Interview with Author Nancy Springer

Name: Nancy Springer
ALA Amelia Bloomer Project listee, Edgar Allan Poe Award nominee,
Agatha Christie Award nominee


Q.) Where are you from?
A.) Right now I live in a very rural area of the Florida Panhandle, but I’ve spent most of my life in Pennsylvania.

Q.) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
A.) I knew I wanted to write when I got out of college, but it was hard, because the authors I’d studied in college were almost all male.
(This was back in the dark ages, before the invention of women’s liberation.) Finally I decided to write fantasy so that I would feel my authority could not be challenged.

Q.) How did it take you to write your last book?
A.) I don’t keep track of how long it takes to write a book. It depends on everything including the weather. I’ve published over fifty now, and I’ve probably written over sixty — the extra ones were duds. I manage to get it “write” sooner now than I used to. My first book took about six years from rough draft to publication.

Q.) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
A.) Work schedule? I get up in the morning, take care of the dogs and cats, have breakfast (Cheerios with a banana, always) and turn on the computer. Whether I write a paragraph or five pages, whether I add text in the middle or at the end doesn’t matter. Then, when I’m done for the day, I’m done. Usually before lunchtime.

Q.) Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
A.) I treat book ideas as I do everything else, as an exercise in serendipity. I talk with people and they tell me astonishing stories. Sometimes a thought or a phrase resonates. Or maybe my own daydreams are nagging me to be let out. Ideas are everywhere. So is information, but I have to track it down.

Q.) When did you write your first book?
A.) I began my first book in 1972, shortly after graduating from college, because I was bored and missed my English classes.

Q.) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
A.) When I’m not working, I like to get outside. I take my dog for long walks, or I go fishing, or I ride my bike. Years ago I would have been riding a horse instead. While I’m outdoors I’m always looking for birds, wildflowers, lizards, whatever. I want to name them. I’m searching for Eden.

Q.) What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your books?
A.) One astonishing thing I learned while writing is how much my unconscious mind is in charge, how through story it will say things I hadn’t known were in me, how it will make patterns surprising to me, how the characters themselves are voices of my unconscious and will often do things I hadn’t expected of them. And how I can trust my unconscious to steer me right. It’s been an exciting adventure.

Q.) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
A.) I’ve published somewhere around fifty-three books. I have no idea how many I’ve written. I don’t keep track. My favorite. . .that’s like Sophie’s Choice; how can I possibly choose between my children? I recommend the Enola Holmes series (Sherlock’s kid sister) and I Am Mordred (the Arthurian mythos from the point of view of the villain) and Somebody and Blood Trail.

Q.) Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer? If so, what are they?
A.) To be a better writer. . .that’s a tricky one. A lot of very popular books are not particularly well written. The secret to popularity may be writing from the heart. The secret to writing well may be reading poetry.

Q.) What do you think makes a good story?
A.) What do I think makes a good story? An appealing, quirky, muddled character the reader can fall in love with. A worthy problem confronting the character. Sense of place, the perfect place for this character and this problem. More characters. And so much more of everything.

Q.) As a child, did you want to be a writer?
A.) As a child, no, actually I wanted to be a cowgirl riding a bright-colored horse and singing and playing a guitar.

Q.) What one thing would you like to tell your readers?
A.) I’d like to reassure my readers that no matter how bad the situation, in fiction or in fact, change is possible, and to keep on trying and don’t lose hope.

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