page. Or purchase the Kindle edition now by clicking here. Nina’s podcast Sniffing the Pages can be listened to here.

And for more extraordinary and inspiring tales from Bournemouth and Poole’s locals, check out our Humans section.

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Hannah Elkins, Musician

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Musician Hannah Elkins
Photo courtesy of Hannah Elkins

Ahead of releasing her first single, we had a chat with musician Hannah Elkins. Where did her journey in music begin and what are her hopes for the future?

Dividing her time between the hustle-and-bustle of London and the Bournemouth music scene, we were lucky to have a few words with musician and singer Hannah Elkins. As she goes to release her first single, it seemed like a good time to hear about her beginnings in music…

ARE YOU FROM THE BOURNEMOUTH AREA?

Yeah – I grew up in Bournemouth. I studied at Leeds University, and then came back to Bournemouth, before moving to London last summer. But most of my life has been spent in the area.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DECIDE THAT MUSIC WAS WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO?

My mum is a singer herself. She’s very musical and runs a choir in Bournemouth. So, in a way, I had no choice. I grew up singing and it was just what I knew to do. But it was really at secondary school that I realised that it was what I wanted to do for a career, and what I went to study at university.

DO YOU MODEL YOUR STYLE ON ANY ARTISTS IN PARTICULAR?

My favourite artist is Lianne La Havas. She has very delicate, beautiful vocals, with quite hard guitar sounds. For me, it was the first time I had heard that kind of contrast in music, which I fell in love with. Another one is Jessie Ware. I just found out that she was classically trained, and I studied classical singing at university. I think that’s why I love her stuff so much – you can hear she’s just got this amazing voice in there. She’s a huge inspiration to me.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FIRST GIG…

I started writing my own music probably quite late in comparison to others. A lot of them, you hear they started writing when they were 12. For me, that didn’t happen until I went to university. Because I studied classical singing, and then I went for a year abroad in the Netherlands to learn to play piano. And it really changed my perspective of music and how I wanted to approach it.

So I started sitting at the piano and writing my own stuff. And then when I went back for my final year at Leeds, I just thought, “I’ve got to do this!” Took a lot of courage, but I booked my first gig at Hyde Park Book Club. Lovely little intimate venue – it was actually quite terrifying because it was so intimate. We had about 70 people in this room. I just rocked up with my notepad (with my lyrics on it) in one hand and my little keyboard and sat in front of these people, who were the most attentive audience I’ve ever had. And that was it – I was hooked.

NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING FIRST SINGLE…

It’s called After the Midnight. I don’t have a set writing method with any of my music. Normally, I’ll find this idea, work around it and build the song, but with this one, I had just a chorus – two lines and two chords that I knew I loved. Had no idea where I was going with it. Even when I stepped into the studio, I didn’t have the song in full! Bit risky, I know, but I like a challenge. I don’t know if I’d recommend it…

So, I worked with my friends Elliot Wenman, who plays guitar, and Niko Battistini, who is a Bournemouth-based producer. With those two, I created this song.

When I started writing this, I had started a different mind state of how I wanted to write. So, it was included in a couple of other songs I had written. There was the theme of this midnight, the stars, the universe; it just fit into this collection that I was working on at the time.

WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO LAUNCH YOUR SINGLE SPECIFICALLY IN BOURNEMOUTH?

I am really excited to come back and do the launch here. That’s because After the Midnight has been a collaboration with a lot of Bournemouth musicians and artists. The artwork was done by a girl called Amy Leonard, who is studying at the Arts University. She’s done some brilliant artwork for me. Plus the photography has been done by Alice Parmenter, who’s also Bournemouth-based. And then, as I mentioned earlier, the production from Niko. There’s such talent in Bournemouth, and that’s where this single has come from.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THE BOURNEMOUTH MUSIC SCENE?

In Bournemouth, there is this real market of music-lovers. There is something called Sofar Sounds, which is run in Bournemouth. I performed for them a couple of years ago, and then I volunteered for their team afterwards. It’s a brilliant event where they basically get three acts and take them to an intimate venue. Audiences can apply for tickets, and they don’t know where the venue will be or what the lineup is until they’re emailed a few days before. They tell you at the beginning of the gig that they want you to pay attention to the artists and give them that respect, which I think can be lost in some of the bigger venues. London, for example, can be slightly saturated.

WHAT IS THE DREAM OR END GOAL FOR YOU AS A MUSICIAN

Ultimately, it’s to write music that people can relate to and want to listen to. As long as there’s someone there who is listening and says that they like it — that’s the dream, really.

Read more amazing and inspiring stories from the talent of Bournemouth in our Humans section. And find out more about Hannah on her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

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Stephanie Wyatt, Miss Earth 2019

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Learn more about Stephanie Wyatt, 19, from Dorset, as she has been crowned the new Miss Earth 2019…

At the end of last month, Stephanie Wyatt was crowned Miss Earth England 2019 at the Arden Hotel in Birmingham, sponsored by Millennium Balti in Leamington Spa. She got in touch with Humans of Bournemouth with full details on her story and what it’s like to be “Miss Earth.”

WHAT ARE YOUR DUTIES AS MISS EARTH?

As Miss Earth, I will be representing England on an international platform of millions of people around the world. Since I have also been rewarded with the title of ‘Beauties of a Cause Eco-Ambassador’ for my accomplishments, my duties include working with environmental, eco-activities and other social causes.

WHAT’S YOUR ADVOCACY?

My main aim is to advocate the preservation and restoration of Mother Earth. From a young age, I remember being exposed to the harsh reality around me and knew I had to make a change. When I found out that I could make a difference, I knew I had to carry on doing what I was doing.

DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS A STIGMA ON PAGEANTS?

Despite the stigmas, Miss Earth is different to your everyday beauty pageant. It is an environmentally-focused competition. A platform for change. For example, one of our challenges that was judged was to create an “eco-warrior” outfit. I decided to make mine completely out of real flowers. I believe that we are sending out a message here, showing the public that we all have a responsibility to preserve and attend to what the world we live in needs. Which fights against any stigmas.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GOING TO THE MISS EARTH FINAL?

I am extremely honoured to be put in the position to attend the final. Which is the third-most prestigious platform in the world to represent England. I’m also privileged to meet so many like-minded women. I’d like to thank the Miss Earth England organisation and I hope that I will do my country proud. This really is a dream come true for me.

DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER PROJECTS BESIDES FROM MISS EARTH?

I want to be socially and environmentally responsible for our earth. That’s why I created my own project in 2017. I investigated how I could tackle the world’s second-largest polluting industry, which is clothing. I thought of several ways to reduce this problem and also need those in need at the same time. That’s why I decided to aid those whom are struggle with period poverty. My first steps to making a difference were deciding to set up workshops at my local library, where the public could donate their unwanted clothes. Once generous individuals had donated, I was then able to up-cycle them into re-usable sanitary wear for girls in Kenya. This can make a big transformation on a girl’s life in Kenya since they can go to school now in comfort and not have to worry about their period getting in the way of their education.

WHAT DO YOU PLAN TO DO DURING YOUR REIGN AS MISS EARTH?

I hope to set up a lot more like-minded projects, similar to what I have done before. I’m particularly interested in helping Third World countries; they are one of the main reasons why I put my heart and soul into the work I do.

Find out more about the Miss Earth pageant on their Facebook page. And for more inspiring stories about the locals of Bournemouth, Poole and surrounding areas, check out our Humans section.

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Jack Lenton, Personal Trainer

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Personal Trainer Jack Lenton

Meet Jack Lenton. His lifestyle is his career. As a personal trainer, he owns his own business and is able to train clients worldwide.

Learn more about how he decided to become a personal trainer and how his passion for fitness began. Jack also desires to help others develop their own career in the fitness industry…

ARE YOU ORIGINALLY FROM BOURNEMOUTH?

No, I grew up in the south of Somerset. Then I decided to go to Exeter University, so I lived there for a while. After that I lived in America for 18 months. I’ve lived in Bournemouth for the past year. My girlfriend lived here, so it made sense for me to move here with her.

WHAT DOES YOUR PROFESSION INVOLVE?

My day-to-day job is mainly online coaching and training. I also employ people to help with my business and coaching — I love being able to give people the chance to do what they love as a job. We mainly coach one-to-one sessions, giving the clients personal advice on themselves and how their body works and what suits them. Nevertheless, we also coach in groups as well; they don’t tend to be any more than 40 people. An individual’s ability determines what group they are put in. As a group, they will be supported as much as possibly needed.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GET INTO FITNESS?

Fitness was the only thing that kept my attention; I didn’t really enjoy school. All my efforts went into fitness and sports instead of education. Therefore, when choosing a university course, exercising science caught my eye. It was the only course that for fulfilled my desires at the time.

WERE YOU INTO SPORTS AT SCHOOL?

Of course! It wasn’t weightlifting or strength training — I was too young for any of that. I tended to play more standard sports such as football, basketball and I tried a bit of trampolining. As a kid, just being active was my priority. Fitness has always been a key aspect of my life.

WOULD YOU SAY YOU LIVE A STRICT LIFESTYLE IN TERMS OF FITNESS?

I have made my fitness lifestyle strict because that is the how I prefer it. My mental and physical health has improved by working out daily. Although it never limits me in terms of my lifestyle, since I enjoy it so much, it’s more of a hobby than a chore.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE FOR YOU TO START SEEING RESULTS ON YOUR OWN BODY?

I was looking at photos of myself the other day. From when I was about a year into my training and my body was so different. It took me about two years to see a massive progress. For a long while, I wasn’t very sure on what worked on my body type in terms on fitness wise. I found that, I noticed what I was doing wrong before finding what I was doing right. Over the years, I’ve increased how much I train. Before fitness and training was part of my daily routine, I was working out about five times a week. My personality is quite addictive, so that certainly helped keep myself on track.

IS SOCIAL MEDIA IMPORTANT TOWARDS YOUR CAREER AS A PERSONAL TRAINER?

Social media makes a significant impact on my career since it allows me to coach worldwide. My personal trainer career is no longer restricted to local people; because of social media, anyone can reach out to me. It also benefits me in terms of meeting like-minded individuals from anywhere and everywhere. Those who share the same passions as me and are part of the fitness community.

WHAT IS YOUR END GOAL?

Right now, I hope to carry on what I’m doing and making money from it. I also hope to keep employing more and more people for my business. This means I can help them gain experience and earn money from doing something they love as a career, just like me.

Don’t forget to check out Jack’s Instagram and website to learn more about his coaching!

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