D-L Nelson

D-L Nelson is an American-born Swiss writer who revels in life, personal relationships, history and modern social issues and weaves them together in richly detailed novels, short stories … and more recently non-fiction.

She lives in Geneva, Switzerland and Argelès sur Mer, France

Nelson’s writing has been called “engaging … fun to read … richly textured … suspenseful … with action that moves at a fast clip.” Her novels have been called “a Hitchcockian nail-biter,” “an offbeat alternative to conventional crime dramas,” and compared to Fanny Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes and Iris Rainer Dart’s Beaches.

Nelson’s Chickpea Lover won 1st Place in the Florida First Coast Literary Festival. She also won a prize in the annual Hemingway literary competition – portions of the manuscript are now part of Murder in Paris

Read her blogs at theexpatwriter.blogspot.com and at wisewordsonwriting.com which was both a newsletter and published in U.K. writing magazine that is no more.

Frequently Asked Questions

When did you know you wanted to be writer?

At four. I made up stories. I would write with squiggles because I couldn’t write. When I looked at my squiggles a couple of days later, I couldn’t read them. Also, my mother and I did double stories at bed time. She’d make up something and I’d add to it and on and on or vice versa.

I started writing very bad mysteries at 9. I started a school newspaper. At 16 I was a cub reporter for the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune. Most of my corporate jobs involved some kind of writing: communications, marketing and/or public relations.

I kept saying “I want to write fiction.” In my late 30s, a friend tired of hearing that asked, “What’s stopping you?” The answer was me.

Do you have a set writing schedule?

I wish I did. When I was working corporate, I’d plan my evening’s writing on my way to work. I was very disciplined at night. Now that I only write, I let life get in the way such as walking the dog, meeting with friends. My husband when he’s writing has 1000% concentration which makes me jealous. I’ll be writing when I realize that the laundry needs to be hung up, although I’m thinking about what I’ll write next as I hang it.

What do you think of creative writing programs, conferences and groups?

It depends. My Masters at the University of Glamorgan was fantastic. There were eight of us each with our own reader, all accomplished writers. Orange Prize winner the late Helen Dunmore was one. I started a Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of Lancaster, but I found the hoops they put me through hurt my writing. They hated the novel, Family Value, that I was working on. Later is was published and got good reviews. My instincts were right to quit.

As for writing groups, I was lucky to have the Geneva Writers Group. http://genevawritersgroup.org/ Between workshops, master classes and conferences not only did I learn to make my writing stronger, it was knowing other people who were passionate about writing. I would caution writers if they are part of a group, make sure it is supportive. There are some that are highly competitive and back biting. No writer can afford that.

My first writing conference was at Simmons College. It featured Ann Beattie, Robert B. Parker and John Updike. The second was the Paris Writers https://pariswritingworkshops.com/ working with Canadian writer, Isabel Huggan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabel_Huggan She looked at my manuscript for Chickpea Lover and answered my question, “Should I continue you writing?” with a definite “yes.”

People have said you are Annie, your mystery heroine.

Annie is the woman, I’d like to be, not me. She speaks four languages flawlessly. I struggle with French although I’m functional. Her hair is long and cury. She mastered not having to hold down a full-time job early in her life. She is a third culture kid and I am a third culture adult taking parts of where I grew up and melding them into the culture of other countries where I’ve lived.

Third Culture Adult?

Maybe I should say I’m an international having lived in several countries but mostly in the U.S., France, Germany and Switzerland. In each I absorbed some of the culture to a point I don’t belong any where 100%.

How has living outside the United States affected your writing?

My English is messed up. My first job in Switzerland I worked with Australians, South Africans and Brits from several parts of England. We used to have fun arguments about how to call things like do you like brew, steep or draw tea, never mind do girls wear underpants, knickers, panty hose or tights. I now hoover instead of vac or rather my cleaning lady does with the aspirateur. I’ve had over the years had to write in American, English-English and Canadian.

It has made research easier, because if I want to research something in Paris, the TGV from Geneva to Paris it is just a little more than three hours. Even places like Insel Poel in north Germany were drivable. However, my current project Lexington, is set in the U.S. an ocean away. Thank goodness for the internet, Kindle and helpful people. Youtube documentaries have been a great help.

Do you edit your work?

Many times. What I write one day, I polish the next. During the process, I go back over what I’ve written many times tweaking here and there. When I have my first draft, I go over that several times and I give it to readers: my former roommate, my husband, and a writing mate (he’ll be glad I used the Oxford comma here, one of the few things we disagree on.) In the beginning my writing mate and I read everything the other wrote. I try and strengthen verbs, do global searches for “ly” and eliminate or substitute for adverbs, check for continuity, cut sections, juggle sections, add words.

I have a terrible time spotting typos; so I’m grateful to those that point them out.

What advice would you give new writers?

Write, write, write. Read, read, read. Find other writers to work with. Enter contests. Don’t give up. Chickpea Lover was rejected over 30 times and that was after it won first place in the Florida Literary Festival. I joke that the post office bribed Fire Star to publish it so the postmen wouldn’t have to lug the manuscript around anymore.

Do you have a favorite word?

Plethora, but I don’t get a chance to use it too often.

D-L Nelson Publishers