Monday, December 5, 2011

Blog Tour Interview + Giveaway with Nancy Adams, author of Saint Nick and the Fir Tree

Hello everyone. Today I'm pleased to introduce you to another author, Nancy Adams, who wants to get us all in the holiday spirit with her short story Saint Nick and the Fir Tree. 

Welcome to the blog, Nancy! It’s so nice to have you here today.


Do you have a day job? (besides writing)

Yes, I’m the cataloguer librarian at a small theological seminary. That means I’m responsible for the book records in our online catalogue, making sure the subject headings and details of the book are correct so that our students can find what their looking for.

While it’s lovely to have a job that surrounds me with books, it also means that I have to plan my writing time very carefully. Weekends are prime time, and that is usually when I work on new sections. During the week, I look over what I’ve written, scribbling on my print outs. (I can’t edit onscreen!) I take the train to work, and try to use my morning commute for editing.

Do you have any kids or pets?

No children, but I have a wonderful nephew, Sam, who’s eleven. (How quickly they grow up!) Sam’s really into fantasy. He loves the Narnia tales and The Hobbit, and is very well versed in classical mythology. He and I share a love for all things dragon.

What kind of stories or topics do you like to write about in your book(s)?

I like to write stories that take me away from the everyday. My first serious ventures in writing were historical mysteries, and lately I’ve branched out into using more fantasy, as in “Saint Nick.” I don’t think I have the imagination to come up with entire fantasy worlds, but I love incorporating it into more familiar surroundings. My newest work in progress is a novel that takes place in Paris, a city I know very well, where the main character experiences some bizarre Twilight-Zone-like events that make him fear for his sanity. I’m having great fun researching details about Paris that I can put into this fantasy plot.

What inspired you to write your story?

It began one summer’s day when I went out to do some pruning. The previous owner had shaped one of the yew bushes in the yard like a little Christmas tree, and as I went to work on it, cutting off the new growth, I noticed the “tree” had a little bulge in the middle, just like a beer belly. My imagination kicked into gear and I wondered how a tree would go about indulging. Thoughts of the Ent draft Treebeard gives the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings mingled with the yew’s Christmas-tree-like shape et voila, “Saint Nick and the Fir Tree” was born.

Can you share a few lines with us from the book?

     “Let us go together, you and I.” The Saint held out his hand.
     “But I’m a tree,” I said, thinking maybe he’d started his celebrations a little too early.
     But Saint Nick just winked and walked away.
     Wait!” How I wished I could follow him! And then I found myself out of the ground. Hey! What was going on? I hadn’t even had a drop of the Ent draft, and already things were getting strange. I stared down in horror at my naked roots, feeling queasy. I’ve never been so scared in my life—plus it was positively indecent.

I love covers. I'm always curious to know how much of an input the author had in it. Can you share a little bit about your involvement? What do you like about it? What do you wish was different?

“Saint Nick” is my first experiment with indie publishing, and I have to say that I love the total control. This especially goes for the cover. I was incredibly fortunate to “meet” my cover artist, Carrie Spencer, through an online workshop on e-publishing given by xyz. Carrie is a writer as well as a very talented designer. I didn’t have a cover for “Saint Nick,” just a little mock-up I’d made myself from shapes in a word processing program. (Basically, a green triangle tree with a red-triangle hat on its head! ) She offered to resize my image so I could at least go through the motions of our assignment, and when I found out she designed covers I asked her if she would do mine. Carrie was full of wonderful ideas and we had lots of back-and-forth discussion until we found something I really loved. There’s nothing I would change. I think she did an incredible job. (Carrie’s found at, by the way.)

What is the editing process like for you?

I really love editing, and have just started doing some freelance editing for other writers. I prefer to edit as I go, and when I’m writing a first draft I like to begin each day by re-reading and fixing what I’ve written the day before. When I first began writing seriously, about twelve years ago, I wanted frequent feedback from friends, but now I’ve found that I prefer to go over a book several times and polish it up myself before sending it out to beta readers, though I may ask my husband for more frequent feedback if I feel I’ve completely polished up a chapter. He’s very good at noticing logical inconsistencies and things that don’t work, so it’s helpful to get those cleared up before sending out the whole thing to my fellow writers. I’ve also been fortunate enough to find a wonderful developmental editor, Ramona Long. She’s a fellow member of Sisters in Crime, an organization of mystery writers (men are welcome, too!). We met when she edited an anthology that included one of my stories. She had some very good suggestions and also showed that she really had a sense of what I was trying to do. It’s really important to have an editor who is in sync with your ideas, and I feel very lucky to have found Ramona.

Does your novel have any made up lingo? How did you come up with it and how is incorporated into every day speech?

Saint Nick has some colorful expletives that were fun to write: “What the holly did I fall over?” “Reindeers above!” “Great Abominable Snowman!” etc. I’m not sure how exactly I came up with them. I think they just flowed naturally out of Nick’s mouth when I was writing the dialogue. (Dialogue is usually the easiest part of writing for me.) Expletives in general are the most fun to customize, whether it’s a historical novel (What the Hades are you up to?) or fantasy like “Saint Nick.” It’s way of injecting local color without messing with basic syntax. There are some great examples of how to do this in Sharan Newman’s historical mysteries.

What is your favourite book of all time?

It’s impossible to name just one! I mostly read mystery, with some fantasy, but there are a few non-genre books I dearly love. One is Carson McCullers’ Member of the Wedding. The writing is both gorgeous and an acutely perceptive portrayal of that awkward and sometimes painful moment between childhood and adolescence. I like to read it in the summer, slowly, savoring every sentence. Another literary favorite is Robertson Davies, especially his novel Rebel Angels. I like to think of him as a comedic counterpart to Carson McCullers tragic bent, a writer who viewed the world as essentially comedy—not “ha-ha” comedy, but comedy in the Shakespearean sense, seeing not just the absurdity but also the goodness and wonder in life. He’s an absolutely magical writer, and his work, while not strictly fantasy, partakes of the fantastical.

My favorite fantasy would have to be Lord of the Rings; for historical mystery, Jeri Westerson’s Serpent in the Thorns; Louise Penny’s Bury Your Dead for contemporary mystery; for science fiction Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead; and Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol for classics.

What would I find in your refrigerator right now?

Leftover turkey and carrots (writing this just after U.S.-side Thanksgiving); cooked pasta; tofu; raw broccoli; bottles of juice: apple cider, Orangina, etc.; slice of raspberry tarte (bought—I’m not a fancy cook!); apples, oatmeal, cheese—and if this sounds too disgustingly healthy, know that the cupboards hold cookies and other indulgences.

Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?

Just to say how much I appreciate your having me here. Thanks, Erika!

You're welcome :)

More about Nancy Adams:

A freelance editor and theological librarian, Nancy writes mysteries and fantasy. Her short story “The Secret of the Red Mullet,” a historical mystery, is published in FISH TALES: the Guppy Anthology (Wildside Press, 2011). She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. In her spare time, Nancy reads, sleeps, and whacks the occasional dust bunny.

For more information, visit Nancy’s website. You can also follow her on Twitter  and find her at Goodreads.


“Saint Nick and the Fir Tree” a short story by Nancy Adams

It’s the day after Christmas and Saint Nick’s on vacation. His first stop, the little town of Greenwood, where he meets a most unusual Tree. Nick and the Tree go out on the town, but a freak snowstorm brings their festivities to an unexpected conclusion.

Find it at: 

Prize: 2 copies of Saint Nick and the Fir Tree by Nancy Adams, one to each winner
Format: Winner's choice of paperback (US/Canada) or ebook (in prefered format)(International) 
Extras: One entry to each person. No mandatory entry required.  Just fill out the form :)

Closes: December 12, 2011 @ 11:59 PM EST. Winner will be contacted by email and announced here. After 48 hours, if the winner has not responded, another entry will be chosen.

How to enter: Fill out the form below.

Check out these other blogs, also hosting Nancy this week:

Blog tour schedule for “Saint Nick and the Fir Tree”:
Dec. 4, guest blog at Buried under Books
Dec. 5, interview here at Suddenly Books
Dec. 7, interview with Lisa Haselton
Dec. 8 interview with Morgen Bailey
Dec. 9 guest blog at Pens Fatales
Dec. 14, guest blog at Potluck with Judy
Dec. 15, interview at Cally Jackson Writes

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