Interview with Nancy Allen
What genre do you write and why?
I write legal thrillers—courtroom dramas. Why? Because I’ve got the chops. I spent the first five years of my legal career as a felony prosecutor in the Ozarks, putting people away for violent crimes. After I left the prosecutor’s office, I spent about ten years as Assistant Missouri Attorney General. I know my way around a courtroom!
Tell us about your latest book.
In The Wages of Sin (Book #3 in my Ozarks Mysteries series), prosecutor Elsie Arnold confronts her first death penalty case. She is prosecuting a man for murder; he is accused of beating his eight-months-pregnant girlfriend to death with a baseball bat. In Missouri, that is a double murder.
Who is you favorite character in your book and why?
Goodness knows, I love my protagonist, Elsie. She’s so fabulously flawed! She drinks—cusses—stumbles! Imagine Amy Schumer if she’d been born in hillbilly country and went to law school. But there’s also a supporting character in The Wages of Sin whom I adore: a Dickensian waif named Ivy.
Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
My books have a unique setting: the Ozarks hill country, a place frozen in time. And my protagonist Elsie Arnold is as fresh as a new batch of moonshine. Plus: I’ve been told that the pages really turn!
How long did it take you to write your book?
It takes me about six months to craft a full-length novel. That’s been true of all of my Elsie Arnold Ozarks Mysteries.
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
During the writing process, a minor character bloomed and became a centerpiece of the story. I grew increasingly fascinated with the character of six-year-old Ivy Dent, the sole survivor of the deceased and only witness to the crime. I love it when a character demands attention in that fashion.
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
I’m beginning to plot and plan my 4th Ozark Mystery, which will be released by HarperCollins/Witness in 2017; but in addition, I’m writing a new legal thriller with James Patterson. We are co-authoring a book for Mr. Patterson’s new BookShots line, entitled Juror #3.
Does your family support you in your writing career? How?
My husband, Randy Allen, is the most incredible sounding board you can imagine. I read my works in progress aloud to him, chapter by chapter. During the process, Randy is sometimes a cheerleader, sometimes a critic. He has a great ear.
What books or authors have most influenced your life?
No contest: it would be To Kill a Mockingbird. Thank you, Harper Lee.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I teach law classes at Missouri State University. Now that my writing has overtaken so much of my schedule, I’ve moved from full-time faculty to Adjunct Professor. I believe that my students will keep me young. Or in the alternative, put me in an early grave. ;-)