Episode 38: Nancy G. West

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Not every city has a river running through it. And not many women plan a rendezvous at a San Antonio River Walk hotel during Fiesta Week after years of self-imposed celibacy. I was about to make history. -- Nancy G. West, River City Dead Nancy G. West's heroine, Aggie Mundeen, burst onto the scene as a secondary character in Nancy's first novel, Nine Days to Evil, and demanded that Nancy write Aggie her own story. Lucky for us, Nancy obliged with not one, but four Aggie Mundeen mysteries, and counting. Check out her website, NancyGWest.com. Her latest mystery, River City Dead, takes place during Fiesta Week in San Antonio, which Nancy calls a "fabulous, distinctive place and time." What more could one ask for? Well, perhaps a dead body in the penthouse suite... We also talked about Dorothy Sayers (I gave a shout-out to her translation of Dante's Inferno, which is a personal favorite) and Nancy's essay, which taught me things I never even suspected about the wonderful Ms. Sayers -- including the inspiration for Strong Poison. I would be remiss not to link to the Dorothy L. Sayers Facebook Page, and you can read Nancy's essay here. Here are the Aggie Mundeen books in order: Fit to be Dead Dang Near Dead Smart, But Dead River City Dead And Nancy's first novel, Nine Days to Evil. Below is the transcript, if you'd rather read than listen. Enjoy! -- Laura Transcript of Interview with Nancy G. West Laura Brennan: My guest today is Nancy G. West, author of Nine Days To Evil and the Aggie Mundeen mystery series. Her first Aggie Mundeen mystery received a Lefty Award nomination for best humorous mystery, and she has won numerous awards, including the Chanticleer competition in the Mystery and Mayhem category -- an appropriate win for her heroine, Aggie, whose itchy feet presage dead bodies and danger. Nancy, thank you for joining me. Nancy G. West: Oh, I'm delighted to be here, Laura. Thank you. LB: Now, before you started writing professionally, you had a career in business. NGW: I did. Well, I majored in general business administration, and I took a lot of marketing courses and management and accounting courses. And I found out that that wasn’t really to my liking. So, after we married and I had two daughters, I decided that what I really wanted to do was write fiction. So I went back to school, to graduate school, to study English Lit. And I loved it, but they didn’t teach me how to write fiction either. So I read a bazillion books on the craft of writing fiction. And that’s really what got me started. LB: Did you look at your life and go, there’s got to be a mystery in here somewhere? NGW: Not so much a mystery in there somewhere but that writing was my passion and I really wanted to write fiction. I had written nonfiction articles, it was fun and satisfying; I’d even written a biography of a Texas artist who is actually a Spaniard who had immigrated here through Venezuela, up to Texas. But I really wanted to tell stories. And so I knew that, as a business major, I hadn’t had the opportunity to take very many courses in writing or creative writing or literature, so I thought it was time for me to learn something about it. LB: So, why mysteries then? Why did you gravitate towards mysteries? NGW: Well, I knew the hardest thing I thought, for me, would be to plot. And when you write mysteries, you have to have a good plot. I loved writing characters, I loved writing scenes, I love writing the dialogue where Aggie and Sam or the other characters talk to one another. So I didn’t think that would be a problem. But the plotting, I thought would be the most difficult – and it is. And so I thought, okay, if you’re going to write mysteries, you must learn how to plot. So that was where I did a lot of studying. LB: So you really just threw yourself into the hardest thing you could think of. NGW: Basically! I have a tendency to do that.

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