|Welcome to our New Faces column, where we are pleased to introduce some of the debut mystery authors on your local bookshelves. Nancy Cohen has a first mystery out from Kensington, called PERMED TO DEATH. It's the first in the new Bad Hair Day mystery series. Let's meet her.
Nancy, tell us about yourself.
I grew up in New Jersey where reading Cherry Ames books gave
me an interest in nursing as a career. I got a bachelor's degree
from University of Rochester and a master's degree from
University of California in San Francisco. After working as a
clinical nurse specialist for 10 years, I retired to pursue
writing as a full-time career. Currently, I reside in South
Florida with my husband, two teenage children, and a poodle named
I've always enjoyed traveling to new places and observing
how other people live. Journeys have taken me to the South
Pacific, Orient, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and throughout the
United States. By this time, I could act as tour guide to Disney
World and on Caribbean cruises! I like to try new restaurants,
watch Star Trek, and go outlet shopping.
What led you to write mysteries?
I used to be an avid reader of Nancy Drew stories and
graduated to romantic suspense authors such as Victoria Holt,
Phyllis Whitney, and Mary Stewart. Later, I discovered female
amateur sleuth stories, and these remain my favorite today. I
enjoy the puzzle in a cozy mystery and the intimate settings. My
reading tastes range in all genres, as can be seen by my writing
Your story is a bit unusual in that you were first published in another genre. Tell us about your road to mystery publication.
My first published novel was a futuristic romance written
under the name Nancy Cane. CIRCLE OF LIGHT won the prestigious
HOLT Medallion Award. Three more books followed, all of them
published by Dorchester's Love Spell imprint.
My last two stories included mysteries which I'd really
enjoyed plotting. Why not write a straight mystery myself? I
loved reading female amateur sleuth stories, so this appeared to
be a natural direction for me to take next. I already had an
agent, and she sold my first mystery novel to Kensington
Publishing as part of a three-book contract. PERMED TO DEATH may
be my first mystery, but it's my fifth published book. I'm
thrilled that the book will be out in hardcover and that I'll be
considered part of the mystery community.
What kind of research was involved for your first mystery?
When I decided upon using a hairstylist for my series
protagonist, I spent many hours in the beauty salon taking notes.
Of course, I had to get my hair permed for PERMED TO DEATH and
learn different hair care tips to pass on to readers (a tough job
-haha). Research for the first book in The Bad Hair Day Mysteries
included an exciting air boat ride into the Everglades. Also, I
attended citizens police academy in our town which gave me
insight into the respected role of police officers. Mystery
conferences are a valuable source of information on crime scene
investigation, although any police work takes a background in my
stories. I like to focus on my heroine's relationship with the
people she cares about and on the South Florida lifestyle which
is so vibrant.
What are your working habits?
I write during the day between nine and three using a Dell
computer and WordPerfect. My critique group meets every other
week, and I attend monthly meetings of the Florida Romance
Writers and regular meetings of the Florida Mystery Writers of
America. Both groups have conferences which I attend in the
winter and I am happy to participate on panels. I'm also a
member of Sisters in Crime and Novelists, Inc.
Who influences you as a writer?
I read books by fellow members of my local writing
organizations; and I admire other writers of popular female
amateur sleuth stories. Not wanting to offend anyone by
omission, I like many different authors and series in this genre.
What does your family think of having a mystery author in
My husband wants to retire on my future earnings, my 20
year old son thinks it's cool, and my 17 year old daughter gives
out my flyers to her English teachers!
What your plans for future books?
PERMED TO DEATH is book one in The Bad Hair Day Mysteries.
Following a year later is HAIR RAISER, and then comes MURDER BY
MANICURE. I have titles for subsequent books so I hope the
How can readers get in touch with you?
Write to me at: P.O. Box 17756, Plantation, Florida 33318.
Please enclose a self-addressed stamped business-size envelope
for a personal reply. Or you can contact me via email:
Nancy, thanks for visiting with us, and best of luck with your series! Readers, expect a review of PERMED TO DEATH on our site shortly.
December 22, 1999