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?
My name is Nola Nash and I’m 43 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and spent a lot of time in New Orleans. Since 2000, I’ve lived in the Nashville, Tennessee area in the small historic town of Franklin.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m married with 3 kids ages 21, 17, and 13. My two adorable nephews who are 9 and almost 6 call me Auntie Penguin. 😊I have a Master’s Degree in Education, so my day job is teaching 8th grade English. I also co-direct the plays and musicals at the middle school where I teach.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
If everything stays on schedule, the ARC for my debut book, Crescent City Moon, will be coming out this month for reviewers and the folks who will be doing book blurbs for it. It is scheduled to officially launch this fall, which is great since it has some creepy parts with all the magic and voodoo.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
It seems like I’ve been writing my whole life. When I was little, I read constantly then wrote my own stories. They were awful, but they were the seeds of what I get to do now!
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve considered myself a writer for a long time, especially since I began writing the manuscripts for the novels that will be releasing over the next 12 months. It wasn’t until I signed my contract with my publisher, Pandamoon Publishing, that I really considered myself an author. It doesn’t seem like much difference between the two words, but to me there was a huge difference.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Crescent City Moon is of course inspired by New Orleans. The city is so full of magic and mystery. When I was young, I would walk the streets of the French Quarter and the Garden District imagining what stories those old buildings could tell. From there, it was just natural that I would start writing the stories I imagined there. Because the city is my muse, I try very hard to do her justice. I don’t “Hollywood-ize” the history or the voodoo. The truth about New Orleans tradition is so much better than what Hollywood tries to do to it.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The title Crescent City Moon came from the nickname for the city of New Orleans, Crescent City, and then adding the haunting magic of night-time there. So, blending the Crescent City with the Crescent moon was just natural for me.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
If there is anything specific about my style of writing, it would be my passion for immersing the reader in the setting. Description can be cumbersome in some books and drag on forever, I try to sprinkle it more through the dialogue as the characters move through the setting. And, writing description, for me, feels more like poetry, especially with a setting like old New Orleans. The challenge is not to get bogged down in that and slow the pacing down.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Being a paranormal mystery set in the late 1820s, the only real-life experiences of mine that are in it is the setting and my love for the French Quarter. There are real people and certainly real places that pop up in my novels all the time. The real experiences come from some of the magic and voodoo rituals. To describe them well enough for the reader to fully experience them, I needed to experience them myself so I could find the right words to describe not only what was happening, but the sensory experiences that accompanied it. To do that, I did a lot of research, practiced some of the candle magic, herb magic, and voodoo spiritualism myself. I also have a dear friend who is a medium who did a séance with me and let me experience that so I could write about it. And they really are full sensory experiences, from the feel of the wax of the candles to the smells of the herbs, to the sensation of not being quite alone in a place.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I do travel to New Orleans any chance I get and work some research into those visits. Crescent City Moonis the first book in a series and I have another series set in New Orleans that is coming out in the spring. Sylvie’s Pen is the first book in that one. It’s an American historical with quite a bit of sass and romance set in the 1850s in New Orleans. It’s important for me to not only feel the place I’m writing about, but to get the fact straight. I take tons of pictures and use them all the time, not just for the visuals I’m trying to create, but to remind me of how the places felt, smelled, and so on. Another series, launching next summer, is a globe-trotting time travel adventure. For that one, I’ve drawn on some of my own experiences, but have had to interview folks and do a lot of research about the locations I haven’t been able to visit – yet.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Pnadamoon Publishing has a fabulous graphic designer, Don Kramer, who does the cover work for all of our books. However, the photo being used onCrescent City Moon, as well as the other books in that series, I took in Lafayette Cemetery on a visit there. The cemetery is one of my favorite places to go and I’m glad I had some shots that Don could use. Of course, he makes them look incredible when he’s done working his design magic with them!
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
If I had to give a message to the series, it would be to embrace the magic inside you.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
New writers that I’ve been loving recently are Tomi Adeyemi, author of Children of Blood and Bone, and Rin Chupeco, author of The Bone Witch. But my favorite author is Jack London. Has been for years. Reading his work forever is probably where I developed my love for poetic description. As much as I love his work, if I had to choose a favoritte book of all time that I could read over and over (and have already read 8 times) it would be To Kill a Mockingbird.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
That would have to be the amazing friends and staff at the school where I teach. They have given me such encouragement and are so excited about any publishing news I have. Our librarian is even going to have me as one of our author visits once the book is available for the kids to buy and me to sign for them.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
It’s such a long-shot for any author to be able to write for a living. I hope that one day it does become a career for me, but I also know how rare that is. I can be hopeful while still being practical about it.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Honestly, I don’t think I would change anything. I’ve worked on it for years and have woven so much of my heart and soul into it that I don’t think I could or would do it any differently.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned so much about the true nature of New Orleans voodoo and the rituals practiced, as well as the purpose behind them. Most people see it as a dark and creepy thing full of curses and sticking pins in dolls to make victims feel pain. In truth, that’s not what it’s about at all. You can thank Hollywood and uniformed sensationalists for that. It’s actually a practice of protection more than anything else, with a deep and rich history that is quite fascinating to learn about. Sure, there are some darker elements and a few curses for good measure, but not nearly as much of that as people think.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I get asked that one periodically, and I really don’t know. There are some great actresses out there, but I really haven’t settled on a dream cast for the book. Probably because I don’t watch a lot of movies. There just isn’t much time for that when you’re writing 3 novel series!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Write with your heart. When you love what you’re writing, others will too. It comes through the words you choose and the characters you create. When you are trying to write with your head, it becomes forced and it shows in the work. I know, I’ve done it, and had to scrap 7,000 words of a sequel because my heart wasn’t in it. It seemed like time to get the sequel done, so I started writing. But it wasn’t good at all. Once I started again when my heart was in it, it began to take shape organically and it’s so much better!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Read, review, and connect! Writers need reviews, even just “It was great!” It helps the writers you love show up in the searches so other readers can find them. And connect. I’d love to hear from my readers! Social media has been a wonderful way for readers and writers to engage and that builds a vibrant community.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now, I’m reading Killer Secrets by Sherrie Orvik. It’s a fast-paced murder mystery and I’m loving it so far!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Probably Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. My mother used to read those to me and my brother at bedtime and eventually, we took over the reading part. I loved those books!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I laugh at my kids and nephews all the time, especially when they are all together. They are so silly and fun. I cry (happy tears) at videos where someone is showing kindness to someone who is struggling. Sad and angry tears come from seeing cruelty to others or animals.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
A person from the past would definitely be Jack London, just so I could thank him for the inspiration to write the way I do. From the present, there are several. An author I’d love to meet is Margaret Atwood. But I’d also love to meet Jimmy Fallon or James Corden because they’re hilarious.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
In the warmer months, I have a vegetable and herb container garden on my deck that I love tending to. During the school year, as a teacher, there isn’t much time for hobbies, unless you count directing the shows.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
The Golden Girls is my go-to. Love me some Sophia! But, weirdly, I also watch an awful lot of Star Trek: Next Generation and Voyager. Out of character for me, I know.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
My favorite food, being the south Louisiana girl that I am, is boiled crawfish. Hands down. No question about it. Favoritecolors are green and blue. Music is my jams from the 80s and 90s, unless I’m writing. When I’m writing, I always listen to reggae. It has a beat that keeps my fingers moving and the thoughts flowing, but I can’t understand most of the words, so it’s not distracting.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d be teaching, I suppose. It’s what I do now when I’m not writing, so it seems like a logical choice.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Go to New Orleans, eat lots of crawfish, and hug on my family.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
She loved, she created, she dreamed.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My website is https://nolanash.com/, but for the most up-to-date information, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great places to find me. My Instagram and Twitter are both @nolanashwrites and have a street team Facebook group called Nola’s Second Line. It’s a public group and I’d love to have fans join the fun there! You can also find me on Goodreads. Once the book launches, I’ll have my Amazon Author page set up as well. Look for that this fall!