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Monday, October 4, 2010

AUTHORS TAKE TEN: NYT Bestselling author Nancy Taylor Rosenberg

by Cyrus Webb


I have been a fan of New York Times bestselling author Nancy Taylor Rosenberg for quite some time, so I saw it as a privilege to have the opportunity to interview her not just for my radio show but Authors Take Ten as well. Over the years she has captivated readers of both sexes, giving the world stories that are as intriguing as they are addictive. The Dallas, Texas native moved to West Hills, CA this year and also released her latest page-turner called MY LOST DAUGHTER.

She talked with me about her writing career, what inspired one of the themes of the new book and had a surprising response to what she would tell aspiring writers today.

Here is our conversation:

Nancy, it is an honor to have this time to talk with you. I want to first ask you if you are at all surprised about the fact that you have been able to transition so well from a fulfilling legal career to a literary one?
I always thought I could write a book, but I never dreamed I would actually be published and that my first novel would hit the New York Times Bestseller list. As far as transitioning, as a criminal investigator I wrote what could be referred to as mini novellas. A prosecutor once said I could "write a man into prison."

Do you remember when you realized that you had a book in you that you wanted to share with the world?
About ten years before my first novel, MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES, was published I wrote a novel in longhand. After asking a few friends to read it, I became discouraged and the book was never published. I knew MITIGATING was something special because I stood up to type the ending, which in itself isn't an easy thing to accomplish.

What about support? How has it changed from your beginning of your decision to pursue writing until now?
I took a “Novels in Progress” course at UCLA and had a brilliant professor named Leonardo Bercovici. He told me I could write a good book and I believed him. My husband and family didn't support me until the money started coming in. I wrote my first book on a Smith Corona word processor. As soon as I got my first contract, my husband bought me a new computer, a new printer, and a fax machine.

For five years I have been a fan of yours, and it seems as though men and women are enthralled by your work. Was there any expectation of that in the beginning?
I suspected I might attract both male and female readers because my books are somewhat of a hybrid. Because of my background in the criminal justice system, my thrillers are very authentic and at that time women were mainly writing softer books. But I always incorporate romance as my characters have real lives. I also write sex scenes.

Nancy, you have catapulted into one of our most respected authors in the industry. What does that level of success mean to you, and what kind of pressure does it bring with it?
I enjoyed having my books on the bestseller list, but it was terribly stressful. We would get a copy of the list every Wednesday and if my book had fallen off, I would run to my room and sob. I also wrote fifteen hours a day, which was exhausting and later damaging to my spine.

Publishing has changed quite a bit since you first burst onto the scene. Some who were around when you first were published aren't still in demand as they once were. What do you think has been the key to your fans and new readers gravitating to you?
I’m not certain they have as my numbers have steadily fallen. But I’ve written thirteen novels, and had my big successes. It’s all about how much a publisher is willing to spend promoting you, and right now, they’re not willing to spend big money. The recession has hit the publishing industry hard.


Talk to us about the new book.
MY LOST DAUGHTER is a thriller, but it also deals with the greed and corruption in the private psychiatric industry.

Are parts of MY LOST DAUGHTER based on your own experiences?
In 1990, I went to the ER thinking I was having a heart attack. After waiting all night to see the doctor, someone in a uniform came to get me in an ambulance and took me out of the hospital with a blanket over my head. I later realized I had been kidnapped by an unscrupulous and corrupt private mental hospital who received kickbacks from various ER doctors for referring patients. The only requirement was that they had insurance. When I got to the hospital, they administered dangerous, mind altering drugs. I was restricted from making phone calls to my family and friends, and they were in turn told that I refused to speak to them or see them.

Since I was a probation officer at the time, I was horrified that something like this could happen and that a patient in a mental hospital had fewer rights than a prisoner. The hospital was later investigated by the attorney general's office for what they called "patient snatching." At the time, unknown to me when I was kidnapped, this was common practice throughout Texas.

There are men and women who are in one profession, have a true love for writing but don't know if they have what it takes to make it. What advice would you give them?
Many agents say they are looking for people who feel “compelled to write.” I think this is a good sign of talent. I felt this way. I simply couldn’t stop writing. With the recession and the state of the book business right now, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone try to break into the business. On the other hand, a person who has never been published who writes a terrific book might be more appealing than someone who has had a few flops. It’s all about the numbers.

Since books becoming movies is the dream of so many authors today, which one of your books would you like to see brought to be big screen if you had your way?
They made one of my novels into a movie and it was awful. My name wasn’t on it, so I was lucky. Most novelists don’t like the way Hollywood adapts their novels.

Find out more information about Nancy by visiting her website: www.nancytrosenberg.com.

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