Q & A with Nan Sampson

Nan Sampson Bach


For the record, please state your name.

Nan Sampson


Do you do book tours?

Not yet.  I’ve done some fun FB promotions, and will be scheduling my first in-person book signing this week, but no book tours yet!


What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

The series currently in publication is a cozy mystery series with paranormal elements.  However, I am also writing a steampunk novel and have both a fantasy and a science fiction trilogy in concept phase.  I also have a couple of other cozy series ideas lined up.  I read voraciously, in all kinds of genres, so when it comes to writing, I find I like to write what I like to read.


What do your friends and family think of your writing?

My husband has always been incredibly supportive of my writing, which is wonderful!  My parents, bless them, thought it was a ‘cute little hobby’.  Sadly they didn’t live to see me published, but I’m sure their opinion has changed now! *grins*  My writing friends are awesome in terms of support – and great at cracking the whip when I need it – and my non-writing friends think I’m a little insane, but I have a really great group of friends, so everyone has been terrific.  Okay… I think EVERYONE agrees I’m a little insane.  But hey, I’m a writer.  We’re ALL insane.  I mean, who else writes down their conversations with their imaginary friends?


Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years? 10 years? 20?

The next five years are going to be intense.  I have a full docket of releases planned, to build on the momentum I’ve already built.  The Ellie Gooden series is doing well, which tickles me pink, and there are more books slated for that series.  Meanwhile, I’ll be mixing in books in other genres.  Ten years from now, I hope to be retired from my “day job”, living some place cool – maybe a little town like Horizon, Wisconsin, which is where my character Ellie Gooden lives – and writing full time.  Twenty years?  Gosh, more of the same.  Doing cons, book tours, and finding ways to pay it forward to the next generation.  So many people have helped me along the way, I’d love to do the same for other writers.


What gives you inspiration for your book(s)?

I’m inspired a lot by music.  I listen to a lot of instrumental music and a song will come on and suddenly a scene will play out in my head.  Or I’ll get an image of a character.  I’d have a hard time writing without music.


Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?

I will borrow traits from real people.  I even used a dislike of someone once to fuel a murder mystery plot.  But the characters themselves, their stories, their histories, those are all from my imagination.


Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?

My most recent book is the second in the Ellie Gooden mystery series.  In this book, Ellie is yanked out of her lovely new life in Horizon Wisconsin and heads back to Chicago where she must solve the murder of an old friend.  The return brings back memories of the brutal slaying of her parents a couple of years before so she’s dealing with a double dose of grief and upset.  The ghost in this one is much more aggressive and the level of excitement really ramps up.  We also learn a little more about Ellie’s past and about her parents’ death, all of which will come into play in later books in the series.  As for must-read?  If you’re a cozy mystery fan, this is a series I know you’ll love.  The characters are wonderful, with a great deal of depth and nuance.  There is fun chemistry between all of them.  The town of Horizon is one of those places that you’ll want to come back to again and again.  And if you’re not a cozy mystery fan?  This series will get you hooked.  Guaranteed!


What do you love most about the writing process?

I love all of it, but world creation is my favorite.  Whether I’m creating a town in the “real world”, or creating an entire planet for a fantasy or SF novel, I love that god-like act. I play with landscapes and how natural and man-made features direct the course of human behavior; I spend more time than I should developing cultures and languages with attendant histories.  For the town of Horizon Wisconsin, for instance, I had to understand the landscape of southwestern Wisconsin in order to understand what kids of towns would have developed there, and the types of people who would have historically lived in them.  Then I brought in an element of change in the modern era (a commune) and watched the cultures clash and mesh.  Tons of fun!


Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?

Oo, that’s a toughie.  I don’t like to play favorites – they get jealous, you know and can stomp off in a huff and refuse to play with me.  However…  that said… (whispers) My favorite character is from my upcoming fantasy trilogy, The Gatekeeper Saga.  His name is Don Alejandro Ramirez Orellano and he is a broken and battered conquistador from Pizarro’s expedition to Peru.  He is deep and complex, with the soul of a poet but bound by the chafing constraints of culture, tradition, and honor.  His character arc is incredible.  Of all the characters I have created, he is the one who fascinates me the most, and with whom I’m just a little bit in love.  But shh.  Don’t tell my husband!


What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

Interesting question…  I think the biggest surprise is that the writers I have always admired turned out, when I met them, to be regular people just like me.  Everyone I’ve met so far has been delightful and open and fun.  No big egos, no drama.  Misty Lackey (Mercedes Lackey), for instance, is just the nicest woman.  Same for Alex Bledsoe.  And Nancy Atherton.  And Lindsey Davis.  And Rhys Bowen.  And Tami Hoag.  And Margaret Weiss.  Just wonderful, lovely people.  You put them up on these pedestals, you know, but the reality is they’re just like me – only more famous! *grins*


What’s something you are really good at that few people know about?

I’m wicked good at picking up accents.  I’ve lived all over – I’m an Air Force brat – and I think that made me able to mimic the accent of the locals wherever we were stationed.  I had lunch the other day with a business partner (for the day job) and he is originally from West Virginia.  By the end of the meal, I was twanging just like him.  It’s unconscious, I don’t mean to do it.  My daughter has picked it up as well.  She does a great London accent, a fair to middling Scottish burr and a dead-on Texas twang (helps that I was born there!).  We have a lot of fun playing with language together!


Give us an interesting fun fact about your book.

Don’t know if it’s a fun fact, but the car accident described at the end of the first Ellie Gooden mystery, Restless Natives, was based on an accident I was in when I was little, on a country road in Alsace-Lorraine France.  Cow included!  No one was seriously hurt, but it sure was scary!  Been a little afraid of cows every since – when you’re four years old, cows are seriously HUGE.


Any advice for other authors?

Two really critical things:


First, WRITE EVERY DAY.  Even if it’s just three words.  Even words that aren’t part of your story.  You have to train your brain to expect the activity so that it can prime itself for it.  Doing this also helps you make writing a priority in your life – which is critical if you want to move from ‘working for the Man’ to being a full-time publishing author.  This bit of wisdom was inserted into my brain by the great P.N. Elrod in a hallway conversation at a Con.  Best thing anyone ever told me.


Second, FINISH.  You cannot publish a perfected-so-that-the-angels-sing opening scene.  You have to have the whole novel.  So gag your inner editor, shove him in the nearest oubliette, and promise him that AFTER you finish your first draft, he can come out again.  My inner editor looks like Lou Grant from the Mary Tyler Moore Show.  He’s about as snide too, plus he yells a lot.  Bottom line, stop rewriting the first paragraph to death and get on with the story.  Finish it, THEN go back and make it the best you can.  Because, remember.  You know that scene that you loved?  The one you slaved over for 12 weeks?  The one that made you cry, or laugh or wiggle all over?  Well, I hate to tell you but that scene may not make the final draft.  You never know what turns your story will take.  So just get the first draft completely done and let the story reveal itself to you before you waste 12 weeks revising a scene that doomed to end up on the cutting room floor.


Anything you’d like to say to your readers?

Um, (stammers shyly). Hi.  I’m Nan.  I really think you’re going to love my series.  Give it a try.  If you like it, please please pretty please leave a review on Amazon.  Or drop me a line, let me know you’re out there! Writing can be a lonely business and there is nothing is worse than *crickets* *crickets* *crickets*!  *GRIN*  Seriously, I love hearing from my readers.  Some of them have actually given me great suggestions for new characters in the town of Horizon.  So don’t hesitate to reach out, via email, Facebook, Twitter, on my blog, wherever!  I’d love to chat with you.


Can you share with us the best way to reach you and where to find your books?

Blog: Nan Sampson – Author

Facebook page  :https://www.facebook.com/nansampsonauthor/

Goodreads author page: Nan Sampson

Twitter:  @nansampson

Other:  nan@lastchancepress.org

Link to Restless Natives on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Restless-Natives-Ellie-Gooden-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B01EQTOTOS


Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with me!


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