Interview: July 2, 2010
Bookreporter.com’s Stephen Hubbard recently spoke to Nancy Bush, author of numerous mysteries and romantic suspense thrillers, including the newly released BLIND SPOT. In this interview, Bush talks about the real-life crimes that inspired the book’s premise and gives readers insight into how she plots her novels. She also discusses her fascination with cults, contrasts her “wimpy” personality with that of her heroic protagonist, and shares details about her next co-writing project with her sister, Lisa Jackson.
Bookreporter.com: Not too long ago, there was quite a string of incidents involving pregnant women being targeted and their babies being taken. Did that spate of newsworthy events push you toward BLIND SPOT?
Nancy Bush:Absolutely. I kept seeing these stories on the news and thinking about both the victims and the desperate, obsessed baby stealers who are so involved in their own needs that they discount the real mother’s life!
BRC: Such a crime seems particularly horrific. Was this subject difficult for you to write about?
NB:Definitely. Whenever I thought about the real mother’s life-and-death struggle ---- not just for herself, but for her child --- it gave me the shivers. I tried to get into the head of the would-be baby stealer…not a comfortable place to be.
BRC: In BLIND SPOT, readers are introduced to the creepy cult known as The Colony. Do you have a particular fascination with cults, and was The Colony patterned after any particular cult you researched?
NB: The Colony was patterned after many different cults but is different from most in that it is strictly composed of women. My sister, Lisa Jackson, and I initially introduced this secretive group in WICKED GAME, our first jointly-written novel. I’ve had story links to The Colony in both BLIND SPOT and my solo thriller, UNSEEN, and yes, I admit, both Lisa and I are fascinated by cults!
BRC: Dr. Claire Norris, your main character in BLIND SPOT, is a psychologist/counselor at Halo Valley Security Hospital. Did you do much research into psychology or get information from psychologists about how she would approach the issues raised in the book?
NB: I both researched psychologists and talked with several and then added some of my own feelings about how Claire would personally react to certain situations. We learn from her history that, while being held at knifepoint by a patient, she witnessed a murder, so she’s got some serious psychological baggage of her own.
BRC: Claire and ex-homicide detective Langdon Stone get thrust together and have to work as a team to solve this mystery. Was it always your intention to have Langdon fall for Claire, his dreaded enemy, or was that just something that evolved in the writing process?
NB:It was always my intention to put them together. I wanted Lang to be the kind of hero who, in the end, had to practically get down on one knee and admit he was wrong, wrong, wrong! As BLIND SPOT developed the story changed a bit, and though Lang still had to come to grips with his preconceived ideas about Claire, she also had some serious work to do to meet him halfway as well.
BRC: In keeping with the previous question, as a general rule, do you have your books fairly well planned out when you sit down, or do you know a few key events and simply see where the rest of the story takes you?
NB: I always have an ending worked out. My books are fairly well planned out, but geez Louise, sometimes I start veering from my outline in a way that makes me want to rip my hair out! I’ve had to rewrite portions of a book just to stay on course and meet the ending.
BRC: You mention in your author's note that you needed to shrink the state of Oregon in order to keep the characters from doing nothing but driving. It made me chuckle, not knowing much about the driving climate of Oregon, but I wondered if you get any criticisms from Oregonians about the implausibility of things in the books that prompted your comment?
NB: Actually, it was just that every time I wrote a scene where someone was driving --- mainly Lang, as he lived the furthest away from the action --- I would calculate in my head just how long it would take someone to drive that distance. In BLIND SPOT there’s a lot of rain. A lot of rain! And I just don’t think he would be so able to get where he was going in the right amount of time given those weather conditions.
BRC: Claire is quite determined throughout BLIND SPOT to get to the bottom of things and doggedly pursues answers. She's a tough cookie. Are you as tough as Claire, or do you live vicariously through her?
NB: I’m a wimp compared to Claire. I like to think of myself as strong, brave and stalwart, but yeah…I might be the first rat off the sinking ship. Claire’s whom I aspire to be.
BRC: You've had some success in teaming up with your sister, Lisa Jackson. Do you find yourself enjoying the co-writing more, or the individual work you do?
NB: Hmmm….the two processes are different enough that I don’t think I could say. When I’m writing my own books, nobody’s the boss but me. If it’s good, it’s all mine. If it’s bad, well, you get the picture. When I’m writing with Lisa we share credit, both positive and negative, so there’s a bit of a buffer. There’s also a lot of give and take during the writing process, and though we toss around ideas on our solo thrillers, when we’re working on a project together, we really structure the plot down to a gnat’s eyelash. I definitely think it’s to the benefit of the story. This is not to say we don’t argue about it. We can work a point to death! And yes, we’ve had to head for the wine bar a time or two to get our heads straight.
BRC: What's the biggest challenge in switching from co-writing to individual writing?
NB: Relinquishing control. Once the plot’s set, one of us sits down to start putting the skeleton of the story in place. Then the other one takes over and may change things. Then the other one comes back in. It’s tough to see whole pieces removed of something you loved, but we’ve seen that it always makes the story better, so we give in. Sometimes more wine is called for…
BRC: BLIND SPOT is just out, but do you already have something in the pipeline for folks to keep an eye out for?
NB: Speaking of writing together, I’m currently hard at work on the sequel to WICKED GAME, WICKED LIES, which will be out next summer. I’m almost at the point where I’m ready to hand the manuscript over to Lisa and then begin my third solo thriller, HUSH, which is slated for July 2011.
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