Interview with Author Nancy Christie

My guest today is Nancy Christie.  Hello, Nancy!  Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s such a pleasure to have you here. 

We also have another occasion to celebrate today. You've dropped by during our 200th post. So, you get to join us in the celebration, Nancy! How exciting!  :)
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?

My short fiction collection, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories, was released in September 2014 by Pixel Hall Press. It’s available in both trade paperback and e-book format through all major bookstores: chains, indies and online through Amazon and the Apple Bookstore

Is there anything that prompted your latest book?  Something that inspired you?

Like so much of my fiction, the origins tend to be somewhat cloudy, since often the trigger for a story occurs way before the story itself comes to fruition. But the overall theme—people who have difficulty making the right choices or even knowing what choices are available to them—is one that has intrigued me for a long time. We tend to believe that we would always make the right choice, the wise choice, the intelligent choice. But that is from the vantage point of not being in the middle of a disastrous, overwhelming situation. Sometimes, clarity comes only after we have selected Option A. Then we realize that Option B would have been better. The good thing is that there are always more options, more choices, more opportunities to get it right.

That's true. I am fascinated with the human condition as well.

So, when did you know you wanted to write?  Or has it always been a pastime of yours?  

I have always written—well, at least since second grade!—and before I wrote I made things up. Playing “let’s pretend” with my childhood friend Danny was great training for being a fiction writer. In a sense, I still play a version of “let’s pretend” when I write—although now I follow my characters and go where they take me.
Do you have any favorite authors?

So many: Agatha Christie, Mark Helprin, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Enid Blyton, Jules Verne… And then there are books that I keep by my bedside because they inspire me as a writer: The Writer on Her Work (edited by Janet Sternburg), Silences (by Tillie Olsen), Writing a Woman’s Life (by Carolyn Heilbrun), Negotiating with the Dead (by Margaret Atwood), Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers (by Caroline See). There are lots more but that’s a good start!

Oh, certainly some titles there to add to my Wishlist!

So, do you write in a specific place? Time of day?  

I try to do my fiction first thing in the morning, before I get caught up with client projects. (I am a writer by profession, and handle a variety of corporate writing projects as well as write magazine articles.) If I can do 30 minutes of fiction, that’s a good day. Anything after that is a bonus.

Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers? Any advice?

Care about what you write. Don’t write because that is what the market expects. Write what is real to you, what moves you, frightens you, confuses you, brings you joy or sorrow or possibly both. Use writing to uncover, discover, let go and set free.

And, even if it takes a long time to have a piece or project accepted, don’t lose heart. Writing should be the primary goal. If your work is good and you continue to develop your skills, you will find a way to bring your work to light and find an audience who appreciates and enjoys the story.

I agree. Thank you for stopping by to visit us today and celebrating our 200th post with us, Nancy!  :)

Readers, here is the blurb for Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories.


There are some people who, whether by accident or design, find themselves traveling left of center. Unable or unwilling to seize control over their lives, they allow fate to dictate the path they take—often with disastrous results.

TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER details characters in life situations for which they are emotionally or mentally unprepared. Their methods of coping range from the passive (“The Healer”) and the aggressive (“The Clock”) to the humorous (“Traveling Left of Center”) and hopeful (“Skating on Thin Ice”).
The eighteen stories in TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER depict those types of situations, from the close calls to the disastrous. Not all the stories have happy endings—like life, sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t.
In these stories, the characters’ choices—or non-choices—are their own. But the outcomes may not be what they anticipated or desired. Will they have time to correct their course or will they crash?

The Stories

ALICE IN WONDERLAND—Alice is constrained by circumstances and unwanted obligations to live an unfulfilling life. Books are her only way to escape, serving as sustenance to feed her starving soul. But what will she do when there are no more pages left to devour?

ANNABELLE—A lonely young woman, all Annabelle wants is to love and be loved. But she’s fighting by the twin emotions of fear and guilt, unable to let go of the past and embrace the possibilities of a future.  (Catch an audio clip here.)

ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN—Sometimes, what one fears most comes to pass because of those fears. If Charlotte hadn’t been so afraid, would the outcome have been the same?

BEAUTIFUL DREAMER—For Eleanor, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to tell the difference between being awake and dreaming, reality and fantasy. The boundaries were blurring. Would she be able to see clearly again?

EXIT ROW—He wanted an escape. After all these years, he was ready to go. But could he get away before it was too late?

MISCONNECTIONS—Anna’s recurrent dreams echo through her day, as she attempts to reconcile her inexplicable feelings of loss with what would appear to be a “perfect life.”

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND—Despite being more than three steps over the mental health line, he’s holding fast to his belief in his own sanity. Or is the rest of the world crazy?

SKATING ON THIN ICE—Is it possible to overcome childhood trauma? And, even if you do, are you ever really “cured” or simply skating on thin ice, waiting for it to crack? Sarah is trying to skate across the thin ice. Every day, she makes a new path on the surface of her life. So far, the ice has held.

STILL LIFE—Mirror images of her life: how she wants it to be and how it is. Which one would be her true reality—and does she even have a choice?

THE CLOCK—Everyone has a breaking point. For Harold, it came one fateful evening when the clock once again stopped ticking.

THE HEALER—Cassie didn’t ask for the gift. She didn’t want the gift. For all the good it had done other people, it was killing her. All she wanted was her own healing.

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS—Mona was relying on the kindness of strangers to rescue her. One stranger, in particular. However, thanks to the interference of others, her plans keep going awry. But she’s not giving up yet.

THE SHOP ON THE SQUARE—His attitude of superiority had gotten him quite far in life. Until a chance stop at a small Mexican town illustrated that he had much to learn.

THE STORYTELLER—Connie makes up her stories as much for the children’s sake as her own. But even her stories can’t stop the pain of reality from hurting her listeners—or herself.

THE SUGAR BOWL—Although Chloe’s life story changes with every listener, each time her tale has achieved its intended purpose. Until she chooses the wrong person to tell it to.

TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER—Her mama was forever telling her that, on the highway of life, she was always traveling left of center. She wasn’t a bad girl, mind you—just incapable of looking down the road and seeing where her actions are taking her.

WAITING FOR SARA—Her daughter Sara is gone, and while it was by her own choice, it was a decision ill-conceived and poorly executed. And so Sara’s mother waits, alone and fearful, hoping against hope that someday her daughter will return, safe and unharmed.

WATCHING FOR BILLY—Agnes was all alone until Billy came to stay. Would he bring new purpose to her life? Or take what little hope she had for companionship?


Trade Paperback: Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Books-A-Million  Powell’s Books and select independent bookstores

Here is an excerpt from the book.


“My father was a painter,” Annabelle had said—was it at the second session or the
third?—“and my mother would pose for him.”
Annabelle remembered watching her father paint in the cold, clear light filtering into his studio. He used canvas and oils the way God had used clay, creating life from inanimate objects. The walls of the house were hung with his paintings—those his agent could not convince him to release—and everywhere Annabelle looked, her mother’s dark eyes would follow her, glowing on the canvas.
Sometimes, after a long session in the studio, her mother would be pale and weak,
barely able to stand, so colorless that one would think her a ghost. The portraits, by contrast, were pulsing with life. Annabelle had feared that her father was drawing the very lifeblood from her mother, leaving behind an empty shell.
And yet, her mother gloried in the attention, willingly changing herself into any figure her husband desired, just to be able to stand there, caught by his passion, while he painted.
His work sold quite well in galleries across the country, but even if it had not, her
father would have continued to paint, and her mother to pose.
And Annabelle-the-child would be standing, somewhere just outside their line of
sight, watching. And waiting.
“Did your father never paint you, Anna?” Jules’ question was spoken so softly in the
darkened room that it almost seemed the words originated in Annabelle’s mind, and she answered them just to hear her own voice echoing in the darkness.
Annabelle blushed, an ugly red stain against her pale skin. “He did not paint children,” she answered hesitantly, not adding that once she had asked—begged!—her father to paint her.
She had been young, five or six, and perhaps a little jealous of the attention given her mother during those endless sessions in the studio. Just once, she wanted her father to look at her with the intensity he reserved for his wife—to fix her so clearly on the canvas that there was no possibility of her ceasing to exist.
The promises she had made—I won’t move! I won’t even breathe if you would just
paint me!”—were all in vain. Her father had looked at her absently, his brush suspended in mid-stroke, and Annabelle realized in that moment that he wasn’t at all certain who she was or why she was there in his studio.
Her mother, with gentle, insistent fingers, had urged her reluctant daughter from
the room, promising “another time, darling. You’re too young to be a model for your father’s art. He needs someone a little older, more knowledgeable. You are still unformed, innocent… too young. You must wait,” and then the door closed and Annabelle was left outside while her mother went back to pose for her husband.
Sometimes, when Annabelle remembered that moment, she almost hated her
mother. She had wanted her chance, and her mother wouldn’t let her have it. Perhaps she should have argued or cried. She didn’t want to wait. She wanted her father to see her now.
But Annabelle was a good child, an obedient daughter. Her mother said she must
wait. Therefore, she would wait. If not for her father, then someone else—some other man who would be drawn to her like a moth to a candle. It would happen. Her mother had promised.
Author Bio


Nancy Christie is a professional writer, whose credits include both fiction and non-fiction. In addition to her fiction collection, TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER, and two short story e-books, ANNABELLE and ALICE IN WONDERLAND (all published by Pixel Hall Press), her short stories can be found in literary publications such as Wild Violet, EWR: Short Stories, Hypertext, Full of Crow, Fiction365, Red Fez, Wanderings, The Chaffin Journal and Xtreme.

A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and Short Fiction Writers Guild (SFWG) and creator of “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day, Christie hosts the monthly Monday Night Writers group in Canfield, Ohio.


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  1. Thanks so much for having me on your blog and congratulations on your 200th post!