Author Interview with Nan Fischer is here! Nan joins us today to chat all about her latest novel, Some Of It Was Real!
Welcome Nan! I’m excited to chat with you! Now, Some of It Was Real releases on July 26th! I’m so excited! Tell us, readers, more about protagonist Sylvie Young and her love interest Thomas Holmes.
Thanks so much for inviting me to chat Carly-Rae and for asking about Sylvie and Thomas!
One of the seeds that started this novel with my fascination with imposter syndrome—the inability to believe one’s success has been legitimately achieved or deserved. I wanted to create a character, Sylvie, on the cusp of achieving great success but who doesn’t quite believe she deserves it. I made Sylvie a psychic as that gift is controversial—the perfect job for someone doubting her abilities due to all the critics!
In order to make Sylvie’s emotional arc even more complex, I wanted her own origin story—the personal narrative we use to define ourselves that are based on memories, tales family tells us, and sometimes even lies—to play into her imposter syndrome. Over the course of the novel, Sylvie learns that much of what she was told in childhood is a lie. She must figure out how to become her true self by discovering what, in her life, is actually real.
Thomas, Sylvie’s love interest, on the other hand, is a very certain guy. He’s a journalist. Life is black and white, right or wrong, with no gray areas. But he, too, suffers from his own version of imposter syndrome, having chosen his profession based on the origin story he interpreted through the lens of his childhood experiences and trauma.
Like so many people, Thomas has developed a hard shell for self-protection but also to hide the disappointment that comes with living an inauthentic life. It’s only when he challenges Sylvie, and she fights back that he’s forced to open up and face the decisions he’s made. Both Thomas and Sylvie give each other the opportunity to be the people they were meant to be—the people they secretly wish to become—if they’re brave enough to risk losing everything in pursuit of the truth.
Have you always been interested in psychic mediums?
YES!!! I’ve had both entertaining interactions with tarot card readers and psychics and ones that have changed the course of my life. Here’s one example:
On a flight to a small town in Colorado, I was seated next to an elegant gray-haired woman. The flight was nicknamed “the vomit comet” because of the bouncy mountain air. I had fulfilled that promise on previous flights, so after buckling in, I immediately checked the seat pocket for a paper bag and then apologized to my elderly seatmate should the need arise to use it. In reply, she asked to see my palm. It turned out she was a famous psychic on her way to Aspen to work at someone’s fancy party. I asked a lot of questions during that flight. The last one, as we prepared to land, was, “will I ever get married?” The psychic looked up from my hand and, with a twinkle in her eye, said: “if you want it enough.”
A famous psychic basically told me that nothing was written in stone! She gave me an open invitation to choose my path. At that time in my life, I was kind of lost. After graduating college, I’d worked as a traveling writer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus and left that job when I could no longer stand seeing wild animals in captivity. I was living the life of a ski bum and working as a cocktail waitress, which was fun but didn’t quite fit. With no idea what to do next, I felt like an imposter.
Throughout that winter, I kept hearing that psychic’s voice in my head. And her words led me to question why I made certain choices and to open myself up to new possibilities. I knew that I loved to read novels that transported, made me question what I believed, and introduced me to new ideas, worlds, and ways of life. The big question was whether I could actually enter that literary world as an author. That psychic kept whispering in my head if you want it enough. And I realized that I did.
So I moved to San Francisco and got my break writing a middle-grade Star Wars trilogy, then moved on to co-writing sports autobiographies for elite athletes. Those later books were incredible experiences, but I was a chameleon in the athletes’ lives, not living my own. When I finally took the leap and published my first young adult novel, When Elephants Fly, I realized that I no longer felt like an imposter but had found my little niche in the world. And now, with my adult debut novel, something I wasn’t sure was possible, I have the chance to give the nod to the psychic who changed my life with her five little words.
I don’t know if what psychics, clairvoyants, mediums, and tarot card readers do is real. And there are people out there who are crooks and grief vampires who do prey on the bereaved. But there are also people like Sylvie who legitimately want to help their clients move on, and find closure. That is a true gift for those who suffer. I thought when I started writing Some Of It Was Real that I’d come to a definitive conclusion about what I believe. In the end, I was left thinking some of it is real but also that it doesn’t really matter to me if it helps a person find peace.
What was your favorite part of crafting this storyline?
I am truly fascinated with psychics, so the opportunity to read articles, watch movies and TV shows, and dig deep into the history of psychics, mediums, and clairvoyants was a ton of fun. As I immersed myself in the supernatural world, the story evolved into an exploration of identity, trauma, and transcending the past. That’s what happens sometimes—characters take over, and then it’s my job to do their journey justice. And that’s my favorite part about writing any novel, but especially this one. After I’ve done my research and think I’ve got a handle on the plot, my book gets turned upside down in the best possible way!
Do you have a favorite chapter you can’t wait for readers to read?
That’s a hard one! My goal with every single chapter is to make it propel the story forward. If during the course of writing, I find my mind wandering or get bored, then I know that chapter has to be rewritten or scrapped! I think my perspective has a lot to do with the novels I was introduced to as a child. My parents would pull out a Charles Dickens novel before bedtime and read us one chapter. Dickens published his novels in newspapers, so each chapter ended with a cliffhanger. I loved that and tried to do the same! I guess if I had to pick a chapter I love most, it’s toward the end of Some Of It Was Real when all the hard work that went into each character’s development, the research, Easter eggs, and plotting finally pay off for the reader.
You’ve created a great push/pull dynamic between Sylvia and Thomas. What inspired you to develop their relationship?
I love a spicy game of cat-and-mouse! It gives me the chance to challenge my characters, creates vulnerabilities and blind spots, and force them to confront their issues. Plus, I get the opportunity to write lots of flirting, kissing, and steamy love scenes;-)!
In more detail, Sylvie already doubts her psychic abilities in the story. But when she’s threatened with losing her career and, more importantly, her sense of self, she fights for her life. Part of that battle means she must dig up her past and risk finding out things that might destroy her personally and professionally. And Thomas is sleepwalking through his life, basically living in his dead brother’s shoes. He’s squelched his own imagination and dreams in exchange for certainty. Sylvie and Thomas, first as adversaries and then as more, give each other the opportunity to discover their true selves and choose who they want to be moving forward in life. I hope their relationship is as inspiring for readers as it was for me to write!
This book has a touch of mystery in it as well. Did you always want this book to have a twist?
Who doesn’t love a great twist? And there are several in Some Of It Was Real! I always wanted there to be a secret in Sylvie’s past that would help her redefine herself and shed her imposter syndrome. And I wanted Thomas to have his own version of a misunderstood origin story so that he, too, would have the opportunity to grow if he could expand his beliefs to include the idea that no one knows for certain what is real.
Let’s talk about your writing process. How do you create such dynamic characters? Do you do character sheets, have Pinterest boards? Share with us your process of creating a character.
Ah. This is a hard question! Mostly because I don’t know what, exactly, goes into the secret sauce of creating three-dimensional characters except for time. At the start of each novel, I have a wall by my desk that I cover with my idea of who my character might be. These include quotes and some interactions with other characters. But as I begin to write, those post-it notes and sheets of paper come down, replaced by more details or shifts in perspective. The deeper I get into writing a book, the more my characters start informing me about who they really are. It’s almost like they take over!
Walk us through a day in your life when writing.
My day always starts with exercising my dog, Boone. He’s almost 14 now, so our walks have gotten a bit shorter, but he’s a Vizsla, so he still does need a fair amount of outdoor time. These days we go to the beach, and he loves to dig and run in the sand. If you follow me on Instagram, there are lots of videos of him;-). After Boone is tired, I usually do about 3-4 hours of writing. Then it’s time for my exercise—I’m kind of like a Vizsla, too! I choose a bike ride, hike, kite surf, or ski, depending on the season. Then I return to my desk and edit for another 3-4 hours. Of course, if I’m on a deadline, my schedule gets thrown out the window, and I chain myself to my desk with Boone sleeping on his bed beside me.
Before I let you go, where can readers find you on social media?
Thanks for asking! I’m on Instagram and Twitter: @nanfischerauthor
Anything else you want to add?
Thanks so much for inviting me to chat. I love your website, and I’m grateful to be a part of it. I hope your readers with check out Some Of It Was Real. That they get caught up in the world of psychics, the mystery Sylvie uncovers, and a love story between foes that become friends and eventually more. I also hope they find something in Sylvie and Thomas’s journey that adds value to their own lives. At times, we all feel like imposters. Understanding why gives us the chance to make different choices and live a more authentic life. That’s my wish for every reader!
Comment any questions you have for Nan! Thank you Nan for joining us!