Interview With Author Fran Fisher
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m the youngest of four children born to middle-class parents. I graduated from nursing school and became a legal nurse consultant and nurse paralegal for over 30 years until I became burned out from the stress and pressure of working with attorneys. My career as a commercial print model ended when multiple back surgeries intervened. My career as an author began in 2010 and my publications include: six short stories (2013—2016); I wrote a screenplay for one of my short stories, Mercy’s Legacy. And, in 2023 another short story, Earning My Wings, earned a Firebird Honorable Recognition Award. In 2016, my first novel was published by Cambron Publishing—an award-winning historical murder mystery titled Paradox Forged In Blood. I am a lifelong resident of Cleveland, Ohio. For my current novel, please refer to the next question.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Growing Up O’Malley, a work of historical fiction, will be released in the fall of 2023. It contains many of the same characters as my first book (Paradox Forged in Blood) although my current novel covers a century (1880s to 1980s). Interspersed within the O’Malley saga are stories of the children’s future spouses, each battling unique challenges as the world navigated the Great Depression and World War II. My mother, Ellen Grace (depicted as the infant on the Growing Up O’Malley 1920 cover) died in 2008. I needed to channel my grief and decided to write a novel (in addition to several short stories.) This allowed me to re-direct my energy into a positive outlet as I incorporated my mother as the main protagonist. But without any formal training, and despite positive reviews of my first draft by friends and family, I knew something felt off. I asked my son to review several chapters and he asked a poignant question: Is this a murder mystery or an homage to the O’Malleys? Stunned at his clarity, I realized the answer was both. My next step was separating my original draft into two books: Paradox Forged In Blood and Growing Up O’Malley. While working a full-time job as a legal nurse consultant, I completed the historical murder mystery, Paradox Forged In Blood, believing it would be more appealing for my intro as a novelist.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
For my current book, I didn’t have an established outline since the content was based on stories I heard growing up and legends passed down through the generations. For ex., Michael O’Malley’s lineage included the famous pirate queen, Grace O’Malley, who commandeered hundreds of men to pillage British ships in the sixteenth century. To update the book’s content, I interviewed my mother’s two sisters in addition to my oldest cousin for unique stories about life in the O’Malley household. With each source, new chapters were added but not chronologically. I then created a timeline table to organize chapters in sequential order. Computers became my next challenge. The manuscript on my Dell laptop became infected and overnight my book grew to 45,000 pages! Fortunately, I saved an earlier version of my book and was only behind for two days. I didn’t trust Windows and switched to a MacBook Air. In addition to learning a completely new operating system, I quickly discovered the Mac was averse to moving book chapters within my novel. Entire chapters were lost and new blank pages were inserted. With the help and patience of my editor (Lorraine Fico-White—owner of “Magnifico Manuscripts”), the mess was untangled.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
As a child, Nancy Drew books became a special treat as a reward for completing household chores. Each mystery, solved by a teenage detective, was devoured and treasured. I then became interested in stories by the Pulitzer Prize author, Pearl S. Buck, and her exotic tales focusing on Asia and China. But my all-time favorites were mysteries and thrillers with a dramatic flair which presented conundrums seemingly impossible to solve—for ex., books written by David Baldacci, Dan Brown, Vince Vaughn, and Harlan Coben. The ability to weave a complex plot with appealing characters became the goal for my first book.
What are you working on now?
I’m compiling prior short stories written and published early in my career. Fortunately, I still retained the rights and I’m using the skill set developed over the years to improve the stories for inclusion in a new book titled When I Grow Up: A Collection of Short Stories.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I’d highly recommend four things:
1. Take a basic writing course before jumping into your first novel. If I had done this, my writing career would have been so much easier.
2. Create a basic outline to keep the story moving in chronological order.
3. If you include historical events in a work of fiction, they must be accurate; therefore, consult several sources to confirm facts (books, documentaries, and internet research.) I believe a book that nurtures the reader with historical content will not only draw them into the story but enrich their sense of adventure by chronicling little-known backstories surrounding poignant events. Examples from Growing Up O’Malley include: What was one of the most popular types of crimes during the Great Depression; Why was the Mafia crucial to FDR’s “Day of Infamy” speech after the Pearl Harbor attack; Who fired the first shot on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor; why was Pearl Harbor attacked; how did Germany create supermen to wage war at lightning speed (aka blitzkrieg attacks)?
4. Create tables of main and ancillary characters. The former should include physical attributes (ex., hair and eye color, birth year, unique characteristics—this will prevent a disproportionate number of people with blonde hair and blue eyes.) The latter is important to prevent duplication of names leaving the reader confused.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
As an author: Write what you know. Everyday life: Always try to replace something negative with something positive and be grateful for the gift of another day.
What are you reading now?
The Sixth Man by David Baldacci
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’ve drafted an outline of a paranormal mystery titled You’re Never Truly Alone. This story is based on my own experience of living with two ghosts for over twenty-five years. Unfortunately, they were not friendly spirits—I sensed their presence confirmed by their hijinks. For example, my son woke up one morning with deep scratches on his back. More often than not, we began a new day in a freezing home. The thermostat usually dipped down to 55 degrees because the furnace switch turned itself off in the middle of the night. After an expert inspection, it was confirmed the lever was strong and couldn’t possibly disengage on its own. I called Mary Ann Winkowski—author of When Ghosts Speak and the inspiration for the TV series The Ghost Whisperer—fortunately a Cleveland native. She confirmed the presence of two ghosts in my home and assisted them in crossing over.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
1. If You Build It by Dwier Brown
2. The Third Option by Vince Flynn
3. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
4. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
Author Websites and Profiles
Fran Fisher’s Social Media Links