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Thursday, 10 October 2013

Blog guest - Nancy Wood - 'books with meat on their bones'

Today, my blog guest is Nancy Wood. Nancy is the author of Due Date (nothing to do with the Robert Downey Jr movie of the same name). Nancy grew up in various locations on the east coast and now lives in Santa Cruz, California, with her wonderful family. She continually refines her writing chops with her day job as a writing and editing consultant.

Due Date: Surrogate mother Shelby McDougall just fell for the biggest con of all—a scam that risks her life and the lives of her unborn twins.

Shelby McDougall, recent college graduate, is facing a mountain of student debt and carting a burden she'd like to exorcise. A Rolling Stone ad for a surrogate mother offers her a way to erase the loans and right her karmic place in the cosmos. Within a month, she's signed a contract with intended parents Jackson and Diane Entwistle, relocated to Santa Cruz, California, and started fertility treatments.

But Jackson and Diane have their own secret agenda, one that has nothing to do with diapers and lullabies. With her due date looming and the clues piling up, Shelby must save herself and her twins, and outwit those who wish her ill... She learns the real meaning of the word “family.”

The Kindle Book Review (excerpt): This is not only one great suspense novel that has it all-mystery, action, adventure, and romance, but it also gets you to thinking about surrogacy with all the possible pros and cons. Is surrogacy a loving, caring, noble, self-sacrificing act... a precious gift to give or is it all about the self-interest, selfishness, and greediness of making money off of and taking advantage of the innocents? Nancy W. Wood has written one great book that offers something for everyone's taste. Due Date is well written, well researched, and very entertaining. Even though this is a work of fiction, it could very well have been ripped from the headlines. If you enjoy your books with a little more meat on their bones then Due Date is the book for you. Ms. Wood is a talented writer from whom you can expect more great books in the future.

Q & A

Due Date has been very successful. Congratulations on getting so many high-scoring stars on Amazon! What was the initial inspiration for the book?

Thanks Nik. First, I’d like to thank you for hosting me. And thank you again for accepting my book for publication when you were the Solstice Editor-in-chief! I was prepared for rejection and can’t tell you happy I was when I received a positive email from you. I have been so surprised and happily amazed by the number of people who are leaving reviews for Due Date. I know that it takes effort to leave a review and I appreciate each and every one.

Before I started Due Date, I had written a novel that explored the relationship between a birth mother and the family who adopted her baby. I took this manuscript to a commercial fiction publication workshop, where the leader and participants suggested I turn it into a mystery. At first, the suggestion seemed crazy. How could I possibly piece together a mystery or thriller that made sense? But by the time I left the conference, I had a 200-word pitch for Due Date that I pretty much stuck to the whole time I was writing it.

Most debut novels take a long time to gestate. How long did you work on Due Date?

It took me just about five years from the day I started to the day I finished. It was funny; I knew exactly when I was “done.” I’d been working with my writing teacher, Mary Caroll Moore, for about three years, emailing chapters and comments back and forth at the slow rate of about one or two chapters a month. When I completed my edits on the last chapter, read the book through a zillion times hunting for typos and errors, then finessed the first chapter until I couldn’t read it anymore (!), I knew I’d reached the conclusion. I couldn’t see anything else I wanted to change. Now of course, I look back at it and see lots of places I could tighten things up or move the plot along differently.

You’ve got to resist those urges, Nancy. Someone once said, a book is never finished, it’s abandoned. You abandon it and move on. In many ways, second novels are easier, because you’ve learned a lot from the first. (Some feel cursed by the expectations implicit in a second novel after a successful first one, however). Are you writing another novel now?

I am working on the continuation of Shelby’s story. In this book, Shelby is living in Santa Cruz, attending a local community college, and working on a degree in criminal justice. She fully intends to become a private investigator. But when toddler Justin Boyd, one of the twins she put up for adoption two years ago is abducted, Shelby is pulled right back in. This novel takes place over the course of a week, instead of several months, so I’m having fun with figuring out transitions and the timing of events. I’ve also learned a few things from the first, including awareness of the beginning—making sure I get the story started right away, and being very conscious of word-use and language! Plus, I’m working on the tension and very mindful of keeping up the suspense.

How long have you been writing?

Year and years! I think I took my first creative writing class about thirty years ago, when I started in as a technical writer. I wanted an antidote to writing help bubbles and software installation guides.

In your acknowledgements, you mention that you played about with the topography of Santa Cruz for the purposes of the story. Sometimes, writers find this is inevitable. (I’ve done it myself for some scenes in Newcastle Upon Tyne!) Did it take any soul searching or did you just get on with it?

Well, I have to confess during the editing process, I second-guessed myself. I had submitted the book with the names of actual businesses in Santa Cruz. But I went back through the book and changed all the names of small local business to fictitious business names, although I kept the names of large chain stores. I didn’t know the protocol and felt it was better to stick to fiction. I think local readers like the puzzle of figuring out what businesses are what.

You definitely gave Due Date a sense of place. Do you think this is important in fiction, and why?

It’s critical. I think the setting can make a novel come alive and really sparkle. If it’s missing, the novel feels a bit flat, like it’s missing something. For crime fiction, the series that resonate the most with me are those with a strong sense of place: Donna Leon and Venice; Nevada Barr and the US national parks; Tony Hillerman and the US Southwest; Laura Lippman and Baltimore, Maryland; Camilla Lackberg and Fjallbacka, Sweden; Cara Black and Paris. And of course, the Inspector Lynley series by Elizabeth George, set in London.

How do your family/friends feel about your writing?

They are very supportive. My family is very generous in terms of my writing time, which I very much appreciate. The one thing about this line of work is that it does take time! And my friends and extended family always ask how it’s going and are just as pleased with the success of Due Date as I am.

Do you intend to stick with the crime genre or switch to other genres?

I have come to really enjoy crime fiction. Before I started writing in this genre, I rarely read it. Now, it’s all I read. I find that the genre can go as far as an author wants to take it in terms of characters, plot, setting, themes, and contemporary social issues. After I complete Shelby’s story, possibly just the two volumes or even a trilogy, I’ll most likely continue with this genre.

A tall order, I know, but what is your favourite book? And why?

This is a tough one. A really tough one! But I know exactly what book I’ll pick: A Field of Darkness, by Cornelia Read. It’s a book that really opened my eyes to the complexities and nuances of crime fiction. When I decided I was going to write crime fiction, I decided I had to start reading it. I began with recent Edgar nominees for first books. Wow, was I impressed. Every book I read was amazing. But A Field of Darkness stood out. It’s set in Syracuse, New York, an unlikely setting. In the first few pages the reader gets an immediate sense of the place and the main character’s relationship to that place. The writing is witty and animated, the characters are credible and funny, and the setting is alive. I actually studied the first chapter of this book, backward and forward, when I was working on Chapter 1 of Due Date.

Where do you hope to be in 5 years?

I would love to be retired, travelling, and still writing crime fiction!

You’re generous with giving space and time to other authors on your blog. Can you tell us how this came about?

I started this because I really enjoyed meeting and talking to other authors. I love reading all kinds of crime fiction—self-published, indie-published, big house publishing--and love learning about the people behind the books. How authors came up with their ideas and names, how they feel about swearing (a topic near and dear to my heart!), how they fit writing into already full lives. I decided to develop a standard set of questions to ask everyone. To date I’ve interviewed 44 authors (including you: At some point, it’d be fun to look back at all of the interviews and try to figure out what we all have in common!

Where can readers find you?




Twitter: @NancyWoodAuthor



Thank you, Nancy for popping in. Best of luck with your next book.


David Cranmer said...

Enjoyed the interview. Thank you, both.

Nik said...

And thanks for the feedback, David. Always appreciated.

Nancy Wood said...

Thanks David for stopping by and thank you for the interview, Nik!