S.G. Tell us about yourself.
N.R. I was raised an Army brat, with all the uncertainty which that life brings. As an adult, I wanted a more stable life. Hah! The joke was on me! I married and had two wonderful children, but divorce, single parenting, and working to support my family took me on a life plan detour. When I retired early from a long career at AT&T, I thought things would settle into a very comfortable rhythm, but the road of life jogged again. I felt called to seminary, where I earned an M.Div., and then was ordained and served a Congregationalist church. Then my son and his wife presented me with two precious granddaughters, but I lived in Wisconsin and they lived in Tennessee. Those little girls tugged me into a move, and I loved being close enough to be part of their everyday lives. While in Tennessee, my first mystery, Truth Kills, was accepted for publication. I envisioned writing and enjoying my family there for a long time. But life moves on and so did my granddaughters, who went to California with their parents when my son took a new job. I’m back in Wisconsin for a time, trying to figure out what’s next and enjoying ad hoc ministry and writing. I will admit that the lure of being back with Lydia and Lucy is making me consider yet another move. Luckily, writing is something that can be done anywhere.
S.G. What inspired you to start writing?
N.R. I’ve been an avid reader since I was a little girl. I was the kid who always had her nose in a book and a fantasy running in her head. Reading kept me sane through some tumultuous events in my life – divorce, single parenting and breast cancer being the biggies. I could escape from the demands of reality into the worlds that authors created. There were times I thought, “I could write that better,” and other times I thought, “If only I could write like that!” I finally made a start, through an adult education course on how to write a novel. I’ve been writing ever since.
N.R. In my first Angelina Bonaparte, Truth Kills, Angie mentions a client, Marcy Wagner, whose husband walked out on her and their children after cleaning out their bank accounts. Hank Wagner is a weasel, as far as Angie is concerned, and the only “locate” she’s failed to find. In my work-in-progress, whose working title is Deception Kills, Hank is finally found – via an obituary. Marcy wants to know what Hank’s life was like after he deserted the family. Angie has no idea how that simple request will impact not just the Wagner family, but Angie’s own family.
S.G.What is the craziest thing you have ever done in the name of research?
N.R.There are many Milwaukee restaurants, eateries and bars mentioned in my books. Lots of them are real places - Ma Fisher’s and Blu at the Pfister are two. Some are fictional, but I used the ambiance of real Milwaukee locations. For the sake of authenticity in my writing, I’ve eaten or drunk in each of them. Research can be a tough job! (giggle)
S.G.What do you love most about writing?
N.R. I love the thrill of seeing worlds unfold on the page, of watching my characters grow and
develop in the story and across several books. It amazes me that these products of my own imagination, whom I should control, take literary license with my plot and go their own ways on occasion! That happened with Bobbie Russell. I thought he would be a minor character in the first book, but he jumped up and told me that he was more important to the story than that. He takes an even bigger role in Cash Kills. (I don’t really hear voices, but sometimes an idea just won’t let go of me, and Bobbie was one of those.)
S.G. Who is your favorite author?
N.R. So many have touched me in different ways. JRR Tolkien and Harper Lee both challenged me to consider the reality of good versus evil, not in the abstract, but in the impact it has on each person’s life. Dorothy L. Sayers gave me a new way to view the mystery, not just as a puzzle, but as a literary form. Alexander McCall Smith showed me how to write with simplicity and power. Those writers are at the top of a long list.
N.R. This year marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis. So many women are affected by this disease. I want readers to be vigilant with mammograms and breast self-examination. Life after BC is sweet – don’t let fear take away the years you might live!
S.G What five books are on your to be read pile?
N.R. (My TBR pile holds more than a hundred books, mostly ebooks. Some of these are print, some are electronic. They are not in any order of precedence.)
Dirty Shirt – A Boundary Waters Memoir by Jim Landwehr
Cold Days – A Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
Answering the Call by James R. Milstead, M.D.
Blind Spot – A Jesse Stone Novel by Reed Farrel Coleman
Die, Judge, Die by Una Tiers
S.G. If you could throw a holiday party for five people living or dead, who would they be and what holiday would it be and what would be on the menu?
As the waiter brings dessert – a honey-sweetened baklava – we promise to reunite again on International Women’s Day for conversation, encouragement and recognition of our common concerns across the barriers of time and culture.
Mystery , Secrets, Suspense and murder all set the stage for this book! I was captivated and intrigued that I couldn't put it down. This whodunit will keep you guessing till the very end.