Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mystery/Suspense Writer Nancy Mehl

Welcome Nancy Mehl whose second book in the Kingdom Series, Unbreakable, has just released. 

Hello, Nancy! Is there a story behind Unbreakable?

I suppose this story is one I had to write. Creating Mennonite characters will eventually force an author to confront their personal belief toward non-violence. Not being Mennonite, it was a difficult subject to tackle. Thankfully, I had help. A woman named Judy Unruh, a Mennonite Church historian in Goessel, Kansas, walked me through it. I guess I pulled it off. After the book was finished, she admitted to me that she didn’t think I could express the heart of the Mennonite people. But when she read it, she was pleased…and surprised! LOL!

What’s the last thing you wrote?

An article for a blog about the danger authors face when their career forces them to think about themselves too much. It’s a trap we can fall into while we’re trying to promote our books. Some authors end up trapped in their own hype, while other wisely focus their energies on others. This article was very important to me.  

What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?

I used to write a lot of poetry, but I can’t find any of that now. But I still have a copy of an article I wrote about Christmas for our local paper when I was in my twenties. They published it on Christmas Day – and even came to my house and took my picture! That was a cool experience. It’s funny when I look back on it now. Being an author was something I’d never considered. It was twenty years before I began to think seriously about writing.

What’s your favorite genre of writing?

Mystery first. Then suspense. I love what I’m writing now because my publisher encourages my mystery side. I get to combine both genres and that makes me happy.

Who is the most fun character you ever created?

Well, I love Hilde Higgins, hairdresser for the dead. She is featured in my Curl Up and Dye mysteries. But I think my all time favorite is Ruby Bird. She ran a café in my Ivy Towers series. Ruby was eccentric, loud (she couldn’t hear well), and she didn’t suffer fools gladly. I adored her! Still do.

The Curl Up and Dye mysteries sound like fun! Who is the most annoying character you ever created?

Probably Delaphine Shackleford. She’s Ivy Towers’ wedding planner in For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls. Dela was very self-involved and primarily motivated by pride. She was also very funny – even though she didn’t see herself that way. Needless to say, Dela didn’t, shall we say, last long? LOL!

I love your sense of humor. Which of your written plots is your favorite?

The cozy mysteries were fun, but there are two books that have themes that mean something special to me. Simple Choices, the last book in my Harmony series, had a beloved character battling Alzheimer’s. My father-in-law faced this devastating disease. Writing about it was very emotional for me.  

My newest novel, Unbreakable, looks at the Mennonite belief of passive resistance. With all the furor right now over gun control, I think it’s a timely subject. Digging into the idea of rejecting violence, even when it seems justified, was interesting to say the least.

What’s the most unusual plot twist you ever wrote?

Oh, my. That’s a tough question. I have a book that will come out later this year, titled Unforeseeable. My protagonist gets lost in a snowstorm. How she finds her way out is not only unique, but I hope it will be inspirational for my readers.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so how often do you get it? How do you fix it?

I’m sure it happens, but I’ve never had it. I met with a book club once and the son of one of the members told his mother after the meeting, “That lady has a lot of stories in her head, Mama.” He’s right. I have a lot of ideas floating around that I still haven’t used.

On the rare occasions when I need inspiration, sometimes I read the synopses of other books on Amazon. I never steal a plot, but many times, someone else’s story will spark a different idea for me. For example, one author had a scene where her main character was accused of theft. That gave me an idea for my protagonist. It played out completely differently, but it provided me a direction to go.

One important note: I hate it when authors steal specific plots from other authors. I’ve been suspicious a couple of times when another author’s story or title was just a little too close for comfort. Getting a reputation for stealing other people’s ideas or work won’t endear you to authors, publishers or editors. Don’t do it!

Do you archive everything you write?

Yes. Even the bad stuff. I don’t know why. I think I’m hoping that someday in the future, I’ll go back and read them and realize they’re genius. I have several short stories like that. Wrote them years ago. So far my plan has failed miserably. They’re still awful! LOL!

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?

I have a couple of stories that I’ve held onto, wondering if I might be able to do something with them someday. Down through the years, I’ve taken ideas from them and used them in other stories. Now I’m not sure there’s enough left for them to stand on their own.

What’s your favorite thing that you’ve written?

You know, I just can’t pick one. Do I pick one of the cozies that helped a woman get through chemo because it made her laugh? Or the Harmony book that had a character with Down Syndrome? A woman wrote to tell me that the character reminded her of her uncle Drew who’d passed away. My character’s name was Drew, btw. Or what about the book that made another reader turn her life back to God? Those kinds of reactions mean more to me than any story ever will.

What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will?

That’s easy. Erotica.

As far as other genres, believe it or not, there’s a side of me that loves Sci-fi. And other voice in my head that tosses ideas out for other kinds of speculative fiction. Even Steam Punk. There’s no genre I wouldn’t try if given the chance.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?

I’m writing a Mennonite-themed romantic suspense novel for Bethany House. I’m also polishing up a cozy mystery. It’s the third book in my Curl Up and Dye series. The publisher handling that series shut down their cozy mysteries before it was published. Greenbrier Books is interested in it. They’ve put out all my cozies and eBooks, and they’re doing an incredible job.
I’ve also got some proposals out there. Writing this current series just isn’t enough to keep me busy. I’m looking to add something else to my current workload.

What are your five favorite words?

Love, faith, grace, hope and forgiveness.

What character that you’ve created most resembles you?

All of them are similar to me in some way. Ivy Towers might resemble me the closest.

Where do you most like to write?

In my office. I would love to write on my laptop, snuggling comfortably in my recliner, but I have a thirty pound puggle who likes to sit on my lap. There’s just not enough room for him and my laptop. Asking him to move is not an option. I love him too much.

How do people react when they find out you write?

A lot of times they treat me with suspicion. I don’t know why. Maybe I don’t look like a writer. Usually, I have to show them one of my books for them to believe me. It’s pretty funny. LOL!

What or who is the biggest influence on your writing?

God. I’m not being flippant. I need His help to get through every book. And I put every book into His hands before I start writing.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

The last book in the Kingdom series will release toward the end of the year. In Unforeseeable, a serial killer breaches the borders of Kingdom, Kansas. Residents begin to wonder just how close he really is. My main character, Callie Hoffman, engaged to marry the church’s pastor, becomes a target. Confronting this kind of evil will not only test relationships in Kingdom, but it will test the faith of the people who live there.

Thanks for sharing with us, Nancy!

Connect with Nancy Mehl at:

Nancy Mehl is giving away a copy of Unbreakable, Book Two in the Kingdom SeriesTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


Cyndi said...

I just recently discovered Nancy and have checked out the first book in the series, 'Inescapable'. Definitely in my TBR pile! :) I'll be getting the others as well!

Anonymous said...

Hello Nancy and Karen. Good interview. And, Nancy, I just wanted to say that your hair is beautiful in this picture. I wish mine could look like that. Really! I would love to win this book. Will keep trying as long as I have a chance. Never know when I might get lucky!
Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

cjajsmommy said...

Wonderful interview! I think I'd like you for a neighbor. And thanks for not writing erotica! I used to be a proofreader and saw more of that than I wanted. My boss learned which books not to give me after I returned a few half proofed. I'd love to read this book, please enter my name to win a copy. djragno (at) hotmail (dot) com

Patty said...

It sounds like Nancy has some fun books out in the market. I'll have to look for her name when book shopping!
What is a cozy mystery? I've heard the term but don't know what it means!


Nancee said...

I'd love to win a copy of Nancy's new releast, "Unbreakable." I would like to feature her on my blog. Thank you for offering this giveaway!

beckie said...

I've been seeing this book everywhere and would love to get my hands on it!

Linda Kish said...

I would love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Wendy Newcomb said...

I would love to win this book, sounds great!


KayM said...

Great interview! I really enjoyed reading it. thank you for the opportunity to win Unbreakable.
may_dayzee (at) yahoo (dot) com

ann said...

Would like to enter to win this. Thanks for the great interview. Looking forward to this book.

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this wonderful novel

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Nancy Mehl said...

Hello, everyone!

Patty - A cozy mystery is a "charming" mystery. Set in a small town, no sex, profanity or graphic violence. Many times, the amatuer detective has a hobby, runs a bookstore, or has an interesting job. They're usually funny - but the mystery is still pure mystery. (Smile)

Maxie - Thank you so much. I finally quit coloring my hair and let it go "natural." To be honest, I like it better this way! You woulda' thunk it? LOL!

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