Author Nina Mansfield – December 2015

Author Nina Mansfield

Welcome, Nina! I first e-met you when you posed a question on SMFS about a bullet knocking over a chair, and that led to quite a bit of fun for me—a trip to the range to shoot a bunch of my guns to confirm what your husband already knew:-)—so it’s a pleasure to have you here talking about your book.

What can you tell us about SWIMMING ALONE?

Thank you! It is an honor to be here! SWIMMING ALONE is a young adult mystery novel that takes place in the fictional town of Beach Point, Rhode Island A serial killer known as the Sea Side Strangler happens to be killing young women in Beach Point who look an awful like my protagonist, fifteen year-old Cathy Banks. When Cathy’s new friend Lauren disappears, she suspects the worst, and sets out to find out the truth. The book is filled with twists, turns, red herrings, and plenty of teenage snarkiness.

What inspired you to start writing fiction, and how long have you been at it?

Honestly, I’ve been writing since I was five years old. I guess I’ve always just had these stories swirling around in my brain that I’ve wanted to tell. In school I studied theater, so when I rediscovered my love of writing as an adult, I started off writing plays, which I still write. Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I started writing fiction again, and I have half a dozen unfinished novels that I started writing during those years. Probably about twelve years ago, I decided to take my fiction writing more seriously. I wrote some short stories, and a couple of years after that, I wrote the first draft of SWIMMING ALONE. At the time, I was teaching high school. I realized my students craved books with a great deal of suspense. And since I have always loved reading mysteries, writing a young adult mystery novel seemed like the thing to do.

What genre do you prefer reading, and who is/are your favorite author(s) in that genre?

I read everything, but my favorite genres are mysteries and true crime. I have a lot of favorite authors, but to name a few: Agatha Christie, PD James, Tana French and Gillian Flynn.

Along that same line of questioning, have you ever read an author who has had a lasting and positive impact on your life?

I was introduced to Lois Duncan by an amazing teacher in 7th grade. Her books made me want to be a writer.

How many hours per day do you devote to writing?

It varies greatly. I rarely have more than 4 hours of free time in a day, and if two of those are spent writing, then it is a really good day.

Can you describe a typical day in the life of Nina Mansfield?

I wish I could describe a life in which I quietly sip my coffee in the morning before stepping into my cushy study to write for hours on end. These days, however, I am a stay-at-home mom to a very active 1 ½ year old. So my days often include a whirlwind of chasing her around the house, some kind of toddler activity like music or swim class, and time at the park. On a good day, she takes a two hour nap, and I get some writing and/or blogging in. Otherwise I have to wait until after bedtime to write, read and relax a little. It’s no wonder my second novel is taking a while to finish!

If you could write from anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Paris. I visited years ago, and fell in love. The food, the art, the culture all inspire me to be creative. I have two pictures of the Eiffel Tower hanging in my living room. My heart broke after the recent attacks. If given the chance, I would move there in a heartbeat.

What are some of your interests or hobbies outside of writing?

In no particular order: seeing theater, reading, practicing yoga, traveling and scrapbooking.

What’s next after SWIMMING ALONE?

My graphic novel FAKE ID: BEYOND RECOGNITION, a girl-power adventure, illustrated by the amazing Leyla Akdogan, will be out from Plume Snake in late 2016. I’m also working on revising another young adult novel: a paranormal thriller. And I did finish writing that short mystery story that you helped me out with. (I had to make some changes!) It is currently out on submission.

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The Sea Side Strangler is on the loose in Beach Point, where fifteen-year-old Cathy Banks is spending the summer with her aunt (who happens to be mystery writer Roberta McCabe).  Although thrilled to be away from her psychotic, divorcing parents, with no cell phone or internet access, Cathy is positive that her summer is going to be wretched. Just when she begins to make friends, and even finds a crush to drool over, her new friend Lauren vanishes.  When a body surfaces in Beach Point Bay, Cathy is forced to face the question:  has the Sea Side Strangler struck again?

NinaMansfieldBeachPicNina Mansfield is a Connecticut based writer. Her debut novel, SWIMMING ALONE a YA mystery, was published by Fire & Ice YA in 2015. Nina has written numerous plays, which have been published and produced throughout United States and internationally. Her graphic novel FAKE ID: BEYOND RECOGNITION, illustrated by Leyla Akdogan, will be out with Plume Snake in 2016. Nina’s short mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Mysterical-E. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, The Short Mystery Fiction Society and the Dramatists Guild.

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