Thursday, July 13, 2006

Nancy Cohen on Bad Hair, Killer Cockroaches and the Joy of Eating

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Nancy, you write the Bad Hair Day mysteries, but I can’t help but notice that you have unusually nice hair. What’s up with that?
Only my hairdresser knows for sure. :) Seriously, I can’t do my own hair at all. I admire the talent of stylists and so I live vicariously through my sleuth, Marla Shore. She’s a caring beautician, also a savvy businesswoman, who I’d love to have in my local salon. Her goal is to make people feel good, and you know how it increases your confidence when your hair looks great. I guess I’m lucky that my hair is so straight, but then again, it needs styling to get any lift or bounce.

You were a clinical nurse specialist, but you retired to write
mysteries. Was this a difficult decision?

I retired from nursing when my son was born, but I’d started writing before that. I wrote my first book during the year I spend in grad school earning my master’s degree. I’ve always wanted to be an author but also I wanted to be a nurse. So I fulfilled both of my dreams. Cherry Ames books gave me the inspiration for these careers.

I loved the Cherry Ames books!

Why did you choose the mystery genre?
I enjoy plotting, especially figuring out the relationships between people and how they interact. I weave a web with my characters. It’s a challenge to create a puzzle for my readers. Sometimes, I’ll throw in a surprise suspect and follow the thread where it goes. Besides, who doesn’t love a mystery?

You live in Florida, and can be seen picking oranges in a photo on your site. Do your books take place in Florida, as well?
My series takes place in South Florida, which is sandwiched between Fort Lauderdale and the Everglades. Florida issues play an important part in my stories, although I dish them out with a dollop of humor. Child drowning prevention, citrus canker, human trafficking, and melanoma detection are examples. We’re lucky that we live in a place with so many weird things in the news.

Tell us a little about your fictional creation, Marla Shore. How is she different from you?
Marla is much braver than I am! She’s plucky and unafraid, whereas I’d rather experience my adventures through books. I like to think we’re both nurturers. I used to work as a registered nurse, whereas she cares for people by making ladies look better and raising their self-esteem. So in that way we are alike. She values family traditions, and so do I. Naturally Marla is younger, prettier, and more trim than me, although she hates exercises as much as I do. And did I mention that I have no
talent whatsoever to do my own hair, while Marla yields a curling iron and blow dryer with aplomb?

You list restaurant dining as one of your favorite things to do. What’s your favorite restaurant? And what do you order there?
I like the Bonefish Grill. I always get grilled salmon. I also like Jacaranda Italia where my favorite dish is Eggplant Parmesan. I don’t usually get chicken out because I eat it at home a lot. Sterling Worth Café, Padrino’s, and Macaroni Grill are favorites for lunch. I get the shrimp portofino at the latter.

You list some favorite recipes on your website. Are you a good cook? Which recipe should I try first?
Yes, I can cook. The chicken thighs recipe is the easiest. In our younger married days, my husband and I took cooking courses together, like French and Chinese cuisine. Nowadays, I’d rather write than slave in the kitchen. My cookbook collection is extensive, something I hope my daughter appreciates some day.

You have two grown children. Not to harp on this, Nancy, but you look like you’re about twenty-five. Are you going to tell me, the way Twist Phelan did, that this is just good genes?
Yep, it’s good genes. What else can I say? Thanks, Mom.

Your 8th book in the series, Perish by Pedicure, is coming in December. Obviously, the series has been pretty popular?
I believe that my latest hardcover, Dead Roots, may have sold out its
first printing. That’s quite exciting. Hair and beauty is always a popular topic, plus my books make great gifts for hairstylists and manicurists over the holidays. I get a broad range of readership, too, since my books are what you’d call clean. I’ve heard from preteen readers up through ladies in their 80s.

Do lots of hairdressers sell your books in their salons?
From your mouth to salon owners’ ears! Please contact my publisher if you would like to carry my books in your salon... or tell your hairstylist about them so she can spread the word!

You post “bad hair day” stories on your site, and recently heard mine. So what’s YOUR worst hair day story?
I had a hairdresser once who cut everyone’s hair in a style similar to her own. She wore hers in a short and layered cut, which wasn’t a good idea for my hair which is stick straight. I have no body whatsoever, and my hair just hung flat on my head with the blunt ends sticking out. I’ll never get my hair cut short again or have it layered so drastically.

In your website news, you reveal that you have been afflicted with giant flying cockroaches. This sounds like the plot of a Stephen King novel. Are there really giant flying cockroaches, or are you just trying to keep us out of Florida?They’re real. Next time I catch one, I’ll take a photo for proof. Since the episode I reported on my blog, we’ve only had one dead one on our dining room floor. So maybe the bug man stopped the invasion with his insecticide. Visits from the exterminator add to the monthly bill around here.

Gross. But thanks for talking with me, Nancy!
And thank you for these great questions!


Sandra Ruttan said...

I was going to say something about Nancy's hair right off, and then you did Julia. Great minds. Nancy has beautiful hair!

Julia Buckley said...

No kidding. I was going to resent her for it, but Nancy's too nice. :)