Monday, March 23, 2015

Nancy Freund Author Interview

Photo Content from Nancy Freund

Nancy Freund is a poet, editor, critic, and novelist. Born in New York, raised in Kansas City, and educated in Los Angeles, she was married in England, and today lives in French-speaking Switzerland. She is the author of 'Rapeseed,' published in 2013 by Gobreau Press, 'Global Home Cooking' (2014) and 'Mailbox,' (coming out on American Mother's Day, May 10, 2015). Her work has appeared in journals such as The Istanbul Review, Blood Lotus Journal, Offshoots and The Daily Mail. In September 2012, Nancy was the writer-in-residence for webjournal Necessary Fiction, where she is also a regular book critic. Her short story ‘Marcus’ won the Geneva Writers’ first fiction prize, selected by American novelist Bret Lott in June, 2013. She co-founded the Lavaux Literary Salon (serving readers, writers and artists representing 11 countries) and she is active in Community Literacy projects for teens and adults. She holds a B.A. in English/Creative Writing and an M.Ed. from UCLA.


Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Our desire for storytelling is hard-wired in all of us. We seek patterns and connections from birth – the patterns of our parents’ faces and their caregiving routines, the sounds of their voices when they speak to one another, when they speak to us, the songs they sing. Soon we develop understandings of our cultural patterns of discourse, and we learn how stories are told for effect in our communities. Without access to these powerful means of connection, we feel lost and alone. We’re only human – and without that important connection, we might seek a replacement or solace in unhealthy behaviours. But with the right kinds of stories, delivered literally through words or through other sensory experience – song, dance, touch, the arts – we can re-ignite the imagination and reconnect the fragmented and suffering. It’s as ancient as call-and-response in primitive cultures. Storytelling is probably one of the most powerful social and political tools we have, and it definitely has an enormous impact on health, on the personal level and the health of a community. The bottom line is we all rely on forms of storytelling to feel that our lives have purpose, that we are connected to other people we love, and that connection is invaluable.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
That I’ve sung the alto part in The Messiah in London’s Royal Albert Hall. My high school choral director, who cringed the first time I auditioned for him, would be more surprised than anyone.

When did you write your first book and how old were you? 
 I wrote my first book, The Orange Invasion, a poetic and colorful dystopian romp, at age nine. Sadly, it has been lost forever. I’m sure it would have won the Pulitzer by now if only I’d kept track of it!

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
Keep trying. It’s the greatest thing I’ve learned anywhere. You might bomb a test in school or become inarticulate in an interview or lose a job, but if you keep trying, there will always be new opportunities, new ways to pull yourself out of a slump. Keep trying, and keep your eyes open.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Optimistic. Resourceful. ALittleWacky.

In your new book; Mailbox: A Scattershot Novel of Racing, Dares and Danger, Occasional Nakedness, and Faith, can you tell my Book Nerd Kids Community a little about it and why they should read your novel?
First, why a person should read it: it feels good. There’s a lot to think about in Mailbox – some scenes are short, some are super-short – but they all deliver something validating and interesting. Like holding up a translucent stone to the sun... There’s always something unexpected to see when you turn it in the light. Sandy Drue is 13 years old and thinks she has figured out the Meaning of Life, so she begins assembling the stories and advice for life she’s been typing on her father’s electric typewriter for several years. Some of her stories are like diary entries – a 10-year-old’s philosophy as she’s approaching young adulthood. Some are rules for games girls play at slumber parties or poems or blog-like posts from long before blogging. Here’s something Katie Hayoz, author of the YA novel Untethered said about it: “Freund’s prose is a gift. Her straightforward style comes off as simple, yet goes straight for the gut.” I loved reading her review! Mailbox is sort of a mother-daughter love story – as Sandy is figuring out how she wants to be like her New Yorker artist/intellectual mom, and how she doesn’t. That’s why it’s being published on American Mother’s Day, with a Goodreads giveaway on UK Mum’s Day.

For those who are unfamiliar with Sandy, how would you introduce her? 
Sandy has been called a scrappy agnostic adolescent protagonist. I might just say, hi, this is Sandy Drue, and then I’d let her speak for herself! She’s got lofty goals, including trying to figure out whether God exists, but she’s very down to earth, happy to work in her dad’s office to earn money for future travels, to babysit, etc. She’s a little shy sometimes, but she shares everything, all her personal stories and secrets, in her writing. Not too different from most 13-year-old girls I’ve known.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 
Awesome question! Sandy would probably ask me to say Nancy Drew, who’s one of her heroes, or Margaret Simon, in Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume. Since I’m an adult, a mom, and always a teacher at heart, I might introduce her to Anne Frank. That would be ultimately more fulfilling, I think. Although Anne Frank’s book is her diary, and she’s not a fictional character, so maybe she doesn’t count for this question.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 
One of my most important mentors in writing Mailbox is Sandra Cisneros, who I met this past summer. If I don’t have to choose only one, I want to also mention Dani Shapiro and Robert Olen Butler. I have a couple of amazing writer friends who are also great mentors, including Meg Gardiner and Michelle Bailat-Jones.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Be open-minded and tenacious. That’s advice for life, for reading interesting books that might seem too tough or advanced or not the right fit for you at first. You can gain so much insight just from sticking with a book. It all counts! Nothing’s a waste of time. Enjoy the process for whatever you get out of it.

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?
Driving the train at the Kansas City Zoo when I was nineteen. In fact, my first novel, Driving the Smoky Red, grew from that experience, It’s not published yet – but never say never!

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a kid?
I was a kid in the ‘70s and I wouldn’t change a thing!

What scares you the most and why?
Huge waves. I don’t know why, but they really scare me.

What is your greatest adventure?
I’m living it every day. I married a foreign guy – from England, I moved to a different foreign country – Switzerland – I am raising what’s known as Third Culture kids and working with people from too many countries to count. My dog has a Swiss passport and speaks French! The town I live in is pretty quiet and subdued, but every time I step out of the house, an adventure awaits.

When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
About half an hour ago. Very important!

Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
My husband. Good day or bad day. He always gets what I’m talking about.

When was the last time you cried?
Last week.

"Deep, delightful, and compulsively readable."

It's 1976. The USA turns 200 while scrappy agnostic Sandy Drue turns 10, finds an electric typewriter in her father's office, and begins turning out page after page on the conflicting demands of burgeoning adolescence and her own quiet search for the Meaning of Life. 

The result is a beguiling collection of loosely linked short stories and vignettes, gathered by a now 13-year-old Sandy into an unconventional novel structured like a blog, long before blogging.
In the wake of the Watergate scandal, American society is in a state of bewilderment, the economy is fragile, and Sandy's friends are secretly reading Judy Blume -- against their mothers' warnings. The Drue family has moved from New York to Small Town USA where Sandy and her brother try to find their way to fit in. What they find instead is something ultimately more valuable. 

Mailbox is an unusual mother-daughter love story that is both hopeful and heartbreaking... profound and good fun.

You can purchase Mailbox at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you NANCY FREUND for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Mailbox by Nancy Freund.


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