Nancy Straight was born in Sioux City, Iowa, left the cold of the Midwest in 1991 and only returns to see family in the summer time. She spent ten years traveling the world as a US Marine and settled in rural SC with her husband and two children. She enjoys reading all types of Paranormal and Young Adult literature.
Me: What made you decide to become an author? Tell me about your journey.
Nancy: I LOVE this question! Would you believe in my wildest dreams I never considered being an author? I had always enjoyed writing and I am known for finding the “funny” in nearly any situation, but growing up, writing as a profession had never occurred to me. Maybe because I had never met anyone who wrote for a living. Regardless, this is how it happened: It was the combination of two events.
Event one, I used to work with a lawyer who I had a great deal of respect for. We were working together one afternoon, he set a pile of papers on the table I had written, looked me square in the eye, and said, “Mrs. Straight, you are one of the most compelling writers I’ve ever met.” Keep in mind, what he was reading was work-related, and a FULL TEN on the boring scale. His compliment was unexpected and flattering, I filed it away.
The second event was when I finished reading Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight Series. She was able to elicit every major emotion I had felt in my life, in just four books. When I put Breaking Dawn down, I was wholeheartedly inspired and I began writing. I wrote my first novel, Meeting Destiny, without ever telling anyone I was writing it. It wasn’t until the novel was complete while I sat on the front porch with my husband and said, “Hey, I think I just wrote a book,” much the same way someone might say, “Hey, I sent the check for the electric bill.” That was how my journey began.
Me: What helps get your creative juices flowing? Do you have to be in the mood to write?
Nancy: Surprisingly enough, I do not have to be in the mood to write. The only thing I require is a comfy chair and a quiet room. Although I’m a wife and a mom, I imagine many of your followers can relate – How hard is it to find quiet time in a comfy chair at your house? Next to impossible for you, too? Yes, the bulk of my writing is done after my family goes to bed or before they wake up. My Jack Russell Terrier, Flash, is convinced he needs to wedge himself in between my leg and the side of my recliner for me to be creative – I let him believe it because it’s nice to have company, but not a necessity.
Me: Talk to me about authors who influenced you throughout your life.
Nancy: So here is the kicker, authors did not begin influencing me until after I had finished a book of my own. I read for enjoyment, but never knew more about an author than the name on the paperback I was reading or maybe the blurb about them on the inside cover. After I published my first book, I found several authors in my genre that were very welcoming whose books I adored. Here are five of the most influential, but believe me - I could fill your blog answering this question!
Significance by Shelly Crane. The story brought me to tears, made me laugh, and at one point made my palms sweat. There’s something about Shelly’s writing that made me want to pry my eyes open at 3 am when I knew I had to catch a nap because my alarm was going to go off at 5 am.
Premonition by Amy Bartol. Hers was the first book I ever read where I developed a full blown love affair with a fictional character. I dare you not to fall in love with Reed!
Reckless Magic by Rachel Higginson. This whole series was exceptional, I read all four books in eight days. I laughed, cried, and when it was over I read it a second time just to make sure I didn’t miss anything my first time through.
Beg for Mercy by Shannon Dermott. There are no words. This is the only book I can remember reading where I read it at my son’s bus stop, at lunch, in the kitchen waiting for the stove to heat up for dinner, on the way to the movie theater with my husband. I was obsessed.
Five by Christie Rich. I’ve read lots of books about fairies, but Christie’s plot was so different from all others I’d read that her creativity completely captured my heart. I would love to hang out with her main character, Rayla.
Me: Your Touched Series is about the mythological world of centaurs. Why centaurs? Where in the world did you come up with such an awesome idea like that?
Nancy: I know, right? You should have seen my husband’s face when I told him I wanted to write a Paranormal Romance Series with Centaurs as the main character. I think he thought I was nuts! Reality is, there are a tremendous number of books about Vampires, Shape shifters, Angels, Fairies, Mermaids and Gargoyles. I didn’t want to write a book that would be compared to other books, I wanted to try to write something new. When I looked toward Greek Mythology, I found very little had been written about Centaurs and I thought I’d give it a try.
Me: When developing a storyline are you more of a planner? Do you have to visualize scenes unfolding or do you sit down and just have it all come to you?
Nancy: I spend a bit of time figuring out who my main characters are (personalities, favorite words, likes, dislikes, quirks) and once I can hear their voices, I just let them tell the story. I start with an outline in the beginning, but after seven novels, I have yet to follow any of my outlines.
Me: What was the inspiration for Camille’s character?
Nancy: Most of my friends are strong, independent women, so I have a tendency to write very strong heroines. Camille has an unwavering force of will. She may not be physically tough, and there are times when emotionally she would prefer to fold in on herself rather than face the circumstances that she finds herself in – but ultimately, she rises to every challenge. You could say Camille is inspired by the driving force inside every woman.
Me: What was the inspiration for Drake’s? He’s yummy by the way.
Nancy: I think he’s Yummy, too! Drake is that guy we’ve all fantasized about since we were teenagers. Nice on the eyes, loving and supportive, strong when necessary, but capable of tenderness and has a big heart. Drake’s character was developed the same way Camille’s was, he is made up of tiny pieces of all the most amazing men I’ve known.
Me: Who is your most favorite character in this particular series?
Nancy: My most favorite? I absolutely LOVE Daniel in the Touched Series. He’s Camille’s best friend, is the voice of reason when she makes some questionable decisions, and is as sarcastic as any friend I’ve ever had! He has some one liners that have stuck with me throughout this series – one when he is talking to another character that is being difficult and not listening to him, “Talking to you is like trying to shove a pig through a python.”
Me: Is there anything you’re working on right now that will be released soon?
Nancy: Nothing new. I’ve found that my days are so busy that finding time to read is more and more difficult. I’ve recently begun listening to audio books, and I love it! I am in the process of narrating all seven of my books and hope to have them available sometime this summer. This was a new process for me, so I’m excited to see (or hear) the finished product.
Me: What has being an Indie author been like for you? Would you rather have a publisher or do you enjoy the creative control?
Nancy: Cindy, I love this question!! I am proudly, self-published. I don’t use a publisher, a publicist, an agent, a personal assistant, or any number of other people who can help and / or slow the process down. I am thrilled with Blood Debt in its current form, but as a self-published author, if I wanted to make a change, I love that I have that freedom.
I watch reviews from readers, if I start to see a trend, I’m not afraid to open the book up and modify the story to make it more enjoyable for the reader. When Blood Debt first published I received a very unfavorable review about the book hopping between different points-of-view without warning. I opened the book back up and made it clear which character was “speaking” in each chapter. For anyone out there who takes the time to write a critical review, I guarantee I’ll see it, and if it is something I agree with, I make the change. So the short answer is yes, I love that I have full control over the story.
I have never sought an agent or a publisher. I’m sure at some time in the future I will need help, but for right now, I am thrilled to be an Indie Author.
Me: What is your process for finding the perfect book cover?
Nancy: I have a very creative cover designer, Amber McNemar from e-Think Graphics. We collaboratively design the covers. I tell her what I would like to see and she always exceeds my expectations!! I have used other designers, but Amber listens to what I want and isn’t afraid to tell me what could be better.
Me: What suggestions do you have for aspiring authors?
Nancy: Don’t be intimidated - write. Write every day. Hire an editor. If you are on a tight budget, find someone with editing skills who will help you. My editor didn’t charge me anything up front, but I give her a piece of my royalties each month, this has been a lucrative endeavor for her and honestly, without her services NO ONE would want to read my books.
I was really shy about my books in the beginning and seriously intimidated by other authors. What I was shocked to find out was that even the really successful authors, all started out just like me, and most remembered what it was like to be the “new kid.” I have never known a more welcoming community. No reader ever likes just one book, so authors within the same genre often share the same fans.
My last piece of advice, when you choose a book cover, look at it when it is the size of a quarter. 99% of the people who look at your cover will see it this size.
Thanks to Nancy Straight for such a fun and insightful interview. Remember you can connect with Nancy or purchase her Touched Series at www.nancystraight.com
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Until next time we'll see you lovely readers later.
"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
- Cyril Connolly