Welcome, Nancy. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I think it’s very difficult to create a character you don’t understand. Therefore, I’d say there’s a little of me in all my characters. Some may have more of my traits than others, but since human beings undergo a myriad of emotions and situations, there’s always something to draw on. Even the best of us have dealt with jealously, anger, bitterness, rejection or unforgiveness. On the other hand, we’ve all felt love, joy and compassion. All of these experiences give writers a deep well to draw from. I try very hard to build realistic characters with depth. That means good attributes as well as rough edges and faults. Not that I personally have any of those! LOL!
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I let a full-grown tiger “kiss” me. (Lick me on the cheek.) I have the picture to prove it. Thankfully, I also still have the cheek.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
It happened when I was forty-five years old. Just (cough, cough, cough) years ago. I’d been toying with the idea of trying to write a novel for years. Then I saw “Murder, She Wrote” and decided I wanted to be Jessica Fletcher. (But without everyone around me dropping dead. Not a good way to make friends and influence people!) One day I sat down at my computer during a lunch break at work and started on my first novel. I wrote about three pages and stopped, deciding it was just too difficult and that I could never be a writer. Then something told me to try again. I put my hands on the keyboard and suddenly my fingers began to fly across the keys. From that moment on, writing was easy for me. Goes to show how important it is not to give up. Our lives can change because we decide to “try one more time.”
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Oh, my. I’m a very, very eclectic reader, and I cross genres regularly. I love John Grisham, Michael Connelly, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Ted Dekker, Tosca Lee, Frank Peretti, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Susan Vreeland, Scott Nicholson, James Scott Bell, and lots of inspirational authors. Too many to mention. My range is so wide it’s nonexistent. I like books that make me feel something. That stoke my imagination.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Who said I had? LOL!
Seriously, I try to prioritize. And I’m learning how to say “no.” Being a writer means that sometimes you can’t go “out with the girls” or get involved in a lot of church activities. (Which I enjoy.) It’s not easy to realize you can’t be everything to everyone. But setting boundaries is vital to your career and your sanity.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes names just pop in my head. Other times I refer to a book I’ve had for years that contains lists of names sorted by ethnicity. It’s been very helpful. The phone book is also a great tool. And I’ve been known to get back at friends by sticking their names in my books.
An interesting story about a name just “popping into my head.” In my Harmony series, I decided to write in a character with a disability. I created a young man with Down Syndrome and the name Drew just came to me. I don’t know anyone named Drew, and I’ve never used the name in anything I’ve written. After the book came out, a lovely young lady wrote to me to let me know how much that character meant to her. She’d had an uncle with Down Syndrome who’d passed away. His name was Drew, and I’m proud to say, thanks to that young lady, I now have his picture displayed in my office. That experience taught me to pay a lot closer attention to those names that seem to just come to me.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
That’s easy. My son, Danny. He is my proudest accomplishment by far. He’s a godly young man with a kind and sincere heart. He’s had his share of trials, but he’s come through them all with grace and honesty. Last year he married an amazing woman who was looking for a very special man. I’m so proud to know that Danny is the kind of man God could use to answer her prayer. No matter what happens in my life, I will always know that God used me to bring this amazing man into the world. Nothing is more important to me than that.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Oh, boy. Well, first of all, I wouldn’t want to be an animal. But if I had to choose, I’d have to go with a dog. They are so smart and loyal. Some of my closest friends have been dogs. (That’s not a slam toward any of my human friends, by the way.) Dogs bring so much joy and companionship to the world.
Oh, and they don’t have to work. They just lie around and let us take care of them. Not bad, huh?
On the downside, I’m not drinking out of any toilets or licking things that shouldn’t ever be licked in public. Or in private. Or anywhere else. Ever.
What is your favorite food?
Steak. Hands down. Frankly, if it wasn’t for this teeny, tiny thing, I think I’d have made a great vegetarian.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I had to think about this question for quite some time before I could come up with an answer. Honestly, there haven’t been any major roadblocks. I think the most serious situation I had to face was in making the decision to go forward with writing once I realized how much time and effort it would involve. I knew I would have to walk away from some things I loved to do, and I also realized that it would take time away from my family. What got me past this point was turning it all over to God and seeking His will. I asked Him to give me very clear direction. Did He want to me write, or did He have something else for me? God’s answer was not only clear, it was supernatural. Once I knew His will, I went full steam ahead. I don’t intend to ever stop writing unless He changes His mind and sends me in another direction. And He doesn’t seem to do that very often!
Tell us about the featured book?
From the cover:
Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, her family, and her faith with plans never to return. Five years later, Lizzie finds she'll have to run again. False accusations at her job, a stalker, and a string of anonymous threatening letters have left her with no other options. This time, however, her escape is back to Kingdom, her hometown.
As Lizzie becomes reacquainted with Kingdom, she realizes she may not have left her Mennonite roots and her faith as firmly in the past as she thought. She draws on the support of Noah Housler, an old friend, as she hides out and attempts to plan her next steps. When it becomes painfully clear that the danger has followed Lizzie to Kingdom, suspicions and tensions run high, and she no longer knows who to trust. With her life and the lives of those she loves at risk, Lizzie will have to run one last time--to a Father whose love is inescapable.
Please give us the first page of the book.
INESCAPABLE: THE ROAD TO KINGDOM – Page 1
For the third night in a row the man stood under the streetlight, staring up at our apartment, his face hidden by a red ball cap pulled down to just above his eyes. I closed the curtain, trying to keep my movement slow so he wouldn’t notice me watching him. But I couldn’t keep my fingers from trembling.
“What’s the matter, Mama?”
I turned to smile at Charity. Though only six, she knew when I was worried or afraid. Unfortunately, there’d been a lot of that lately.
“Nothing, honey. Did you finish your carrots?”
She grimaced. “They’re too gooshy tonight.”
I sighed and came back to the table, trying not to let her see my fear. “They’re supposed to be gooshy. I cooked them.”
She wrinkled her button nose. “I like them hard. You know that.”
“You eat those carrots, Charity Lynn Engel. Right now.”
I hadn’t meant to sound harsh, but the strain I was under had frayed my nerves. Her dark eyes grew wide.
“Are you mad at me, Mama?” She sniffed a couple of times, jabbed at her carrots with her fork, and stuck them into her mouth.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m very active on Facebook, and I have a blog: www.nancymehl.blogspot.com where I host contests and talk about writing.
Win a Handmade Mennonite Quilt from @NancyMehl! RSVP for her INESCAPABLE Facebook Party 7/26! Celebrate with Nancy by entering her "Inescapable" Giveaway and connecting with her during the Author Chat Party on 7/26!
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