A Crime Writers’ Interview: Nancy Wood

We love introducing you all to up-and-coming crime writers! So we are very happy to welcome Nancy Wood to our blog today.

First, I’ll let her tell you a little about herself.

I grew up in various locations on the east coast and now call central California home. I’m recently retired, having spent 35 years as a technical writer, translating engineer-speak into words and sentences. Kind of like translating ancient Greek, when you’re not too familiar with the Greek part!

Since retirement, my husband and I are wandering across the globe, visiting various places in Europe, but also countries like Sri Lanka and India. You can check out our travel  blog at hansandnancy.wordpress.com.

The first book in my Shelby McDougall trilogy, Due Date, was originally published in 2012. It just got a face-lift and was recently re-released by Paper Angel Press. The Stork, the second book in the series, will be re-released later this year. I’m working on the third and final story (with the working title of The Found Child).

Kass (on behalf of the misterio gang): Let’s start with a somewhat open-ended question. What two or three things do you feel people need to know in order to understand who you are?

Nancy: I LOVE to read; I’ve been a reader since I was teeny-tiny. So, it just seemed a logical progression to try to write fiction. It didn’t have to be life-changing, literary, heavy, or important! I just wanted to craft a book that would engage someone and would hold up as that person read it. I took creative writing classes, wrote stories, and wrote two terrible novels that, thankfully, never saw the light of day.

In 2006, I went to a commercial publishing workshop and was encouraged to try to write a mystery. At that point in my life, mysteries weren’t even on my radar. I started reading them, exclusively, and thought, ‘hmm…, maybe I’ll be able to do this!’

I retired two years ago, and since then, my husband and I have been traveling. A lot. We’ve traveled around the west (Utah, Colorado, Nevada, and California), and have also been to Spain, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Belgium, the Netherlands, and India. Wow, all amazing countries, and so different.

My other passion is photography; in fact, I seem to spend as much time with the camera as writing these days! Here’s one of my photos. If anyone’s interested, my photography website is nancywoodphotos.wordpress.com

(c) Nancy Wood

Kass: Wow, that’s gorgeous. So tell me, why crime fiction? What is the appeal of mysteries for you?

Nancy: Before I decided to write a mystery, I had never read crime fiction. Now, it seems like crime fiction has expanded to include any subgenre of literature you can think of. Literary, social, cultural, historical, romantic, horror: it all can be incorporated in a mystery. There’s something very compelling about that. To be able to mold the genre to fit your story and your characters. I also love the idea of a series; getting to know a character over time and in multiple settings. 

Kass: What type of mysteries do you write? Why does that type of story appeal to you as a writer? Do you also prefer it as a reader?

Nancy: My books fall into the category of suspense, psychological thrillers. I initially thought I was writing a mystery, but, for the life of me, I couldn’t insert a dead body into the story! I love to read suspense. I love getting scared, but getting scared in a controlled fashion. Reading allows that delightful pleasure.

But sometimes, it’s too much, and I have to read the book in small bites, so as not to get too terrified and lose sleep! Some of my favorite authors in this subgenre are Tami Hoag, Patricia Cornwell, Megan Abbott, Gillian Flynn, Lisa Scottoline, Tana French, and Lisa Jackson.

Kass: You mentioned loving to read since you were “teeny-tiny.” What was your favorite book/author as a child?

Nancy: The Nancy Drew mysteries were at the top of my list. I loved them because I could usually figure out ‘who done it’. The stories were predictable, yet kept me engaged. But the best part was that Nancy was a girl.

Kass: Nancy Drew has certainly inspired a lot of girls through the years, myself included! So where are you in your writing career? Tell us more about your stories.

Nancy: My Shelby McDougall series was picked up this past year by Paper Angel Press. They just re-released Due Date, and The Stork will be out sometime later in the year. I hope that the third book will be released not too long after that.

Shelby, the protagonist, stumbles her way into detecting. In Due Date, she’s signed on as a surrogate mother, and when it’s almost too late, discovers that things are not what they seem. In The Stork, Shelby has switched career paths and is working on her PI license. But her life is turned upside-down with a late night phone call. In the last book in the trilogy, the one I’m currently working on, Shelby will be a licensed PI specializing in locating missing children. Her mom does a DNA swab with a genealogy website and turns up results Shelby would rather not know about.

Treasure Hunt cover

I also have a story out featuring Shelby, called ‘Treasure Hunt.’ It was originally published in the 2018 anthology, Santa Cruz Weird, and is now available as a free download from Paper Angel Press. It’s about a ten-year-old boy whose granny encourages him to sign up for a Saturday afternoon treasure hunt sponsored by the city’s parks department. He’s not very happy about being out in the woods, looking for treasure, with a group of kids he doesn’t know.  The only person he does recognize is a man he’d never wanted to see again.

Kass:  When I first read Due Date in 2012, I really enjoyed it for two reasons. First, I loved the writing. It’s one of the best debut novels I’ve ever read. But I was also intrigued by the topic. What made you decide to write about a surrogate mother?

Nancy: Thank you for your kind words; I am so excited to see Due Date get a second go-round with its wonderful new cover.

Originally, this story was women’s fiction, about the relationship between a birth mother and the adoptive parents. However, it was clunky and slow and needed a lot of work. Around the time I was trying to figure out what to do with this uninspiring manuscript, I was in a brainstorming session at a conference and someone suggested I turn it into a mystery. After a lively discussion in that small group, I realized that if the protagonist were a surrogate mother, I could explore some of the same themes I was interested in–mainly the relationship between the birth mom and the adoptive parents–but also introduce even more complexity to the dynamic.

At the time, I had a lot of friends who’d adopted children through both open and closed adoptions, but I had never known anyone who was involved in a surrogate relationship. I did a lot of reading on surrogacy and talked to a few surrogate moms. I read plenty of discussion boards, forums, and blogs as well. I also researched fertility clinics, trying to figure out how that end of the arrangement works. There are so many legal and financial considerations. I’m still interested in the topic and keep tuned for news stories, changes in the law, or blogs about surrogacy.

Kass: Well, all that research paid off. It’s a fascinating story. Thank you so much for joining us today, Nancy!

She’ll be sticking around for a bit, folks, to answer any questions you might want to pose in the comments.

Nancy: Thank you very much for hosting me! Misterio Press publishes high caliber books that are engaging, well-written, and really fun to read, so I am honored to be here.

Kass (blushing): Aww, thanks!! Check out Due Date below, folks. You will be glad you did! And I’m off to download Treasure Hunt.

And you can connect with Nancy Wood at her website or via email.

Due Date cover

DUE DATE, A Shelby McDougall Mystery

Surrogate mother Shelby McDougall just fell for the biggest con of all—a scam that risks her life and the lives of her unborn twins.

Twenty-three year-old Shelby McDougall is facing a mountain of student debt and a memory she’d just as soon forget. A Rolling Stone ad for a surrogate mother offers her a way to erase the loans and right her karmic place in the cosmos. Within a month, she’s signed a contract, relocated to Santa Cruz, California, and started fertility treatments.

But intended parents Jackson and Diane Entwistle have their own agenda—one that has nothing to do with diapers and lullabies. With her due date looming, and the clues piling up, Shelby must save herself and her twins. As she uses her wits to survive, Shelby learns the real meaning of the word “family.”

Available at all major online book retailers for $4.99. Click HERE for buy links or to download a sample.

Posted by Kassandra Lamb, on behalf of the entire misterio press group of writers. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, and a cozy series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy mysteries, set in Florida where she now lives.

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  • Reply
    Shannon Esposito
    March 19, 2019 at 11:46 am

    Great interview, ladies! Nancy, I love your covers. That’s one of my favorite things about the suspense/mystery genre is you can take whatever subject you’re interested in and use it in crafting the plot. I’m sure your passion for the subject comes through in the books.

    • Reply
      Nancy Wood
      March 19, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      Thank you Shannon! I love the covers also:) It was fascinating to learn about surrogacy and adoption as I wrote Due Date. I agree — mysteries allow a writer so much room to explore!

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      March 19, 2019 at 2:25 pm

      Thanks, Shannon. Nancy was easy to interview because she’s got so many interesting things going on. Did you check out her photography site? You two have that interest in common as well. 🙂

      • Reply
        Nancy Wood
        March 19, 2019 at 4:45 pm

        Thank you for the thought-provoking questions! And the opportunity to mention my other interests. 🙂

  • Reply
    Guest interviews! – Nancy Wood
    March 19, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    […] weeks ago, I’ve been interviewed a couple of times. My interview just went up today over at Misterio Press. I was interviewed by  Paper Angel Press a couple of weeks […]

  • Reply
    March 19, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    Nancy, I enjoyed both of your books and your short story as well–interesting subject matter and quite suspenseful.

  • Reply
    Nancy Lynn Jarvis
    March 19, 2019 at 6:39 pm

    My reaction to Due Date was a lot like Kass’s. I was blow away by how well Nancy writes. I read the next installment and was often scared, but in a good way. I can’t wait for the third book.

    • Reply
      Nancy Wood
      March 20, 2019 at 12:17 am

      Thank you Nancy! I had a lot of fun writing Due Date, trying to fit all the clues together and figure out how to keep up the suspense. Keeping my fingers crossed that the third book will be out sometime in 2020!

  • Reply
    Jenny Carless
    March 20, 2019 at 1:22 am

    Due Date is next in my to-be-read pile, and I can’t wait! Great interview…

    • Reply
      Nancy Wood
      March 21, 2019 at 11:10 am

      Glad to hear! I hope you enjoy it.

  • Reply
    Gilian Baker
    March 20, 2019 at 10:11 am

    Enjoyed the interview, ladies! It sounds like our protagonist have a couple of things in common, Nancy…both stumble upon their first mystery cases & are changing careers. 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us!

  • Reply
    Nancy Wood
    March 20, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    Hi Gillian, it’s been really fun to see where that career change takes a character, doesn’t it?! Your books look like a lot of fun to read — I love the covers!

  • Reply
    K.B. Owen
    March 21, 2019 at 10:20 am

    Wow, Nancy, life really does begin at retirement! So cool you get to travel to fab places with your hubby and dabble in photography…all while writing! I’m a point-and-shoot kind of photographer, sadly, but I’m still on a mission to get that perfect hummingbird pic out my dining room window! (They are fast little beasties, though).

    After reading your description of Due Date and the blog comments, I definitely will be checking that out! Thanks so much for coming on our MP blog!


  • Reply
    Nancy Wood
    March 21, 2019 at 11:14 am

    Thanks Kathy. Yes, I’ve been having a lot of fun since I retired! 🙂 Those hummingbirds are hard to capture — we have a feeder also. I had an idea of trying to strap one of those small security cameras to the feeder to get a close up video, but sadly it never worked. The feeder got off balance and the picture was way out of focus!

    Thanks for hosting me on the blog!


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