Joining us for the first interview of this brand new blog is Nancy M Bell, author of the upcoming novel - His Brother's Bride.
Nancy, thank you for taking the time to sit down and interview with us.
Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?
Well, I’m afraid I’m a pretty open book. I volunteer with an animal rescue and foster cats and dogs for them. I have been involved with horses for as long as I can remember and made my living from working with them for a number of years. I guess one thing I don’t often share is that I am a certified Faery Shaman with the Society of Celtic Shamans. I studied for 7 years including a two year apprenticeship and a one year journey of initiation. I have a self-published book called Faery Shaman written under the name Aine of the Horses. It simply means I work with elementals and help to balance the energies between the three planes or worlds.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have been writing since I was very young. Poetry has always just flowed through my head, and later stories. I wrote a full length story in Grade Five called Trails of Life which followed the lives of an old cowboy, an ancient pine tree and a wild stallion. I still have it and yes, it is awful! Full of many mistakes, but it’s on my to do list to rework it.
How long does it take you (on average) to write a book?
That depends on the amount of research I need to do. My first novel, Laurel’s Quest took almost two years. I spent a LOT of time researching on line and reading tons of books. For my Longview Romance series I can do in a few months because I live that life and can go visit if I need to figure out logistics.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I get up, walk the dogs, feed the cats (not always in that order LOL), take care of fosters, feed the horses, feed outside cats, clean the barn if the horses have been in. Come in the house, make tea. Fire up the computer, check emails to see if anything needs my attention, post something on FB (and try not to get time sucked into the feed). Then I keep the internet open in case I need to fact check and open my WIP and jump in. At some point the dogs come and ask to go out, walk dogs, make more tea, check horses and fosters, back to the WIP until either husband comes home or dogs interrupt again.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
There always seems to be a horse or dog, or both in my stories.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
Oh my, I never hold the reins, which is odd for a horsewoman. My characters take over and run with it. I usually have an idea of where we’re going but then they go off on a tangent and I’m like “Oh, okay that works. We can do that if you like. Sometimes I have characters show up that I never planned on. For example in Laurel’s Quest, Belerion the fire salamander shows up in the hearth to provide some advice and clue to Laurel’s riddle. I had no idea he was going to show up until my fingers typed the words. Likewise with Morgawr the sea monster who brings Vear Du to the Cheesewring…AND he could fly even though he doesn’t have wings. Why? Because he wanted to, oh and he’s a terrible gossip. Sometimes my characters will wake me up in the middle of the night and I have to get up and write it down or they take it all back and won’t share it with me again.
If you could spend time a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? (PG-13 please :)
I’d spend time with Mary Cassidy from the Longview Romance series. We’d bake sugar cookies, drink coffee and gossip about who we could play matchmaker for.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Spend time with my animals, volunteer at the shelter, work on cross stitch and embroidery, and do things with my grandkids.
What does your family think of your writing?
<snort> I told them I was going to out them on this one day. None of them have read a word I’ve written, so I’m guessing they’re not too impressed with my scribbling. <shrugs and laughs>
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I can actually give life to my characters.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Fourteen, I think. Does self-pubbed poetry count? My favorite, oddly enough is No Absolution which is a Jack the Ripper story with a different bent. I created a man who might have been Jack and gave him a whole backstory which would account for the way he developed and the things he did. I did tons of research for this one and it is the hardest book I have written.
Who is your favorite author?
Charles de Lint He’s Canadian and writes urban fantasy with a definite Celtic twist. Love his work. I own most of his books and some of them in double.
What is a favorite childhood memory you can share with us?
I remember the first time I rode a horse. Vivid memory, I can still see the neck and mane, the sunlight coming down through the trees. I was three.
What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?
The first year I attended the Surrey International Writers Conference I had a Blue Pencil with Jack Whyte. I was working on A Step Beyond at the time and had a fight scene where Arthur runs King March through with his sword. I don’t usually write fight scenes and I thought who better than Jack Whyte to tell me if I got Arthur correct? To my awed delight, Jack loved the bit and even read some sentences out loud. I was over the moon and left without embarrassing myself (too much) and called my husband to gush about it. I was very excited. Well, I got the answering machine and left a message. About ten minutes later my husband called sounding confused and said my best friend had called him and said he should call me because I really excited about something. Long story short I dialed my girlfriend’s number, listened to HER answering machine and never twigged to the fact. Totally uncharacteristic and everyone seemed to find it highly amusing.
Open your most recent story to page 12 and tell us the fifth complete sentence on the page.
Gotta get a move on, still got me chores to do to home. See ya in the mornin’, George?”
Interestingly, this is from my Canadian Historical Brides manuscript His Brother’s Bride which is set in Ontario. So there you go, a tiny sneak peak.
What genres do you like to read?
Fantasy, urban fantasy, poetry, historical fiction Arthurian era
If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose? Why?
The Scholar’s Primer which was the manuscript that the ancient Irish elite studied the Oghams from. More correctly known as the Auraicept N’Eces further titled Being Texts of the Ogham Tract from the Book of Ballymote and the Yellow Book of Lecan and the Text of the Trfhocul from the Book of Leinster.
Is there anything in your closet that your fans would be surprised by?
Hanging by the closet is an 18” elk hide drum I made myself under the supervision of a Blackfoot elder.
If you could travel through time to visit a special time period or famous person, what or who would it be and why?
Pre-Christian Ireland and I would like to spend time with a Ban Druid or a Brehorn and Brian Boru. I love the time period and because there was no written language at that time I would soak up the stories and get to understand how the society functioned. Also, I would pick the Ban Druid’s (female Druid) about the Ogham alphabets.
Stay tuned for our next author in coming days.
And please, feel free to leave comments and questions for Nancy.