Nansi Kunze Interview

Written By: Kellie - Nov• 09•11

Dangerously Placed Synopsis: Alex Thaler can’t wait to start her dream work experience placement at Virk, where staff from all over the world mingle in an astonishing virtual office. But when an employee is found murdered, the dream becomes a nightmare—because Alex is the prime suspect. Fortunately, Alex’s friends are willing to brave shark tanks, disgusting pathology specimens, and even a nude beach in order to clear her name. Can a hippie chick, a goth girl in a lab coat, and two guys with a taste for  blowing things up really help solve the mystery before Alex becomes the next victim?

ReaWrite– How long did Dangerously Placed take to complete from concept to completion? How many drafts were involved?

Nansi– I came up with the initial concept several years ago and wrote it as a short story, so in that sense, it took a really long time. But it took me over a year to complete the first draft from the time I began working on it as a novel (my son was a toddler at the time, so my writing time was limited to whenever my husband could take time off work and on weekends to look after him!). I did a second draft based mainly on the general comments my editor and husband had made about the first one, and a third after the publishers had done a full structural edit. Altogether, I think the three drafts took almost two years from start to finish.

ReaWrite– Do you outline and plan at all (if we’d love to know the details of the process) or do you prefer just to start writing and see where the story takes you?

Nansi– I’m a serious planner. It’s weird, actually, because I’m the most incredibly disorganised person in just about every other aspect of my life, but when it comes to writing, I have to know where I’m going. Partly that’s due to being a stay-at-home mum: I have to make the most of the set times when I can write. But mainly it’s just that the idea of writing a very rough draft and then having to ditch a whole lot of it absolutely horrifies me! I have a planning book for each novel in which I write longhand notes, and I usually have many pages of notes about character, premise and basic plot before I open a new document and start typing the manuscript itself. Early in the process I’ll often tape several pieces of paper together and use them as a timeline of when events are supposed to happen – this was especially useful in Dangerously Placed, where everything happens over a two-week period. I also plan each chapter in detail in the planning book just before I start work on it. I’m amazed when I hear writer friends talking about letting the story take them where it wants to go – I can’t keep enough detail in my head to do that. It always makes me think of Dr Jones Sr’s quote in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade: ‘I wrote it down so I wouldn’t have to remember!’

ReaWrite– How well do you know your characters before you start writing?

Nansi– Mostly very well. Even though I’m a planner, I often don’t have to plan that much about my main characters, because some of them seem to appear almost fully-formed in my mind along with the story concept. Minor characters sometimes surprise me that way too; Mr Guildenhall, for example, didn’t even appear in the first draft of Dangerously Placed. My husband reminded me after reading it that usually work experience kids get visited by someone from the school to check how they’re going. I immediately had a picture of this tubby guy in a tweed jacket, and I knew what his personality would be like (which probably means he sprang from the memory of various teachers from my own childhood). Occasionally I find that one of my characters doesn’t feel right, though, and I have to stop and take a good look at them part-way through a manuscript. Alex was a bit like that, because in the short story I originally wrote the main character was a guy. She was also meant to be a kind of ‘everygirl’ character, which I find difficult. Eccentric characters are much easier to write!

ReaWrite– At what stage do you first let someone else read your work?

Nansi– Usually after I’ve completed the first draft, except in the case of my previous book, Mishaps, when I took one look at the first draft and decided it sucked. I couldn’t bear to show that draft to anyone; I completely rewrote it before I let anyone read it. I hope I’ll never have to do that again! After doing one draft, though, I think it’s important to get other people’s input. Otherwise I might be on completely the wrong track with the second draft.

ReaWrite– What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you?

Nansi– The middle of the first draft. Generally I’ve been planning, both on paper and in my head, for so long before I start a new manuscript that I have a very clear idea of what happens in the first few chapters, and I know where I want the story to go in the end, too. But despite all that planning, I almost always find there’s a spot in the middle of the novel where I just can’t quite see how the start and end connect up. I always manage to work it out, but there’s a lot of staring at my screen or planning book before that happens (and occasionally shouting ‘Aargh!’ or clutching my head in despair)!

ReaWrite– Finally, what is your favorite part of the writing process?

Nansi– I think that’s a tie – I can’t choose between my two favourite parts! One is opening up that new document and typing the very first words of a new novel. The other is finishing whichever draft I’ve decided is the one I’ll send to my publishers. Neither happens very often, but they are truly wonderful moments.

ReaWrite– Thank you so much for your time!

Nansi– Thanks for interviewing me – I really enjoyed answering these questions!

You can visit Nansi at her website here, and buy her book from Amazon here.


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One Comment

  1. Really great interview! I absolutely love learning more about what goes on behind the scenes.

    I’m currently reading this, and I can definitely tell a lot of planning went into it! I love the techie aspects :)

    Nice blog just by the way! *New Follower*

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