Guest Author Interview with Nancy Curteman

I’m pleased to introduce Nancy Curteman, author of three novels and two children’s musicals.  He latest book, Murder Down Under, is available now as an ebook and the print book will be released by Solstice Publishing shortly.

1.         Where are you from?

I’m a transplant from the beautiful state of Idaho and have lived most of my life on the majestic Pacific coast. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a major in history, I studied at the University of Nice in France and have a Masters in French Literature and in School Administration. I have had a career as school principal and taught college French. I currently live in California.

2.         Tell us your latest news? 

I’m excited to announce that Solstice Publishing has just released my third novel, Murder Down Under, set in Australia. The ebook is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The print version will be released soon.

3.         When and why did you begin writing?

I first started writing in seventh grade at St. Mary’s Cathedral School under the tutelage of Sister Delores Marie who told me I had talent. I believed her and have been writing ever since. I began writing my first mystery novel about fifteen years ago. I had so much fun creating my characters that I decided to write a series of mysteries that included some of those characters. The other thing that figures in my writing is travel. I love to travel and I love to read mysteries so I now set my mystery novels in the places I’ve visited.

4.         When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I believed I could be a writer at a young age when I received praise from my parents and friends for my efforts. I became more confident in my skills when I started writing nonfiction pieces as a young adult. I didn’t consider myself a real writer until I published my first novel.

5.         What inspired you to write your first book? 

That’s a good question. Inspiration can come from the strangest places. I decided to write my first mystery novel during my tenure as a school principal. A school environment consists of parents, kids, teachers, and district office personnel. All I had to do was observe the idiosyncrasies and intrigues that abound in a school environment, pick a couple of them, expand and embellish them then wrap a story around them. That’s how I came up with my first novel, Lethal Lesson.

6.       Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I’m writing a mystery novel set in South Africa. The story takes place in both Cape Town and a nearby Township I call Ikhaya. The novel continues the Lysis Weston mystery series and includes three of my best-loved characters from previous novels. The plot, while it revolves around a murder, allows me to share elements of South African Township life and Xhosa tribal culture.

7.       Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

I learned several things writing my first book. I learned that I enjoy rewriting as much as writing and that the real polishing of the novel occurs during rewriting. I discovered it’s true that your characters can sometimes influence the outcome of your novel. For example, in two of my novels I had decided who would commit the murder only to have my characters point me to a different villain with a different motive. I guess one of the most important things I learned is that you must be very careful about reviewing final proofs sent by a publisher. I’ve found several proofing errors that had to be corrected before the book went to press.

8.       Do you have any advice for other writers? 

Be patient. Agents and publishers receive thousands of query letters a year. Most agents will get to yours, but it may take more than six months.  Don’t feel rejected by rejections. There are hundreds of reasons your novel may be rejected. Realize that most of those reasons have little to do with the quality of your story.  Be persistent. If you are writing because you hope to be published one day, don’t give up. Keep sending queries out on a regular basis. I set a standard of sending out 5 queries every week. Send your queries to agents and small independent publishers. Mary Higgins Clark, the queen of mystery, was rejected 40 times before she was finally accepted for publication. These days writers should also consider self-publishing. Why not follow in the footsteps of authors like John Grisham and Tom Peters who self-published their first books.

9.       How many books/stories have you written?

I’ve published three novels and two children’s musicals. One of my musicals, A Musical Salute to America was presented on KQED Public Television. I’ve written several plays for school productions.

10.       Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer?

I have lots of practical suggestions for perfecting writing skills. In fact, I have a blog that is largely dedicated to strategies for improving writing. I address development of main and supporting characters, plot, voice, theme, editing, writing query letters and synopses, marketing—I could go on but it would be best for your readers to visit Global Mysteries.

Nancy’s ebook is available at Solstice Publishing, Smashwords, and Amazon.

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