. Tell us how much
of yourself you write into your characters. Nancy
All of my characters have a little bit of me, and some have a bit more. I try to write my characters as deeply as I can, so many times I have to really dig into myself, my experiences, and what I understand about people in order to express the heart of the character and their conflicts and changes. It may sound funny, but sometimes they really surprise me, too!
That doesn’t surprise me at all. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I don’t know if this is the quirkiest, but it’s up there with the top ones. Here’s what I did: My first son was the first grandchild for my parents. Oh, how they doted on him, and as soon as we showed up for a visit, they would start towards us, hands stretched out to receive the precious baby. I thought it was adorable. They insisted we come over every Sunday afternoon and do our laundry there and have dinner. I don’t know what got into me, but one time when we showed up for our weekly visit, I decided to tease them a little. The baby was asleep in the car seat, and I wrapped a small amount of laundry into one of my son’s blankets, cradled it in my arms and entered the house. As my parents approached, eyes alight, hands ready to receive the baby, I lobbed my bundle to them and said, “Here, catch.” They both shrieked and I had the bad taste to laugh at their appalled expressions. They quickly joined my laughter, relieved, after first giving me that parental look of disapproval. (I hope the reader doesn’t hate me now! But it still makes me chuckle at myself.)
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I think I was around nine or so, and I wrote a short school essay about Abraham Lincoln, who I admired so much. It touched me when I wrote it, and I never forgot that. Soon after, I wrote my first poem just for myself, all about what the outdoors feels like after a rainstorm. I’ve loved writing since then.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Oh, goodness. Classics, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, memoirs, pretty much anything I find worth reading. What I don’t find worth reading are stories written for the sole purposes of being sensational, titillating, gory or gross.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I make sure I get enough sleep, put time into my spiritual walk and relationship with God and my family, and I don’t eat much processed food or junk food. And I take nutritional supplements. All that helps a lot.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes they just pop into my mind and most of the time they’re usually pretty common-type names for the area I live in. For one book, I used all the names of my nieces and nephews for the characters. Often, I name characters for people I know or have heard of. I try to stay away from names that are too hard to figure out how to say, so the reader doesn’t get slowed down. I know that happens to me sometimes when I read a book, and the name is so long or odd that I end up stopping to study it and wonder if I’m saying it right inside my head.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
My long marriage, and our five sons, and grandchildren. They light me up!
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’d be a friendly kitty, docile but spunky. I think this is because I’ve always adored cats, and they are so sensitive and curious, two traits I’ve been told I have in a major way!
What is your favorite food?
Aged cheeses. Yum!
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My greatest roadblock was in the beginning phase of writing novels. I wrote as though I were explaining the story, and had way too much telling rather than showing. I joined ACFW, and the wonderful critiquers there helped me immeasurably. I would not be where I am without all of them and their patient, caring, and insightful advice.
Tell us about the featured book.
It takes place in the 1890’s in upstate NY. The main character is Sarah, who is coming of age, and whose family and community survived a fire nine years earlier. The way the fire changed their family still has an effect on Sarah, and when she falls in love with the new, young pastor, she finds herself going through internal changes she never expected. The story is told from her perspective as well as that of Mark, the pastor, who also goes through unexpected changes of his own. It’s been very popular with advance readers, and I really loved writing it.
Please give us the first page of the book.
This page is from the prologue which begins the story on the day of the fire when Sarah was nine.
A rest in the shade was tempting, but one glance at the sunlit road ahead changed Sarah’s mind. She bumped her elbow on her little brother’s arm.
“Let’s play road-hop, Joe.” Now that she’d turned nine, the time for games would end soon enough. She had to fit some in whenever she could.
Joe made up the game last year and it fast became their favorite. They left the cool shelter under the pines to Ma and Pa and scampered out on the dirt road. The sun blistered the top of her head and its harsh rays highlighted every dried grass stalk and weed in the hard-baked ruts of the road. Dry heat shimmered up from the ground.
Sweat sprang out on her forehead. She should rest. They still had an uphill trek to get home from their visit to friends, followed by chores for all of them once they arrived. But she couldn’t resist having some fun.
What a long, dry summer. She and Joe spent their free time splashing in the creek at home, which was now a weak ribbon of its former strength, dwindling down in the daily onslaught of heat. It had to rain soon, Pa repeated every day, scanning the cloudless sky. Sarah was sure it would, since Pa said so.
Joe hopped on one foot, back and forth over the wagon ruts. A large clod of dirt crumbled into the rut along the edge of his planted foot, challenging his balance. Joe teetered on the edge while his arms sliced the air in erratic, frantic circles. The sight of that, coupled with his grimace and wide eyes made Sarah chortle and point at him.
Pa chuckled. Joe scowled at Sarah, regained his balance, and said, “Ha-ha. I didn’t fall.”
“Don’t tease each other, children.” Ma’s tone of admonishment made Sarah quench her giggles. But he looked so funny, and when they were alone, most of the enjoyment of the game was the teasing part while they tried to outdo each other.
“Sorry, Ma.” Joe hopped four more times and finally lost his balance. Both feet touched the ground while Joe huffed out an exasperated sigh.
Sarah clapped and jumped in delight. “My turn.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Website Link: http://boltonnancy.com/
Author Blog Link: Group Blog
Author Facebook Link: Facebook Page
Author Twitter: On Twitter
Goodreads: Goodreads page
Thank you, Nancy, for sharing this book with us.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.Answering Sarah - paperback
Answering Sarah - Kindle
Comments question: Have you ever had a devastating fire?
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