Interview with Nancy Sullivan

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the suburbs of New York. But I'd say it was more of a launchpad than an inspiration.
When did you first start writing?
I started in college, or maybe before. But in college I took a Creative Writing minor with my English major, and even got a prize my junior year for my stories.
What's the story behind your latest book?
This is a memoir about an unusual life, a life spent in another culture. Not just the conventional 'middle class girl marries a cannibal' story, though, because it has very reflective passages about social change, parenting, anthropology (as I am an anthropologist) and the whole idea of cultural collision in today's world (hint: nothing really collides). I had been writing small stories of my life in PNG, my different jobs, adventures, near-escapes, and all the episodes that challenge my graduate training in anthropology. Then I decided it was time for a memoir.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Lack of an agent. It's really hard to get a literary agent when you live in a place like Papua New Guinea.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It certainly makes it easier to explain myself to others, especially new acquaintances. I just flick them the Smashwords link and hope they read past the first few pages.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Being able to capture (and this is so rare) the feel and pace of an event or a recollection. Not just the people, but the ambiance of their presence. Let's just say I rarely capture it.
What do your fans mean to you?
They would mean alot if I had any.
What are you working on next?
More stories, more articles on parenting and identity in PNG.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My family, and the first cup of tea.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Im in the field, working as an anthropologist, or at my desk planning to get to the field. Or on facebook.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I find them on blogs and other internet references.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. I was in third or fourth grade. It was about a man who brought a horse to market (who knows where that came from, maybe too many fairy tales?) and then lost his only paper bill for food because it was under the horse's hoof. Genius. I was sure of it then, and still sure of it now.
What is your writing process?
Procrastination and revision. Then Im exasperated and tell myself that bit is done, no more tampering. But if I don't proofread all the way through I will live to regret it.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember L. Frank Baum's Ozma of Oz series and how the illustrations terrified me.
How do you approach cover design?
with optimism.
What do you read for pleasure?
Long form journal articles and alot of true crime. For some reason I feel at home with serial killers. That says something about the integration of my several identities I think.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My notebook computer.
Describe your desk
My desk is a long is a long Ikea sectional along two walls of a small office. It represents a terrific splurge for someone living in Papua New Guinea, along with my red sofa, some wardrobes and beds, because they all had to come by a shipping container that took months. In the western world my desk (covered with papers, tubs of pens and pencils, stacks of books, a dictionary, bits of riff raff and trash) is serious luxury furniture.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I devour nonfiction, and a few topics (rather than favourite books) always hook me: neuroscience/neuroanthropology, history (Ok, this includes historical novels, like Hilary Mantel's), ethnography (my favourite ethnographic writer being Don Kulick, who writes beautifully, but there are lots of good ethnographies), biography/memoir if it involves scandal or adventure, and I'd have to say fairy tales.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word of mouth. It doesn't work very well, though, when you live in a remote place like Papua New Guinea.
Published 2013-09-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Don't Make Me Over: Coming of age as an anthropologist in New Guinea
Price: $10.00 USD. Words: 172,450. Language: English. Published: June 16, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Social Science » Anthropology / Cultural
(5.00 from 1 review)
A memoir in essay form about living and working in Papua New Guinea for 24 years, which is both personal and anthropological. It is about parenting, media influence, social change, gender, sexual antagonism and raising girls in a rapidly changing third world setting.