FOR INTERVIEWS BEGINNING DECEMBER 1, 2012,
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~NANCY JILL THAMES
QUEEN OF AFTERNOON TEA
Where Authors Meet for Tea
07 Sep 2012 14 Comments
Welcome! Let me pour you a cup of Earl Grey tea and we’ll get started. I have honey and lemon just for you! The open faced tuna with green olive sandwiches are to die for. Please help yourself. For dessert we have Cherry Cheesecake Tarts.
Where do you live? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in North Carolina, moved as an infant to Texas, then to Easton, Pennsylvania where I grew up the suburbs. I married my high school sweetheart, Butch, eloped in a crazy double ceremony with my own mother and moved to Long Island, New York. I raised our six children there, while Butch worked long hours to support us. Having six children almost all a year apart was a wonderful, hectic time, but I was alone a lot with no one to talk to that was more than three feet tall. We moved west to Las Vegas in a camper resembling the “Beverly Hillbillies”, due to the drug situation in New York. Work was difficult to find for my restaurant manager husband, so we limped back east and settled in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a safe place, we thought, to raise children. Time would quickly prove us wrong.
Are you a traditionally published or Indie author?
I was very lucky in that a fellow writer I knew vaguely was opening her own publishing company, LSPdigital, and offered to publish my first and only book. It was half finished due to a trauma that blocked out my memory, but Linda Daly, having heard about my story, consistently nudged me forward until the block resolved and the book could end. Without her, there would be no book. She also taught her authors the art of marketing and promotion which has been invaluable to us all.
What are your hobbies?
When my kids were growing up I wove braided rugs, taught myself to crochet by beginning with a bath mat. The mat grew to be six feet long and a foot wide, but I figured it could be a lap robe for the kids. I finally had to stuff it in a closet to stop it. Butch, impressed by the growth potential of the bath mat bought me a sewing machine; not the best present for someone who almost failed sewing in Home Economics in school. I learned to sew the kids’ clothing and mine, plus a gorgeous suede shirt for my husband with the sleeves on backwards. Oddly he never wore it out of the house. Now I limit my hobbies to reading and doing professional book reviews, meditating and working crossword puzzles and mind games.
. . .And the Whippoorwill Sang is a deathbed promise I made to my lost child. When she was struck down by a drunk driver, her spinal cord severed, and left in a semi-coma for ten of the longest days of our lives, I told her I would make sure the world knew who and what she was; so that her death would not be in vain. As close as our large family was, when Noelle died, we all went our separate ways, unable to comfort each other. One of her sisters became bulimic and suicidal, a brother raced cars to tempt God to take him as well, her other brother had to be constantly pulled back from going after the repeated offender drunk driver who caused our world to dim without Noelle’s presence. Her oldest sister could not handle our great sorrow and stayed away on her own, while her youngest sister was plagued with anxiety and panic attacks at the age of eleven. Her father did not speak her name for five years and barely ever after that. As for me, I wrote. I could not speak or share so I wrote. The short story of the book was published by Victimology; an International Magazine. I wrote slice of life stories about her and all the kids for my new local daily newspaper, which led to a career in Journalism. I started the book about four years after her death, but life stepped in and I had to put it aside for years. When I was able to continue it, I realized the block when I came to the part before she died. My kids, many of whom also had memory loss, helped as we forced ourselves to remember—that and a deadline from my publisher finally got the book done.
How did you become a writer? When did you start?
I loved to write from the time I was five and crayoned my Raggedy Ann doll’s face—making some sort of statement, I suppose. I wrote my first poem in fifth grade and it had perfect meter. I loved writing book reports, essays and stories all through high school. I was writing ala “Erma Bombeck” style at the same time she was, except she got famous and I got honorariums. I put writing aside with so many kids, but I did keep journals and logs of our two trips out west. One was with a girlfriend and her little boy and one was when we moved out there. Butch was like the father in “Sound of Music” who whistled for the kids and made them toe the line like a General. Our “vacation” driving west was worth everything to see Butch struggle trying to make things go perfectly when “Murphy’s Law” was always one step ahead of him.
How long did it take you to finish your first book?
In actual writing time, I would guess perhaps a year, but from the idea to the published date took over 20 years. When my publisher deliberately honored Noelle by having the book printed on the day she died, a strange thing happened. The book went to print at the precise time of day that Noelle went Home to God.
Where do you like to write?
I write mostly in the wee small hours of the morning, before I go to sleep around 3 AM. It’s quiet then and I am not a morning person. I prefer to write in bed where I’m comfortable and cannot create without an erasable pen and a long yellow legal pad. Then I make corrections/additions as I type the copy into the computer. Strange things happen when I use a computer, but that’s another story.
I love the old greats, many who’ve passed on by now—Mitchner, Covell, Tolkien, Margaret Atwood, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Diana Gabalden, Nora Roberts, and the wonderful Jean Auel, just to name a few. I loved all the Harry Potter books and of course my favorite book of all is the Bible.
How many books have you written, so far? Do you plan to write more?
This is my first book. I write mostly non-fiction, although I read fiction, but can only seem to write short fiction. At present, I’m working on putting together a collection of my short stories, slice of life, journalistic commentary and essays into a book called, “Heartbeats . . . Slices of Life”.
Would you like to share a link where we can purchase your books?