Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hello Fiona, I’m Nancy Quinn, and I am pleased to say I am 55 years young, and am looking forward to many more years to come!
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m originally from a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, but spent my teen years and my early adult life in Florida.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m a wildlife artist and a published author with Hellgate Press. I live with my family, horses, and dogs on a mountainside in western Montana where I paint wildlife and write about our experiences living in the modern rural west.
I live with my family, horses, and dogs on a mountain in western Montana where I paint and write about our experiences living in the modern rural west.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’ve just completed the sequel to my first book, Go West, Young Woman!, which was released last year. My new book, Stay West, Young Woman!, picks up where my debut book left off. It is the continuing true story of my family leaving the urban lifestyle in the United States capitol, Washington, DC, to live on a mountainside in Montana. It will be released later this spring. I’m also pleased to announce that Go West, Young Woman! has been nominated for the Will Rogers Medallion Award, for excellence in western writing.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
About 10 years ago my husband retired from the United states Air Force. We decided to move the family to Montana and pursue a more pastoral lifestyle, hoping our days would be calmer and less hectic. We endured a steep learning curve those first five years, and the book chronicles many of our more comical and dangerous experiences. Now our nearest neighbours are hummingbirds, songbirds, magpies, crows, owls, ospreys, hawks, eagles, grass snakes, ants, spiders, deer, elk, moose, horses, cows, foxes, coyotes, wolves, chipmunks, squirrels, mice, rats, rabbits, skunks, marmots, beavers, badgers, bobcats, cougars, and bears – to name a few. Hardly a day goes by without a visit from one of them, though they’ve yet to bother me for a cup of sugar or flour. I began writing to friends and family, explaining in detail the interactions we were having with them. When the stories began to generate some keen interest, I decided to share them with a broader audience by writing a book about our modern frontier life.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I wrote the first chapter in my first manuscript and developed a working title, I considered myself a fledgling writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Well, I should point out that my first book was my first attempt at writing, so what I said before about the animal encounters was part of my motivation. Our lifestyle is quite unique, and I felt our experiences could inspire others to try to live their dreams. It isn’t fiction; it’s really a series of chronologically listed short stories about my family’s true adventures. I am happy to share the knowledge we have acquired along the way, and don’t mind if others enjoy a good laugh at our expense. We’ve also picked up a lot of new skills regarding how to deal with weather, cultural differences, and animals. Hopefully, anyone interested in rustic living can learn a few tips from our mistakes. I find it incredibly inspiring to share this information in story form with others through the written word. It has opened up a whole new career for me, and it coincides with being a wildlife artist.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It was the title of the first chapter in my manuscript. The publisher suggested it would make a good title for the book. It really does encompass the whole idea of being modern day pioneers and coming west to start a new life.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My writing style is quite fluid. I have an outline of topics I refer too, and I just dive in and begin writing. Somehow, it all comes together. I think having a good idea of what I want to convey in each chapter helps me stay on task. Being an artist, I try to “paint with words” and create a mental picture by choosing words and phrases that form a vivid image in the mind of the reader.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The book covers are reproduced from original photos we have taken of our homestead over the years. The publisher uses them to design the front and back covers. In Go West Young Woman! the cover features a rainbow rising over our stable and the mountains. It was a lucky snapshot my husband happened to take one day.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I should point out that it isn’t a novel. The events are true, though names, dates, and some locations were intentionally blurred for privacy reason. And, yes, there is a message which is reflected in the cover photo of the rainbow, which I think represents hope. This is a recurring theme throughout the book, along with perseverance and the need to cultivate a humorous perspective on life. Dreams don’t come true without a continual effort on your part. Even though you may fail at first, or encounter hardship, there is a greater success if one keeps on trying, again and again. Humour helps, especially when times are tough. If you can laugh through adversity, you’ve already beaten the devil. If you can’t, well, maybe someday you will see the comedy in retrospect. There is enough tragedy and despair in life to drag even the strongest of us down – if we let it. I want people to find my books uplifting; that is my primary goal.
Fiona: Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
The James Herriot series has always been a favorite of mine. Since I have a love of animals and the country life, he captured two of my interests with his stories about being a veterinarian in the Yorkshire, England, during the late 1930’s to 1950’s.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Hopefully yes, a long and happy career. I’m also branching out into producing videos about our western life, so who knows where that will take me? The programs are currently found on my YouTube channel.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Since it is a true story, I wish I could change some of the events that I wrote about. I think we all wish we could change some things about our lives.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned that writing an honest true life story is a lot like creating a painting. The shadows and the darker areas are necessary for a complete picture. It’s a catharsis, but that is sometimes necessary if we are to effectively deal with our dashed hopes and sorrows and find some resolution.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Janine Turner, who is best known for her role as Maggie in the television series “Northern Exposure”, would be my first pick.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
I have always loved books; they have affected my life in many ways. The written word is a powerful influence, so I believe I have a responsibility to my readers, as does any author, to write about what one truly understands. In my case, it’s focused on whatever makes my heart sing. That way I can offer my best to the world.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I hope my readers will be happy they spent time with me and my family, and that I consider it a privilege to tell them my stories and introduce them to our unique way of life.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading Dakota Cowboy, about the true life experiences of a Wyoming cowboy working the big herds on the mostly unsettled Indian rangeland of the early 1900s. I find his descriptions of the landscapes and the different personalities of the cowboys enjoyable. Even though we don’t raise cattle, I can relate to the weather and the challenges of rural life in general, so I’m enjoying it.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It was called Little Black-a Pony I loved it, and now have two horses of my own.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Life in general; I’m usually doing one or the other! I try to find the humour in most situations. However, when I see people or animals in pain or suffering, it can bring me to tears.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I would have to say, my father. He died in a car accident when I was very young, and I only have a few faded memories of him. I know he was a noted artist, and I am fortunate enough to have found one of his paintings a few years ago. I have read about him, but a conversation with him would be life changing.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I like flower and vegetable gardening, baking, photography, and knife throwing. I’m currently giving fencing a try, but my shadow keeps beating me.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love period television shows from other countries, and mysteries. Combining the two are a great match for me. A few of my favourites are “The Dr Blake Mysteries”, “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”, “Murdock Mysteries”, “Grantchester”, and “Endeavour”. Right now I’m enjoying the new “Father Brown” series. I particularly appreciate his focus on saving souls over simply solving crimes and seeing the guilty punished. I also enjoy some past science fiction programs such as “Babylon 5”, “Star Gate SG-1”, and “Firefly”. The “Sound of Music” remains my favourite musical, and I think “Beauty and the Beast” is my favourite animated film. I guess I identify with Belle. So does that make my husband the Beast? When he snores I’m inclined to think so.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Oh, please don’t ask me to narrow that down. Is chocolate considered a food group? Since I lived in Florida for many years, I also enjoy seafood. Pasta makes the list, and ethnic foods like Chinese and Italian. Hmm…having difficulties answering this one…
I like the color blue. I like to wear royal blue sweaters and dresses and have many shades of blue in my home décor.
Since I used to sing professionally, I appreciate most styles of music. Sarah Brightman is my favorite vocalist.
I’m fond of folk music because I like to hear the stories that inspired the songs. I truly enjoy the recordings of Gordon Lightfoot.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would continue with my wildlife art, and since I have always taken in stray animals, both wild and domestic, I would consider having a rehab and adoption facility. My other option would be working in interior design, but that could prove difficult while living on a mountain.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Her works live on…
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I hope everyone will take a moment to visit my website at http://quinnwildlifeart.com/ You will find my artwork, and links to my books, interviews, and YouTube videos. It also has updates on events, news, and special offers. Thank you for the opportunity to have this chat on your blog, Fiona, I’m much obliged.
Wildlife Artist and Author
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