Having done a bit of my own checking, I knew that Nancy has written many things besides the historical mystery series featuring Mary Wollstonecraft that I've read and enjoyed.
|Nancy Means Wright|
If you'd like to know more about Nancy, you can visit her website or visit her Facebook page, "Becoming Mary Wollstonecraft."
Let's begin the interview, shall we?
What was the first book you remember reading and loving and why was it special?
One Hundred Best Poems for Boys and Girls: an orange polka-dot cover, battered, thumb-printed from years of use, and inscribed by my Scots-Irish dad. I kept it under my pillow to read, with the flashlight Mother said would ruin my eyes. The poems piqued my imagination, stimulated my muse.
“A road might lead to anywhere--/ To harbor towns and quays,/Or to a witch’s pointed house /Hidden by bristly trees.”( Rachel Field) That witch brought thrills—and chills.
Or Emily Dickinson’s early lesson in writing: “I never saw a moor, I never saw the sea; Yet know I how the heather looks,/And what a wave must be.”
Or “Dark brown is the river./Golden is the sand,/It flows along forever…” (Robert Louis Stevenson). When my father died, aged 52, and Mother took me to live in a girl’s school, I rediscovered that verse—in song…. I spent summers in a Vermont camp, reliving Robin Hood’s merry band, the subject of Alfred Noyes’ poem: “Sherwood in the twilight, is Robin Hood awake?” Hiding in the trees, I could hear that “ghostly bugle-note shivering through the leaves.” Robin Hood led me to18th-century England, where I am now, with passionate Mary Wollstonecraft, railing against injustice of any kind!
Outside of writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?
Travel, yes! for adventure and research: boating down the Nile, barging through the Netherlands, walking in Wollstonecraft’s footsteps in Ireland, London, and revolutionary Paris. I love theater. I’ve spent much of my life acting and directing, which has hopefully enhanced my writing; I’ve adapted my kids’ books into musicals for my son’s Very Merry Theatre. And I sing—in groups.
If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go?
You have control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?
Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?
I’m crazy about Kate Atkinson’s tough PI, Jackson Brodie, now in his third outing, and in a TV series, too, that I’m dying to see! A former policeman and soldier, with a life full of lost loves and missed opportunities, he has a soft side that melts when he sees a dysfunctional person or tracks a vulnerable victim. He’s reluctant to get involved in a crime, but once hooked, he throws his whole self into the pursuit. He may not see himself as a romantic hero, but for me, his very reluctance teases and attracts. I find him irresistible.
Name one book you’ve read that you wish you had written. What is it that made the book come to mind?
Midnight Fires. Both Charlotte Brontë and Mary Wollstonecraft were governesses for a time, and although Jane was smaller and plainer than real-life Mary, she knew the pain and humiliation of the job. “For liberty I gasped,” Jane cries, “for liberty I uttered a prayer.” When Mary was fired from her job, she declared: “I shall live independent or not at all!” I suspect that Brontë longed for a Grand Passion, but unlike Mary, found it only in her imagination—with Mr. Rochester. Mary thought she’d found it, but was ultimately betrayed. Both writers, too, were obsessed with thoughts of madness. Brontë’s madwoman-in-the-attic Bertha both fascinates and frightens me!
Which was the greatest incentive in deciding to write a mystery featuring Mary Wollstonecraft—the person herself or the time in which she lived?
Although I’ve long been captivated by the 18th-century as an Age of Enlightenment, and by its revolutions and democratic ideals, it was Mary herself who drew me. I admired her perseverance in the face of slander after her Vindication of the Rights of Woman came out (they called her a “hyena in petticoats”). She led a colorful life, including the kidnap of an abused sister and involvement in the French Revolution when she fell blindly in love with a feckless American who got her pregnant, then abandoned her and child. Her intolerance of sham and injustice led me to believe she’d make an intrepid sleuth. My second novel, The Nightmare, featuring Mary, is just out from Perseverance Press.
What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore? Or celebrate when you first heard you were to be published?
When my first novel was published, my husband was away, my kids in bed, so I broke open a bottle of vodka and finished it off with a neighbor—wheee! But when the book appeared in the stores, I was so embarrassed by the cover—hairy hand pulling back a translucent curtain to reveal a naked woman, a scene decidedly not in my feminist novel, I sent my four kids and friends back and back to my local bookshop to buy up copies. Thinking they had a bestseller, the store kept ordering more. After I caught on, sales diminished of course….
What is the most unusual experience you’ve had at a book signing or author event?
What is your opinion of eBooks, and how will they affect you as a published author?
Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Nancy. We really appreciate being able to get to know you a bit better. May your book sales do nothing but increase!