Nancy Roman is a debut author whose book, Just What I Always Wanted is garnering 5 star reviews on Amazon. I’d put it in the category of what some of my British friends call Hen-lit – like Chick-lit but for smarter (because they’ve been around longer) women. It’s the story of a 50-year-old woman who decides she wants more out of life than her corporate job, and the results of her decision to quit work. One of these is that she ends up taking care of a very tough teenage girl, who changes all her plans. The book was an easy and satisfying read because I loved the characters. And the story didn’t end as I expected, which made it more fun. It’s not easy to write and publish a novel, especially while holding down a day job, so I wanted ask Nancy some questions about how she did it.
GC: This is your debut novel. Could you tell us something about how you came to write it?
NR: Several years ago, I wrote a short story, Aggie’s Genes, about an unwed mother in the 1960s. The story was told from the point of view of the child the young woman gave to her brother and sister-in-law to raise. While I was working on that story, the idea for my novel Just What I Always Wanted kept intervening. I knew I had something there. I started the outline as soon as I finished Aggie’s Genes.
NR: I’m partial to the narrator, Cynthia Breault. At fifty, she is determined to change her quiet, uneventful life. She’s smart and unsentimental and sees the humor in even the most dire situation. She’s the type of person I would want for a friend. (And I would want Carlos, the strange little dog, too.)
GC: If I traveled to your part of the world would I recognize any of the places you mention?
NR: You’d recognize Watertown, Connecticut, where Cynthia’s shop, Maya Maria, is located. There is even a store very much like Maya Maria. Cynthia’s house is modeled after a little house in Bristol I wanted to buy when I first got married. It was falling down, but it charmed me. The falling-down part did not charm my husband. It has been miraculously restored for Cynthia’s use.
GC: I know you have a very successful blog. How long have you had it?
NR: I’ve been writing my blog, Not Quite Old, for three years. I started it as soon as I finished the first draft of Just What I Always Wanted. Writing a novel is such a solitary pursuit – I love the immediate feedback and chat of a blog. You write a little something and right away, everyone is chiming in. So different from a novel, where you write for years and no one even sees it. Everyone just thinks you’re a recluse.
GC: Most authors these days have to do much of their own marketing. How important do you think your blog is when you’re marketing your book?
NR: My blog has been a fantastic resource for marketing my book. Over the last three years, I have made such good friends with many fellow bloggers and readers, and they have been amazingly supportive of my novel. And I post new material on my blog about twice a week, so that’s twice a week I can reach new readers with the link to my book.
GC: And how else are you promoting it?
NR: As a financial executive and a writer, my marketing skills are negligible. But my husband is a salesman (truly born that way) – and he’s helping me with ideas and marketing tools. And my friends are hosting book-signings and readings. I even have one enthusiastic friend who has started a chain letter – challenging five friends to read my book and post a review (a nice one, I hope), and send the challenge on to five more friends.
GC: Where can people find you online?
NR: I now have an Author’s Page on Goodreads and also on Facebook – thanks to you, Gabi, for pointing me in that direction. If your readers have suggestions and feedback, or if they want to talk about the writing process, I’d love to hear from them.