Hello! Today I’m here to introduce you to Nan Sampson. She loves doggies and crayons, which is awesome! Here’s a bit about her in her own words:
Nan Sampson has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a crayon. She writes primarily mysteries, fantasy, and space opera – sometimes all at once. She also gardens (and indeed, some of the plants actually grow!), foists herbal concoctions off on friends and co-workers, reads voraciously, and dreams of one day living on a space station, where she will use her education in Anthropology, Linguistics and Psychology to build trust with the alien life forms mankind will one day encounter – and hopefully prevent them from annihilating us!.
In the meantime, she makes her home northwest of Chicago with her husband, teenage daughter and Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson (aka, the very pushy poodle).
Aren’t doggies so cute! I love their beady little eyes and muzzles and little noses, floppy ears, doggie feet… Anyway, it’s on to the interview questions!
D.R.- Beach or woods?
N.S.- Beach. There is something magical about the water. I’m crazy about the ocean – there’s an energy there that totally feeds me. Sadly, at the moment, I live near Chicago. And as much as the locals try to tell me Lake Michigan is like the ocean, it just doesn’t cut it for me. (No offense out there to all the Lake lovers!)
D.R.- Coffee or tea or something else?
N.S.- My doctor would like me to say herbal tea. In reality, I like a little coffee with my sugar and cream. I like my coffee VERY Boston.
D.R.- Share a guilty pleasure with us.
N.S.- Oh, that’s a fun one. My guilty pleasure is bad TV shows from the 70s and 80s. Think: When Things Were Rotten, Quark, Planet of the Apes, Wizards… basically, if it only had one season, chances are I watched it and loved it.
D.R.- What book do you recommend the most?
N.S.- Anything by Roger Zelazny, but most often Roadmarks or Doorways in the Sand. Zelazny was not only an amazing storyteller, but he played with structure in ways I’ve never seen anyone else do successfully. He knew enough to break the rules successfully. Doorways in the Sand is my absolute favorite and my “go to” book when I need comfort or I’m away from home and needs something to read.
D.R.- Where is the one place you think everyone should go?
N.S.- Anywhere that is different from home, anywhere that gets people out of their comfort zone. Doesn’t even have to be that far away, just far enough that it’s different from where you live (for instance, for me, New York City might as well be another country!). The world is such a diverse and amazing place. And wherever you go, talk to people! Cab drivers, store clerks, people in restaurants, anyone other than other tourists. Get to know the real people who live wherever you travel. You’ll learn amazing things, build amazing bridges. And don’t forget the local cuisine! Don’t just eat familiar foods, grab a burger from Mickey D’s. Eat what the locals eat. Food is love and is embedded in the local history and culture. It’s a great way to connect with the locale.
D.R.- Who is one person you’d like to meet from any point in history and why?
N.S.- That’s a toughie. I’m fascinated by history and read about it voraciously. Narrowing it down to one is nearly impossible. But Two come to mind immediately: Amelia Earhart (who was one of my heroes growing up) and Alexander the Great. Amelia, because she was so driven, so focused on achieving her goals. Alexander because he was clearly both brilliant and bipolar – I wonder what drove him, what his vision was, and what happened to him while he was in Egypt. I also keep wondering if Hephaestion had lived, what more might he have accomplished.
D.R.- How do you get ideas for stories?
N.S.- Ideas come from all kinds of places. Dreams, a snippet of something I hear on TV (I watch a lot of documentaries), some conversation I overhear. But the most prevalent source is usually music. I listen to a lot of soundtracks and other instrumental artists. Sometimes I’ll hear a track and a scene will just appear in my mind. I wrote an entire paranormal romance about time travel listening to a Peter Buffet album – I was driving through the foothills of Tucson, on the way to a friend’s house and as I drove, the whole thing just played out in my mind as I listened. So for me, music is instrumental to my writing process. (haha, instrumental, get it? J)
D.R.- What do you do if you see your idea has already been done?
N.S.- This is a really important question. I can’t remember which pundit said that there are only 6 plots in the world, but bottom line, with as many books out there as there are and more coming all the time, truly unique ideas have to be as rare as hen’s teeth. It is also true that as a writer, as a human being, I am unique. I bring a unique history, world view, personality to every story. So if I have an idea I think has been done before, my job as a writer is to be true to the story I want to tell, and do my best to write the best story I can. My individuality, my unique perspective on life, will infuse the story, and I hope, give the story individuality. You have to write the story you are driven to tell. Don’t let others turn you away from it if it is the story that you really want to write. There is only one YOU. Tell that story will every fiber of YOU and give it your best.
D.R.- What’s the best advice you’ve gotten about writing?
N.S.- I met P.N. Elrod at GenCon one year. We had a drink together and she was just so amazing. She related to me what she had heard from (I believe) Heinlein. She said there are three rules for writing. First, Write Every Day. Second, Write Every Day. And third, and most importantly, Write Every Day. At the time, I took it in but didn’t act on it. It wasn’t until I actually started paying attention and following that advice that I began to achieve real success. After all, writers WRITE.
D.R.- Tell us about your plans or ideas for a new-to-you genre in the future.
N.S.- While most of my novels to date have been in the paranormal mystery genre, I am currently working on a Steampunk novel and will be releasing the first book in a space opera in early spring. I also have a fantasy series in the planning stages that I’m very excited about. So while I love cozy mystery, and have another series in the offing for the end of 2017, I’m not locked into Mystery as a genre.
Thanks so much for this! It’s been a blast!