Nancy Richardson Fischer: “We need books with powerful, relatable characters to inspire us.”

5 Questions With...

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[Note From Frolic: Our resident YA expert Aurora Dominguez got the opportunity to interview author Nancy Richardson Fischer and ask her five(ish) questions. Nancy’s novel The Speed of Falling Objects is out now!]

Aurora: What was the inspiration behind your most recent novel?

Nancy: There were 3 inspirations behind The Speed of Falling Objects.

First, I’m fascinated with personal narratives. We create ourselves from the building blocks of our past—memories, stories, photographs, other people’s perceptions… and even sometimes well meaning, other times ill-intentioned lies. I wanted to create a character that uses everyone else’s explanations to define who she is until a horrendous plane crash forces her to dig deep and define herself—based not on the past, but on her present and the future she desires.

Second, I’m captivated by survival stories. I don’t think anyone knows who he or she truly is or what he or she is capable of accomplishing until pushed to the limit. In The Speed of Falling Objects I force my main character, Danny, to face everything that terrifies her and more! Only then can she uncover the truth about herself, others, discover her unique strengths, and embark on a journey to save those she loves.

Third, I’m obsessed with the TV show Naked and Afraid—TRUTH! Each episode focuses on one man and one woman, paired together in jungles, swamps, deserts and even on deserted islands. They leave their clothes behind, bring only one survival item each (usually a knife, pot, or fire-starter), and must last anywhere from three weeks to 60 days alone and unprotected from the elements and wild animals. As they suffer, their true motivations and personalities emerge. Creating a novel with characters that are forced into dangerous environs (but with their clothes on) was challenging, exhilarating and pretty darn fun. I am not a fan of spiders, snakes, or bugs in general, so while my research sometimes made me cringe, I felt very comfortable and safe at my writing desk!

What character do you most relate to and why?

Definitely my main character Danger Danielle “Danny” Warren!  Danny begins her journey as a pleaser, worried about her single mother’s feelings, her dad’s perceptions, and also takes on most of the blame for her parents’ divorce, her mom’s bitterness and her dad’s abandonment. I, too, have been a pleaser in the past and the first to apologize, even when whatever happened wasn’t even remotely my fault. My husband always jokes that I say I’m sorry before anything goes wrong! The opportunity to create a character that evolves from a pleaser to someone who can understand a situation without blinders, and redefine not only herself, but also her relationships, was both fulfilling and cathartic. And, witnessing Danny discovering so many truths about herself and those she loves, and practicing forgiveness and kindness but still holding firm to her ideals was a joy. Long after I finished writing this novel, I still find myself asking #WWDD What Would Danny Do? when I’m faced with challenges. Danny’s spirit helps me to stop apologizing and stay true to myself.

Why do you feel books with powerful and relatable characters are so popular and have such a voice right now?

The simple answer is that right now, in a country and world that at times seems so violent and divided, we need books with powerful, relatable characters to inspire us. I think young adult authors, particularly, have registered this need. Their creativity and inclusive stories not only motivate new generations but remind older generations of a time when life was exciting, new and full of hope. Getting in touch with that spirit infuses the world with fresh possibilities!

I can’t even convey how much I wish there had been such a wide range of characters in YA books when I was a teen. I would’ve loved a story like The Hate U Give that tackled prejudice and racism, or All the Bright Places that encapsulated teen grief and depression with a realism that was dazzling, or Robin Roe’s A List of Cages that showcased the power of friendship to heal cruelty.

Young adult novels in particular have the ability to educate, move, and embrace readers from every walk of life. When readers find characters that aren’t just relatable but are admirable, they realize that they’re not alone. That’s why these novels are so popular and I think we’re all better off for it!

Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.

“The Speed of Falling Objects is a perfect blend of adventure and romance, set in one of the most dangerous and fascinating places on Earth… I inhaled this story!” –Jennifer Mathieu, author of Moxie and The Liars of Mariposa Island

Here’s a bit about the story…

Danger “Danny” Danielle Warren is no stranger to falling. After losing an eye in a childhood accident, she had to relearn her perception of movement and space. Now Danny keeps her head down, studies hard, and works to fulfill everyone else’s needs. She’s certain that her mom’s bitterness and her TV star father’s absence are her fault. If only she were more—more athletic, charismatic, attractive—life would be perfect.

When her dad calls with an offer to join him to film the next episode of his popular survivalist show, Danny jumps at the chance to prove she’s not the disappointment he left behind. Being on set with the hottest teen movie idol of the moment, Gus Price, should be the cherry on top. But when their small plane crashes in the Amazon, and a terrible secret is revealed, Danny must face the truth about the parent she worships and falling for Gus, and find her own inner strength and worth to light the way home.

Readers can expect a harrowing tale of self-discovery, loss, first love, survival and hope.

What’s next for you in the book world?

I’m so glad you asked! I have a brand new manuscript in the hands of my wonderful agent, Stephanie Kip Rostan at Levine, Greenberg Rostan. If anyone wants a sneak peek, I have a super secret synopsis in my newsletter. Readers can visit my website: www.nancyrichardsonfischer.com, sign up for my newsletter, which also includes other secrets plus free stuff and contests, and read all about it!!!

Who is your favorite writer right now and why?

This is an IMPOSSIBLE question!!!  I can’t narrow things down to one writer. There are just too many authors and genres I love… so please indulge me with a few authors!

For contemporary YA novels, Jennifer Niven. I don’t know anyone who does it better and every one of her stories leaves a mark on my heart.

For science fiction, Blake Crouch. I just read Recursion and it blew my mind. Seriously, I had to go back and reread because my brain short-circuited.

For adult adventure/thriller, Erica Ferencik. Her latest, Into the Jungle, was a haunting, powerful ride through the Amazon.

For crafting a gorgeous novel with stunning prose and a powerful plot, Rebecca Makkai. I adored The Great Believers and recommend it highly.

For fantasy, I’m not sure anyone does it better than Laurie Forest. Her Black Witch Chronicles are super creative, swoon-worthy, and tackle racism and prejudice. Plus, there are dragons!

Finally, I am a HUGE Stephen King fan. He’s a master of creating unique characters I truly care about and intricate plots. The Stand, Salem’s Lot, The Shawshank Redemption… and on and on!

Find Nancy Here:

Visit her website at www.nancyrichardsonfischer.com

Twitter: @nfischerauthor

Facebook: @nanfischerauthor

Instagram: @nanfischerauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/98412.Nancy_Richardson_Fischer

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