Nicola Monaghan – The Whole Story (so far)
The eldest of six children, Nicola was born and raised on Nottingham council estates. Both her parents had left school at fourteen; her father to train as an electrical fitter and her mother to take a job in a dye works before becoming a full time mother. Living on a rough estate and seeing people living hard and sometimes dangerous lives made Nicola determined to pursue her education and have a career. In 1989, Nicola was the first person from her family to go to University. She is pleased to say this started a trend.
Nicola qualified as a teacher but then went on to work in various jobs in the City of London, a career that took her all over the world, including extended stays in Paris and Chicago. She enjoyed the lifestyle but found she didn’t have enough time to devote to the hobby that was fast becoming an obsession; writing. She left the high flying career behind and returned to her hometown of Nottingham in 2001 to concentrate on her real passion full time. She enrolled on the MA in Creative Writing at Nottingham Trent University.
Nicola graduated from the MA in November 2004 with distinction. During the two years she studied at Nottingham Trent, her work was highly praised by tutors and visitors, including then Professor Michèle Roberts. External examiner, and winner of the TS Eliot prize, George Szirtes praised her dissertation, saying: ‘Now this is class writing and gripping narrative, a true talent’ and ‘It is an excellent piece of storytelling in language that is fully alive.’
She has had stories, poems and articles published in anthologies and magazines, including Left Lion, Marie Claire, The Independent, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Pulp Net and, most recently, The Battered Suitcase. ‘The Killing Jar’ was Nicola’s first novel, released in 2006 in the UK and the following year in America. It explores and develops the issues she grew up with, and asks how people can escape the trap of sink estates like Broxtowe, where the novel is based. Nicola lived on the Broxtowe Estate as a child, and still has many relatives there. The Killing Jar was very well received by critics, and won a Betty Trask Award, the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and the Waverton Good Read.
Nicola’s second novel came out in the UK in March 2008, May 2010 in America, and is about a young woman working hard to fit into the laddish City of London lifestyle. It is very different from The Killing Jar, a ride of a book with some dark, gothic themes. It has had excellent reviews in the Independent and Scotland on Sunday, as well as online at website Other Stories. A novella, The Okinawa Dragon, was published by Five Leaves Press in 2008 and also gained rave reviews. It was picked for ‘Book of the Week’ on The Independent blog in August 2008.
She is a founder member of the Nottingham Writers’ Studio and also teaches part time on the Creative and Professional Writing courses based at Nottingham University Jubilee Campus. She is currently working on a third and fourth novel concurrently, as well as a script for The Killing Jar, together with cowriter and director Deborah Haywood.