Get ready to learn more about the book An Alaskan Wedding in this discussion with sapphic author Nance Sparks.
Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Nance Sparks about An Alaskan Wedding, writing, reading, and more.
This book is part of the Divorced Character category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.
Why did you write An Alaskan Wedding?
I wrote this book in 2020 while waiting to see if Bold Strokes Books would pick me up as an author. These two characters kept begging to have their story told and there were so many feels along the way. I can’t love Riley and Andrea enough and let’s not forget Miss Charlotte. This was one of my favorite stories to write.
Who is your favorite character in the book?
My favorite character in the book is Andrea. She’s so complex. She’s bisexual and struggles to be understood. If she’s with a guy, then everyone assumes she’s straight and if she’s with a woman, then she’s lesbian, but she struggles with being put in a box. She has two daughters and a demanding career, so when her best friend asks her to be her maid of honor at her wedding in Alaska, she jumps at the chance to just be Andi again instead of Mom or Nurse. Andrea was fun to write because she’s not me and I had an amazing time getting to know her.
What inspired the idea for An Alaskan Wedding?
The opening scene, that never made it in the final copy of the book, was the inspiration for the entire story. There are threads to that scene that were real for me, but never really spoken aloud.
What was the biggest challenge writing this book?
Learning as I went. It was my second novel and I was such a newbie that I made ever mistake in the book. I would love to write it again knowing what I know now.
What part of the book was the most fun to write?
The scene at the sex toy store. I love Miss Charlotte!!
How did you come up with the title for your book?
It created itself with the premise… An Alaskan Wedding.
How much research did you need to do for An Alaskan Wedding?
TONS!!! I needed to know about the hot springs, the northern lights, the wildlife in the area and the ice castle museum, not to mention the weather for September in Alaska. There was so much to learn as I went along and I had a blast digging in.
If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?
I’ve considered a sequel, when the daughter Sydney grows older and gets married. It’s still a strong possibility.
What is your favorite line from your book?
I can’t give you a single line, but my favorite scene is the orange pop scene.. and if you know, you know!!!
What is your writing process like?
I’m a planster. I have to have a strong idea of a story for my proposal to my publisher, but beyond that, lots of things unfold as I’m writing.
Where do you usually write, and what do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
I write in my office. I’m a more productive writer in the mornings. I need my hot tea, a glass of water and at times the playlist that goes with the book. Yes, each of my novels has an epic playlist!
If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?
Ohhhh… this is a touch one. Right now, I’m digging deep into romantic blends. Action / Adventure and Mysteries, so Alicia Gael comes to mind. I’d love to pick her brain given her criminal justice background.
What’s your favorite writing snack or drink?
Hot tea in the winter and ice tea in the summer. I try not to snack… I’m fluffy enough. 😉
How do you celebrate when you finish your book?
A cocktail… and lately I’m enjoying a good whiskey sour.
Is there a particular genre you would love to write but only under a pseudonym?
I’d only write under a pseudonym to give the reader a hint that it’s an unusual genre for me. I’ve mixed up my writing quite a bit and kept to my own name, but if I went to sci-fi or fantasy I’d consider using a pen name.
Do you have any odd writing quirks?
I’m an obsessive self editor. By the time I finish a book, I’ve likely read it hundreds of times and know the first few chapters by heart.
Do you have a pet who helps/hinders your typing?
I no longer have pets. We had a dairy cow, and an old retired rodeo horse, and chickens… but when they passed away, we took a break so we could travel to different conferences and vacation.
What animal or object best represents you as an author or your writing style?
A squirrel… and yes, I can be distracted that easily!!
What are three words that describe your personality?
Thoughtful, loving, and snarky. I love to do nice things for those I care about. I’ll cook a favorite dish or make cookies from scratch, I also love a great sense of humor and snarky wit.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?
My development editor gave me so many tidbits of advice. The best was “Why does it matter?” – that one really tightened up my stories and took out the stuff that… well… didn’t matter. She was also big on “Show – don’t tell.” and ” A good story is life with the dull parts taken out.” I consider those tidbits every time I sit down to write.
What has helped or hindered you most when writing a book?
No reading. I learned early on that if I read other’s works… I can lose my voice, so I don’t read when I’m writing.
When you’re writing an emotional or difficult scene, how do you set the mood?
I put myself in that mood with a memory or something that I can relate to. It helps me describe all of the feels.
What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?
I read their bio’s over and over again until I can relate to them in that scene or setting. I typically don’t need to do this once the story takes on a life of its own.
If you could be mentored by a famous author (living or not), who would it be?
Stephen King. I enjoyed his work all through high school and he has a way of sucking his reader in to the point that it’s hard to put the book down.
What author in your genre do you most admire, and why?
Right now, I’m a huge Cari Hunter fan. I admire her writing technique and the suspense she builds into a storyline.
Have you ever cried when writing an emotional scene?
Yes, in the opening scene that never made it into An Alaskan Wedding – I cried when writing it. There were so many feels and young, broken hearts.
Do you feel bad putting your characters through the wringer?
I do feel bad for putting my characters through the wringer. I’d love for everything to be rainbows and butterflies, but I know that isn’t what makes a good story, so let the axes fall where they must!
Have you ever hated one of your characters?
I have not hated one of my characters, but I did give one an “asshole” personality and had to tone her down. It was Pat in Starting Over. She was much harsher in the first draft and my editor suggested I make her a tad more likable. I’m glad I listened to her.
Have you ever fallen in love with one of your characters?
No. Some of my characters are based on past loves, whether they knew it or not, but I’ll not be sharing any of that.
What type of books do you enjoy reading the most?
I love a good romance and romantic blend and I imagine I always will.
Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer?
Reading sapphic fiction gave me inspiration to become a writer, because I realized I didn’t have to write straight stories, I could write about women loving women and that was so freeing!
What books did you grow up reading?
I grew up reading mysteries. Nancy Drew was a biggie, then later, the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I love the twists and turns… and the snark of Stephanie Plum.
What books have you read more than once in your life?
Curious Wine. I’ve read it over and over and it was the introduction into sapphic romance that I needed when I needed it most.
Describe your favorite reading spot.
The patio, beneath the umbrella with a soft breeze on a warm day.
Do you only read books in one genre or do you genre hop?
I love romantic blends or pure romances. My favorite settings are present day and reality based.
Have you ever thought you’d hate a book, but ended up loving it?
I wouldn’t finish a book that I hated and if I thought I’d hate it, I wouldn’t even start reading it. Life is too precious to waste time on something you might hate.