Nancy Freund is a poet, editor, critic, and novelist. Born in New York, raised in Kansas City, and educated in Los Angeles, she was married in England, and today lives in French-speaking Switzerland. She is the author of ‘Rapeseed,’ (Gobreau Press, 2013) a multi-colored, cross-cultural novel of a synesthete who moves from small-town Kansas to London, England, where she will try to discover her self and her concept of home. An international cookbook featuring 140 recipes from 41 countries, ‘Global Home Cooking’ (tbp 2014) and a novel ‘Effort of Will,’ (tbp 2015) are forthcoming. Her work has appeared in journals such as The Istanbul Review, Blood Lotus Journal, Offshoots and The Daily Mail. In September 2012, Nancy was the writer-in-residence for webjournal Necessary Fiction, where she is also a regular book critic. Her short story ‘Marcus’ won the Geneva Writers’ first fiction prize, selected by American novelist Bret Lott in June, 2013. She co-founded the Lavaux Literary Salon (serving readers, writers and artists representing 11 countries) and she is active in Community Literacy projects for teens and adults. She holds a B.A. in English/Creative Writing and an M.Ed. from UCLA.
What inspires you to write?
Such a hard question to answer! What inspires a pair of lungs to breathe, a heart to beat, a fingertip to reach for the soft part of a dog’s ear? I write because I can’t not. I always wanted to go into business as well — the business of books, art, education — something requiring immediate people-to-people contact. I thrive on involvement in my communities, but I also find writing essential — every day. It’s not really a question of inspiration then, but need, and how to manage that need. I guess I manage it best by allowing it to stay a high priority. And I’m very lucky that my family and friends understand.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m both a pantser and a planner. (I guess most of us, if we’re honest, are in fact both — certainly literary writers. I admire the writers who can create a plan and stick to it, but I find too much rigid planning deflates me, so I start with a character in a scene — some compelling idea that has come to me, and I play around with it for 10 or 20 or 50 pages until I know that protagonist and his or her situation pretty well. Then I’m ready to plan. But when I then sit down to write according to plan, I still tend to follow the basic free-form manner used in that initial discovery period. Once the novel’s first draft comes to a natural end, THEN I look back over it for structure and sense. Where it got out of hand, I rein it back in, where it became confusing because I got eager and glossed over something that needed more details, I go back and flesh it out. I do this myself at least twice, working within each chapter, and for the full novel, and then I do the same thing with editors and beta readers. I consider those intelligent and generous readers invaluable. Sometimes I disagree with their thoughts, and I choose to let a phrase or a chapter or a plot line remain as I wrote it originally… but I’m always grateful to have their feedback. I did a workshop recently with Andre Dubus III, where the writers spent a week together “looking for doors,” as he put it. If there was a hint at something in a person’s work, a door that the reader hankered to have opened, we sought out those opportunities and asked to have them open. That’s a great metaphor for the process of discovery a reader goes through when they travel through a novel, and it’s the writer’s obligation, therefore, to make sure the desired doors are open and the place inside is welcoming. As far as materials, I write on the computer, straight into Word. I have a lot of handwritten scraps and a notebook I carry around to feed into that large working document. As I write I email myself sections, as a back-up and to so my email will identify exactly where I left off in the prior day’s work.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I know writers who can interact with their characters in their minds, or with magazine cut-outs or paper dolls or sculptural representations. That’s not me. To me, the story unfolds in my mind very visually, almost like a movie — very colorful and with sounds and music and dialogue, and camera angles. My goal then is to write down what I see in my mind’s eye. But the characters (although entirely REAL to me) remain characters. They don’t interact with me, so I don’t speak to them, nor do I expect them to speak to me. I did, however, once try to hire a life coach for Carolann in ‘Rapeseed.’ The life coach respectfully declined.
What advice would you give other writers?
If you enjoy it, if you enjoy some PART of it, just keep at it. And never forget that there are many different ways to get in the game. The industry is changing so fast — the gatekeepers are all different players than they were even ten years ago. Even five years ago. Write your stuff, and do it well, so when the publishing world is ready and a door opens, you’ll be ready. That, and keep knocking on doors.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was involved with traditional publishing for many years, learning from many indie publishers’ successes and mistakes. I always wanted to start my own press. I also made the decision to become a writer when I was nine years old, so it has made sense for me to create my own indie. I would advise anyone who’s unsure what they want to do to try every angle they can to get a traditional publisher to take their work first. It’s very hard to return to traditional with an indie/self published manuscript. It’s not necessarily easy to take a traditionally published manuscript back under your own wing either — at least not for many years — but you can always launch your next book yourself if you’re not satisfied with the legacy publishing experience. You don’t want to leave yourself wondering “what if?” and “if only.” Self-publishing is a long, hard road, and you want to enter into it knowing you’ve already answered your “what if’s” to your full satisfaction.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think these are very exciting times for writers to reach readers. A creative, productive and nimble person can do some very exciting things within the newly broadened confines of the industry. I think that openness is going to continue. Eventually, I think the compensation will catch up. There is so much content out there available for free right now that the compensation pendulum has swung to an extreme. But I believe it will begin to stabilize over the net decade, as new distribution models emerge. And new formats and genres are emerging too. I think it’s all very exciting.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Literary fiction or women’s contemporary, as well as a non-fiction cookbook just out.
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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