"Pink Balloons and Other Deadly Things" "Sharks, Jellyfish and Other Deadly Things" "Shooting Stars and Other Deadly Things" "Golden Eggs and Other Deadly Things" "Slippery Slopes and Other Deadly Things" "Ablaze"

Lost in Books
Interview with Nancy Tesler
February 14, 2014

Nancy Tesler has written a string of successful mysteries in her “Other Deadly things” series but has now self-published a standalone that’s a bit different. I ask her about the change.


Q. Nancy, can you tell us first about the “Other Deadly Things” mysteries and the character, Carrie Carlin? Her character seems to be modeled somewhat on yourself. How much of Carrie is you and how much is fiction?

A.  The “Other Deadly Things” series is the lemonade I made when life handed me a bunch of lemons and I’m enjoying every drop. The series is pure fiction but the idea came about as a result of my own divorce.  My amateur sleuth, Carrie, is a forty-one year old suburban mom of two pre-teenagers and the “proxy” mom of four animals, whose husband of eighteen years has run off with a sexy twenty-eight-year-old wicked witch. Carrie is trying desperately not to fall apart especially for the sake of her children and to build her practice as a biofeedback (stress-reduction) therapist. In Book One, “Pink Balloons and Other Deadly Things,” just when Carrie thinks her life couldn’t possibly get any worse, she’s accused of whacking the bimbo. Well, I’m a mother, I’ve been divorced under circumstances not dissimilar to Carrie’s, I’ve been a biofeedback professional, and like Carrie, I plead guilty to having had the occasional homicidal thought. But there the similarity ends. Carrie is gutsier than I am and occasionally she’s reckless. She often gets herself (well, I put her) in situations where even a cop would fear to tread without back-up. That’s not me. To this day I avoid scary horror films but I do have a vivid imagination. When I was in fourth grade I invented a story about a Nancy Drew-like character named Jean Beacon. I even got away with giving an oral book report on it.

Q.  You’ve gained quite a following with that series. But now you’ve written a very different kind of novel. Why did you decide to switch in the middle of a successful series?

A. When your protagonist is an amateur sleuth, not a law enforcement professional, it becomes difficult to have her keep falling over dead bodies and continue to maintain some degree of realism. Her profession does bring her in contact with people from all walks of life which I had originally thought would provide me with endless material but the character herself took over.  By the end of “Slippery Slopes…” Carrie has grown. She’s begun to question her motives in continually endangering her own life. She begins to question what it is about her that makes her flirt with danger. She has children for whom she is responsible and she has found a man she loves who wants to marry her but who is ready to leave her because of this flaw in her character. When Carrie agrees to marry her cop lover, it seemed a good place to end the series.

Q. Tell us about “Ablaze.”

A. “Ablaze” started out as a romantic suspense but because I am essentially a mystery writer the mystery part of the plot ended up becoming more important than the romance.  Some years back, I’d been doing research on cults for a TV spec  script. When the network unexpectedly cancelled the show, all the research I’d done seemed to have been for naught until the plot for “Ablaze” began to form in my mind. My protagonist, Samantha Barron is a victim/advocate working for a New Jersey county prosecutor’s office.  Her world is turned upside down when a man with whom she had once been in love shows up at her office and insinuates himself into her case. The previous year, attorney Doug Ruark had thrown Samantha off his elite crisis response team for defying his orders and running into a burning building to save a dog that she’d thought was a baby. Samantha is a Munchausens by Proxy survivor and given the same circumstances, she would probably do it again. She and Ruark are forced to work together to save a young witness to a murder from the machinations of a malignant cult with whom the girl has become involved, before the cult gurus discover that she can ID the killer.

Q. What was the most difficult part about writing this novel?

A. Unquestionably, the love scenes.  I did not want to write erotic scenes that were gratuitous. I wanted them to be real and to grow out of the relationship. I’ve read romance novels where those scenes seem to be written only to titillate, something that totally turns me off.  In the end, I took out a love scene on which I had worked especially hard because I thought that the mystery plot was more important than the romance.

Q. Will you now return to the “Other Deadly Things” series or will you write another standalone or a new series?

A. I’m not sure what I will do. I might pick a character from one of the previous book and base a series on him or her, or I might write another Samantha mystery.

Q. You started out with a traditional publisher but now you self-publish.  Why did you make that move?

A. When the Bertelsmann conglomerate bought Dell and several other publishing houses, quite a few of us newer mid-list authors who were not yet bringing in the big bucks, lost our contracts. Amazon came along and saved our careers. As the whole world knows by now, self-publishing has really taken off. When I was originally published by Dell, self-publishing was looked down upon by nearly everyone in the industry. Today many indie authors are reaching a larger readership and making more money by going the indie route than if they stayed with a traditional publisher. I have mixed feelings. If I were again to be offered a contract with a major publishing house I would probably take it for the publicity and the exposure to editorial reviews that would give me, but I would try to hold on to my e-Book rights and to my great cover artist as well.


© 2016 by Nancy Tesler. All rights reserved.