The Many Sides of Author Nancy Gideon
Nancy Gideon cheerfully cops to her “split personality”. After all,
it’s a trait that has allowed her to publish nearly 40 stories since her debut in 1987. Currently, it’s alter ego Rosalyn West who’s in the spotlight with her The Men of Pride County series published by Avon Books. The third book in the series, The Rebel, is now
available with the fourth, The Pretender, due in June, 1999.
“Sometimes, it’s hard to remember to set
aside time to write!”
The series, set in the post-Civil War United States, allows Gideon to indulge her love of history while tackling tough issues relating to the aftermath of the war. She notes that this difficult period in history provided her “the opportunity to contrast differences…North and South, past glories versus future changes, and the struggle love goes through to find a common ground.” Exploring these conflicts “led to infinite possibilities for characters to display strength, courage and emotional growth.”
The Rebel plunges the reader directly into the issues that Gideon describes. The book’s hero, Noble Banning, is a Confederate soldier who allies with the Union Army in order to save his men. As Noble struggles with his decision, he also struggles with his feelings for his enemy’s headstrong daughter, Juliet, just as she struggles with her feelings for a man that she cannot entirely trust. To make things even more complicated for Noble, his unit has been betrayed by one of their own. The characters are forced to learn many lessons about trust and loyalty before they are able to find their ways to happiness.
Because the Pride County books are a series, Gideon had to take extra care to ensure that her stories appealed to both the readers following the series from book one and those readers who started in the middle of the series. She comments that there are three key goals when writing a series: “to make each book stand alone, to satisfy continuing readers, and to make them eager for the next book to see what happens to old favorites.” One method that she used to achieve these goals was to carefully outline her characters before she started writing the first book to ensure that she could “weave them in and out of the various books” without losing her continuity or confusing her readers.
Gideon is also excited that The Rebel provided her the opportunity to return to the wild west, a territory explored by Gideon under the guise of Romantic Times’ Career Achievement Award winner Dana Ransom. Gideon has also published Regency works (under the pseudonym Lauren Giddings), vampire romances, contemporaries, and categories. Recently, she’s branched out into the motion picture industry, writing screenplays, novelizations, and even appearing before the camera.
“We’re finally getting away from
the fluff image with more and more authors breaking out
into mainstream from romance backgrounds.”
Using multiple pseudonyms allows Gideon to explore a variety of writing styles. She uses “a different ‘voice’ for each name and publishing house” to create stories with a variety of dark themes. Gideon’s edgy plots revolve around characters with heavy emotional baggage and troubled pasts (with a strong dose of humor to keep the story balanced). Her romantic bad boys are both compelling and real – Gideon has a talent for writing heroes who can’t seem to say the right things at the right time. Her characters’ communication problems work well within her plots while remaining true to life.
Holding it all together – the plots, the characters, and the pseudonyms – is a very organized writer. Gideon calls herself an “obsessive list-maker” who carefully outlines her stories before plunging into writing. She admits that sometimes her characters may veer off the course she’s chosen for them but doesn’t let that slow her down. A high degree of organization gets the stories done and a fast writing style keeps her admittedly short attention span on the current book.
Not that Gideon can afford the luxury of taking her time with her writing. In the past year, she’s published four books, done a signing tour, edited her local RWA chapter’s newsletter, spoken at conferences, raised a family, and, presumably, got some sleep. Her schedule is such that she’s probably not joking when she comments that in her spare time, she’ll brainstorm “new plots under the stars in her hot tub.” She also spends time as an advocate of the romance genre by speaking and writing about the subject. It’s been such a busy time for her that “sometimes, it’s hard to remember to set aside time to write!”
Her hard work has paid off, both in terms of recognition for her writing and increased respect for the romance genre. She states that “we’re finally getting away from the fluff image with more and more authors breaking out into mainstream from romance backgrounds.” Her recent book tour reinforced this impression as she, and the other romance writers on the tour, received “positive feedback” from the upper management of the chain bookstores they were visiting. Gideon feels that the romance genre is growing up and she’s excited about being part of the process.
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