Wednesday, January 14, 2009
INTERVIEW WITH NANCY FAMORALI
I’d like to introduce you today to author Nancy Famorali. Nancy’s book, “Summer’s Story,” has recently been released.
Katie: Thanks for being with us today, Nancy. I see that “Summer’s Story” is a story about Summer Langston. Her father, a famous racehorse trainer, dies leaving her a very special trotter, Meadow. You also have an unpublished YA novel about 15-year-old Meg James who is a horse lover, but having trouble with her personal life. What prompted you to write about horse lovers?
Nancy: Horses have been an important part of my life ever since I was a child. I grew up on a small farm in upstate New York. My parents, my brother and I had riding horses. Mine was a Morgan named Dolly. She was a great horse. In '80 my husband and I and our four boys moved to a small farm in New Jersey. We wanted more acreage, but didn't intend to have horses. Surprisingly, my husband signed us up for a horse care course. The teacher was a Standardbred racehorse trainer. The Standardbred industry is very big in New Jersey. These horses are trotters or pacers and race pulling sulkies. It turned out that I had an aptitude for driving, so before we knew it we were involved in breeding, training and racing Standardbreds from our small farm.
We're retired now living in Northeast Pennsylvania. We don't have racehorses anymore, but we have wonderful riding horses, Paso Finos. Horses are very special animals. We love to ride, but we also love to watch them in the field interacting with each other and playing. I can't imagine living without my horses.
Katie: You have written several pieces of flash fiction, short stories, poems, and have another book coming in 2009. How have you juggled your writing priorities to reach through to so many areas of writing?
Nancy: From the time I was very small, I wanted to be a writer. I made up stories for my dolls and acted them out. The dream never died, but raising four boys, training horses, and working a full time job left little time for writing. Once my husband and I retired, I was determined to see if I could get published. I worked at it alone, then I attended the Muse Conference. That was the start of all the good things that have happened in my writing.
I found Long Story Short (LSS) through the conference and joined “My Writing Friend.” Linda Barnett-Johnson is a wonderful teacher. She and the group critiqued my stories. Their input showed me what I'd been doing wrong. LSS published my first short story, “Champagne.” I also learned to write poetry and, although I don't consider myself a poet, several of my poems were published.
The novels came as a result of National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). I love writing quickly. Doing a novel in a month is perfect for me. Of course, it means a a lot of rewriting. “Summer's Story” was the first novel I wrote for Nanowrimo.
Katie: Because you grew up around horses, did you find that you had to do a lot of research for your story, or did you mostly use first-hand knowledge? What would you suggest to a new author about the necessity of good research?
Nancy: In my horse stories, I use all first hand knowledge. I did do research on the Hambletonian Oaks, the trotting race in “Summer's Story,” but almost everything else was from personal observation. Clearly, you must have excellent research to make your book come alive. A member of one of my critique groups commented that when I write about horses, my books have authority and draw the reader. I believe that if you want to write about a special field, like harness racing, you have to get first hand experience. I remember reading the Jane Smiley spent lots of time at various tracks and horse farms when she wrote “Horses.”
Katie: You have another book scheduled for release this year. How much time did you have between writing “Summer’s Story” and your next book? Did you find it difficult to organize your time?
Nancy: I have a mystery, “Murder in Montbleu,” being released by Red Rose Publishing in 2009. This was the second book I wrote during Nanowrimo. The writing was a year apart, but the editing coincided. I'd rewritten the end of “Summer's Story” and was fooling around with doing a more extensive edit to try to find a publisher. Luckily I mentioned this to Lea Schizas. She's Editor-in-Chief at Red Rose Publishing. She wanted to see the book and, surprise, surprise, liked it enough to recommend that it get a contract. She also asked to see “Murder in Montbleu.” It wasn't in as good a shape, but I sent it. I couldn't rewrite the whole book in a couple of days. Lea liked the characters, but wanted me to clean up the story. If I did, they'd decide whether to give me a contract. You better believe, I applied my seat to the chair for three weeks, rewrote large parts of the book and, again surprise, surprise, they liked it. I got my second contract. Lea's been a good angel for me, but it's taken work. By the end of three weeks of rewrites, I felt like I needed a long vacation!
Katie: What three things would you share with aspiring authors that you have learned through the process of writing your own pieces? How have these things impacted your own writing career?
Nancy: The most important thing I learned in the process of becoming a writer is that you have to work very hard and you have to be able to take constructive criticism. Sometimes we feel like our baby is being slaughtered when we get comments on how to improve the book. My best advice is to try to remove yourself at least one step from proud parent status, look at the book, or story, objectively and decided whether the comments are justified. If it's your editor, they undoubtedly are.
The second important thing flows from the first: find a good critique group. I belong to two excellent groups on the muse. I've learned a tremendous amount not only from the critiques of my work, but critiquing others and reading the critiques given by group member to each other's work.
The third thing I'd share is to write what's important to you, no matter whether it seems like a hot topic or not. Writing about something you're very familiar with gives your writing authenticity.
Katie: What would you like your readers to know about you, and what your future goals are?
Nancy: I want to continue to grow as a writer. I also want to learn more about how to promote my books. While writing is fun, I love making the characters come to life, it's even more special to share your world with other people. In order to share your world, you have to tell people it exists.
It's funny. You think when you're unpublished that if you could only climb the mountain and have a published book you'd be satisfied. Then you're at the top of the mountain. You have the published book and suddenly another whole mountain range appears. That's part of the fun of being a writer.
One of my immediate goals is to find a publisher for my YA novel, “The Unwelcome Guest.”
When I started I very much wanted to write for children. This was the first novel I wrote. I experimented with other genres, romance and mystery, and I love writing them, but I think writing for children is even more special. I'm working with that novel in one of my critique groups and hope to have it ready to submit soon.
Katie: Thanks, Nancy, for being with us today. Here is the link where you can order Nancy’s latest release, Summer's Story.