Author Spotlight

Recently, I had the pleasure or speaking with a wonderful and warm woman who  touched my heart and made me feel lucky to just have been given the opportunity to interview her…So, without anymore delay

Nancy Liedel

When did you begin writing and did you always want to be a writer?
I've been a storyteller all my life, but was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child. I was told, and I believed, that writing would never be possible for me. I focused my life along other avenues and believed that I was doing what I was supposed to do. Still, I wrote. Huge websites filled with content, recipes, short stories, reams of poetry (most of it bad) anything to get the ideas out. I wanted to write a book, someday. It was always in the back of my mind. Facing a midlife crisis of epic proportions, I spoke to my husband about giving me some time to try my hand at writing. I finished my first book within weeks. It sucked. Containing every romantic cliché known to woman-kind, it was so horrible that when the hard drive containing it died, I was happy. I tried again. This time my focus was on erotic romance. I stink at writing purple prose, but I'm pretty good with blatant description. I wrote Lady Lillian in two weeks, subbed it to my crit partners and then to Samhain. While they had it I wrote, "How to Conjure a Man." I had an initial rejection on "LL," but my editor said it was good. It just needed some work. I did it immediately and re-submitted it, along with "Conjure." They were both accepted.

How do your stories develop?  Slowly or all at once?
Both. I often mull ideas for a long time, but every now and then something pops out of my fingers and it's good. It just flows like a river and I have little control over it. I love those moments. Most of my stuff is a long slog; the shining moments are what I look for. They make the slogging worth it.

I do get a lot of ideas in the shower. Maybe because it's quiet there. I have four boys and time alone is precious. I get ideas in the shower and when I'm training for my stupid hobby of racing in Triathlons. Don't be impressed. I'm slow and often dead last.

How do find time to write with four boys keeping you busy?  After checking out your blog I just had to tell you have a beautiful family.
Thank you. I like my kids. Of course I love them, but I'm deeply in like with them too.  I make the time to save my sanity. Three days a week the baby (two) is in daycare. I hate putting him there, but he erased an entire book on me. He loves computers. My daycare lady is just up the street, so he's close by. The other three are in school. Two of my boys have special needs. Steven, seven, has fetal alcohol syndrome. We adopted him when he was very small. Poor guy was in detox in the hospital. Herne, one of my two birth children, is autistic. If I could not take a mental vacation with my writing I would implode. I should also mention my oldest guy. Eugene is a sunny bit of joy in our lives. He's nine, going on thirty.

I read that you love to travel.  Where is the most exciting place you’ve ever been?
A lot of the travel I've done was when I was still living at home. My father was the executive vice president of a life insurance company. One of his job requirements was to set up travel incentive trips for the salesmen. We would head out a year in advance to check out the cities and set up the events that would take place. I got to tag along all over the world. Since it was incentive travel we didn't do a lot of emerging nations, something I'd like to do now that I'm older. Instead, we traveled to Jamaica, Brazil, all over Europe. It was heaven. My favorite place is still Jamaica. The smell of the island, when you're away from the cities, is lush and sensual. One moment you're looking at an ocean filled vista, the next a tree full of huge spiders. The dichotomy there is amazing.

Some of my favorite travels have been right here in the US. I've been to every state, but Oregon and Alaska. Something I hope to remedy soon. I also intend to go to India in 2009.

Now, most of my travel is cruises with my family and friends. I love cruising. No, it's not exotic, but there's something about being on a ship, watching the water flow by, that speaks to my soul. Oh, and I love the silly pool games.

If you could travel to anyplace at anytime in history…where would it be and why?
This is such a cop out answer. I love history. I used to spend hours dressing my Barbie doll up and play, "Living out west." At the end of the day, however, I love my microwave and hairdryer too much to want to go very far from the here and now. My life is deeply enriched by computers and cell phones, not to mention air conditioning and heat. I'd like to peek in on the Wild West and Renaissance England, but other than that? I'm happy here.

Tell us about Nancy and what makes you…well, you?
I'm sure my husband would like that answer too. LOL! I don't know. I'm a food nut, a deeply spiritual person, someone fatally flawed. I also cannot live without books and adore bad reality television, the tackier, the better. I sing, run, bike and swim and I stink at all, but one of those things. I guess the drive to jump into the new without reservation or hesitation is what makes me, me. I probably should be dead with all the stupid things I've tried, but I'm lucky. A mom who believed in me helps.

My husband is a great supporter of any idiotic thing I want to try next. He holds me, supports me and catches me when I drop like a rock. Still, I'm forty three and learning so much about myself. One thing I'm not is boring.

Who are your favorite authors and what are you reading now?
The authors that stirred my imagination as I grew were, Shakespeare, L'Engel and C. S. Lewis. "The Screwtape Letters" is one of my favorite works of fiction. I still re-read those stories and plays, over and over.

Right now I read in the genre in which I write. Some of my fellow Samhain authors blow me away. N.J. Walters, Mackenzie McCade, Amanda Young, whose first book is coming out in a month and is a must read (she's my crit partner), A. E. Rought for fantasy, Stacia Wolf for laughs. There are so many others and if I named them all we would be here all day, but I like enchanting fiction that transports me out of Ann Arbor and into the universe of possibilities.

The only non Samhain book I'm reading, besides my books on writing, is, "The Time Travelers Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger. It's got me wrapped in its spell, but it's deeply sorrowful and I can only take it in bites.

How does your family feel about your writing? Are they super supportive and read everything that you write?
My father has no clue that I write erotic romance. He knows the books are, "racy," but to him Beatrice Small is racy. I've tried, but he's eighty two and I don't want to kill him. My in-laws know and they think it's wonderful to have an author in the family. My husband detests romance. I know I have a story right when he reads it without pushing. My sons are too young to read my work.

I rely on a bunch of very supportive friends to bolster me. I could not do it without Amy, Miriam, Beth, Lill and Mandi.

Any advice for aspiring writers?
Yes, write. Sit your butt in that chair and write, write, write. Work on it, work on it some more. Get it into the hands of others. Read and learn the rules. You can break them, but you better know them to begin with. Failure is not in the lack of publication, it's the lack of trying. While everyday is not going to be a light bulb on, angels singing, Biblical parting of the seas of knowledge, the process should speak to your soul and it should fill you up. Not every day, but most days.

Sure, there are days when I don't know where I'm going next, but I still slog through cause a bad day writing is better than a good day working for someone else.

Sometimes you write for you, sometimes you write for the readers. On glorious days you write for both. If you want to be published shut up and listen to others. Do not get defensive (note to self), do not think that they are full of it. They might be, but anyone who takes the time to read your stuff and comment is gold. Treat them well.

Never forget who you are writing for. Yes, we write to fill a need in our lives and it should give us joy, but we are not the end user. We are authors. When you write fiction you have to keep your readers needs in mind. If you make them happy you'll have readers for life.

I read that you are triathlete…tell us a little about that and how you got interested in it.
Four words, "hospital pregnancy bed rest." I lost a lot of weight a few years ago and was running on and off. I'd done some races and liked it a lot. When I was pregnant with JJ I was put in the hospital at twenty four weeks, in labor. Filled with Magnesium, I could not move, let alone run. I was so miserable and sad. Away from my husband and the boys not visiting every day, I cried a lot. The nurses kept saying, "You're doing this for your baby." Ya think? ‘Cause I thought it was a hamster. I knew that, but I was still miserable. I was used to moving.

One day the Hawaii Ironman was on TV. I watched that show with intense interest. Each person's struggle made me feel stronger. I promised myself if JJ was okay I would try that. Maybe not the Hawaii Championship, but something like that. I didn't tell anyone. I just kept it to myself. I really didn't want crazy added as a title to my four inch thick medical chart.

The next summer I got a bike. Nothing fancy, just a cheapo bike. I entered my first triathlon three weeks later. The water was 53 degrees in Lake Michigan that day and I didn't have a wetsuit. I think I was one of three people in the water without one. I ran out, got into chest deep water and thought, "you are a freaking moron. Turn around and quit."

I turned and the woman next to me yelled out and started to drown. I swam over and screamed for a kayak. They pulled her on. All around me older groups were passing by, some brushing me with their wetsuit encased bodies. There were very few people left on the beach, but I wasn't as cold as I had been. I thought, "no way through it, but to do it" and swam the rest of the way. It wasn't a long swim, 5000 meters, but it was so cold. By the time the bike part came I'd already been through the swim, so, might as well keep on. Then the run, or waddle, as I called it. I was so tired, so frustrated by being passed by everyone, but I wanted that stupid medal everyone was supposed to get. If I'd done all that I was going to get the cheap medal. I finished third from last, but I finished.

My husband met me almost at the end and ran ahead taking my picture. I look fat, miserable and ugly. I love that photo.

After that it just took. I have big dreams and in '08 I'm doing the Florida Ironman. That's a two and a half mile swim, one hundred and twelve mile bike and a marathon, which is twenty six point two miles. I'm scared I won't make the cut offs, my best swim stroke is sidestroke (I have an ode to Esther Williams I recite), but I'm training for it.

I guess I do it cause I'm crazy. Actually, it makes me feel alive. Testing your limits brings home that we are all amazing. Plus it's fun to see the looks on people's faces when you tell them how much you used to weigh.

How do you celebrate after finishing a book or meeting a deadline?
I don't. Sad, but true. I thought I would celebrate my first sale, but there was something going on. Then I thought I would celebrate the release, but it was the holidays and presents are pricey. I just start something new. Once a story is off in the submission process I let it go.

If you could bring any character to life…who would it be and why?
That's easy. Vivian from, “How to Conjure a Man." She owns the occult shop. Vivian is a loose take on one of the most amazing people I've ever known. Serenity, the sister of my heart, who died of breast cancer in 2004. She was one of the great lights of my life. When I was trying not to pop JJ out too early, she called the hospital every day to talk to me. She knew when I was blue. Did I mention she lived five hundred miles away? Since her death I've spoken to countless people who all had the same experience with her. No matter who you were she was there for you in a way that made you feel like you were the only one. She mentioned a bad mammogram, but told me not to worry, that they would get it all. I didn't think anything of it. She was so strong. Then she stopped calling. I meant to call her, but JJ came at thirty three weeks and was in the NICU. The night I planned to call her I was literally in the process of picking up the phone when it rang in my hand. Brenda, another dear friend, told me Serenity had passed. I'm still in shock and sorrow over it. She was such a force of life and light. She had this fantastic ritual involving teapots and being naked that just brought out laughter and happiness. A celebration of our lives and the gifts we've been given. Vivian is my weak attempt to bring back my dear friend.

Do you have a perfect writing environment?
Tahiti. Naw, I was on a cruise last year and I took my laptop, intending to write. I didn't. I think parked in my family room on a cold day, dog at my feet, Diet Coke at my side with a fire in the fireplace is pretty close to heaven. I'm the queen of my doublewide trailer and I love it. No, my hair is not in a bouffant and I'm not wearing a tube top. Although I thought of that for a publicity pic.

Can you tell us a little about what you have coming up?
"Lady Lillian's Guide to Amazing Sex," is coming out this summer, as is, "Ladies! Meet Red Hot Alaskan Men." Both stories are uniquely mine. A mix of odd humor, steamy sex and quirky, but believable secondary characters. I definitely have a style.

In, "LL" Lisa Simpkins catches her fiancé in a rather awkward situation involving a devil costume, strange pitchfork and a hooker. She dumps him and decides relationships for sex are what it's all about. Is finding herself and the love of her life too much to ask?

In, "Ladies!" Chastity Cuthbert is a woman on a mission, to help other people meet hot Alaskan men and hook them up. She's been too busy to find love for herself. When she runs into a frustrating jerk, Dave Wellington, she's too busy giving him a piece of her mind to notice she's falling in love.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I'm pretty sure you know everything, but my social security number by now!

I love my readers. I'm lucky to have them and cannot tell you how much they mean to me. A simple e-mail  saying that someone enjoyed something I wrote, a comment in my blog, makes my day. I am honored and humbled that anyone would pick up my books, let alone tell me they smiled at something I wrote. I just cannot believe this is real. That I'm really a writer. To anyone who reads my work, thank you. You mean so much to me. I know it sounds sappy, but I'm a dork that cries at Hallmark commercials. Now you really do know it all.





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