"Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum." Graycie Harmon
Friday, April 9, 2010
Interview with Nancy Campbell Allen
It's such a thrill to spotlight Nancy Campbell Allen on my blog today. She is a wonderful person, an amazing writer, and a dear friend. She is smart, witty, fun and genuine. Am I gushing? It's hard not to when talking about Nancy.
Nancy Campbell Allen has been published with Covenant Communications since 1999 when her first book, Love Beyond Time, was released. Three more books soon followed, and then she wrote an award-winning,four-volume Civil War series called Faith of our Fathers, under her initials, N.C. Allen. In 2008, she released Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel. The sequel, tentatively titled, Isabelle Webb: the Pharaoh's Daughter, was just accepted for publication and will be released in January of 2011.
As a young child Nancy lived in or traveled through many of the places featured in her books. She is a graduate of Weber State University and enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. Nancy loves to read, write and run, and her favorite thing ever is to laugh with family and friends.
Here is a complete list of Nancy's books:
* Love Beyond Time * No Time for Love * A Time for the Heart * Echoes * Faith of our Fathers Vol. 1: A House Divided * Faith of our Fathers Vol. 2: To Make Men Free * Faith of our Fathers Vol. 3: Through the Perilous Fight * Faith of our Fathers Vol. 4: One Nation Under God * Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel
Here is a little about Nancy's current release, Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel Former Pinkerton spy Isabelle Webb needs a vacation. The broken leg she suffered while trying to warn President Lincoln of his impending assassination has mended a little, but her grief over his death has not. She and her young charge, Sally Rhodes, have an open itinerary when they board a steamer ship to Bombay. But upon meeting Utah blacksmith James Ashby, the two women opt to join the search for his younger brother Phillip, who’s traveling abroad with the ill-reputed Thaddeus Sparks in search of a mystical treasure. Upon arrival in India, other passengers are also interested in taking up the search. But the seeming good will of some soon turns dark on the streets of Bombay. As murder and kidnapping tears the group apart, James and Isabelle race to uncover the hidden motives and harrowing connections that threaten not only Phillip’s life, but also their own. First in N.C. Allen’s new series, this tale’s cunning characters and twisting plot will wrap you tightly in the action, intrigue, and romance surrounding the Jewel of Zeus.
If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. The setting is rich and interesting and the characters are unforgettable.
Here's my interview with Nancy.
M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Nancy: I’ve always loved to read, and dreamed about being an author when I was a kid. I never dreamed it would become a reality, though. I’m thrilled that it is.
M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Nancy: I was so clueless when I pursued publishing. I knew the basics, and I knew enough to get online and do some digging, but I basically made three copies of my manuscript and sent them in to three publishers.
M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Nancy: I was discouraged with my first two rejections, but when the book was accepted by the third publisher, it made it all worth it. Also, after I’d submitted, I followed some excellent writing advice, which was to get going right away on my next book.
M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?
Nancy: I have a preschooler at home and baby-sit my 2-year-old nephew, so I try to catch quiet pieces of time during the day when they nap, and the rest of the writing I do is at night or on weekends. I wish I could get up in the morning and write, but it would be jibberish. I’m so not a morning person!
M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Nancy: I get ideas from all kinds of places. I imagine what kinds of jobs would be cool to have, and then play the “what if” game with it. I also pick settings I like and imagine what could be going on in those places.
M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Nancy: I would say that perseverance pays off. You can’t quit, you have to keep polishing and getting feedback from trusted friends, and then submit, submit, submit. Rewrite, resubmit. Some of the most amazing authors today who are published have endured numerous rejections. You have to hang in there and never give up.
M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Nancy: I brainstorm like crazy. I wouldn’t call it an organized outline, but I first throw down everything I can possibly think of in a “brainstorm” section of a notebook. Every character, every plot line, every possibility. I get new directions for the book from these pages. Once I have all the sloppiness down on paper, then I go through and start to organize it in terms of what should happen first, next, etc. I like to not be too locked into an outline, though. I like having the story take directions of its own.
M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Nancy: I sit down and write. There have been bad days and good days—sometimes you need to go for a walk or find a different reference book that’ll give you more ideas for your book. For me, though, I have to make myself sit in the chair and do it. My form of “writer’s block” is largely avoidance. Writing is often hard, and it’s way easier to do the dishes or laundry or just leave the house altogether. ;-)
M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Nancy: I generally like it quiet, but I’m finding I do like something in the background these days. I’ve been doing “write nights” lately with a friend and fellow author, Josi Kilpack, and she has the radio on quietly in the background. It’s been nice.
M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Nancy: I draw inspiration from my research materials. I do a lot of historical fiction, so this helps a lot. I also read stuff for my own enjoyment, and writers to do the craft well are always helpful in terms of making sure I’m doing the “good work in—good work out” philosophy. I’ve heard it said that if you read garbage, you’ll write garbage. I guess we each have to define “garbage” though. One man’s trash…
M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Nancy: I credit my parents with instilling such a love of books and reading in me that the writing became a natural extension of that. I’m so grateful I was raised in a house full of books.
M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?
Nancy: I have only just recently joined a critique group and it’s the best thing I’ve done in a long time. It’s good to have the accountability of having new material to share and the comments and suggestions I’ve received have made a HUGE difference in my writing.
M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?
Nancy: I always say my “next book” is my favorite, because it’s still perfect in my mind. That said, though, I really like my 3rd book, A Time for the Heart, and my current Isabelle Webb series is really fun…then there’s the Civil War series…Wow. It’s too hard to choose!
M.B.: Any final words you would like to share?
Nancy: I’m always touched when people write or email to tell me they’ve liked my books. It’s humbling and gratifying and makes me feel so good! Writing is a lonely business, and as readers we make writing worthwhile. It’s all well and good if I write because I love it, and I do, but if nobody reads it then it’s just me in my own little world with nobody to share it. I love readers!
M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Nancy: My books are available wherever LDS books are sold, and up and down the Wasatch Front in Utah, those are plentiful. Online, though, Deseret Book, Seagull Books and Amazon are all good choices. You can also keep up with Nancy on her blog, ncallen.blogspot.com
My greatest claim to fame is my family. I am married to my prince charming and have four awesome children. This year I experienced the joy of becoming a grandmother to my sweet baby girl Halle. I love to travel and I love to write books.