Friday, November 2, 2012

Author Nancy Springer Didn’t Realize She Wrote Mysteries

Finding new mysteries is always fun. However, when you discover an author who didn’t really set out to write mysteries but does (and does it well), that’s an added bonus.

Author Nancy Springer’s smart, chilling, and unrelenting new book DARK LIE goes on-sale Tuesday, November 6. 

Nancy has passed the fifty-book milestone, authoring dozens of novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery -- although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession.

I’d like to welcome Nancy here today to talk about her writing. Thanks to Nancy and the delightful Fiona at Penguin, I have a copy of DARK LIE to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for guidelines. 

Although already a publishing phenomenon, Nancy has now established herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a unique voice and scores of surprises up her sleeves. Her gripping psychological suspense DARK LIE is her first adult thriller, and it makes for an impressive debut. Here’s a brief synopsis: 

Dorrie and Sam Clark appear to their neighbors as a happily married couple with steady jobs and a well-kept suburban home in America’s heartland. But they’re not quite what they seem. Outwardly plain and hard-working, Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie, plagued by a dark past, secretly follows the comings and goings of her sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, who she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself. 

At the mall one afternoon, Dorrie watches from afar as a man swings his cane at her daughter, strikes her, and shoves her inside his van before speeding away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after it and plummets into a dangerous collision course with the depraved abductor. With Dorrie on the run, Sam begins to uncover telling secrets about his wife and before long finds himself on a dogged, desperate search to save her. 

As mother and daughter unite in a terrifying struggle to survive, to what extremes will Dorrie go in overcoming her own limitations and in confronting her dark, tormented past?

Now Nancy has graciously answered some questions for me.

Mason - Most authors make their protagonist young and beautiful. You made Dorrie Clark somewhat plain with a disease. What made this story so compelling to you that you had to tell it?

Nancy - I’m tired of young and beautiful. When I was young, I didn’t perceive myself as beautiful. Now I am neither young nor beautiful. I believe this is true of the demographic majority. I knew I could identify with a plain and dumpy main character, and I believed a lot of other readers could. I’ve written such female protagonists before, from preference, but in this case Dorrie’s appearance also factors into the plot. I’ll say no more lest I commit a spoiler.  

Mason - If you had to write this book over, would you do anything differently - content in the book, your writing schedule, the way you researched it, etc.?

Nancy - As it stands, the book is just as I’d like it, but that happened after my excellent editor at NAL told me to lengthen the9780451238061_large_Dark_Lie book by expanding the subplots and working toward greater depth of characterization. I added about a hundred pages.  So that’s what I would have done differently.

My writing schedule has remained the same all my adult life: in the morning, after I eat but before I dress and become decent to be seen in public, I write. I developed this behavior as a defense against the demands of children who went to school without lunch, friends who wanted a favor, and similar interruptions. Now I continue it because it’s a good habit. I sit down, and automatically I write.

Research likewise was not a problem. I’ve been to Ohio – my mother’s family came from there. I have a couple of good friends with lupus, more or less severe, and they provided details. I’m a lazy researcher, so I prefer to write what I know.  

Mason - You have written in various genres (mystic fantasy, contemporary fiction, etc.). How did you come to try your hand at a suspense thriller?

Nancy - Writing a psychological suspense thriller was just another challenge I set myself. Early in my writing career I wrote only one type of fiction, mythic fantasy, but when one of my contracts was orphaned (my editor left, but the publisher still held the option for my next fantasy), I learned that I had better diversify if I wanted to earn a living. Then I found that I liked the challenge of trying to write in different genres. Also, I love driving my editors and agents crazy with never knowing what I’m going to write next.
Mason - With the book’s release, as you look back what was the biggest surprise that occurred in writing the story?

Nancy - The biggest surprise that occurred in writing the story is the same as the biggest surprise anyone is likely to encounter when reading it. So I can’t tell. Because I am a character-driven writer rather than a plot-driven one, I often discover unexpected twists in my story as I am writing it. Believe me, Dorrie White really, really surprised me.
Mason - Is there any advice you’ve been given that you pass on to writers just beginning?

Nancy - It’s not advice I’ve been given, but it is advice that I’d like to give:  participate in critique groups and thank all the other writers for their advice, but pay attention only if something someone says rings a mighty bell of resonance deep within you. Otherwise, just be polite and learn from critiquing the work of others. Doing so will force you to conceptualize your values as a writer. Critique groups can be tremendously helpful in this way. But always remember, Hemingway’s critique group would have told him to stop using so many simple declarative sentences beginning with prepositions. A critique group will try to squelch your unique voice and make your prose sound as if it was written by a committee. Don’t let this happen to you, but do participate; there is no better, faster way to learn how to write.
Mason - What can readers look forward to next from you?

Nancy - Another psychological suspense thriller! Working title:  DRAWN INTO DARKNESS.
Nancy, thanks for joining us today and answering these questions. I love the fact that you’ve made your protagonist different in her appearance. You are so right when you say Dorrie White is surprising.

Born in New Jersey, Nancy lived for many decades near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, of Civil War fame, raising two children, writing, riding horseback, fishing, and bird watching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the bird watching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.

For more on Nancy and her writing, visit her website at

Now for the giveaway guidelines. To enter, send me an e-mail ( with the subject line, “Win DARK LIE.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. only. And, just so you know, I don’t share this information with anyone other than the publisher nor use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win the copy of DARK LIE will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Friday, Nov. 9.

Do you have an image of what protagonists are suppose to look like? Do you enjoy books where the protagonist is a bit different? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Please keep those affected by Superstorm Sandy in your thoughts and prayers and help in any way possible.


  1. Mason - Thanks for hosting Nancy.

    Nancy - I had to smile at your comment about 'young and beautiful.' I tire of that too. I really do. Thanks for sharing your insights and a little about your writing life. I wish you continued success.

  2. Nancy, thanks again for visiting with us. I especially enjoyed your protagonist. Wishing you much success.

    Margot, thanks so much for stopping by.


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