Kathleen Nance e-interviewed by Martina Bexte (May, 2004)
Kathleen Nance hit the publishing lists in 1998 with Wishes Come True. Her story about a temperamental djinn and his skeptical summoner was an immediate hit with readers hungry for tales with a paranormal twist. Since then, she's authored another six books and various novellas, and has won writing awards that include the Holt Medallion, the Prism Award and the National Reader's Choice Award. Kathleen was also a RITA finalist. A New Orleans resident for close to twenty years, Kathleen has recently returned to her home state of Michigan. She lives with her husband, three teenagers and a few cats, and is currently working on her next novel, a romantic suspense.
Q: What draws you to explore paranormal elements in your books - like genies, or the characters in your popular Immortals series, who are descendants or outcasts of the Old Gods? Have you ever considered writing a straight contemporary romance?
A: Paranormal elements add a unique flair to the stories. You get to let your imagination fly and can do so many things with them that just can't happen in real life. The romance takes all kinds of interesting new directions, and you can explore issues from a different perspective. I also enjoy adding that additional element beyond the romance to the plot. Mostly, though, they are simply fun to write. I'd consider a contemporary (or even a historical for that matter), if the right story called me. One of my novellas was a contemporary with no paranormal elements. The book I'm working on is a romantic suspense that's more of a straight contemporary as well (if you discount the A.I. :-) ).
Q: Tell us a bit about Day of Fire, your current release and the second book in the futuristic 2176 series?
A: As you say, it's the second book in Dorchester's action-adventure series featuring take-charge, kick-butt heroines and the men who fall for them. The book can be read alone and understood if someone picks it up first, but it's part of the 5 book series showcasing a dramatic fight for freedom in the 22nd century, and I think is a richer read if the books are read in order.
Q: Why set your novel in Canada -- or rather, your version of a drastically changed Canada where a bio virus has decimated much of the population and isolated the survivors?
A: The original bible for the series called for one of the stories to be set in a land that's been isolated because of out-of-control bio-weapons research or import of infected goods, and is just opening its borders. Canada and China were suggested as possible locations. I immediately was intrigued in the Canadian angle. Living in Michigan, so close to the border, it's a country I'm interested in and have admired, so I thought it would be fun to try that particular story. Day of Fire was the result.
Q: How did the 2176 concept come about?
A: Susan Grant had in mind to do a two book series that was akin to the old-time, action packed serials (think Buck Rogers with the genders reversed.) In these stories, the heroine is a strong woman thrust in the situation and having to deal with all the problems. Susan pitched it to Dorchester, a company often open to new concepts, and they agreed and expanded it, with her, to the current 5 book series. They asked for proposals based upon the bible, then picked the stories and authors and asked them to participate.
Q: Susan Grant's Legend of Banzai Maguire kicks off this series, your Day of Fire is book two and is being released this month -- who else is contributing to the 2176 series?
A: Liz Maverick has The Shadow Runners out in June, Patti O'Shea has The Power of Two in November, then Susan Grant finishes the series with The Scarlet Empress in December.
Q: What type of research was involved or did you for the most part employ lots of futuristic speculation?
A: Tons of future speculation, but I also did a lot of reading and research about many different things: the current state of future technologies such as nano-technology, predictions others have made for the future, and bio-terrorism. I tried to take some of what we know or expect and then extrapolate that to the future.
Q: Do you feel that fantasy/SF and paranormal romance have finally found a solid niche? Or has it been publishers who've been holding out in buying and promoting more books in these increasingly popular sub-genres?
A: I think there's always been interest in the SF, fantasy, and paranormal romance. Readers enjoy something different. Those reader needs are always there, but publishing undergoes cyclic changes. There was a brief surge of futuristics, oh, about ten years ago, but like any phenomenon where there's a flurry of books put out, some are excellent, some are enjoyable, and some are less so. The market withered, and anyone who was writing one heard the death knell of "it doesn't sell." This condemnation encompassed any of "those books with the weird elements". I think it was a matter of not knowing how and where to place and publicize to draw the attention of their audience, because I talked to a lot of people who liked those stories, but couldn't find them. Few were being published and those that were may not have had the concept clear on the covers. Now, however, with the advent of TV shows like Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and movies like the Lord of the Rings, the audience is more evident and the stories are clearly promoted.
Q: Does your publisher have any plans to release more series like 2176 or will that depend on reader reaction?
A: I don't really know. I've heard they are considering more, but I haven't been approached about it. I'm sure reader reaction, and sales, will be telling points.
Q: Tell us a little about your next book?
A: It's a romantic suspense, a genre I also enjoy very much. My first beloved heroine was Nancy Drew. I think romantic suspense has some kinship to the paranormal / SF / fantasy in that there is this strong external element or plot enriching the romance. Jigsaw (that's the working title) will be out in March 2005.
Q: What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?
A: Most favorite? The creativity, the thrill when you write something that you feel proud of and that just seems "right", the excitement of "aha" moments when an insight about your story hits you. Least favorite? Staring at a blank page when the above just aren't coming.
Q: In the spirit of your series -- where do you think the romance novel will be in the year 2176?
A: I wish I knew! I think we will still have stories, will still have romance and hope and community in those stories, but other than that . . . no clue.
Q: What about the paperback book? In another 172 years the only place we might find one or two is inside a glass case at the Smithsonian -- would you agree? Disagree?
A: Disagree, to an extent. I don't think that's the only place we will see them, but I wouldn't be surprised to find paper books much rarer. I think we will still have books that are portable like a paperback, but these books will be digital, not printed. The reading screen will be bigger, so it's more like reading on a page than a PDA screen. Multiple books can be loaded into one device (much easier packing for a vacation!), and purchases will be downloaded.Find out more about Kathleen Nance and her books at her Website.
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