Friday, May 16, 2014

Author Interview with Nancy J. Cohen by Jacqueline Seewald

Last week’s giveaway of a print copy of THE BAD WIFE has been completed, the winner notified, and the book mailed. Expect more giveaways in the future.

Today at Author Expressions I have the pleasure of interviewing mystery and romance writer Nancy J. Cohen who is as prolific as she is successful.

Nancy J. Cohen writes the humorous Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairdresser Marla Shore, who solves crimes with wit and style under the sultry Florida sun. Several of these titles have made the IMBA bestseller list. Nancy is also the author of Writing the Cozy Mystery, a valuable instructional guide for writers on how to write a winning whodunit. Her imaginative romances have proven popular with fans as well. Her titles in this genre have won the HOLT Medallion and Best Book in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys fine dining, cruising, reading, and outlet shopping.

Question: What is the title and genre of your novel?  Why did you select them?

Hanging By A Hair is a traditional mystery. I like reading humorous mysteries and so that’s what I like to write. All of the titles in my Bad Hair Day series relate to the hair salon business but they also hint at the story. My amateur sleuth is a hairstylist and salon owner in sunny South Florida. In this case, her next-door neighbor—the homeowners’ association president—is found dead after Marla’s husband argues with him at their first HOA meeting. If she wants to make her neighborhood safe again, she’d better find the killer before he chooses another victim. Chances are it might be her as she gets closer to the truth.

Question:   What inspired this novel series? How did it come about?

After writing several romance novels, I decided to write a straight mystery. One day while getting a perm, I glanced at the other women waiting for their timers to go off and thought, “We need something gripping to read to kill time. Let’s kill off one of these ladies.” Thus my series was born. A hair salon is a great setting for a mystery series. People confide in their hairdresser. You overhear gossip. Customers come and go all day. Plus a hairstylist doesn’t have to be confined to a salon. She can do a wedding party, for example, or models for a fashion show. It’s a lot of fun to research. I’ve just turned in #12 in the series, Peril by Ponytail. As long as fans keep wanting these stories, I’ll keep writing them.

Question:  Could you tell us a little bit about the heroine and/or hero of your novel?
My hairdresser sleuth, Marla Vail, is a caring person who can’t help getting involved when someone she cares about is endangered. Although Marla starts out single, divorced, and not wanting children due to a past tragedy, she ends up falling for the police detective investigating the case when her client dies in the shampoo chair in book #1, Permed to Death. Detective Dalton Vail comes with a twelve-year-old daughter and lingering grief for his deceased wife. His relationship with Marla is tumultuous until they both let go of the past and realize they are stronger together. I love how this series has developed. I don’t believe in static characters. My people’s relationships have grown and changed like in real life.

Question:   Can you tell us about some of your other published novels or work?

Hanging By A Hair is my 20th published novel. I’ve also written Writing the Cozy Mystery, an instructional guide for writers on how to write a winning whodunit. This short book has gotten great reviews. It has tips that work whether you’re a beginning writer or a seasoned author.

And I still write romance. My Drift Lords Series are paranormal romantic adventures involving ancient prophecy, Norse mythology, hunky heroes, and women with special powers. These stories take place in modern day but with elements of myth and magic. Warrior Lord, #3 in this series, will be my next release from Wild Rose Press. They’re fun and wild stories to write. Manic Readers says, “Cohen’s futuristic, paranormal romance series blends aspects of science fiction with magic and mythology then tops it off with steamy sexy scenes that are so hot you will need a fan and a mint julep drink to cool off.” It’s refreshing for me to switch genres and write something different.

Question:   What are you working on now?

I’ve turned in Peril by Ponytail, #12 in the Bad Hair Day series. I’ll be working on getting my earlier mystery titles into audio now that I have those rights back.

Question:   What made you start writing?

I’ve always wanted to write. In my early days, I wrote poetry and short stories. Then I bought a book called Structuring Your Novel and learned how to write a book-length work of fiction. It took years of study, rejections, revision, and persistence until I sold my seventh novel. I am compelled to write. I can’t stop even when I try. It’s part of my nature.

Question:   What advice would you offer to those who are currently writing novels?

Never give up, never surrender. Practice the 3 P’s: Persistence, Professionalism, and Practice. Take your time to learn the basics and don’t rush. There are no shortcuts or secret handshakes on the road to publication. Join your professional writing organizations. If you need feedback, enter contests and get into a critique group. Attend conferences and workshops. Study, write, and revise. There’s always room for improvement. Keep writing.


Hanging By A Hair, a Bad Hair Day Mystery by Nancy J. Cohen

Marla’s joyous move to a new house with her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, is marred by their next-door neighbor who erects an illegal fence between their properties. When Dalton reminds the man of the local permitting laws, tempers flare—and worse, the neighbor is found dead the following day. Dismayed when Dalton is removed from the case due to a conflict of interest, Marla decides it’s up to her to find the killer. Can the intrepid hairstylist untangle the clues and pin down the culprit before he strikes again? 

Amazon Kindle:

Follow Nancy Online

Comments and questions for Nancy are welcome here!


Nancy J. Cohen said...

Thank you for having me here!

D'Ann said...

Hi, Nancy! Sounds like a FAB read!

Betty Gordon said...

Nancy, your new work sounds like a great read. Humor always works and choosing a beauty salon is genius.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Excellent interview, Jacqueline and Nancy! I didn't know about the cozy mystery "how to" book -- I'll be talking to a high school class during their mystery week intensive, and I'll have to pass on that info in case there are any future cozy mystery writers in the class.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Thanks, D'Ann. I hope you'll give the book a try.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Betty, it is fun to write about a hair salon. I made an appt next week for a facial--purely for research, of course!

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Patricia, I'd appreciate it greatly if you mentioned my Writing the Cozy Mystery book to your students.

Alyssa Maxwell said...

I love this series and how Marla has matured over time. It's been fun following her journey through love and murder!

Nancy J. Cohen said...

And Marla's adventures continue, Alyssa. Book #12 is turned in and I'm starting to plot the next one.

Gail Farrelly said...


Enjoyed the interview.

The new book sounds terrific. Lots of luck with it and with all your future work.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Thanks so much, Gail. I appreciate you stopping by.

Mary Anne said...

I am reading Hanging by a Hair now. I love it. Thank you for your talent!

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Thanks so much for your kind words, Mary Anne. They mean a lot.

Patricia Gligor's Writers Forum said...

Great interview!
Nancy, like you, I wrote lots of poetry and short stories before I attempted my first novel. For me, it was something I call the intimidation factor; the thought of sustaining a plot for 80,000 words held me back for a long time. Now, many years later, I've found that I don't want to write anything but mystery/suspense novels.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Patricia, I may have written short stories when I was younger but I can't write them now. My plotting brain works for novel-length books. But we all have to start somewhere to exercise our writing muscles, don't we?

Susan Coryell said...

Nancy: Loved your blog and am making a mantra of the 3-Ps as I try to publish a sequel to my cozy mystery. Your hair-raising salon mysteries sound addictive! Thanks for sharing. You give me courage!

Nikki said...

What a fun and informative interview, Nancy. I hate getting my hair done and never would have thought of setting a mystery in a salon, but I can't wait to read yours. Thanks for the tips!

Nancy J. Cohen said...

As they say in Britain, Susan, keep calm and carry on. Never give up, never surrender. Success comes with practicing those 3 P's.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Nikki, a salon is a fun place to do research! I have a facial scheduled for next week in anticipation of my next Bad Hair Day mystery. After all, first-hand experience is the best research, right?

Maggie Toussaint said...

I've often thought it might be great to kill off someone in a hair salon - on paper of course!

And one of my recurring nightmares is that I'm getting dyed or permed and the shop catches on fire and I have to run out of there, and then all my hair falls out from having the gunk on it for too long.

Fiction is much easier on the nerves! Best of luck with Hanging by a Hair!

Nancy J. Cohen said...

I did kill off a client while getting a perm in book #1, Permed to Death. Haven't had someone's scalp burn from the dye being on too long, though, although that's an idea for the next book....

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