See why Nancy’s sleuthing stylist Marla is no one you’d want to tangle with.
Nancy J. Cohen writes the humorous Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairdresser Marla Shore, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Several of these titles have made the IMBA bestseller list. Nancy is also the author of Writing the Cozy Mystery, a valuable instructional guide for writers on how to write a winning whodunit. Her imaginative romances have proven popular with fans as well. Her titles in this genre have won the HOLT Medallion and Best Book in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews. Active in the writing community and a featured speaker at libraries and conferences, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. Currently, she is serving as President of Florida Chapter Mystery Writers of America. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys reading, fine dining, cruising and outlet shopping.
Chloe: As a decorator, I’m always interested in creative spaces. Tell me about your writing space. What about it inspires you?
Nancy: I work in a home office facing the front of our house. One desk holds my computer, reference books, and other knickknacks relevant to my writing career. Another desk is where I do billing and other correspondence. I love my space and being surrounded by books.
Chloe: What aspect of writing do you consider your super power and what do you consider your kryptonite?
Nancy: I am strong at plotting. I like developing the suspects, determining their secrets, and connecting them together into a web of deceit. It’s harder for me to distinguish different voices for my characters until I get to know them.
Chloe: What’s your favorite tip for surviving a bad hair day?
Nancy: Wet your hair and scrunch it up and then let it air dry. Or use a clip and pin it up!
Chloe: What’s your favorite tip for writing a cozy mystery? (Since you wrote the book on the subject.)
Nancy: Proceed in a logical manner. The story should flow from the characters and premise. Put yourself in the sleuth’s shoes and ask what you would do next in her situation.
Chloe: Your protagonist Marla and Dalton Vail are married at last! How do you keep the romantic tension going now that the chase is over for your main characters?
Nancy: A marriage will always have tension. Marla and Dalton may be together, but things don’t always run smoothly. How to spend money, whether or not to have children, how to raise Dalton’s teenage daughter and dealing with relatives will always be issues.
Chloe: If you could steal the muse of another writer, whose would you take?
Nancy: The author of the Horatio Hornblower saga, C.S. Forester, wrote one of the earlier series I enjoyed. Although historical, this series had adventure, pathos, war and romance, plus a hero who grew and evolved throughout the numerous installments. I’d insert my own sense of humor into the mix, but I loved following the protagonist’s adventures.
Chloe: If your life had a soundtrack, what artists would be on it?
Nancy: Mozart is my favorite. I like classical but lively music.
Chloe: Do you know “whodunit” before you start your book, or do you have to follow the clues along with the rest of us?
Nancy: I write a complete synopsis before I begin writing the story. So I always know whodunit, although that may change as the characters develop and take over the tale. Or I might decide my villain would make a better red herring and choose another suspect as the killer.
Chloe: What were the first mystery series you fell in love with?
Nancy: I devoured Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, and Cherry Ames books when I was young.
Chloe: How do you market your books? What’s been your most effective tactic and what do you consider a necessary evil.
Nancy: I have a blog, and I am active on the social networks like Twitter, Facebook, etc. I do personal signings, give workshops at conferences, and speak at libraries. If I didn’t enjoy these activities, I wouldn’t do them. What is most effective? It’s probably being responsive to readers. I answer every email or letter from fans I receive, and I send out a quarterly email newsletter, so be sure to sign up for it!
Chloe: Tell me about your writing process? Are you a daily writer or do you wait till inspiration strikes?
Nancy: When I am in a writing phase, I set a schedule of 5 pages a day or 25 pages per week. I’ll get these done in the morning before the daily distractions hit. Writing is a job. You can’t wait for inspiration. You just sit down and do it. It’s a business and you should treat it as such, with a marketing plan as well as a story.
Chloe: Do you go to writers’ conferences or writers’ retreats? Why or why not?
Nancy: Yes, and I’ve just returned from Malice Domestic in Maryland. I’ll be going to Mystery Writers Key West Fest next month. I tend to stick to conferences on the east coast because it’s easier. Attending conferences is a great way to meet readers, keep up with industry news, learn new techniques, and network with other writers.
Chloe: What other creative outlets do you have to cross train your brain?
Nancy: Not many! I like to cook, although I don’t do as much as back when our kids were young. We’ve taken cooking classes and those can still be fun.
Chloe: What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome to establish yourself as a writer?
Nancy: Cross-genre promotion is difficult since I write in two genres. So getting word out to readers of two different audiences can be tough. It requires constant effort. A writing career also requires a lifetime commitment, and this often means you have to make sacrifices. You spend a lot of time alone with your characters instead of going out to lunch with friends. We need a reminder now and then to emerge from our writing cave and enjoy life.
Chloe: What’s next for Marla and Dalton?
Nancy: I’ve turned in book #12 in the series, Peril by Ponytail. This story finds Marla and Dalton on their honeymoon to a dude ranch in Arizona owned by Dalton’s cousin. There they discover family secrets best left buried. I had a blast going to Arizona for research and having many adventures that end up in the story.
Chloe: How can fans connect with you?
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nancyjcohen
Google Plus: https://google.com/+NancyJCohen
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-J.-Cohen/e/B001HD1ELI/
About Hanging By A Hair (Bad Hair Day Mysteries)
Marla’s joyous move to a new house with her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, is marred by their next-door neighbor who erects an illegal fence between their properties. When Dalton reminds the man of the local permitting laws, tempers flare—and worse, the neighbor is found dead the following day. Dismayed when Dalton is removed from the case due to a conflict of interest, Marla decides it’s up to her to find the killer. Can the intrepid hairstylist untangle the clues and pin down the culprit before he strikes again?