Saturday, October 14, 2017

Anthology Collaboration – Nancy Kay Clark Interview

 Getting to know you  ♫♪♫♪  Getting to know all about you  ♫♪♫♪

I’m anxious to learn about my collaborators in the soon-to-be-released anthology. 

My interview with anthology mastermind Frank T. Sikora gave me (and you) many insights into the man and writer. This is my attempt to know Nancy Kay Clark better.

When I think of Nancy, I imagine a person driven by a relentless passion for literature. Nancy runs CommuterLit, an e-zine featuring short stories and poems. But that’s not where the genius ends. Nancy is a writer and editor. She also critiques fiction manuscripts. I personally recommend her services. She’s good! Plus, she’s the driving force behind two anthologies, Commuterlit Selections Fall 2013, and Arrivals and Departures. Buy Here
I knew Nancy through my story submissions to her publication. I liked her without ever having met her. She’s an encouraging and supportive voice in a publishing business that exists mostly on form rejections and unanswered queries. Nancy remains personable in the impersonal world of publishing.
I deleted some of my intended questions for Nancy when I came across this blog Six Questions for Nancy Kay Clark . Check it out.
Now, let’s delve a little deeper into Nancy’s psyche.

P: Nancy, how do you clear your head of the editing, publishing, and critiquing - not to mention hearth and home plus your civic volunteer work - to write mind-blowing imaginative story lines? Do you binge write? Write thoughts and words on coffee-ringed napkins?  Take retreats?
N:I have no set way of writing. I tend to churn a character or a theme or a premise over in my head for a while — days, months, years — before writing it down. And I usually don’t have the entire story set. I write down the beginning, and sometimes the middle, in one go, when I have a spare few hours and then I wait for the ending to come to me. I find endings give me the most trouble. Sometimes I try to force an ending on a story, and it just doesn’t work. Sometimes I’ll wait for years for an ending — I’ve struggled with one story for at least a decade and I just can’t get the ending right. Maybe there is no ending. Maybe it will remain unfinished. I tend to stockpile a whole bunch of beginnings, and every once in awhile, I’ll reread the beginnings and if one calls to me, still excites me, I will continue writing it — inching it towards an ending that feels right. This is not a very efficient way of writing. Fellow writers have often suggested I create a detailed outline before writing a story. But I never take that advice — I think I enjoy groping in the dark, until I see the light. If I knew how everything turned out before I wrote the first line, I don’t think I would enjoy the process as much as I do.

P: There are no do-overs in life. But if there were, are there any steps in your writing career that you could have skipped, or is there something you wished you’d known from the beginning? How would you do it differently the second time around?
N: I think I would have embarked on my literary life earlier. I started writing as a kid, maybe ten or so, but when puberty hit, my self-confidence plummeted and I stopped writing. I just didn’t think I had lived enough — had enough life experience to write about anything important — least ways anything anyone would be interested in. It took me decades to regain that self-confidence. If I had a do over, I would try harder to hang on to that exuberant kid who had all the self-confidence in the world, who didn’t even question or care whether what she was writing was important or literary or interesting. She just wrote because she loved writing.

P: Which three adjectives best describe you, and if you could change something about yourself, what would it be?
N: Tenacious, do-it-yourselfer, daydreamer. I would change how impatient I am — I try to all the time, I try, I desperately try to be more patient, I fail most of the time.

P: Describe your utmost favourite meal. With whom would you like to share it? This person could be anyone past or present.
N: Oh, something chocolatey and decadent — at a little cafe in Paris, with my husband and best friend Doug Bennet. I know, I know, not very exotic choice of partner, but even after more than 20 years of being together, I still love hanging out with him. 

P: If you had a three-day pass to go anywhere in the world, or out of this world, where would you go?
N: Well, it’s not three days, it’s six weeks — there’s this Odyssey Sci Fi Writing Workshop in New Hampshire every summer, which I’d love to go on. I just can't afford to take off for six weeks.  

P: You’re an incredibly imaginative storyteller. I’m itching to ask how your ideas originate. Not an original question, but I’d love to know. Of the four stories in this anthology, is there one that you could focus on and share its source? Did it begin with a character, a place, or an experience?
N: Well, I’ll tell you about how Penetanguishene came about. Years ago, when our kids were young, Doug and I took them on a road trip round Midland and Penetanguishene. We ended up touring this re-creation of an early 19th century British Naval Base on Penetanguishene Bay on Lake Huron, called Discovery Harbour. And, just like in my story, our tour guide was this young woman dressed in period costume. She told us about the Base commander (circa 1820s) Captain Roberts, and his family, his wife Rosamund, and her sister Letitia. As the tour guide was telling me about this family, particularly how circumspect the women’s lives were at the base (two well-bred, educated English women stuck in the middle of the wilderness, not being able to go anywhere, or do much), I began to think how bored these women must have been. 
That was enough for my imagination to take flight, and I began to envision these people and their lives. I confess, I didn’t do much research on them as historical figures. I didn’t want the facts to interfere with what I imagined them to be like. So most of the characters in that story are historical figures, they just aren’t portrayed accurately according to the historical record.

P: What is your goal as a writer? And is writing the most important aspect of your work. If not, what is?
N: To finish all my stockpiled story beginnings, and to share my stories through being published, or self-publishing, online or in print, or in person through public readings (which I love doing).

After many years as a magazine writer and editor, Nancy Kay Clark began to write fiction, but couldn’t settle on what kind—literary, children’s, sci fi or speculative (so she writes all four). Her short fiction has been featured in Neo Opsis magazine. She launched her own online literary magazine,, in 2010 (it’s still going strong); creates chapbooks to sell, and in 2018 will-publish a middle-grade novel, tentatively titled Gus the Fuss. You can find her stories on CommuterLit, and on Wattpad.


  1. Wonderful article. Whenever I try to follow an outline, the story ends up totally different. Perhaps, that is the true purpose of an outline.
    Frank Sikora

    1. I'm a pantser, too, Frank. I simply don't have the discipline to follow an outline. Or maybe it's not about discipline. My characters lead the way and I follow along. They always seem to know what they're doing even if I don't.

  2. Interesting to read about Nancy. First discovered her name when I found CommuterLit & submitted a few poems; a few were accepted there, happy to say. Recapturing childhood exuberance sounds like an appealing goal!

    1. Do overs...if only. haha Yes, it was great to learn more about Nancy the 'writer'. I, too, associate Nancy Kay Clark with CommuterLit.

  3. Very glad you still want to hang out with me.
    -Doug Bennet