Interview with Bestselling Author Nancy J. Parra

Gluten for PunishmentGet to know Nancy…

Nancy J. Parra holds a Master’s Degree in Writing Popular Fiction, a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and has published columns and has written articles on writing, and has given workshops on writing techniques to various library and writers groups. 

Her seventh book, The Lovin’ Kind was named one of the top ten romances of 2006 by Booklist Magazine. The Bettin’ Kind, October 2005, received a starred review from Booklist Magazine. The Marryin’ Kind was heralded as “…another winner,” by Booklist Magazine, while Wyoming Wedding won a Reviewer’s Choice award. Labeled a rising star of 2002 by Booklist Magazine, Nancy is proud that A Wanted Man received a starred review in the October 2002 edition of Booklist Magazine and Saving Samantha was featured on the chapter-a-day website. To learn more about her books, visit her website

Let the conversation begin!

From idea to completion, how long does it take to write a book? 

I get ideas all the time. I stash them away and it could be years before I write the book. But once I start to write a book it can take me from six to eight weeks to write a full draft then another month or so for revising. I’m a fast writer. I also love to write the book all at once and plot as I go along. Writers call this writing by the seat of your pants- or being a pantser.  For me it’s great fun to sit down that day and ask the questions-what happens next? And then How does my heroine feel about that? 

Are your characters completely fictional? Or do you base them off real people? 

To me, my characters are all very real people. Many heroes suddenly appear-full fledged with all their strengths and weaknesses. One will appear in the doorway leaning against the jamb. I had one pop up on my desk once. The worst is when they start talking to you in the shower. Some privacy please, guys. So no, I don’t usually base them on real world people. The exception to that rule is the Grandma Ruth character in my 2013 Gluten-free Bakery mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime that character- and she really is one- is based on my own Grandma Ruth who was a flapper, a member of Mensa, and a complete character. 

What initially drew you to writing? 

I studied Journalism in college, but discovered it was much easier interviewing the characters in my head then real world people. Newspapers and magazines frown on making up people and quotes, but fiction editors love it. So, I found my niche. I started off writing short stories for a creative writing class, but quickly learned that I had trouble stopping with a few pages. I needed to know what happened next and so I wrote my first novel at the age of 21 and never looked back. 

What advice would you give young writers? 

A friend recently said to me, “I read a lot and thought it would be fun to write a book. What I learned is my fun hobby has turned into a lot of work.” This made me laugh because it is so true. Everyone who wants to write should write for fun. It’s not worth it if it isn’t fun, but anyone who wants to become published and make a career out of it needs to understand that it is also a lot of work-revising, editing, revising, proofing, revising. People always say persistence is key and that’s true, but be sure and stop every now and then and check to see if you’re still having fun. If you are having fun, your readers will have fun and that is the real key to success.

Tell us about the book you’re working on. 

Oh, my, I am always working on something – because I love it. A graduate professor of mine told the class that in publishing there is an 80/20 rule. Only 20 percent of your ideas/manuscripts will be published. I sat back to check my numbers and discovered she was right!

My first cozy mystery series will be out in 2013, from Berkley Prime Crime. “Gluten for Punishment” is the story of a woman who, after her mother’s death, returns to the small town she thought she’d left behind. She brings with her her gluten-free bakery and discovers it’s murder being gluten-free in the middle of wheat country.

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