Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.
As my bio says, I’ve always loved stories of adventure, romance, and mystery, and I fell in love with history at an early age. I also read comic books growing up, much to the vexation of my mother. But I loved the superheroes and science fiction they offered.
I write mages (like wizards, but if you mention wizards, people tend to think of Harry Potter, and this is not that) because they’re kind of like superheroes but also incorporate elements of fantasy. The mages battle ghouls and demons hoping to take over our world—more fantasy elements there, as well as action and adventure.
I’ve also written, but not published, historical romance and have published historical fantasy. The Herald of Day is the first part of the Boar King’s Honor trilogy. I loved doing the research to build those historical worlds.
I just launched a romantic spy adventure series that lets me incorporate adventure, suspense, and action with hot romance. Finally, I’m writing a space opera series with Jeanne Adams.
Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?
We just adopted a new dog, a black lab mix. Whatever she’s mixed with is a smaller breed because she’s much smaller than the lab we had for a few years. She’s still settling into our family.
We also had a very large, male golden retriever named Hudson at one point, and he’s the only one who is a story model to date. At least for stories I share with the world. I used to make up stories featuring him and Maggie, the golden/Irish setter mix we had at the time. He was kind of like an Edwardian gentleman, very proper, while she was just zany. They offered a lot of character contrast. I told those stories to entertain our son when we were waiting in a restaurant or elsewhere, but I never wrote them down.
Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?
So far, my only recurring animal character is a very large golden retriever named Magnus in my Light Mage Wars series. He’s the one modeled on Hudson. Magnus is the constant companion of Miss Hettie Telfair, a retired lawyer and recurring character in my imaginary town of Wayfarer, Georgia. I’d like to think he has a personality even though he doesn’t play a big role in any scene.
I had a mare named Calypso in The Deathbrew Affair, and we’ll see her again down the road. The hero of the series is a horseman from North Yorkshire, so horses will figure in some of the books going forward.
What writing projects are you currently working on?
I’m juggling three at the moment, the next Light Mages book, a Christmas novella for the space opera series, and a Christmas short story for the Light Mages.
Who is your favorite author and why?
It’s hard to pick a favorite author among the many whose books I love. My all-time ever favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird because I like and sympathize with the characters and admire the way it addresses a crucial social issue.
Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.
I grew up with dogs that were treated as part of our family. Over the years, we had a fox terrier/Chihuahua mix and a couple of English bulldogs. The bulldogs were very sweet but prone to breathing and skin problems, unfortunately. The fox terrier/Chihuahua was also very sweet and generally pretty calm. She liked to sleep on the foot of my bed in the winter, and I liked that.
How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?
Magnus is a character in his own right, though a minor one. The hero and his best friend in The Herald of Day, which is set in 17th-century England, each have a horse, Zeus and Neptune, but they figure primarily in the opening part of the books. They’re not exactly characters but are more than mentioned in passing.
The Deathbrew Affair includes a mare named Calypso, whom we meet briefly before events pull the hero and heroine away from the riding ring. We’ll see Calypso again, though. Because the hero is an equestrian with an estate in the horse-breeding area of North Yorkshire, he’ll have a horse in a future book and the heroine will learn to ride. The penultimate book in the series is currently planned to center on a horse.
The animals in the space opera series so far are not pets but creatures on the planet we created. None of them actually qualifies as a character, nor are they likely to.
Why do you include animals in your writing?
I like animals, and I like to have them in a story when there’s a reason. I also think the way a character relates to an animal reveals that character. Magnus helps show us Hettie’s nature and has been a bridge between her and other characters.
Horses are a soft spot for controlled, plan-oriented Jack, the hero of The Deathbrew Affair and its siblings, but they were essential in The Herald of Day. During the era when the book is set, they were the transportation for those who could afford them. The hero and his best friend have horses, and at one point we see the hero’s carriage horses.
When dealing with an alien culture, as in the space opera series, creating animals is part of building that world.
What’s your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?
I enjoyed Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. I generally avoid movies and books centering on animals because so many of them end tragically, but our son wanted to see that movie when he was small. I enjoyed the characterizations by the actors, and I loved that it had a happy ending.
What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have?
I have three TBR piles–one in a plastic bin, one on the shelves in my study, and one on my tablet. The piles mix various genres of romance (primarily historical, paranormal, and romantic suspense), science fiction and fantasy, and mystery/thriller books.
What are two things you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
First, that there’s no one “right” way, that every author has to do what works for her. For example, I don’t write every day, in the sense of sitting in front of the computer. I do think about the various projects daily, but many people don’t consider that writing. It works for me, though.
Second, that the marketing department plays a huge role in purchasing decisions at traditional publishing houses. A book that veers too far off the center field line, unless the marketing people think it’s lightning in a bottle, will have a hard time finding a home.
Thank you to everyone at Pens, Paws, and Claws for having me today. I’d love to chat about people’s first pets.
Nancy Northcott’s childhood ambition was to grow up and become Wonder Woman. Around fourth grade, she realized it was too late to acquire Amazon genes, but she still loved comic books, mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, history, and romance. A sucker for fast action and wrenching emotion, Nancy combines the romance and high stakes (and sometimes the magic) she loves in the books she writes.
She’s the author of the Light Mage Wars/Protectors paranormal romances, the Lethal Webs and Arachnid Files romantic suspense series, and the historical fantasy trilogy, The Boar King’s Honor. With author Jeanne Adams, she co-writes the Outcast Station space opera series.
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