TAEM- The Arts and Entertainment Magazine is always on the lookout for new authors and different genres of writing to explore to keep alive the interest of our readership. We are happy, therefore, to introduce author Nancy Lee Parish to all our readers. Nancy, as you had stated many things happen for a reason, and events in your life have given you cause to turn to writing. Tell us about these and how they affected your career.
NLP- Thank you very much for having me. I am both honored and humbled.
My writing career started out a bit different than most. It began in a tent. Due to some highly unusual, almost bizarre, circumstances, including the death of my children’s father, we found ourselves homeless for several months, hundreds of miles away from any family or friends. We had moved to an area that had supports for my autistic daughter, and while we were able to set that up for her, it proved to be an insurmountable task to find employment and living arrangements in an area with a few small towns where we were not known. My husband, my son and I ended up living in campgrounds to stay close to my daughter.
I have written stories and poetry most of my life, for pleasure mostly, but had never considered writing a full length novel, let alone publishing one. It was during this time that I decided to start writing.
I joke about having to run an extension cord up to the washrooms to power my laptop while fighting off mosquitoes. That is true. But most of the time, we lived in free campsites that didn’t have power, or running water for that matter, or any sort of shelter from the horrendous wind and thunder storms other than our truck.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. We did manage to find a way to obtain a small generator to power the laptop, plus we really bonded as a family during that time. We had to. We only had each other. Well, each other and the geese. There were three families of geese living near us, and one of these families adopted us. They started showing up for breakfast every morning, eating out of our hands, and if any of the other families of geese tried to come over, they would be chased off by our adoptive geese. That’s not something one experiences everyday and I have fond memories of them.
My husband and my son helped a lot with developing the story behind my first novel. We had wonderful conversations at night around the campfire about the characters and what they were like, and what direction the story would take. Somehow, it gave us hope, though I still miss the campfires and the stars on clear nights.
As winter drew nearer, with its 40 below temperatures, we had to make a decision. Tenting was just not going to cut it and there were no opportunities at all for us there. So, we packed up what we had, which all fit into the back of a pick-up truck, and picked up my autistic daughter from her support home. She didn’t want to be left behind, nor did we want to leave her, so we had a tearful goodbye with the wonderful people who helped her, and drove 3000 miles to where we are now.
I really have no idea how we made it here. Things have changed for us greatly – and I have a new found gratitude for simple things, like walls. Sometimes I honestly think we were only fuelled by the hope and the possibility of what if.
That and seeing those geese make the best of what they had.
TAEM- Tell us about the genre your first works were written in and how the current circumstances of your life at the time inspire you to write in it.
NLP- Much of my earlier work was written in an effort to understand the world around me. I wrote a lot of poetry about deep emotions, pain and hope. I’m not sure any of it fell into a particular genre.
When I was a bit older, I wrote a short story about my triplet daughters that was selected for an anthology, and another story about the death of my father that I won first place for.
My writing now is much more uplifting and hopeful, and portrays a definite sense of adventure and drama. It is also humorous at times. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine.
TAEM- Your first book is titled Amulet and it is the first book in the DragonBlade series. Tell us about the theme behind it and the genre it is written in.
NLP- Amulet falls into the Epic Fantasy genre. Epic, because it is a substantial read, and Fantasy, because there are dragons and wizards in it. But it is not a typical epic fantasy story. It’s more of an adventure with fantasy elements. It’s about hope and belief when there doesn’t seem to be any, and about the small things that can make a huge difference. Describing it in those terms strikes me as being very symbolic and parallel to our own real-life experience at the time that I began writing the story.
There are many twists and turns in Amulet, making for a story that even people who don’t usually read fantasy enjoy. It appears to attract a wide and diverse audience. I know ten year olds who have read it, and those upwards of seventy, male and female.
TAEM- Tell us something about the story and the main protagonists in it.
NLP- I really wanted to write a story that was a bit different from most fantasy stories. One where dragons have wisdom and are not just something to be killed by the young hero. A story in a world not so different from our own, yet one where an element of magic could exist. I also wanted to have a world where good and evil were not so black and white. I believe Amulet achieves this.
The story mainly follows Tristan, an eighteen year old boy thrown into circumstances he does not understand. There are many other characters who come into the story and it quickly becomes an ensemble cast who all play a part in the things that unfold.
Some of the more popular characters include Thoral, who is an axe wielding farmer. He is huge, lovable, ready to defend those he cares about, and has a soft spot for baby dragons. Thoral is a combination of simplistic, light-hearted, common sense, and wisdom.
Bub is another popular character in Amulet. Bub is a long, short-legged dog who speaks. While Bub is very clever and cheeky, he is also the one who reminds us of our own short-comings, and that it really is okay to feel afraid sometimes.
There are also strong female characters as well as one character who, despite a disability of sorts, focuses on his strengths.
Amulet is about genuine people and their struggles, set in a world with fantasy elements, that touches a lot of emotions. Ultimately, it is a story that says, “Yes, I can.”
NLP- While I have a team behind me, I actually publish my own work. I enjoy being involved with the process, and I love making my own covers and book trailers as well. Self-publishing has come a long way recently, thanks to the internet, and I find it very rewarding.
Amulet is available through Amazon in print and ebook.
It is also available through Amazon’s UK site http://www.amazon.co.uk/Amulet-DragonBlade-ebook/dp/B0066HCK9K as well as several other countries.
Updates as to when my other books will be released will be posted on my website at http://nancyleeparish.weebly.com as well as on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/NancyLeeParish
TAEM- We understand that you are completing a second book in this series titled Tablet of the Sun. How is this connected to your first novel and tell us something about the main characters and their links to the original story.
NLP- While Amulet wraps up many of the conflicts in that story, there is a hint of another possible adventure in regards to a tablet. Thus, Tablet of the Sun. Many of the characters from Amulet will be drawn into this new story that is a natural continuation, yet also is a story unto itself and very different from Amulet. And for the fans that Thoral seems to be gathering, he will be one of the prominent characters in Tablet of the Sun. I think the theme in this book can be summed up by it’s tagline – Remember who you are.
TAEM- Will there be a continuation for this series, and where will it lead the story?
NLP- There will be a Book Three, though I can’t really say where it will lead without giving away some of the story of the first two books. At this point, I don’t know if it will continue beyond a third book, but you never know.
TAEM- You are also working on a second, and unique, series of novels based on psychological suspense stories. Please tell us about these and the first novel in them, titled MindFlix.
NLP- The first story in the MindFlix series is called Come To Appelton. That’s not a typo – I needed a name for a town that actually didn’t exist anywhere. Appelton is a very small town that Adam, the main character, finds himself in. A town he cannot seem to leave no matter what he does. Things begin to change in Appelton and Adam wonders if he’s living in someone’s nightmare, only to realize that it might just be his own. One that he doesn’t want to look at.
I think that my fascination with The Twilight Zone as a kid highly influence the style of these stories that play with the mind.
NLP- I don’t really look at it as a change in style. To me, it’s more like an addition. My style of writing is actually very similar in both genres – simple language that tells a story.
I have so many stories roaming around my head, that having another series made sense to me. Not all of the stories bouncing around my brain fit neatly into fantasy, and so MindFlix series was born. I am a bit of a multi-tasker, so having more than one project on the go suits me.
I am not sure that my interest will wander very far from these two series. I thoroughly enjoy writing the MindFlix stories, and the variety it provides, and I absolutely love writing the DragonBlade Series.
But as Thoral says, Sometimes things happen for a reason, and it ain’t always apparent what that reason is while it’s happenin’, so at this point, I’m certainly not ruling out more adventures in the future.
TAEM- Nancy, you have proved to be resilient with your life and quite versatile with your writing. I want to thank you for taking time give The Arts and Entertainment Magazine this chance to have this interview with you, and I am sure that our readers will be looking forward to seeing your work.