I’m a wife, mother, and about sixteen months ago, I became a grandmother. This was definitely one of the greatest blessings of my life! I live with my husband, Norman, in Festus, Missouri. We moved here from Wichita, Kansas, eight months ago so we could be near our kids and grandchild. Norman works with a wonderful agency that trains people with disabilities for jobs. I’m grateful to be a full-time writer. I’ve written eighteen books, two of which haven’t been released yet. They are all either mystery, suspense, or a combination of the two. Besides reading and spending time with my family, I like to relax with a few favorite TV shows. I also enjoy playing with our puggle, Watson. I’m very active on Facebook, and I work with several wonderful authors on a blog called the Suspense Sisters. (www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com)
Congratulations on becoming a grandmother. Many authors were avid readers as children? What about you? If so, what did you read?
I was a voracious reader. I read all the time, sometimes staying up all night with a flashlight under the covers. I read everything – no genre was uninteresting to me. Books included Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and some books that my mother grew up on, the Bobbsey Twins. By the time I was a teenager, I was into Edgar Allen Poe, and I read every book Charles Dickens ever wrote. I loved the way he created characters. Still do.
Some of my favorites too. About your writing, why do you do it?
Because my publisher would be perturbed if I didn’t? LOL! Actually, this is what I’m called to do. I’m not sure just what God has planned for the future, but right now I’m happy just doing what I know I’m supposed to do.
Tell us about your latest book.
Gathering Shadows is about a young woman named Wynter Evans, a television reporter who has had to overcome tragedy in her life. When she was a teenager, her brother, Ryan, was kidnapped. The authorities believed he was captured and murdered by a serial killer who had been abducting young boys in the same area. But Ryan’s body was never found, and although the killer bragged about his other crimes, he never admitted to taking Ryan. Through the years, Wynter has had dreams about Ryan. In these dreams, he was calling to her. Asking her to find him. Then one day, someone shows Wynter a picture of a Conservative Mennonite family that lives in a small Missouri town called Sanctuary. The boy in the picture looks remarkably like Ryan. Wynter goes to Sanctuary, claiming only to be interested in including the small town in a special she’s working on about unique places in Missouri. She finds the boy, but before she can confront him or the people who call themselves his parents, they disappear. Now, along with Sanctuary’s handsome young mayor, Wynter is desperately trying to find them before the boy is lost to her forever. Unfortunately, someone else seems determined to stop her. As she tries to keep herself and her friends safe, revelations from the past will force her to rethink everything she thinks she knows about her life.
This sounds like another great Nancy Mehl story. What inspired you to write this particular book?
Before I write a book I try to find a spiritual theme. I was thinking about people whose lives seem to be wrapped up in the past. In something painful that happened to them. In Gathering Shadows, my main character, Wynter Evans, has allowed her life to stop in a moment of time. Her choices now stem from something tragic that happened in her childhood. We all have an opportunity to do this. But living life by looking backward never works. I hope any reader who relates to Wynter will be encouraged to leave the past behind and focus on the great future God has for them.
In three words describe your style of writing.
How do you get to know your characters?
I actually let them evolve as I write. I believe in letting my characters become who they want to be. A lot of writers try to completely understand their characters before they start writing. I may know something about my main characters, but I don’t make them stay true to my preconceived ideas. Many times my plot will affect them in ways I couldn’t possibly see ahead of time.
What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
I try to write early in the morning, and I keep at it until lunch. If I haven’t written everything I wanted to, I still have the afternoon. But I’m usually not as creative then so I try to use that time for interviews, promotion, and cleaning my office!
I’m blessed to have my own office. Right now we’re renting a two bedroom house, and my office is large. In Wichita my office was an upstairs room in our bungalow-styled house. Much smaller, but I loved it. I have to say I enjoy my office is Festus much more though. My windows face a forest area, and I am regularly treated to visits by rabbits, squirrels, birds and deer. In fact, as I answered these questions I watched a deer feeding in my back yard. It’s awesome, and I love it.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
Yes, it does. If I can’t share something spiritual in my writing, I don’t want to write at all. A good story is vital, and it has its place, but in the end, what lasts is writing something that will touch a reader, reminding them that God adores them and has a wonderful plan for their life.
Do you put yourself in your books?
Absolutely. I have to understand characters to write about them. Some of my friends are able to point out certain characteristics and say, “Hey, that’s you!” Of course, this works for the negative aspects of my personality as well as my positive traits!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Yes. Learn your craft. Study. Read. Don’t try to publish too early. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see out there. Getting editors to take you seriously once they’ve seen something that wasn’t very good is difficult. Take your time. Once you get accepted, things will move pretty fast. Also, learn the market. Trying to get a publisher to read something that doesn’t fit their interest is a waste of time.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Thank you for allowing me to be part of this great blog. I really appreciate it.
Aww, thank you. Having you is my pleasure.
Nancy Mehl lives in Festus, Missouri, with her husband, Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored eighteen books and is currently at work on a new series for Bethany House Publishing, as well as a new series for Guideposts. The first book in her Finding Sanctuary series, “Gathering Shadows” was released on May 6th.
Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: www.nancymehl.com. She has a newsletter located at: www.nancymehl.blogspot.com, and is a part of another blog, The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.