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Nancy Bush - Hooked on Writing
e-interviewed by Martina Bexte (April, 2009)

Nancy Bush is widely recognised for her Jane Kelly mystery series as well as numerous romances, several YA series and five Nancy Drew mysteries. She's even worked as a breakdown writer for daytime television's All My Children, developing storylines into daily scripts.

UnseenMore recently, she's flexed her writing muscles by tackling the grittier story lines of romantic suspense. February 2009 saw the release of Wicked Game, a romantic thriller she co-authored with her sister, Lisa Jackson, who's also managed a thriving writing career. Along with another friend, the two had initially teamed up to create their first project back in 1975. Dare to Love, a historical romance, was accepted by Silhouette books in 1982. From then on, Nancy says, she was "hooked on writing".

Over the years, Nancy's written more than thirty romances, mostly for the Silhouette Special Edition imprint. She's excited about the April release of her first solo romantic suspense, Unseen, the story of a young woman who wakes up in a hospital, bruised, bloody and with little memory of having smashed her car or run down an alleged pedophile. Is Gemma LaPorte an avenger bent on keeping children safe, even if it involves a little "necessary" homicide? Or is there something else going on?

Q: How did you come up with the plot for Unseen?

A: I had this idea percolating for years. One of those, "I'd really like to see this in a story," plot devices. When I had the chance to write my first thriller, I put it into play and built a story around it. So much fun! I'm deep into my next thriller now and it's wrapped around another one of those kind of plot devices. I'm always looking for that Aha! moment. The payoff to the reader.

Q: How was writing this book different from writing your Jane Kelly series or a young adult novel?

A: The Jane Kelly mystery series is written in the first person, from Jane's point of view. There's never a scene without Jane and since she's the narrator, the reader can never see a scene where something's happening away from her. There's also a lot of humor in the series which actually mostly comes from Jane herself - her take on what's happening. Unseen is written in third person and the reader gets to see many points of view. Because of the way the story's designed the characters are in more of a pressure-cooker situation and they don't have the luxury of seeing the humor around them like Jane does. When I'm writing young adult novels I have to keep in mind that the characters don't have the experiences that someone my age, or even Jane's age, does, and there's naturally less cynicism and irony to their thinking.

Q: Of all the genres you've written in, which do you find most challenging?

A: Over the years I've actually found straight romance the hardest to write because I want mystery and danger and gunplay and a ticking clock, counting down the seconds in my stories. I love that grab-you-by-the-throat pacing in thrillers, and/or that what-the-hell's-really-going-on-here of mysteries.

Q: You and your sister, Lisa Jackson, co-authored the February release, Wicked Game. What's it like working with your sister?

A: Fabulous. And rip-your-hair-out-frustrating. We really worked hard on Wicked Game and I think it shows. Yes, there were times when we argued the smallest, smallest detail, but there were also times when we heard the other's ideas and thought, "Wow, that's great!". We're actually writing another one together, a story related to Wicked Game. We're both looking forward to it.

Q: Who came up with the concept of Wicked Game?

A: We actually came up with The Colony first, the secretive, cultish people who are introduced in Wicked Game. We wrote a whole backstory on them, a history of where they came from. Once we had them in place, we began plotting the main story of Wicked Game. We spent a weekend at a writing workshop and when we weren't speaking, we were in our hotel room hashing out the plot.

Q: Who is the toughest taskmaster, you or Lisa?

A: Hmmm ... I guess I'd have to say myself. Lisa can really grab hold of a story and start running with it, but I'm the nag in the background saying, "We gotta get this done. We're running into a deadline. Come on, come on. Let's go." As Lisa likes to say, "Nancy balances her checkbook to the penny. What does that tell you?" She has a point!

Q: Do you two plan on collaborating again?

A: Yes, yes! We're almost done with the synopsis for Wicked Lies.

Q: What advice would you give writers working toward publication during these tough economic times?

A: Don't quit your day job if you've got one. When Lisa started selling it was in the early 80's. Money was really tight. She was babysitting to make ends meet. During the day she would take care of about 7 or 8 babies/toddlers at any given time. Then at night she would write for a couple of hours, or early in the morning. She would grab an hour here or there, whenever she could. It took her years to completely give up the babysitting because she thought the writing might disappear. She was smart and cautious, but she never quit writing. I was right there with her, catching as much time as I could to write while I kept another job.

Q: What direction would your career have taken if you weren't hooked on writing?

A: I have a degree in nutrition, but I'm actually more business-oriented, something I never really knew about myself when I was younger. In my late twenties I was taking accounting classes and thinking of going back to school full-time when I read an article in TIME Magazine about how young mothers were making money writing romance novels. I told my sister about it and that's what set us on this path.

Q: Is there any part of your life or career that you'd like to go back and "re-write"?

A: Though I've been married thirty-three years, there are a few ex-boyfriends I still wouldn't mind excising from my past! Hah! Career-wise, it's been an up-and-down ride but it's always been interesting, unexpected, a lot of work and a lot of fun. Wouldn't change a thing there.
Find out more about Nancy Bush, her mystery, YA and romance series, and her chilling romantic suspense novels, and read excerpts at
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