Stephanie: Hello, Nancy! It is a pleasure to be able to talk with you today about your book, The Clock of Life. What a beautiful and profound title for your story. And I would like to say congratulations on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your story. Please tell your audience a little about the premise of your book.
Nancy: Stephanie, thanks so much for giving me this opportunity to talk with you.
The Clock Of Life is a period piece set in the late 70’s and 80’s. It’s a coming-of-age story about Jason Lee Rainey, a boy whose father was killed in Vietnam. The boy has been told very little about the man, but finds ways to seek out more information. He longs to become the kind of man his father was, but alas, doesn’t believe he has the backbone to do so.
Stephanie: Mississippi is an old southern state with deeply rooted attitudes and a way of life for many. Why did you chose the 1980’s for your period?
Nancy: In the past fifty years, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement were our greatest catalysts for social protest. This book explores how those two struggles shaped the lives and character of the people who experienced them directly. By setting my story in the 80’s, Jason Lee Rainey would be the right age for these events to weave into in his search.
Stephanie: Is this story inspired by actual people and events?
Nancy: None of my central characters are based on actual people. But, I am moved and inspired by the courage of those who take a stand, not because it’s popular, but because it’s the right thing to do. This story is infused with their spirit.
Stephanie: Please tell me one of the adventures-mischief if you will- that Jason and Samson have. And what brings them together as friends?
Nancy: Due to his precocious nature, Samson is generally the ringleader. He has the advantage of having two brothers, and the benefit of his father’s side-job as a bootlegger. From time to time Samson pilfers the moonshine, and the boys meet by the river, in the dead of night, for “drinkin’ meetin’s.”
Another bit of mischief I was able to incorporate into the story came from personal experience. When I was young I discovered the thrill of substituting electrical “slugs” for quarters in the soft-drink machines at the corner drug store, so I had Samson and Jason Lee perfect the skill of making counterfeit quarters to use around town.
Stephanie: Please tell me about Jason’s weaknesses and strengths.
Nancy: Jason Lee’s primary weakness is his isolation and naivety. His mother, for her own reasons, keeps him as protected as she can and tells him nothing of his father’s story. His strength is his moral compass, his love of family, and his innate sense of fairness.
Stephanie: Was there research involve for your story? Did you learn anything new about the Civil Rights Movement that you might have not known before?
Nancy: Yes, there was a large amount of research. So much so, I even thanked Google on my acknowledgements page.
While I was quite comfortable with my characters and the setting, I felt unsure about the actual town itself, so I took a road trip through the back roads of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, to take in the spirit of the many small towns that ultimately became my town of Hadlee.
I cooked a pot of chitlins and hog maws, even after being warned about the smell. I had my husband tell me the story about the time he got his first suit, and the unfortunate instructions his mother gave the tailor. To go further with this would be a spoiler. Those who have already read the book know the outcome of that one. Some thing’s I knew first-hand, like the time one takes their first swig of moonshine.
The most fun I had with research was while creating Jason Lee’s father’s journal about his participation in the Selma to Montgomery march. I was able to score newspaper clippings originally published in the Selma Times-Journal during those days in March, 1965.
What did I learn about the Civil Rights Movement I hadn’t known before? I wasn’t as familiar as I should have been about the various civil rights organizations, like NAACP, CORE, SCLC, SNCC, etc, and their varying philosophies, strategies, and power struggles.
Stephanie: Is there a message in your story you would like readers to grasp?
Nancy: This is a story of doing the right thing, because it’s right, and that everyone has the power to make a difference. It’s also a reminder of a time when American protests changed the status quo.
Stephanie: What was your writing process for this story and how long did it take you to write it?
Nancy: The first and most difficult step was sitting my butt in the chair and giving my writing a higher priority than, oh, everything else. When I write I don’t have a strict schedule. I’m more of a whenever-the-inspiration strikes person. I don’t write in coffee shops, or public places, and I don’t have a music playlist to write to. I prefer silence, because generally those distractions take me out of the story and disrupts the process.
I close my eyes and enter the scene with my characters. I “see” the locations in my head, and “hear” the voices during the conversations. I picture it as a movie, and take the trip with my characters.
By the completion of my final draft, I had devoted five years to The Clock Of Life.
Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?
Nancy: For self-published authors, getting the word out through established review venues like Kirkus Reviews, and The New York Times, or even “established” local newspapers is challenging because of their strict policies of not accepting indie works. While researching various venues that HELP self published novels get recognized, (yes, thank you again Google) I came upon the indieBRAG website. Thank goodness for supporters like indieBRAG, and yourself, I want to say how much I appreciate, and applaud, your diligence in helping the reading public navigate through the alternative publishing choices.
Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?
The Clock Of Life is available on Amazon, worldwide, on Kindle as well as in print. It is also available from Barnes and Nobel.com, and in all other e-book venues offered.
Nancy: Stephanie, thank you for this interview. I’d like to add something that means a lot to me. Readers hold the key to any writer’s heart. Readers are our raison d’être, and I am particularly grateful to everyone who has expressed appreciation for my efforts.
Stephanie: Thank you, Nancy!
Nancy: FYI: As well as a BRAG honoree, The Clock Of Life, was named a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards as well as the Readers’ Favorite Book Awards. And, just last month it was named a winner in the Writer’s Digest Self Published contest for Fiction. It also has an AIA medal.
I tried my hand at writing short fiction while traveling for work in advertising and marketing, as a creative outlet on long plane rides. That led me to signing up for writing classes, writer’s conferences and local workshops. My goal-to create unique stories told in a distinctive voice. I’m happy to say some of the stories have generated awards and publication in anthologies. Eleven of them are published in my collection of short stories titled, Like The Flies On The Patio.
Short Stories were my primary genre until one morning while in a workshop at The Santa Barbara Writers Conference, I read an excerpt. When I finished, the instructor asked what I was doing for the next couple of years, because, “What you have written isn’t a short story, it’s a novel.” After a good deal of foot dragging I came to realize the subject matter was compelling, and I penned the novel, The Clock of Life.
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Nancy Klann-Moren, who is the author of, The Clock of Life, one of our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Clock of Life, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.