Pages

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Interview With Author Pamela Nowak




Interview with Award-Winning Author Pamela Nowak

by Jacqueline Seewald

I’m very pleased to welcome Pamela Nowak here today. Pam was recently named Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers writer of the year.

Pam’s awards for her first Five Star/Gale novel CHANCES are as follows:

Winner of 2009 HOLT Medallion for Best First BookRecipient of 2009 WILLA Finalist Award for Historical Fiction

Named as One of Booklist's Top Ten Romance Books of 2008

CHANCES received a rare starred review from BOOKLIST which is quite an honor.
Pam’s second novel, CHOICES, has also won critical praise and received a starred review from BOOKLIST. Both novels are currently available in hardcover, large print and Kindle editions.

Hi, Pam, thanks so much for joining us today at the Author Expressions blog.

Question: First, congratulations on your excellent Booklist reviews and all the honors you have been awarded. Could you tell us a little bit about Choices which received a 2010 HOLT Award of Merit for Historical Romance. I believe it’s a Western romance. Where is it set? Who are the main characters?

Answer: Thanks, Jacquie. Chances is a western romance, but it’s not your typical cowboy/ranch story. It’s set in Denver in 1876 and involves a spunky female telegraph operator and a straight-laced undertaker who unexpectedly find themselves on the same side of local politics. As they work together to battle violence and charges of prostitution, they discover passion and a love worth chancing everything on. I like to think of it as an “American Historical”.

Question: Are Chances and Choices part of a romantic series or do each of the novels stand alone? Are there many similarities between the two novels in plot, characters and settings? How are they different?

Answer: The novels stand alone but have related characters in that the heroines attended boarding school together. Both take place in 1876/77 and will be joined by a third related-character book, hopefully in 2012. Choices features a rebellious officer’s daughter who falls in love with an enlisted man and rejects the suitor favored by her hostile mother.

While the books are set in different places and have different characters, both settings represent places that existed as portrayed and are rich in historical detail. Chances includes a number of secondary characters based on real people. Choices uses real historical events. Characters in each deal with issues that we often don’t associate with the 19th century: professional jealousy, gender bias, substance abuse, and domestic violence.

Question: What inspired these novels? How did they come about?

Answer: Choices was actually written first and was inspired by the Fort Randall Archaeological Project. My late husband, an archaeologist, served as project manager for the dig and I went with him to the National Archives during the research phase. While there, I became intrigued by daily life at the fort and the relationships among officers’ families, enlisted men, and laundresses.

Chances grew out of a small biography of a female telegrapher that I found in a used-book store. I was smitten with the idea of a strong heroine. It seemed natural that a telegrapher might favor suffrage and that a conservative undertaker would be a perfect foil. Since I love Denver and its history, it was a perfect match, especially since Colorado held a suffrage referendum in early 1877.

Question: Have you written other things? Can you tell us about some of your other work? What are you currently working on?

Answer: I have completed a manuscript called Changes, the third in my related-character series. It centers on a part-Sioux librarian in Omaha in 1879 who is passing as white. When she is asked to help with research for the “Trial of Standing Bear”, she falls in love with the opposing attorney. She faces the realities of discrimination and he is forced to accept that true justice is not always defined by law.

I’ve also started a new series, set around the turn of the 20th century. The first book takes place in 1905 Denver at one of the city’s early amusement parks, Elitch’s Gardens.

Question: What made you start writing?

Answer: I think I’ve always written. I was crafting stories in elementary school and started writing Judy Blume-influenced young-adult novels in high school (which I never finished) but was always drawn to history. In 1983, while working at the Wyoming State Pen, an inmate told me he had signed with an agent to get a western published. I thought, “I can do that,” and sat down to write a story of my own. Then, I spent years learning to master the craft of writing.

Question: As a successful author, what advice would you offer to those who
have novels they would like to submit for consideration?

Answer: Take the time to learn. How-to books are a great starting place but one must write in order to learn the craft of writing. Join a writers’ organization and a critique group so you can learn the craft by having others read your work and teach you “hands on.” Go to conferences and workshops. Know that it often takes years to learn to write and that becoming published almost never ever happens instantly.

Question: Excellent advice. Finally, could you tell us where to order your novels?

Answer: Both books can be ordered from local bookstores or purchased on-line at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Kindle versions are also available. Or, visit my website at http://www.pamelanowak.com/ and follow the links.

Pam, thanks so much for being our guest today. Those of you who have comments, please know that they are very welcome here. So feel free to join the conversation!

13 comments:

Drue Allen said...

Hi, Pam. Hi, Jacque. Great interview! I'm fascinated with the real-life connection to your novels and also the fact that they are connected without being a series. I love this trend, as a reader can pick either up without worrying about reading them out of order, but there's some consistency between the two "worlds." Can't wait to read them!

Pauline B Jones said...

Intriguing ideas. Denver has such a rich, frontier history and I've had that same sense when I've visited the remains of the old forts. Congrats on the awards and the releases. :-)

jrlindermuth said...

Interesting interview. I like the concept of related characters in a series exploring different historic themes.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Pam is away from her computer right now doing field research for her next book, but she intends to join us later.

Meantime, let me mention that her hero undertaker is a unique concept for a romance novel, but she seems to have pulled it off!

Pamela Nowak said...

Hi all! Just thought I'd quickly get on before leaving for my research trip. I'm glad to hear there is so much interest in series books. I love reading them myself.

Hope I can make the next series just as interesting. I'm planning more unique characters and some wonderful settings!

I'm off to do research and will stop back later in the day to chat!

Pamela Nowak said...

I'm back! Had a lovely day and got some good stuff for my work in progress!!

Alice Duncan said...

Great interview, Pamela!

Rebbie Macintyre said...

Thanks, Pamela, for sharing your writing process and background. I love how you describe your characters and the setting is one of my favorites! I'm looking forward to reading your books. Thanks for the interview, Jacqueline.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Jacqueline: Thanks for asking Pam to blog here at AE. I found the bit about an inmate being her inspiration to begin writing a bit unusual--and unique, for sure! Seriously, Choices sounds like something I have to read. If our library doesn't have it, she'll order it for me. Thanks for sharing!

Pamela Nowak said...

I've enjoyed sharing with all of you, too! Life is nothing if not unusual, to be sure. Joyce--I hope you enjoy Choices! Jacqui--Thanks for having me!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

It's been a pleasure having you as a guest, Pam. I just want to add that a lot of libraries have ordered your novels all over the world. And if they haven't already done so, they should!

Christy Tillery French said...

Jacqueline and Pamela, I really enjoyed this interview. Pamela, your protagonist sounds intriguing and your books are definitely going on my TBR list.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thanks for the comment, Christy!