Nancy Churchill Mystery Writer
I’m always curious about the real life of the mystery writers that are entertaining me at the time. Are they social, reclusive, do they have a family life, what drives them to write such lurid tales? With that in mind, I’d like to share a little of my life with you.
I’m a product of Southern California. I’ve had several careers during my lifetime, but even at the age of 12, I used to tell people, “When I grow up, I’m going to write the all American novel.” Probably didn’t know what that meant at the time, just sounded good. I was lucky to have parents with jobs during the depression, but I still remember walking a mile to the dairy to buy raw milk. Mom sacrificed a lot, so I could study ballet and classical Spanish dance for 16 years…hence, my love of classical music. I married a Marine, moved to Oakland, and was waiting for open auditions with the San Francisco ballet, but oops, baby number one came along. Not too much demand for toe dancers with baby bumps.
Lots of career changes along the way. I worked as a file clerk in the Polio Unit at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital. Later, I climbed the secretarial ladder and advanced to an administrative secretary category at North American Aviation in Downey. The experience was great, made a lot of friends in the aeronautics world, but decided to move on. With five daughters in hand, I decided I didn’t have enough to do, so I enrolled at Fullerton Junior College. Twelve units were under my belt from a short stint right out of high school, (Drama, French, archery, English…wow) so I signed up for six units at night, worked part time during the day, and packed sandwiches at 6:00 am for the munchkins. Realizing that six units would take me forever to get a degree, I upped it to 18 units and raced toward my B.A in English with a minor in P.E. After finishing my fifth year, I received my teaching credential.
I got kicked out of my advanced composition class during my graduate year. When the professor said he didn’t want to see me anymore, I freaked. “OMG, I need this class for the credential!” With a smile he told me that he couldn’t teach me anything about writing, so he gave me an ‘A’ and his blessing to go and write my book. I was thrilled. During the years, I had written poetry, lyrics, and started three novels. They’re still sitting in my bottom drawer.
There was a hiring freeze for teachers in the district, but I filled out an application anyway, hoping they would throw it in the trash, but, NO, the district hired me. So, there went the book again. I loved teaching. Taught a few English classes, but since I was a dancer, I jumped at the opportunity to start the dance program and coach the gymnastic team. Probably would have stayed a teacher forever, but got ticked off at the principal (politics), asked for a sabbatical, and got my real estate license. Now, years later, I have retired, and have all the time in the world (ya, right) to write. No excuses, no plot, panic.
I have always been a desert-rat, have owned six jet boats, taught my girls to love the river and all it entails. One day my husband and I were sitting at the bottom of the spillway at Davis Dam. We turned the engine off and started floating with the current. “I wonder how long it would take a body to float downstream from the dam to Harrah’s Casino?” Jack smiled, and said, “Why don’t you find out?” That was the beginning of The 7th Victim, and what a ride it has been. Friends would often ask Jack, “How do you sleep at night, with all those dark thoughts that go through Nancy’s mind?” He would simply reply, “With one eye open.” I hope you enjoy the story…all fiction, of course.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Are you working on a sequel?...Oh, yes. That evil man needs to be handled AND there might be some wedding bells.
Are your characters staying at the river? Nope. Rachael and Meg will be going back to Catalina. Looks like the FBI might be putting Amanda on a cruise ship (undercover, of course). The one to watch out for is Grace. What a mess.
How often do you write? Depends. If life doesn’t get in the way, I prefer to get up, enjoy my coffee and morning paper and get started. Sometimes shower first, but most often, if my characters are pushing me too hard, it’s pj’s ‘til noon. If I wake up at night and have a thought, I plod down the hall to my office and throw the jumbled thoughts into the computer…just enough to remember what was being asked of me. In the morning I do a rewrite.
Where do you get your ideas? I like to work with a strong setting, throw in my characters, and then a situation. Serial killers come and go, so there has to be something unique about this horrific person. When that’s established, I let my character go to work. I know them so well, that all given circumstance should be predictable, SO, I totally mess with them. Lots of fun. Ideas come from newspaper articles, but more often come from conversations with friends, and especially strangers. Standing in line at the market, or squeezing lettuce and conversing with an unnamed man, has afforded me ideas. My tiny notebook can get filled in one shopping spree to Wal-Mart.
If you have questions about me or my writing, drop me an email. I’ll reply when time allows. Thanks, Nancy
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