In a new strategy, HarperVoyager has a number of books, acquired through an open submissions period a while back, that they will be publishing digitally first and in paperback second. Nancy K Wallace’s first novel for adults, Among Wolves, is one of these and was released in digital format HarperVoyager last month with the paperback to be released come November. The blurb for Among Wolves, which features an journeyman archivist, captured my attention and I couldn’t wait to read the book. Upon learning that Nancy K. Wallace is a Youth Services Librarian in her day job, I knew I had to have her over for an Author Query. Nancy graciously agreed and the following is the result. Please check back tomorrow for a review of Among Wolves.
Let’s start with the basics. Who is Nancy K. Wallace?
I was blessed with a magical childhood mostly due to my mother’s ingenious and fanciful way of making every day a celebration. My father died when I was eleven and I think that influenced me a great deal. I don’t think I have ever felt truly safe since then. My parents were both wonderful people, intensely in love with each other and thrilled to have children. I think we were all spoiled but deeply cherished. After I finished college, I taught kindergarten for five years and then returned to work as a children’s librarian after staying home for ten years with our two daughters. My job has grown over the last 26 years. I do over 250 programs a year and moderate 6 Book Discussion groups for 3rd graders up through college age. I love what I do. It gives me the chance to pass on some of the magic that was so freely given to me as a child.
How would you introduce people to the land of Llisé?
Politically and socially Llisé is loosely based on 18th century France. It has fifteen provinces. The capital province is Viénne; the capital city is Coreé. The privileged few who live there are well educated and wealthy. Coreé houses the only Universite and the only Académie (which is the equivalent of a graduate school). In the surrounding provinces , people are prohibited from learning to read and write unless their occupations require it, which is relegated by the government. They are also not allowed to own firearms, they are taxed heavily , and have little access to medical care. Yet, their services and products allow the residents of Viénne to live in luxury.
Among Wolves is your first novel for adults. What inspired you to move away from writing for a younger audience?
While it may seem odd to write for both children and adults, I think it is a natural extension of my job. Because I work at a small library, I do everything from Baby Laptime to Teen Book Discussion Groups. I develop personal relationships with the kids I work with. Many of the babies I first met at Laptime are now in college. They were reluctant to let go of their high school Book Discussion Groups, so now I have a Twenty Something Group that allows them to maintain that tie to the library and their friends. I write picture books, chapter books, and now fantasy because I deal with those categories every day in my work. But when I read for pleasure, I always choose fantasy first!
Devin, your protagonist, is a trainee Archivist. How much of your own training as a librarian went in to his education?
Honestly, being a librarian is my fantasy job. I feel so blessed to be able to go to a job I love every day. Some people are never able to do that. That said, I’d like nothing better than to work in Devin’s Archives. Several of my other novels (as yet unpublished) also have marvelous libraries with spiral staircases, ancient parchments, and archives. I cherish a dream of running across some ancient text that changes the world! Devin’s love of history, his dedication to the preservation of the oral tradition of storytelling, and his idealism, all come from me.
What were your influences in writing Among Wolves? Did you research any particular cultures or traditions?
I did a lot of research on France. I used French names for the provinces but I didn’t want Llisé to be France. It needed its own history. I don’t remember where I ran across the story of the Beast of Gevaudan, where the real Jean Chastel played a role in the beast’s demise. There a great many versions of the legend and of course I tweaked it to suit my story. There is also a theme running through my trilogy of the relationships between fathers and sons – love and support but also deliberate betrayal and sacrifice.
What’s next for you? Any appearances or conventions planned?
I have several book signings planned after the paperback edition of Among Wolves comes out in November. I write for three publishers and I have a second illustrated Readers’ Theater set for kids coming out in September 2015 from ABDO Publishing, Inc. Those six books will bring my total of published works to 20! I have a finished middle grade novel that I plan to shop around and I just submitted a fantasy series for kids. I also review books for VOYA magazine and have to read at least six books a month for my Book Groups. Oh, and I do have to write the next two books in the Wolves of Llisé series!! Between working fulltime and writing, I really have very little spare time.
As a book reviewer, I’m about the book enabling: I can’t help but want to make people read all the good books out there. But I can always use help. What are your top recommendations of books we should look out for in the coming months?
Having read the reviews for the following YA fantasies in VOYA and I’m anxious to order them for our library!
Deadly Design by Debra Dockter
The Six by Mark Alpert
Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
The Sign of the Cat by Lynne Jonell
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
We have a big house and I have bookcases in every room except the bathrooms. Some rooms have three or four. My fiction is filed by genre, then alphabetically. With nonfiction every bookcase holds a specific subject. I have a huge collection of fairytales, gardening books, mythology, and English Country and French Country home decorating. Sometimes new acquisitions require rearranging and there is often overflow. I have a terrible time parting with books so we just have to keep building new bookcases! I hope we never run out of space!
Bio (taken from the Among Wolves website): I am currently under contract with HarperCollins for a adult fantasy trilogy! The first book, Among Wolves with be released in May 2015 as an Ebook and in November 2015 as a mass market paperback. I have 13 traditionally published children’s books including: the Abby and the Book Bunch series and a Readers’ Theater series both published through Magic Wagon, a division of the ABDO Group, at http://www.abdopublishing.com. My first picture book, “The Christmas Cats” was released by Pelican Publishing in 2011. I have reviewed YA material for VOYA magazine for almost 20 years. Follow me on Twitter as fairysockmother and visit my website: http://www.nancykwallace.com.