Interview: Nancy Herriman

Let’s get to know Nancy Herriman, author of the Bess Ellyott Mysteries!

Do you listen to music when you write?

I do, but usually only during the process of writing my first draft, when I’m deep in the effort to get words onto the page. Music helps me relax and focus my thoughts. I have discovered, however, that I can’t listen to music that has lyrics. When I do, I start singing along. So I usually choose either meditative songs or classical music. Thank goodness for Pandora.

Searcher coverWhat’s next for you?

I just finished the final edits on the second book in my Bess Ellyott series, A Fall of Shadows. It will be out in April, 2019. I’m also working on a short story involving some of the characters from my ‘A Mystery of Old San Francisco’ series, which I hope to have ready for folks to read (for free) before the end of this year. Then it’s on, at last, to finishing and publishing the 3rd book in that series.

Tell us a bit about your new book.

My most recent release is the first book in a new series, The Bess Ellyott Mysteries, titled Searcher of the Dead. It was published by Crooked Lane Books just this past spring. Here’s a short blurb:

In Tudor England, herbalist and healer Bess Ellyott flees London after her husband is murdered, but the peace she has found in the quiet countryside is short-lived. Her brother-in-law, a prosperous merchant, is himself found dead—dangling from a tree, a rope about his neck. A supposed suicide.

Clues suggest otherwise to Bess. It is possible he is the victim of a rival wool merchant, jealous of her brother-in-law’s success. However, rumors of traitorous schemes to assassinate Queen Elizabeth suggest an entanglement with a very different killer…one whose next target may be Bess herself.

What is your favorite/least favorite thing about the writing process?

My absolute favorite thing about the writing process is the writing itself. I suppose that should come as no surprise, because if I didn’t love the writing itself, then I would struggle every minute. The specific thing I most enjoy is the discovery that goes on as the story develops. I am always tickled to have characters take on a life of their own and go off in directions I hadn’t expected, or when a character that I’d intended to be just a trivial part of the story becomes key. It happens every time, and it’s an endless thrill.
Some of my fellow authors claim to really hate the editing process, which I don’t mind at all. Instead, my least favorite aspect of the writing process is promotion. I struggle with marketing and always have. It’s a skill I’m still working on.

How long have you been writing?

It feels like forever! I’ve always dabbled, but I didn’t begin seriously writing until I left my career in the tech industry. My children were very young at the time, and it was extremely difficult to find opportunities to write, so I started out stealing moments where I could. I took classes on-line, started manuscripts, threw away manuscripts, started a new story, then another. Eventually, I produced a finished novel that won the Daphne award. Then I produced another novel that got the attention of an agent and which she sold. I’ve encountered many obstacles along the way, but it’s been nearly 20 years now of writing stories and I’m hoping for 20 more!


Nancy Herriman retired from an engineering career to take up the pen. She hasn’t looked back. Her work has won the RWA Daphne du Maurier award, and Publishers Weekly calls the first in her Bess Ellyott Elizabethan mysteries (Crooked Lane Books), ‘earcher of the Dead, “satisfying” and a “solid series launch.” When not writing, she enjoys singing, gabbing about writing, and eating dark chocolate. She currently lives in Central Ohio. 

Twitter — @Nancy_Herriman

20 thoughts on “Interview: Nancy Herriman”

    1. I have a fearsome stack of reference books (and have always been intrigued by the period, which means I’ve done a lot of reading over the years). It was intimidating, to be frank.


  1. I’m looking forward to reading the Bess Ellyott series–I loved the San Francisco series! I loved the interview. And I totally agree about the music without lyrics. 🙂


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