Get Lost in a Story readers, you can thank me later, but right now I’d like you to meet an author guaranteed to make you smile. Meet Nancy G. West, author of the Aggie Mundeen mystery series. We're discussing the newest book in the series, Dang Near Dead, and her recurring characters. Please welcome Nancy G. West.
About Dang Near Dead:
Aggie vacations at a dude ranch with Detective Sam (traveling incognito) and friend Meredith. When suspicious deaths, unlikely accidents and wranglers with shady pasts prod Aggie to dig for the truth, her creative sleuthing methods strain her dicey relationship with Sam. When she causes chaos at the corral and scatters a hornet's next of cowboys, more than one hombre in the bunch would like to slit her throat. Sam is not happy with her, either.
Now Let's meet Nancy G. West!
DONNELL: Hi, Nancy: Thank you for joining us today. I remember sitting at the audience at Left Coast Crime in Monterey, California, and listening to you on a panel. A Lefty Nominee for best humorous novel, you’re soft spoken, intelligent, and dang everything, funny! So here’s question number one. Do you mean to be funny, or is this something intrinsic to your personality?
NANCY: Thank you, Donnell. I showed my husband what you said about my being “soft spoken.” I like to think I'm a thoughtful person, but I do see humor in situations that some people don't find funny: like when my husband stepped in gasoline filling up our rental car before we arrived at the airport to board a flight. The airline authorities, smelling fumes, wouldn't let us near the aircraft until he stripped. He had to board the plane wearing a jacket over long pajama bottoms and socks. He did not find that humorous. I walked way behind him trying to keep a straight face. Even more weird, nobody seemed to notice his attire.
DONNELL: I read that in a novel, Nine Days to Evil, you intended to make the book serious, but then Aggie “Agatha” Mundeen showed up. How far were you into the book at the time? Did you have writer’s block? I’m curious how someone so three dimensional appeared and just took over?
NANCY: Nine Days to Evil is Meredith Laughlin's story. At age twenty-three, she is studying Abnormal Psychology and Shakespeare in graduate school. When she finds herself in a life-threatening dilemma, she uses what she's learned in class to try to escape. Meredith is serious, a bit naive and desperate. I think Aggie appeared to lighten Meredith up and put things in perspective. Meredith was pooped from being serious, and so was I. We both needed Aggie. I'd write down something Aggie said or did and start laughing. My husband, sitting across the room at his own computer, thought I'd flipped.
Aggie told me she wouldn't let me finish Meredith's story until I promised to write a series about her.DONNELL: Meredith, the character you intended to be your protagonist, is still in your series. Did she feel slighted when Aggie took the lead?
NANCY: Nope. She's grateful. Meredith is thoughtful, deliberate and studious. Aggie is impulsive, creative and fearless (except that she's pushing forty and terrified of aging.) They balance each other.
DONNELL: And now we have a detective named Sam. I read some of your reviews. Reader s like Sam. Do we get to see him in future books?
NANCY: You bet. Aggie's sleuthing methods drive Detective Sam crazy, and his lack of appreciation for her creative approach make Aggie doubt they can ever get together. Despite these obstacles, they become closer with each book. A friend told me she wanted to marry Sam. It's too late. Aggie has him in her sites.
DONNELL: Are you more like Meredith or Aggie, and why?
NANCY: I'm a combination: I'm basically serious, but I get tired of that. I'm always seeing people and situations that make me laugh. We're a funny species in a crazy world.
DONNELL: Your series takes place in Texas. Is that home?
NANCY: We've lived in St. Louis, Kansas and Florida and have traveled to many other places, but Texas is home. I just wish somebody would air-condition it.
DONNELL: Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t you self-publish your first novel, and then Henery Press picked it up. I’m a huge fan of Henery Press and love their authors. Whatever the case, congratulations, and tell us what comes next in the series.
NANCY: I had sent Nine Days to Sara Ann Freed, award-winning editor at Mysterious Press and Warner Books, editor for Marcia Muller, Margaret Maron, James Patterson and many others. Sara Ann died in June 2003 at age fifty-seven, having been under treatment for leukemia. She had kept Nine Days for months and finally wrote me: “If this book were not so good, I would not have kept it for so long.” Mysterious Press turned it down. Buoyed by Sara's enthusiasm, saddened by her death and tired of waiting, I published the book.
The first Aggie Mundeen mystery, Fit to Be Dead, was named one of three finalists in a California publisher's mystery writing contest. They had financial reverses, and the book was published under a different title by a Texas publisher. I acquired rights to the book, edited it and published the sequel, Dang Near Dead. Henery Press acquired these two Aggie Mundeen mysteries and contracted for two more books in the series. Smart, But Dead comes out in 2015.
DONNELL: When you’re not writing, where will we find you?
NANCY: At Lake Placid on the Guadalupe River with family and friends, traveling with them or seeking music and art venues in San Antonio. Learning to play the guitar.DONNELL: Authors have to do research, and I love to ask what’ the most unusual or interesting thing you’ve learned while conducting it?
NANCY: Since Aggie gives advice on how to stay young in her column, I knew she'd be interested in the Human Genome Project and how genes affect aging. So I started writing Smart, But Dead, where Aggie returns to college to learn about genetics. While doing research, I found that genetics is a very difficult subject to explain in simple language, which has caused me to do a lot of work. I'm interested in a zillion things, which can get me in trouble.
The main thing I've learned is that once you have the general idea for the book's plot in hand, do the research BEFORE you start writing.
DONNELL: If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be, and why?
NANCY: I'd like to spend two weeks with William Shakespeare accompanied by somebody who has read all his plays and can translate everything he wrote and everything he says now from sixteenth-century English to contemporary US English. Then I'd need another week with them to ask questions.
I'd also like to spend a day with Goldie Hawn and a day with Sandra Bullock. I can see one of them depicting Aggie's antics on screen.
AND NOW READERS, IT'S TIME FOR NANCY G. WEST TO ASK YOU A QUESTION:
NANCY WANTS TO KNOW: Although Aggie and Sam have issues from the past that can keep them apart and are both bullheaded, they grow closer with each book – especially in Smart, But Dead. Here's what I want to know from readers: Should they marry? Live together? Live separately and travel together? Forget the whole “together” thing and just work together occasionally? Give the “why” for your answer and say how you think it will affect their relationship and the series.
I'll be delighted to send a paperback copy of Dang Near Dead to the person who Donnell and I agree sends the best comment. Aggie and Sam's future could be in your hands.
Well-paced and written, there are bursts of humor in this novel which had me roaring with laughter. A great read and highly recommended.
--Diana Hockley, Australian mystery writer and reviewer for NetGalley
I love this character of Aggie Mundeen. Nancy West does such a good job of making Aggie humorous, but with a brain. __Jennifer Gott, Houston
I found Dang Near Dead to be suspenseful, engaging, funny, and unique. I love a good mystery and a romance and this was both. You will fall in love with Nancy G. West's writing just as I have. I rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars.UniversalCreativityInc14
FIT TO BE DEAD Aggie Mundeen Mystery #1 Lefty Award Finalist Best Humorous Mystery http://tinyurl.com/bgl4zbc
Release video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShriTrVWFCM
Romantic Texas Hill Country mystery. “Must Read”- Southern Writers' Magazine. Aggie Mundeen Mystery #2http://tinyurl.com/am975kk
SMART BUT DEAD Mystery #3