They were best friends. Sisters of the heart. Partners in crime. Until they got caught…
Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.
The important things about me are laid out in my official author bio: I write historical romances, contemporary romantic suspense, and women’s fiction books. When I’m not reading, writing, or binge-watching stories, I’m often pursuing physical goals like completing 90-day fitness challenges and aspiring to achieve the perfect crow pose. I also spend my time drinking too much coffee, not enough red wine, and just the right amount of bourbon. I live in Maryland with my husband and our spoiled rescue cats, not too far from my adult daughter and son-in-law.
As for writing, it was the first thing I ever wanted to do, but I followed a circuitous path. I studied sciences and pursued other careers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, I was often recognized for my writing skills and eventually hired for new positions because of them. Along the way, I decided to pursue fiction writing on the side.
Shortly after I made that decision, I was visiting my hometown, about an hour from where I live, and walked into a bookstore where a local author was speaking. After her presentation, I asked her if she knew of any local writing groups. I don’t know why I thought that was the time or place to ask that question, but she had an answer and gave me the name and phone number of another writer. I called that stranger, learned about and started attending a monthly critique group, and eventually attended semi-annual writing retreats with them. It took me a long time to realize I also needed to study my craft and pursue more formal training, but from that wonderful, supportive group, I learned the basics of fiction writing and formed my first author friendships.
Is there anything major that changed in this novel from when you first plotted it out?
There have been two major changes in the novel since the early draft. The first came before I sent the book out on submission. I knew there was something missing in the story, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I started fiddling with the structure and added a second timeline, and finally the story clicked for me.
Weirdly, though, while the “now” of the story was written in third-person point of view, the earlier timeline was written in first-person. When my editor at the publishing house asked me why I’d used first-person, my only answer was that it had come to me in that voice. I’ll fight to keep something I think is integral to a story, but that reasoning sounded lame, even to me, so I agreed to change it. Thus began the second major revision, which moved the earlier timeline into third-person perspective. During that revision, I also changed one significant plot points, but that will have to be my little secret because I can’t explain it without revealing spoilers.
If I had to spend a week on a deserted island, I would need…
Let’s see… Indoor plumbing, running water, electricity, my own pillow. What can I say? I’m a comfort hound. Maybe it would be best just to send me to Richard Branson’s private island some week when he’s not using it.
What is something about you that would surprise people?
I think people who don’t know me or have just met me IRL don’t realize what a klutz I am. Maybe because I’m small, the size of a ballerina or a gymnast, they think I’m graceful like those athletes. Meanwhile, I regularly trip over pets, sidewalk cracks, and occasionally, my own feet. I get minor injuries during workouts all the time. Then there was the time I fell up the stairs and broke a finger.
What was the original title of this book?
Originally, this was was going to be a caper book. The main characters were going to be a less destructive, and less doomed version of Thelma and Louise. The title of that book was Take the Money and Run. That idea didn’t survive the trip from my brain to the page, and once I realized I’d written a friendship story with a colorful cast of secondary characters and a strong romantic subplot, I knew I had to change the title.
Is there a particular author or book that influenced or inspired your writing or decision to write?
I owe a lot to Dr. Seuess! I was about four years old when I realized he was a person whose job was to write books. I think I asked my mom multiple times if that was really something you could do when you grew up. Books were my favorite things in the world, so if being an author was an option, I was all in.
What are you working on now?
I don’t like to say too much about books-in-progress, but I’m very excited about my current commercial fiction project. It’ about a group of women who are friends through their suburban book club. Of the two main characters, one is in politics and the other is a “mommy influencer.” The book group members read a high-profile book by a hot new author, draw undue attention to themselves, nearly derail the author’s book tour, and get themselves cancelled on social media. And that’s just the beginning of their problems.
What would your dream job be if you didn’t write books? (assuming this is your dream job!)
Truly, the very first thing I ever wanted to be was an author, so I’ve come full circle now. But I’ve taken a lot of detours. As a teenager, I wanted to be a vet, and I started my college career as a biochemistry major with a pre-vet advisory. I also loved archaeology, which is a subfield of anthropology. In my second year of college, I changed my major to and ultimately earned my degree in anthropology.
Another subject I’ve loved since childhood is astrophysics, although I could not have told you that was the name of the field when I was six and desperately wanted to be an astronaut. I’m still a big NASA fan and delight over every new collated image that comes in from the space telescopes.
What was some unique research you had to do for a book?
I have a romance series set in Victorian England, and in one of the books (Four Corners of Heaven), the female protagonist is trying to get into medical school. Among the subjects I researched for that book were Victorian-era surgery (yikes!), the Edinburgh Seven (the first class of women medical students at the University of Edinburgh), and all the hoped-for and abandoned medical uses of the poison curare.
Favorite band or music?
I am a lifelong, die-hard Beatles fan, even though I’m not old enough to remember when they were still together as a band. And of course I have a favorite Beatle! It’s Paul, and not just because he was the cute one and I’m shallow. I also love that he’s a huge reader, and I think that love of story comes through in his music and creative projects. But also, he was (and still is) super cute!
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers and fans?
To my biggest fan, I’d like to say, “Hi Mom!” To other readers, I’ll just say that if you like stories about strong women weathering life’s ups and downs with grit, determination, humor, and snark, you should check out my books. Also, I love to hear from readers, so feel free to drop me a line.
To connect with Nancy ~