Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Interview with N. A. (Nancy) Sharpe
N.A. Sharpe was born in Wilmington, Delaware and attended the University of Delaware studying Psychology and Elementary Education. She is a single mom and currently lives in central Florida with her teen-aged son and dogs, Scooter (a Yorkie), NaNu-NaNu (a Morkie) and Gryffindor (a Husky).
Throughout her high school and college years, she volunteered in the elementary school system, and, after receiving her degree, she taught autistic and schizophrenic children in a private school in Pennsylvania before moving on to an administrative career.
Thank you so much for being with us today, Nancy.
B: When did you decide you wanted to be a writer, or have you always wanted to write?
NA: I’ve always enjoyed writing. I remember writing “books” as a child – you know the kind – with the brightly colored construction paper covers… Creative writing classes were always my favorite, right through high school, but in college I became a bit more pragmatic, and followed a different path. Happily, I am now finding myself gravitating back to writing. I love totally immersing myself in a story.
B: You have a book out, The Destineers’ Journal of Fantasy Nations, that is a “field guide” for the YA fantasy novel series you’re working on. Tell us about your book and also what was your inspiration for writing this fantasy series?
NA: The Destineers’ Journal of Fantasy Nations is, indeed, a field guide to the world of fantasy. It is an encyclopedic-like handbook of many of the fantasy creatures that exist in the realm of the Netherscape. It is told from the view-point of 15-year old Kylie O’Connor, one of the protagonists of our forthcoming novel. Her entries are based on facts she has learned in class. (I probably should mention that her teacher is a renowned expert in the field…and a goblin that lives in the realm of the Netherscape.) Kylie also bases her entries on personal experiences and encounters that she and the other Destineers have had with these beings in their visits to the fantasy realm. Some of these visits are under the guidance of Wiliam Derrnz (headmaster and professor of the interactive history class), others happen when they are called to fulfill the prophecy and save the realm from annihilation.
Inspiration for the fantasy series? I have had the great privilege of working on this project with my son, Bobby, and we’re both huge fantasy [genre] fans. We started developing this story and its characters and it really took on a life of its own. It’s been a lot of fun!
B: Your first picture book, If Wishes Were Fishes, is forthcoming in 2010. Where did you get the idea for this story?
NA: There is a children’s book that I always enjoyed called Olaf Reads. It is the story of a very precocious child who states “I can read – they just can’t spell” as he mails his mother’s letter in a basket marked “litter”. It seems to me there are many such opportunities for misunderstandings for children in the world we live in. In If Wishes Were Fishes, JT Trumanowski is a lovable 6-year old boy that adores his grandparents and when he gets invited to spend the weekend with them, he tries very hard to “behave and do exactly what they say”. This sounds like a great plan, but it actually leads to a whole lot of funny misadventures and trouble. JT takes what his grandparents say very literally and learns that people don’t always say what they mean…clearly.
B: Do you find it quite different writing a picture book as opposed to a young adult novel?
NA: I think it is very different, yes. I try to see the story through the eyes of the age group I’m writing for. Young children tend to see and understand things very differently than the older groups. Young children tend to take things quite literally and it’s exciting when you see and hear that understanding actually click in when they “get” what you are trying to say – the English language is so complicated: when to follow which rules, then there are slang phrases and idioms that totally throw the rules out the window and words take on an entirely different meaning.
B: What is a typical writing day like for you? Are you a morning person, evening, or anytime works for you writer?
NA: I do most of my more creative writing at night and edits, marketing, updating the websites and blogs during the day.
B: Tell us about your forthcoming projects.
NA: The priority right now is completing The Destineers and the Legend of the Netherscape and [hopefully] getting it picked up by a publishing house. Bobby and I have three books plotted out so far for the Destineers filled with adventure, mystery, and wonderfully exotic settings. There are also two additional Journals we have talked about publishing – one filled with legends and the true stories behind them, the other about the adventures the Destineers have in their classes like Interactive History where they can travel via the incarnation chamber to any time in any of the Realms’ histories. And, as we learn in the first book, there are countless realms out there – you just have to know how to find them.
B: Now for some fun stuff: If you could live in any other time period, when would you choose and why?
NA: (**Huge grin**) The days of Camelot and King Arthur and his knights of the round table. I love the time period and the fictional realm embodies that era.
B: What kind of music do you listen to? Your favorite movies? TV shows? Authors?
NA: I have pretty eclectic tastes in music – classic rock and oldies at the foundation, layered with contemporary. I enjoy classical music sometimes, especially for writing certain scenes. Movies: I am a fantasy buff – from the Wizard of Oz to Harry Potter, Timeline, Dragonheart, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Neverending Story. I also like just about anything from Hitchcock, Spielberg, or Ron Howard. Authors – wow, this is a long list but some of my favorites are: JK Rowling, Stephen King, Michael Crichton, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Jim Butcher, Dean Koontz, Sue Grafton, Christopher Paolini, TA Barron, classics like Charles Dickens…that list really goes on and on.
B: Where can your fans learn more about you? Web site? Blogs?
NA: My personal website is http://NASharpe.com For the Destineers we have the site http://Destineers.com and a forum where you can interact with the characters, or just hang out and have fun (there are book blurbs about new books coming out, book reviews, a virtual game room…all kinds of things) at http://Cybrarie.com I’m also on MySpace, Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter and I’ve recently started a new blog called Ask the Cybrarian: Book Reviews
B: Do you have any words of advice for aspiring writers?
NA: Enjoy what you are writing. When you are enjoying the story, you bring your reader with you to experience and enjoy the story too. I’ve had several young people ask me if I think they are too young to write. The answer is absolutely not – whatever your passion, sports, music, acting, writing…I think you should follow that passion wherever it leads you.
Thank you, Nancy, for giving us a glimpse into your very busy life.
Thank you, Beverly! I really appreciate the opportunity to do this!