Monday, January 18, 2016

ROCCO welcomes Nina Mansfield!

Meow, my guest today is author Nina Mansfield!

  • Welcome Nina! Tell us a little about your background
My background is in theater, and in my youth I spent six years in New York City acting. I mainly did a lot of off-off-Broadway, but if you look real close, you can spot me in a couple of films. While I was acting, I started writing plays. I’ve had a number of short plays, and a couple of full-length plays produced all around the world and published. I also have a degree in Educational Theater with Teaching English, and I spent nine years as a high school teacher in New York City and New York State.
  • Tell us a bit about your latest book , SWIMMING ALONE
SWIMMING ALONE is my debut novel. It is a young adult mystery appropriate for ages 12 and up. It takes place in the fictional town of Beach Point, Rhode Island, where a serial killer known as “the Sea Side Strangler” is on the loose. My protagonist is a snarky fifteen-year-old named Cathy Banks, who has a slightly overactive imagination. But when her new friend Lauren disappears, she fears the worst, and works to figure out exactly what has happened.
  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
Mainly, I just keep writing and writing. Eventually, the characters and their voices begin to take shape on the page. My early drafts often serve as the “pre-writing” that helps me really find out who they are.
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I usually start out just writing. But at a certain point, I need to stop and outline. I often create many outlines as my characters start to take me in unexpected directions.
  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Ooo, that’s a tough one! It sort of depends on what I am writing. In some of my fiction, the plot takes precedence. But character is so important as well. I think there needs to be a good balance of both.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Finding the time to write is always difficult.  When I taught high school English and Drama, I was always either directing a play or grading papers. Now I care for my very acting toddler. So, it is always a struggle finding a quite time to delve into my writing. But my love of writing and telling stories keeps me motivated.
  • Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
At my first SCBWI conference, I took a workshop that discussed the importance of a narrator’s voice. That night, I went home, and started rewriting SWIMMING ALONE. I had a “good” novel, but I knew I could strengthen the voice. After that, I landed my agent right away.
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
Right now, I am revising my graphic novel FAKE ID: BEYOND RECOGNITION, which will be out in 2016 from Plume Snake. I am also revising a young adult paranormal thriller. After that, who knows? I have a number of ideas, and some partial outlines, but I just haven’t figured out what I am going to focus on yet.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
Oh, I wish I could write every day! If I get to write for five hours in a week, then it is a very good week. Usually, I can get a little time in during the evening, or when my child naps.
  • If you could take only three books with your for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
THE COMPLETE SHERLOCK HOLMES (because I have be reading, and re-reading all of the stories, and they are a great escape); my giant art history text book- because sometimes I don’t want to read when I am writing; and WAR AND PEACE, because it has been a while since I read a long Russian novel, and I imagine it would take all year.
  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Don’t be afraid to write a “bad” fist draft. Just sit down and write!
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I climbed the stairs to Machu Picchu at 4am during a thunderstorm.
  • What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
My first language was Russian.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
What’s your favorite part about being a writer? Writing that first line!
  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?
·        List all the places readers can find you
·        My website:
·        My blog:
·        Facebook:
·        Twitter:
·        Pintrest:
·        BOOK LINKS:
·        Smashwords:

Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  Night
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Cat. I have two. Coco and Cookie.
Beach or Pool?   Beach
Steak or salad?  Steak
Favorite Drink?  Coffee
Favorite Book?  Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Favorite TV Series?  Right now, I’d have to say THE AMERICANS
Favorite Actor: My husband, Joel Haberli
Favorite Actress:  Cate Blanchett
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska—but only in the summer
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Shakespeare.
If I had just one wish, it would be world peace
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be Lady Gaga. But just for a week or so.
Nina will give away to one lucky commenter a copy of SWIMMING ALONE. To enter, leave a comment below with your email address!  Contest closes midnight, Jan 24. Good luck!


  1. I actually took Russian lessons many years ago; unfortunately, things happened that I could not continue them.
    Congratulations on your first novel, Nina, I wish you all the best.

  2. Sounds like an awesome book, Nina! I can't wait to read it!

  3. I live in Mansfield, PA, so I must say Nina's name caught my eye. I often read young adult mysteries and will read this one, eventually as I just bought a copy.

    1. Your town has a great name! ;)

      And I hope you enjoy SWIMMING ALONE!

  4. What an interesting background you have. I'm sure that helps play into your writing.
    A toddler is rather like a time black hole--time just disappears around them!
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  5. Interesting the you choose to write about a serial killer for a teen novel. I always worry about subjects being too intense for young people, but I guess kids today are different than when I grew up. I try to keep my adult cozy mysteries 'un-scary' enough for younger readers but don't actually direct them to 'young adult' readers. Best wishes

    1. Oh, and I should add that SWIMMING ALONE isn't quite as frightening as it might seem (even with the serial killer.) There is a lot of humor. But I don't want to say much more than that, or it might spoil the story! ;)

  6. Sounds like a wonderful read! seascape life (at) Gmail dot com,

  7. It is wonderful to find new series. I am sure your's will be entertaining and look forward to obtaining a copy.

    1. Thanks Robin! Right now, SWIMMING ALONE is a stand alone mystery. But I just might have to write another Cathy Banks adventure!

  8. Loved the post and interview! I have been haunting my library website, to see if it has shown up, ever since I saw it on goodreads! I can't wait to read it and appreciate the chance to win! Thank you!!

    1. Ask you library to order a copy ;) And thank you! I hope you win! (And if you don't win here, there is a Goodreads Giveaway for a few more hours.)

  9. Thank you to Toni for the introduction of Nina Mansfield. Ms. Mansfield you sounds like an amazing writer and I am sure I will check out your new book.