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?

Hi, everyone!  I’m Nancy Bach, and I’m, er, probably older than most of you!  Can we let it go at that?

Fiona: Where are you from?

I was born in Texas, USA, but have been a Damn Yankee for most of my adult life.  My father was career Airforce, so we moved all over the place, including overseas.  Right now I live in the suburbs of Chicago.

Fiona: A little about your self (ie,  your education, family life, etc.).

The most important thing about me is that I’m a wee bit crazy.  Then again, most of the fun people are, right?  I’m an avid learner, have a silly number of undergraduate degrees, and read constantly, both fiction and non-fiction.  If I could earn a living learning, I’d be doing that!  I’ve got a wonderful husband, two teens and spend a great deal of time spoiling Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, the very pushy poodle.

Fiona: Tell us your latest news.

I’m really excited about the upcoming release of the first book in my new steampunk series, Blind Justice, a Coggs & Cole Adventure.  It will release in late winter (yeah, I know, that seems like forever away!).  Production was delayed longer than I wanted on this one, but things seem to be coming together with my publisher at long last!

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I literally have been writing since I was old enough to hold a crayon.  Telling stories (I believe my mother might have called them lies… 😊) was almost instinctual.  I love to entertain, love to invent new worlds and characters.  It is my passion.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’ve always self-identified as writer, ever since I made up a story about a character called Mr. Peacock in Kindergarten during music/story hour.  Now, ‘author’, that’s different.  I don’t think I really embraced the reality of being an author until several years after publishing my first book, when I was on a panel at a steampunk convention this past spring, with a couple of authors I really love.  Suddenly it dawned on me that it was all real, and not something I invented!  Definitely a champagne moment!

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

My first book was something I wrote when I was ten.  I still have it somewhere.  It was about twenty-five pages, had a cover and interior illustrations by my friend Kathy Davis, and was called, “The Mystery of the Old House”.  It was dreadful, and probably made the creators of Nancy Drew shudder in horror.  But I cut my teeth on mysteries and it was a logical place for me to start.

My first legitimate novel, published under my pen name Nan Sampson, was inspired by a confluence of things; visit to a small town in Southwestern, my love for coffee shops, my enduring passion for mysteries, and my urge to write something that dabbled in the supernatural without being an urban fantasy.

 Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

The title, Blind Justice, refers to both the protagonist, who has been blinded and the nature of the mystery of the book (we have a serial killer on the loose).  It started out as a working title, and I ended it up

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?

For my steampunk novels, I absolutely revel in Victorian speech patterns.  It is so much fun to use all those lovely words and phrases.  At the same time, no matter what I’m writing, my voice is very similar to my own conversational style (without the endless asides, as I tend to wander all over before getting to a point).  Friends have said they can hear my voice when they read my books.  I’m not afraid to use a big word, if I believe it’s the right one.  A couple of editors I’ve worked with believed writers should dumb down their language, but how else are people supposed to learn new words if they only ever encounter familiar ones?  Besides, I choose my words carefully, and if I use a word, it’s the one I feel best says what I’m trying to say.

Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

My main character in Blind Justice, Jonathan, is a wealthy man who comes from a life of privilege – um, that is so not me!  None of the characters I write are based on anyone I actually know, although I think all writers bring things to our work and our characters that come from our life.  That said, I never use real people as models.  The characters just sort of arrive in my head, a sort of subconscious confluence of events and observations and a healthy dose of inspiration from my Muse.  I also do a heck of a lot of research.  In one novel, I needed to create a special chemical for airships.  My husband is a PhD in chemistry, so he was the first person I went to for ideas.  And my own experience with loss frequently appears to inform my character’s reactions.  But by and large, there is very little resemblance to anyone real in my books, outside of actual historical figures.

Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?

I wish!  Unfortunately, as I don’t have endless amounts of money, a lot of my local details have to come from reliable sources, people I know that live in the places I write about.  If I have to write about a city or country I am not familiar with, I do my very best to do copious amounts of research, so that someone who does live there doesn’t get thrown out of the story because I got something really basic wrong.

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

I have the most amazing cover designer.  I use Ravenborn Covers, and Anika is just fabulous!

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I find I have a couple of themes that crop up over and over in my work.  The first is the notion of found family – people you meet on your life’s journey who you click with, who you care deeply for and who care deeply for you.  You don’t need to be related by blood to someone to forge an unbreakable bond with them.  Another theme is dealing with loss, something I have a bit of experience with.  Finally, I would hope that everyone who reads my work walks away with the sense that there is HOPE.  If we don’t have hope, I’m not sure what we’d have that gets us out of bed in the morning.

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 authors… oh, yes, lots of good new stuff out there.  I read widely, in many genres.  In mystery, I recently read the sophomore novel of a really excellent author named Carol Shay Hornung.  The Ghost of Heffron College is part mystery, part thriller, part coming of age.  If you’re into Urban Fantasy, I would recommend checking out R.R. Virdi’s The Grave Report series.  If you like Jim Butcher, you’ll love Virdi.

But my favorite author?  Of all time?  Oh, my, you’ve stepped in it now!  My friends roll their eyes when anyone asks me this, because I jump right up on my soap box and begin to preach. 😊 I am a RABID Roger Zelazny fan.  Roger was a brilliant storyteller, a poet, a wizard with words, had a rapier-sharp wit, and could play with the rules of storytelling better than any other writer I’ve ever encountered.  He could craft a sentence so beautiful, so evocative, that the image stayed with you forever.  Prolific, poetic, snarky, Roger had it ALL!  His style, his voice, has definitely influenced my own, even when I’m writing outside the SF/F genre.  He’s been gone now for over 20 years, and I often wondered what fabulous stories he could have gone on to tell, had he not been taken from us too soon.

Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.

That’s easy.  My oldest friend, someone I’ve known since high school, Ellen has been my Rock of Gibraltar.  She has believed in me all along, pushed me to succeed.  I have so many wonderful supportive friends, but Ellen has been there since the very beginning and has never allowed me to give up.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

I would love it to be a career, but I’m no spring chicken and I have a family to support.  I write because I love to do it.  If it supports me later on (it’s not right now), fantastic.  There won’t ever come a time, however, when I don’t write.  It’s who I am, part of my soul.  I did it before people paid me to do it, and I’ll do it after as well!

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

My latest book?  No, wouldn’t change a thing, unless I could magically clone myself so that I could get more done faster! Anyone got a spare Time Turner I could borrow? 😊

Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?

I always learn something, when I write.  For an upcoming series, The Harrogate Chronicles, the first book took place in the mountains of Ecuador, so I got to expand my knowledge not only of the Inca, but about cloud forests and condors and llamas and all sorts of things.  I literally have to pull myself out of the research to start the writing because learning about things is just too much fun!

Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?

I have no idea.  Whatever I have in my head is going to be different from what the reader has in theirs. I’m open to suggestions from your readers.  Bring on the ideas, please!

Fiona: Any advice for other writers?

Write.  Just. Keep. Writing.  Never let anyone tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t.  When you write, you learn how to write better.  No one starts out as Neil Gaiman or Agatha Christie or J.K. Rowling or whoever you admire.  Don’t let lack of time, energy, or other people stand in your way. Even if you only have time or energy or motivation to write five words a day, every word piles on the one before.Bottom line, if you want to be a writer, the best way to do that is to write.

Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

Please please please please please leave reviews of books you read.  Mine, Nora Roberts’s, Stephen King’s.  Reviews serve both the author (to help more people who like those types of books find their books), but also the readers, so that they can find new books similar to what they know they like.  Every author on the planet will thank you.  Including me! ❤

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

I have three books in progress.  I listen to audio books in the car and am “re-reading” Lois McMaster Bujold’s “The Vor Game” on my commute now.  I am also reading the new J.D. Robb’s new Eve Dallas novel, “Vendetta in Death”.  Finally, I’m reading Dennis Lehane’s “A Drink Before the War”.  I take my time with Lehane because his prose style is so clean and sparse and elegant, that I like to savour it while I learn from it.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

I’ve been reading since I was three.  I don’t remember specifically which book was first, but I can only assume it was some Dr. Seuss book, I had oodles of them.  I read every Nancy Drew I could get my hands on, and I would come home from the Scholastic Book Fair every year with stacks of books.  It was the one thing my mom totally indulged me in.  By the time I was ten or eleven, I had read through my parent’s library of books in addition to the kid books.  That’s where I got the mystery bug:  Dorothy Sayers, Earl Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, Conan Doyle.  All of these were readily available in our house and I gobbled them up greedily.  Then in high school, my cousin turned me on to science fiction and fantasy:  Asimov, Zelazny, Heinlein, Alfred Bester, Ben Bova, Larry Niven, to start.  Later, it was McCaffrey, Bujold, Asprin, Stasheff, Adams, Pratchett, Gaiman.  On and on.  And I’ve never stopped!

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

I cry at dog food commercials!  Anything sappy will bring me to tears, I’m just an old softie.  I’m also quick to laugh, I love physical humor, sarcasm, witty repartee.  What I don’t think is funny is things that are humiliating.  So, a lot of prank type stuff doesn’t really float my boat.

Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?

I am a history nut, so I can think of hundreds of people I’d love to spend a couple of hours with.  If I had to narrow it down, however, I would really love to meet Neil Gaiman.  He is a major source of inspiration, not only as a writer, but as a human being.  His book of essays about life and writing is something I review quite a lot.

Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?

Well, reading, obviously, is at the top of my list of things I enjoy.  I also garden, like to hike in the woods, and I play rather a lot of video games.  Probably too much!

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

I watch a LOT of mystery TV shows.  Most of them either British, Australian, or Canadian.  Shows like Mr. & Mrs. Murder, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, Poirot, Murdoch Mysteries, Death in Paradise.  I probably watch more TV than films, although I adore Loki in the Marvel movies, and my favorite franchise of ALL time is Indiana Jones.  I particularly enjoyed the recent production of Good Omens (Gaiman/Pratchett) – Michael Sheen and David Tennant were brilliant!I watch a lot of documentaries, a lot of retro TV, but frankly, these days, there just isn’t time for a lot of screen time.  I like movies and shows that have happy endings, that entertain and take folks out of their own problems for a while.  I want to walk away smiling.

Fiona: Favorite foods, colors,  music?

Some of my favorite things:

I love fall, hate summer.  I love fresh croissants, gooey caramel, pumpkin spice lattes, the color emerald green, live theatre, all doggos, the night sky, the ocean, being silly, wearing hats, and if I could dress like anyone, it would be Stevie Nicks!

My musical tastes are extremely eclectic.  I love hard rock, like Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, soft rock like Al Stewart or Stephen Bishop, prog rock (Pink Floyd!), newer stuff like Panic! at the Disco, Imagine Dragons, and Twenty-One Pilots, classical, jazz, new age.  Heck, I even like K-pop (yes, I said that in public!).  For writing, I tend to gravitate towards instrumentals, like David Arkenstone, Chris Spheeris, Audio Machine, Two Steps from Hell.The only thing I don’t really dig much is hip-hop.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it, just not my gig.

Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

I don’t think I can stretch my imagination that far!  Creating worlds, characters, stories, it’s my reason for breathing.  I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t write.  Guess I’d read a lot more!

Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?

I’d spend it with my friends and family.  Writing is what I do, but my family and friends, the people I love are the most important thing to me.  We’d eat and laugh and enjoy the hours.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?

Read my books  ???  Hahahaha.  Gosh, I really don’t know, I plan on being cremated. But if I were to have one, I’d love to be all philosophical and wise, but I’m too much of a smartaleck.  Maybe: The Adventure Continues… 😊

Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?

Readers can visit me two places these days:

For SF/F readers, you’ll find info on my upcoming steampunk series and more at www.nancybach.com For my mystery readers, see me at www.nansampson.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/nancybachauthor

 

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