Interview with Expat Author - Nancy Swing
Nancy Swing, currently living on California's Central Coast with husband Russell Sunshine and five backyard deer who come and go as they please.
1. Why did you move abroad?
My husband and I were independent consultants working in developing countries, both long term (2 or more years) and short-term (6-8 weeks). Sometimes we were together, sometimes not. Among the countries where I worked for clients like the U.N., USAID and the World Bank: Egypt, Kenya, Guyana, Pakistan, and Somalia.
2. How do you make a living? Are you a fulltime writer?
Currently retired. Now writing part-time. Malice on the Mekong is my first book. A trilogy with interlocking characters is to follow.
3. How did you start the process of writing a book and get it published? Did you go to a publisher? Self-publish?
I started writing Malice while we were in Hawaii, where my husband was at the East-West Center after our tour in Laos. But I found I was too close to the events which inspired it to have a productive perspective. I then rewrote and revised intermittently over 20 years in many locations around the globe. Finally, when we retired in California, I found I had the time, the desire and the perspective to finish it.
During those 20 years, I tried to find an agent, but no one wanted a book set in Laos because nobody's ever heard of it. Finally, I self-published with the help of Park Place Publications.
4. What was the hardest part of taking your writing to a book format? Did you blog before writing your book?
Blog? I'm 72 years old and only recently returned to the States after residing in a lot of back-of-beyond places. I almost don't know what a blog is (although my publisher tells me I should start one; maybe I will).
5. What is your perception of the expat book market? Or is there a niche you consider your book to be part of?
Wow! Has it! There used to be almost nothing in our field, fiction or nonfiction. Now there's so much available that it must be hard for a novice expat to figure out where to start and what to read.
6. What is your favorite part of the book?
I don't know about favorite, but the one that still moves me is when Catherine describes the loss of her son.
7. What was the most difficult part to write?
Karen's character. To make her sympathetic but not pathetic.
8. What advice would you give to other expats that want to write a book?
Just do it!! Attend some workshops to build craft, if you feel the need. Join a critique group and be open to what you hear. Never, ever give up.
9. What are you working on now? Do you have plans to publish another book?
I've started a trilogy of mysteries set in a fictitious small town in West Virginia, where I grew up. The three books have interlocking characters, some being featured in one book, a different set featured in another.
The first one, Child's Play, will be available in late fall, 2016. In this story, two unlikely characters must come together to discover how their loved ones ended up dead in the same car. The victims are a poverty-stricken young girl and the wealthy wife of a prominent lawyer. The girl's best friend and the woman's alcoholic sister eventually collaborate to solve the mystery and become soulmates in the process.
Fans of Anjali Rao, the main character in Malice on the Mekong, shouldn't despair. I have a couple more plots waiting in the wings to lure this international grandmother back into action. I'm thinking of writing books in the two series in alternation.
In the meantime, readers can find out more about nancy on her website, nancyswing.com and buy the book on amazon. Russell's book, Far & Away: True Tales from an International Life, would also be of interest to expatriate readers.