Gina McKnight, Author, Freelance Writer, Equestrian, Blogger, and Poet! Welcome to my international blog about horses, writers, authors, books, cowboys, equestrians, photographers, artists, poets, poems, and more horses.
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Nancy sent me a pre-release copy of Shadow of Doubt and I was unable to put it down! Shadow of Doubt is a mystery about a
talk radio station news reporter investigating a murder of a top Hollywood
agent. The more Carol Childs uncovers of the story the more conflicted she finds herself.
Could her best friend, the agent’s niece, and Carol’s source for so much
insider industry news, be guilty of murder, or multiple murders? It’s a suspenseful read, a thriller with lots
of twists and turns. I felt connected to Nancy’s characters, embracing every
suspenseful moment. Shadow of Doubt
is recommended reading!
Nancy and Mr. Chips
In addition, Nancy is the founder and former publisher of The Equestrian News, southern California's premier horse newspaper. Nancy has a long history with horses! Going back to her youth, Nancy was involved with horses as a trail rider in Arizona where she grew up, and later expanded her interest into all disciplines. She currently rides English and enjoys dressage. Her first novel, The Centaur's Promise, was inspired by Mr. Chips, a retired race horse she cross trained for dressage.
Gina: Nancy! Hi! How are you?
Nancy: Gina! It’s 3 o’clock! Hi! How are you? I’m on a
deadline, so I’ll take a break right now! Let’s do this; I am on a deadline for
a draft of Book 2 that is due to my editor by the end of the week.
Gina: Oh! I understand! Tell me about your history in radio…
Nancy: Okay. I was in radio for about 20 – 25 years, I
started back in college. Professionally, in Los Angeles, 20 years; before that
I graduated at Arizona State and I was one of the first women on the air on the
radio as well as on television. Back then they didn’t have very many female
voices. Female voices were considered too light for hard news. But, anyway, I
spent 20 years here in LA. I worked basically on the AM radio side, with news,
talk radio, sports radio, that kind of thing.
Gina: Tell me about your new book. Are your characters based
upon your own life experience?
Nancy: My new book is a sequel to When in Doubt, Don’t. It is called Shadow of Doubt and will be released December 2, 2014. My characters are all fictitious. They
are probably copulations of people I have known over my history, particularly
those who worked at the radio station. I think it’s always kind of fun to take
people you know and mix them up with fantasy. You have to make them more than
real to make somebody fall in love with them on the page. They are fantastical
fantasies. The situations are... if you read the news there are actually similar
things. Like I said, I used to work in a newsroom, so times I would run into
some interesting stories, but always thought it would be more interesting if
this, this, and this happened. I remember I had an editor once that said,
‘Don’t you dare say that Nancy, somebody will believe it…blah, blah, blah.’ So,
I was really given into fantasy and fiction very early. Sticking between the
lines was something I preferred not to do, but I made a career of it. Later,
when I retired, I took a look at some of those stories and thought it would be
kind of interesting to write. As far as premise, like TV shows; Law and Order,
no, they’re not ripped from the headlines, but they are inspired by them.
Gina: Who is your favorite character in Shadow of Doubt?
Nancy: Well, obviously, I relate to Carol because Carol is
my alter-ego. She is a little ballsier than I would be, well, a lot ballsier
than I would be. That was kind of the position I had, so I relate to her best,
but, I understand how she, being a single mom, trying so hard to balance a
career and still be a good mom. She has two children. One is in college. The
older one you don’t hear from yet, you’ll hear more from her in the next book.
Her next door neighbor who she is taken in by. She wants to be a good friend of
hers. She kind of taken in by her. Carol’s not really sure if she’s being
played (spoiler alert). She has a young whipper-snapper of a boss who thinks he
would rather not hire her. He would rather have somebody younger who he could
mold, not somebody older who’s his mother’s age.
Gina: Intriguing. What’s the name of the sequel?
Nancy: Beyond a Doubt.
Gina: When will it be released?
Nancy: My publisher wants it out July 2015.
Gina: Let’s talk about your writing style. How do you
maintain brainstorming, thoughts and ideas?
Nancy: Oh, something catches you as a writer. You may be
doing something and you’ll think… you may be going to the store, a couple
passes you, and there is something about them that triggers a story. Watching
TV, or fixing dinner; usually it’s something mindless that tickles your fancy.
Maybe I’ll come home and write a scene and play with it for a while. If the
scene goes anywhere then I might think about where it will end. Then I might
get a beginning, middle, and an end. Then I have to decide if it’s going to be
a short story or a book. Generally, if it’s going to be a book, there’s going
to be a lot of support material. Little tangents that happen to support the
theme and you kind of build it off of that. I build from scenes, sometimes move
them around and add things.
Gina: Who is your editor?
Nancy: I have an editor assigned by my publisher at Henry
Publishing. I have been working with Erin, an editor assigned by my publisher. I
read it, and I have a couple of readers who I work with, a friend who has been
a longtime fan and friend of mine. She will read my first draft and what she
likes and doesn’t like. But, I generally try to wrap it up as I go. You get a
pretty good feeling of who these people are, and hopefully I have made you like
Gina: What are you currently reading?
Nancy: I read all the time. My favorite mystery writer is
Michael Connelly, Grisham; the classic mystery writers. I just read Sandra
Brown. I like Dean Koonst. I like Stephen King. For my own writing, I tend to
veer from the traditional mystery just a little into suspense and disbelief, maybe
dabble into the unknown without being science fiction at all. I ran into that
when I was working at the radio station. People who were legitimate. That was
there job. They were a physic. It doesn’t matter if you believed what they did,
they went out and they had their career doing just that, giving their opinion
about the world to whoever would pay them. They were people who dabbled into
the healing arts as well. Carol, the main character in Shadow of Doubt, is suspicious of the physic in my book, she knew it
might be magic or whatever, but it could happen.
Gina: Do you have advice for novice writers?
Nancy: Write. Just write! It sounds trite, but there are no
shortcuts. I caught myself once saying that I wanted to be a writer and I wanted
to get an agent. I knew I wanted to do it. The stuff I had was a lot of
unfinished things. I thought, you know, until I have something, I can’t
complain, I have to do it. I have to sit down and do it. I have to treat it
like a job. If you were hired by somebody you would either be working X hours
and you need to do that. When I teach writing classes I tell students not to
second guess their talent. Just know that you have it. It’s like the violinist
that doesn’t practice. You got to go out and practice. The more you practice
the better you get. Some people are going to be NBA stars, that’s not very
many. Just do it. There’s no doubting that you feel that you want to do it and
if you feel that then you probably have the skill, but you must work it.
Writers that get good just keep working. You don’t get good at anything without
Gina: Did you meet interesting people when working at the
Nancy: Not really. In radio, people pass through your station.
In life, after 20 years, people come and people go, particularly at news. It’s
not like you are talking to stars, like an entertainment report, which would be
fun, but most people are in the news for that fifteen minutes of fame,
sometimes its fifteen minutes of very painful fame. It’s a little different
than if you are talking about Entertainment Tonight or the red carpet or
something. I don’t have anything to do with that end of the business, so I
don’t have that under my belt. I can remember, unfortunately, a young kid came
to the newsroom one day and he had just lost his entire family on the freeway.
Things like that. He was fifteen years old. He came on the air to describe the
accident. It was horrendous. We were all so moved in the newsroom, we took a
donation. He went on with his life, but that’s the way the newsroom is. That’s
one of the underlying currents in my book, just about the time when you get
onto a hot news story the next thing comes along and there’s not the news power
to keep the manpower on it.
Gina: When is your next book signing?
Nancy: My book launches on December 2, I am hoping to do a
signing at the Barnes & Noble at Studio City. You can preorder the book on
Amazon. I will post the information on my website, so stay tuned.