Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Author Interview: Nancy S. Thompson

Today I have the pleasure of a Doubting Writer first: an honest-to-God Author Interview! Nancy S. Thompson officially made the jump from ‘aspiring writer’ to ‘published author’ last week when her thriller, TheMistaken (Sapphire Star Publishing), hit the streets. 

“Obsessed with revenge following the violent death of his pregnant wife, Tyler Karras pledges the woman who killed her to sex-traffickers in San Francisco’s Russian Mafia.  In exchange, they’ll finally let his brother leave the business for good—with his debt wiped clean and his heart still beating.  But when Tyler mistakenly targets the wrong woman, he’s forced to protect his own victim from the very enemy he’s unleashed, and the Russians are holding his brother as leverage to force Ty to complete their deal.  Caught in a no-win situation, Ty must find a way to save himself, his brother, and the woman, but with the Russian Mafia, even two out of three makes for very long odds. “

A gifted writer, Nancy has been a regular reader and a valuable commenter here for a long time. The Mistaken is ‘a good story well told.’ It’s tight, fast-paced and exciting, and Nancy puts her characters through hell. In addition to her skill as a writer, Nancy is a great reader, with an excellent eye. Her insightful comments and critiques have helped me improve greatly. Best of all, over the past year we’ve gone from being just blogging buddies to actual friends, and have shared the blessing/curse of sending a child off to college, but now I’m trampling on the interview. Here we go, please welcome Nancy S. Thompson!
Tell us something about yourself we WON‘T learn from reading your ‘About Me’ page.
Well, I just spent the last 2 years working very hard to get my son ready for college.  That included advocating a tough curriculum, SAT prep, college fairs and tours, filling out online applications, composing engaging essays, and scholarship applications.  It was a long, difficult process, but it paid off.  Not only did he get accepted to 14 universities, he was also offered and accepted several scholarships to his first choice school.  Plus they gave him 2 years of college credit, so he’ll graduate in May 2014, saving him time and me a great deal of tuition money.  My son is my proudest accomplishment.
That’s an exhausting process, I know from experience. Great news, though, that he’ll go from freshman to senior in basically one year!
I love origins stories. Tell us about the origins of The Mistaken. How did it come about?
Before The Mistaken, I’d never written anything in my life, and I’d never aspired to, either.  But for some odd reason, I had this idea pop into my head one sunny spring afternoon.  I was cruising around in my little convertible when a new song I’d recently downloaded—Thirty Seconds To Mars’ Hurricane—started to play.  Two lines in the chorus intrigued me:  “Tell me, would you kill to save a life.  Would you kill to prove you’re right?”  It made me wonder, what could drive a decent, law-abiding man to commit a violent crime, and could he ever be the man he once was?  Then than darn muse, who I’d never met before, started whispering in my ear and wouldn’t shut up until I started writing it all down. 
Ah, the power of music!
I’m also a sucker for process. Describe your writing routine, if you have any. Are you a morning writer, evening? Anytime?

I love to write anytime of the day.  If I can, I’ll start in the morning and write until it’s time for bed.  Unfortunately, my husband does need some tending to, so I have to take breaks to prepare dinner and eat and shower, and all that.  But often, I forget.  That’s how absorbed I get with my writing.  Drives my husband nuts!

For me, there’s usually a certain time period that has to pass between inspiration—the moment where an idea first strikes—and work time. Quite often that involves a degree of synthesis between two or more ideas, and sometimes it involves actively thinking over something. When you had your first burst of inspiration for The Mistaken, did you go home right away and start writing, or did you have to give it some more time? How long?
There wasn’t much time at all between inspiration and actively writing—maybe a few days.  I started jotting down a very extensive outline while I watched TV in the evenings.  That outline proved to be a great roadmap, from which I rarely strayed.
Which seems to answer my next question: Plotter or Wingman. Err, Wingwoman?
That’s a tough question.  I’ve always thought I was a plotter, hence the outline.  But when I really think about it, that outline was really more like a first, handwritten draft, sans dialogue and setting.  All the story elements were already there, the plot and characters.  I just had to expand to go from about 100 handwritten pages to 380 typed ones.
Sounds like a plotter to me. But, the more I read of other people’s process, the more I think it’s just a matter of degree.
When I first had my inspiration for Parallel Lives, it was going to be a very different story. During a very early writing session, I had an ‘Ah, hah!’ moment that changed everything about it. Did you have any moments like that while writing The Mistaken? Has the story changed much from your initial vision?
Actually, no, I always had this one particular story to tell, and I stuck with it from outline to finished draft.  There was one part, a dream sequence, I chose to leave out, but all in all, the story never changed.  Of course, as I began working with critique partners, the story evolved to include more detail, more layers to the plot, but essentially, it always remained the same.
The story emerged slowly over four weeks.  As that blasted muse dictated in my ear, I wrote furiously, trying to keep up with her.  But I will say, she started telling me the story in the wrong place.  I revised it later on, so it all began with an exciting turn of events which sets everything else off.  But besides adding more layers to my characters and one minor element to the plot, nothing else really changed from the first word to publication.
We often hear about ‘saggy middles’ and writers who get 10, 20, 30,000 words into a book and then get lost and discouraged. Did you ever hit a point during the writing of The Mistaken where you thought about throwing in the towel and giving up? What kept you going?
Perhaps it was the rookie in me, but no, I never got discouraged.  I simply sat down, day after day, from morning ‘til evening, for about two months, until the story was done.  I never got blocked because I had that outline.  You see, I never wrote The Mistaken with the idea I would pursue publication.  It wasn’t until I was finished that I thought I might have something good on my hands.  I will say this though: I do fear that roadblock on my second novel.  I’m almost finished with the outline, but I’m not quite there yet.  Hopefully, it will see me through like the first one did. 
Ah, a second novel — so what’s next for Nancy S. Thompson? Do you see yourself continuing in the same genre, or changing things up?
My next project is the sequel to The Mistaken.  Poor Tyler and Hannah are about to go through a whole new round of hell.  I’m about seventy-five percent done with the outline for that, and I really need to get back to it.  It was disrupted when my edits came in, then I had some family drama, followed by all the lead-up to my launch, and now I edit books for my publisher’s other authors, so that takes up a great deal of my time.  But come November, I am so ready to finish up and start the actual writing.  

I, for one, am looking forward to reading this! Thank you so much for you time, and best of luck with The Mistaken.

One final note, Nancy is having a giveaway. Everyone follower who comments on Nancy’s blog over the next two weeks will be entered into a drawing for an ARC of The Mistaken and a bookmark.  Five runner-up winners will each receive an e-book copy.  Winners will be determined using and notified via email. And, finally, Nancy is also over at Carrie Butler’s So, You’re a Writer… today. Be sure to stop by there, too. Thanks for visiting, and enjoy The Mistaken.

Wow, Thanks for coming by and good luck!

17 Responses

  1. As I said before, you are so mean to Ty.
    Your outline is similar to mine. I usually have to just stop working on it and start writing the actual story before the outline becomes the story, as I dump so much into it. And I don't get discouraged either.
    You rock, Nancy!

  2. Whew! Did I really say all that? Guess I was enjoying talking about myself. Thanks for opportunity for others to get to know me a little better. I just hope my process the second time around is as easy as the first. And thanks for stopping by, you guys! You rock!

  3. This is an excellent interview! Great questions and great answers. I feel like I should congratulate your son almost as much as congratulating you, though: four years of college shoved into two years is a lot of work!

  4. Thanks for popping in, everyone. If you haven't already done so, stop by Nancy's. And Carrie's. And I totally forgot to put up the schedule for where Nancy's at next…Go there, too!

  5. Great interview! Good luck with the sequel. There's something about putting our characters through hell… cruel, but you find out what they're made of!

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