Welcome to NABBW member and prolific author, Nancy Gotter Gates. A public relations director for the Hudson Ohio school district as well as the Seal of Ohio Girl Scout Council in Columbus and the Columbus/Franklin County Library, Nancy retired early in order to seriously pursue her hobby of writing, which she had enjoyed since childhood.
At first she concentrated on writing articles and poems, she says. Next she moved on to mastering the short story genre. After publishing about 30 short stories Nancy turned to novel writing. She’s been writing novels for about fifteen years now, and has six to her credit.
The first four are mysteries featuring protagonists Tommi Poag & Emma Daniels, and the last two — Sand Castles and Life Studies — are women’s fiction. All of them, she says, have a common theme, which is that older women are clever, hard working, intuitive, and caring.
Nancy attributes much of her authoring success to the “kind but insightful critiques” she’s received over the years from the wonderfully supportive writers’ group she’s been a part of for nearly twenty years. “I don’t know what I’d do without them,” she says.
“And I also thank the professional groups that are so supportive: Murder We Write, the local chapter of Sisters in Crime and Carolina Romance Writers, the local chapter of Romance Writers of America.” You can learn more about Nancy’s books on her website.
Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?
Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.
I’m a widow, having lost my husband at age fifty-five. My daughter lives nearby and my two sons live at some distance, but we all have a close relationship. I have no grandchildren and my parents are deceased.
What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?
Some of my favorite memories are of my high school years. Unlike today, there was a lot less pressure on students to “be excellent in everything” in order to be selected for a favorite university. Although I was involved in many activities, I did it because it was fun and I enjoyed it, not because I was trying to enhance my application for school. It gave me the opportunity to explore my interests in writing, art, and music.
What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?
I did not let my husband’s premature death cast a permanent pall over my life. It was difficult, of course, to go on, but I learned that having a goal pulled me out of my grief and set me on the road to a productive and happy life. The goal was to make a life as a writer.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by other writers who have overcome adversity to pursue their craft. I have a ninety-five-year-old friend who was first published at age seventy-eight and now has sixteen books in print. And she is still actively writing. That is inspirational!
What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?
I find the most pleasure in friends and family who become more precious to me every day.
Do you have any interesting hobbies?
My hobbies are painting and sewing. I love to work in watercolor, and my new book, Life Studies, reflects that interest. In fact the setting for my book, Sternberger Artists Center, is a real place in Greensboro NC where I had a studio for a number of years. Although I used the studio for writing, my protagonist, Liz Raynor, paints there. She, too, lost her husband who was in his fifties.
Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.
I love so many books and movies it would be too difficult to single out any specific ones. I especially love to read mysteries and have written six of them myself. As far as movies go, I usually prefer the “little” art house movies to the blockbusters.
Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?
I’ve always loved to travel which probably stems from the time my husband was based in Wiesbaden, Germany, with the Air Force and we had the opportunity to travel throughout Europe. I’ve also been to Australia, New Zealand, Patagonia, Costa Rica, Alaska, the Maritimes and travel each summer to Vancouver to visit my sister. Of course my husband was my favorite travel partner, but since I’ve been single I join tour groups.
Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate.
I try to eat healthily and exercise, although the latter is the hardest for me since I tend to favor sedentary activities. I do enjoy pool aerobics twice a week.
What do you stress about?
I really don’t stress about much at all. At this point I am pretty laid back and take each day as it comes. Life’s too short to get stressed over it.
Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?
I’ve never been one to worry unduly about my looks. I began to go gray very early and since people commented on the “highlights” I never tried to cover it up. I’m now completely gray and happy about it and I do get compliments. As far as any cosmetic procedures I have no interest in them at all.
Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?
As far as reinventing myself, I think people are surprised that I am taking my writing so seriously. I believe they thought at first that it was a phase I was going through and I would go on to the next thing. But now that I am working on my tenth book, they seem quite amazed.
Do you plan to retire?
I retired early from my work in public relations when my husband had to take disability retirement at age forty-six. But I hope to continue writing till they find me slumped over my keyboard. It is what gives my life meaning.
Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?
I would have to say my husband’s illness and death at such an early age was the major turning point in my life. It took me some time to realize I could still lead a fulfilling life on my own.
Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?
My dream is to become a better writer and by writing every day I hope to accomplish that.
How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world?
I hope that my books make at least a small difference to my readers if only for the pleasure of reading or if I make some point that resonates with them.
Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
Many people have had great influence on my life but I credit my maternal grandmother with sparking my interest in writing. She shared her love of writing poetry with me from the time I learned how to hold a pencil, and I have always called her my muse.
If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.
My mission in life sounds unoriginal but I hope to make some slight difference in other peoples’ lives through my relationships and through my writing.