Nina Post is the author of 4 books, of which her latest, Danger In Cat World, just came out! She’s a busy gal, so it was very cool of her to take time out to discuss her books, what she loves most about writing, and more!
Please welcome Nina to the blog!
Nina, will you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’m from the east coast – both the northeast and southeast – but now live in Seattle. I’ve wanted to be a writer since age seven or so, but I only worked on it sporadically over the years: a couple of books, some short stories in college, and a few feature-length and television scripts in the mid-2000s. In 2011, I wrote The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse. I wasn’t sure I would even do anything with it, but my husband talked me into sending it off, and I’ve been disciplined about writing since then. Before that, I got my BA in English and worked in a technology field (husking lavender and playing the occasional game of flag football).
Your brand new book, Danger in Cat World, just came out! Will you tell us a bit about it?
Yes, it’s my fourth novel, and a bit of a departure from the previous books. Danger in Cat World is a procedural murder mystery about a homicide detective who feels isolated by his work and investigates the murder of a reclusive heiress. When he discovers a window to another universe and dozens of cats begin appearing out of thin air, he must embrace the unknown to solve the case.
What do you love most about writing mystery?
All of my books so far have had a spine of a mystery, but Danger in Cat World is my first procedural mystery. I love laying the groundwork for the different ways the mystery could be resolved, and paying off details that I’ve seeded throughout the story. I also enjoy the challenge of taking factual data (e.g. articles about actual cases), combining it with additional research into what it’s like to be a detective (e.g. anecdotes from former law enforcement officers), and interleaving all of that with the fictional characters and universe that I’ve created to help the reader experience this world as the protagonist does.
Who, or what, has been one of the biggest influences in your writing?
My family, in a number of ways. My mother, for being a voracious reader herself (mostly mystery and procedurals), indulging my library visits, and keeping me in books as a kid – but also for instilling me with organizational habits, which lay dormant for a while until they were mysteriously activated like a sleeper agent. My father, for the model of his daunting work ethic (even within his R&R) and his confidence. My grandmother, who wrote poetry and was a reader (also mostly mystery and procedurals), and who would love that I’m a writer. But in some cases, they’re an influence for making me mutter, ‘Don’t think I won’t use that.’
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
The Count of Monte Cristo. So engrossing, so marvelous, so bad-ass.
What do you look for in a good book?
I look for a sure hand with writing and dialogue, which you can sense after reading the first page. But the most crucial thing is a memorable, active character I can connect with, who interests me. I also love it when the author takes care with setting up the stakes, and with their setups and payoffs. I’m so, so pleased when loose ends are tied up in a skilled and surprising way. Jeffery Deaver is masterful at that. I also love it when a writer takes care with secondary or minor characters.
Is there anything that will make you put down a book, unfinished?
I rarely purchase a book I need to take out to the barn and put out of its misery. The main thing that will make me delete a Kindle sample before it ends is bad writing (especially dialogue), but another is when the character is generic. I also get very testy with a self-preoccupied writer who doesn’t seem to care that they have an audience.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your free time?
I like walking through the Washington Park Arboretum with my husband on the weekends, where we almost always talk about the book I’m working on – though I don’t dragoon him into it, I swear. I read. I run, I swing the kettlebell around (though not at the same time – that sounds like a Basque sport). I watch some TV at night – Breaking Bad, Mad Men, etc. – and the occasional movie, always at home.
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to struggling writers?
Focus on actually completing your projects, and keep starting and finishing projects even while your attention may be elsewhere.
What’s next for you?
My fifth novel, a YA mystery called Extra Credit Epidemic, is out from Curiosity Quills in July. It features the acerbic Taffy Snackerge from One Ghost Per Serving, who’s now a high school senior. When she uncovers a small cluster of foodborne infections, she teams up with a former state epidemiologist turned science teacher to investigate, but as the cases start to multiply, she needs to learn to work with her two teammates — including a hyper-organized girl who’s president of the Young Attachés Club and an emotional overeater who can’t go out in public without his lucha libre mask — to find the source of the outbreak.
About DANGER IN CAT WORLD:
Shawn Danger is the hardest-working homicide detective in Jamesville County. His job means everything to him, and when he’s working a case, he barely has time to feed his cat – let alone mess with frivolous things like his family or a love life.