Friday, February 27, 2015

Featured Author: Nancy G. West


About the book: 

Aggie vacations with Sam and Meredith at a Texas Hill Country dude ranch with plans to advise her column readers how to stay young and fresh in summer. Except for wranglers, dudes, heat, snakes and poison ivy, what could go wrong?

When an expert rider is thrown from a horse and lies in a coma, Aggie is convinced somebody caused the fall. Despite Sam’s warnings, Aggie is determined to expose the assailant. She concocts ingenious sleuthing methods that strain their dicey relationship as she probes secrets of the ranch and its inhabitants. After she scatters a hornet’s nest of cowboys, she discovers more than one hombre in the bunch would like to slit her throat.

"Aggie Mundeen, Detective Sam (incognito) and friend Meredith confront mischief and mayhem while on vacation at a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Except for wranglers, dudes, heat, snakes and poison ivy,  what could go wrong? Murder?
'Must Read'" - Southern Writers Magazine

Interview with Nancy G. West

Nancy, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
Many moons have passed since my mother and I wrote poems to each other on special occasions when I was seven. About a year after college, I started writing non-fiction articles and later wrote an artist's biography. I returned to college to read and study good literature. About ten years ago, I started writing and publishing fiction.
How would you describe your book in five words?
Funny. Serious. Romantic. Idyllic setting.

How did you create the plot for Dang Near Dead? By the way--I love that title!
I wanted to put my main characters, Aggie, Detective Sam, and friend Meredith in a place that would accentuate their personalities, where Aggie could exhibit her outlandish crime-solving techniques, and where I could find a slew of quirky supporting characters. A dude ranch sounded perfect. I decided how a murder could be committed, and who the victim and killer might be. I'd been on several ranches, but I researched the pleasures and problems specific to Texas Hill Country ranching. I thought about people who live there and accentuated their characteristics.

When Aggie confronts them during her quest to oust the killer, the combination of characters and setting produces chaos and humor. What could be more fun?     

What are your ten favorite lines from a book?
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” - Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities

“At some point, the same thought hits everybody over age thirty: I might actually get old. Since I was pushing forty, single, and attracted to a reluctant San Antonio detective, that nasty thought frequently blasted its way to the front of my brain. I wrote the column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” and answered readers’ questions about how to stay youthful. For me, it was the ideal job since my greatest fear was catapulting headlong into middle-age decrepitude.

I made a decision: 1997 was the year I would learn how to avoid aging.” - Nancy G. West. Smart, But Dead  2015

Tell us about books  you’re an evangelist for.  
Ken Follett's Eye of the Needle for suspense;
William Kent Krueger's Ordinary Grace for crime permeating the cocoon of family dynamics.
Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch for a teenager's reaction to the sudden tragedy of losing a parent.
Malcolm Gladwells' Outliers for new perspectives.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?
Aggie Mundeen. She's winsome because she's trying to get over a past hurt, and she  passionately believes in justice. Her curiosity and determination make her meddlesome. Her outrageous investigative tactics make me chuckle.

What would your main character say about you?
She'd say I should back off. She'll do whatever she wants, anyway.

With what real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?         
Elizabeth George, William Kent Krueger, Ken Follett, Jodie Picoult, Donna Tartt, Harper Lee, Oliver Sacks, Robert Crais.

Can they be revived? William Shakespeare; Winston Churchill.

How big is the store? Can they be in TV, films? (The list would be longer.)

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.
While Sam is busy meeting with the sheriff's deputy, Aggie sneaks back to the corral to look for clues, where she has to deal with a horse determined to chomp her backside. She escapes the corral. Then she spots a suspect and follows him. She can't make noise snapping twigs on the ground, so she follows the culprit on all fours. Like a Neanderthal . . .Then . . .

Later, on the trail ride, she spooks the suspects' horses (along with horses ridden by  other dudes and wranglers), and Hell breaks loose.

What song would you pick to go with your book?
“Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.”

Love it! How long is your to-be-read pile?
Book by nominees for Left Coast Crime Awards and for Malice Domestic's Agatha Awards. I guess that's about 15-20 books, plus James Lee Burke's Wayfaring Stranger, Ken Follett's Edge of Eternity, and John Grisham's Gray Mountain

You get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?
Sandra Bullock, Tina Fey, or a professional reader with a talent for pacing humor.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I'm reading Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch (hardcover) and loving it. In the daytime, I use an iPad and read faster because of the double columns. At night before bed, I read hard covers or paperbacks. I like to feel the book and savor the words.

Where’s home for you? Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.
San Antonio, Texas. It's friendly and touristy with brutally hot summers and delightfully crisp short winters. The Texas mind set, “I can do anything,” is helpful when you're struggling through a book. 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Hawaii or the Monterey Peninsula in California. Southern France might be okay.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
The Bible. What other book could sustain you no matter the circumstance?

Your last meal would be . . .
Steak. Salad. Wine. Chocolate.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?
Sit lakeside with family and friends, play or listen to music, nibble, and enjoy the breeze.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?

"Exhilaration is that feeling you get just after a great idea hits you and before you realize what's wrong with it." -Author unknown

What are you working on now?
I'm polishing the story of Aggie Mundeen's third fiasco, Smart, But Dead. I'm mulling over scenes from Aggie's next mystery caper that keep popping into my brain.


About the author:

Nancy wrote poems to her mom and later had a poem published in the Library Journal Pegasus. When she was about to attend college, she heard that journalists were underpaid and English majors sold lingerie. So she studied General Business at the University of Texas, Austin and Houston, and earned a BBA.

A few years later, married, with two daughters, she realized she had to study English literature and write. She wrote articles, poetry, and the biography of artist Jose Vives-Atsara. Her poem, "Time to Lie," was featured by "Theme and Variations” and broadcast on NPR.

Back at school, studying English literature, she wrote Nine Days to Evil, Meredith Laughlin's story of psychological suspense, Shakespeare, and nonstop-action---winner of the Blether Gold Award. As Nancy finished the book, a funny thing happened. Meredith's graduate school friend, Aggie Mundeen, with her wry sense of humor, demanded that Nancy write a book about her. Or maybe a series.

In Fit to be Dead,  #1, Aggie Mundeen, single, way past thirty and afraid of nothing but middle-age decrepitude, joins a health club to shape up before anybody discovers she writes an anti-aging column. She irritates male club members and stumbles into murder. When the killer comes after her, Detective Sam struggles to solve the crime despite Aggie’s interference, while he simultaneously tries to save her derriere.
Lefty Award Finalist for Best Humorous Mystery.

In Dang Near Dead, #2, Aggie, Sam and Meredith confront mischief and mayhem on vacation at a ranch in the Texas Hill Country.

In Smart, But Dead, #3, Aggie, still single, pushing forty and getting desperate, returns to the university to study how genes affect aging. Can scientists change her genes to keep her young? She gets a professor who dislikes her, stumbles on a campus corpse and lands in jail. Detective Sam is not pleased. 2015 release.

Anyone who has tried to start over, get in shape, stumbled into trouble or loved the wrong man will appreciate Aggie Mundeen.

Connect with Nancy:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Henery Press  |  Goodreads  |  LinkedIn  

Buy the book:
Barnes & Noble