I've been online ACFW friends with Nancy Toback for a long time. She's even been a copy editor for one of my books. Now I'm privileged to introduce her to you. We'll be featuring her second book. However on her first two books, she collaborated with another author, so this one is her first book as the only author.
Interesting questions, Lena. I do recognize pieces of myself in my characters, but they sort of sneak in there. For instance, I’ve struggled with shyness all my life, and it’s not easy for me to write a bold heroine who speaks her mind. I have to make a conscious effort not to have every heroine blushing, especially when the hero gets close. I also see traits of family members and friends in my characters. I have the easiest time writing female friends who feel close enough to poke fun at each other, because that’s my friends and me in real life.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Well, I’m not sure this is quirky, but it’s a bit odd. When I was a secretary, my Japanese bosses asked if I’d volunteer to be the first Caucasian to work as a kimono-clad waitress at their restaurant. (Because of immigration problems, there was a shortage of Japanese staff.) They decided that with my straight dark hair they could pass me off as at least part Oriental. I didn’t think twice before saying yes. What a fun adventure that turned out to be.
Sounds like fun. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Before I could write, I loved making up stories. I’d tell my parents long tales about the people in my room—the ones only I could see. I’d give these friends names, throw them tea parties, and have conversations with them, to where my parents grew concerned. LOL Later, when I learned to write sentences, I’d pen corny, rhyming poetry and little stories. But I think what encouraged me most to keep writing, besides the fact that I loved it, was that my family and teachers enjoyed my stories.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
My favorite genre is romantic suspense because there’s so much at stake as the romantic tension builds and the antagonist closes in. I also enjoy women’s fiction, chick lit, and cozy mysteries. Come to think of it, I can’t say there’s a genre I don’t like.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I coauthored Love Online with brilliant author Kristin Billerbeck. In the Fresh-Brewed Love [Barbour anthology] I coauthored An Acquired Taste with brilliant author and editor Susan Downs. Now I’m working on a follow-up story to Anna’s Journey, tentatively titled Adam’s Rib. I’m also writing a romantic suspense, because I find that suspense elements seem to work their way into all my romances, even when I try to keep them out.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
The only One who can keep me centered is the Lord. If I’m too busy for concentrated prayer, I’m too busy, and I quickly unravel. In God’s economy, the more time I spend in prayer and in His Word, the more productive I am. In the past three years, I lost my sister and my mom to cancer. I doubt I would’ve survived intact without the Lord’s strength, compassion, and mercy. We serve a mighty God.
Oh yes, we do! How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes the character just looks like an Anna, or Jane, or Daniel. Sometimes I name the characters after family members and friends. I have changed a character’s name mid-story, because his actions didn’t fit his name anymore.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’m thankful to God for my three children (two adults, one teen). They’ve never been rebellious in a serious way, and turned out to be caring, compassionate people. My eldest son is married to a wonderful wife, whom I consider my daughter. And my grandson is my pride and joy.
I know what you mean. I have two grandsons, two granddaughters, one granddaughter-in-law, and soon will have a great grandson. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I always wished I could fly, minus the plane. So, I’d be a bird. Not an ordinary bird, of course. I’d want to be an eagle.
What is your favorite food?
Pasta with homemade marinara or Bolognese sauce, and crispy seeded Italian bread. See what happens when you grow-up in an Italian-American family? What’s life without carbohydrates?
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My problem and roadblock was and is my penchant for non-stop editing. (Oh, I can just hear Dorothy Clark and Lianne Lopes laughing out loud.) It’s still a struggle for me not to play the isn’t-there-a-better-word-for-this game. My critique buddies help keep me centered. I receive e-mail reminders from Dorothy and Lianne: Nancy, where’s the next chapter? I hope you’re still not editing that same chapter. You’re not, are you? I get by with a lot of help from my friends.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
Anna’s Journey is one of the first stories I ever wrote. I set the manuscript aside many times to start other projects, but my sister and my critique buddies kept encouraging me to finish Anna’s Journey and submit a proposal. Because they seemed to love the characters and story, I kept at it. I’m so glad I did, and that Heartsong Presents is open to newer authors. I got to see my first solo story in print.
Nancy, thank you for spending this time with us.
Readers, be sure to leave a comment on the interview for a chance to win a free copy of Anna's Journey.
There's still time to leave a comment on the interveiws by Annette Smith, Seye Oke, and Nikki Arana.