20 June 2006

Author Answers with Nancy Martin

Say hello to Nancy Martin, this week's author.

Martin is the author of the Blackbird Sisters mystery series. Her most recent release was the fifth book in that series, Have Your Cake and Kill Him Too. (The series in order is: How to Murder a Millionaire, Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds, Some Like it Lethal and Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die). Martin was a romance writer before switching to murder mysteries.

For more about her, check out Nancy Martin Mysteries or read her thoughts as one of the self-styled Book Tarts posting at The Lipstick Chronicles.

And don't forget, you can catch the Author Answers column now in newsprint in the Saturday editions of the Oshkosh Northwestern.

WN: Place you do most of your writing:
NANCY MARTIN: I do most of my drafting on my laptop, which I carry to various comfy chairs and sofas around my house. And sometimes to coffee shops. But I do all my real work -- the endless revising -- at my desk in my office, which is the former law library of the judge who owned this house before we bought it. But the library is in the basement -- not much sunlight -- so I prefer to be upstairs as much as possible.

WN: While you write, do you do anything else (munch on carrots or drink tea or listen to heavy metal, for example?)
MARTIN: I used to pop M&Ms. Now I slug water like mad. It's better for my waistline!

WN: Why did you decide to be a writer?
MARTIN: After four years of teaching, I came to the conclusion I wasn't cut out to work in a classroom with my day was dictated by clanging bells. I knew I could write -- I started in the 8th grade -- but I just needed a nudge to get started. The desperate desire to stop teaching was just the nudge I needed. That was 26 years ago.

WN: What author(s) inspire you?
MARTIN: I love the work of Anne Tyler, Michael Chabon, Richard Russo and -- of course -- Jane Austen. Also Nancy Mitford and Mary Stewart. How's that for a range?

WN: How long did you have to work on writing before your first book was accepted for publication?
MARTIN: It took me a year and a half to write my first book. I sent it to the first agent who had been recommended to me, and she accepted it within a week. It took her about three months to sell it to a publisher. I was very lucky, but I also worked on that book until I knew it was as perfect as I could make it.

WN: What made you keep working until it was done?
MARTIN: Hahaha! Halfway through the first draft, I got all depressed and wanted to sleep all the time. I thought the book was terrible, and it was a very disheartening thought. But then I realized I wasn't depressed at all -- I was pregnant! And I figured that I had better finish the book before the baby was born because I already had an infant in the house and I knew I'd never write the book if I had two babies to take care of. So I worked like mad and finished the manuscript one week before the birth of my second child. Whew! That was actually one of my first career epiphanies: A firm deadline makes all the difference.

WN: How did you feel when you first saw your name on the cover of a book?
MARTIN: It was nice. But actually, I found myself taking the book to the nearest chair, pulling out my red pen and opening to the first page to start revising -- AGAIN! Just goes to prove what a nut about re-writing I am!

WN: If you had to actually live the life of one of the characters in your book(s) who would you want to be and why?
MARTIN: Well, when I started writing the Blackbird Sisters mysteries, I decided that if I was going to write a series of books I had better make the characters all people I would enjoy spending the next several years with. So Nora is everything I wish I could be -- thin, smart, well-dressed. Her lover is perfect. He's great in bed, he's a wonderful cook ---- and then he leaves the house! The ideal man!

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