Interview Time: Nancy Norbeck


I recently had the amazing oprotunity to interview Nancy Norbeck to talk about her book The Silver Child! Nancy is going to be one of the amazing authors at BookItCon this weekend! You don’t know how badly I wish I could go. If only we had teleporters, right?

Maia Starfield is on the run, having successfully hidden her ability to create silver just by singing—until government thugs arrived to take her away. Her mother sent her out the door just in time, giving her only one piece of advice: Find Dr. Martus.

Albert Martus has no idea why Maia was sent to find him—the doctor who delivered her 17 years ago. But from the moment she turns up, his story becomes intertwined with hers…as it has been since before she was born.

Follow this unlikely team as they discover the truth about the past and their present, the regime known as the Brotherhood, and the magical and ordinary power they each carry deep inside.

“Nancy Norbeck’s THE SILVER CHILD shows us a fantasy world that is all too real, ruled by a modern Inquisition that seeks to control minds and wipe out history.  Maia, the Silver Child of the title, is a natural magician who has only the faintest awareness of her powers.  More important, she is alive, a vividly drawn teenage girl who must discover who she is in a time of terror.  The story is big, the characters both heroic and sweet.”
~Rachel Pollack, World Fantasy Award and Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning novelist

Sondra: Can you tell me a little about your book?

Nancy: Sure! THE SILVER CHILD was my MFA thesis, which grew out of an unfinished first line I found maybe a month before I started that program. I was just looking for something to play with, and had no idea that it would turn into an actual novel. The line was “The baby had been born with ______.” Of course, the first thing I thought of was the cliché–“a silver spoon in its mouth.” I tried to say, “Ehh, that’s stupid, that would never happen,” and then thought, “But what if it did?” That opened up a whole world of possibilities, because of course the first questions then are “Why?” and “How?” The next thing I knew, Dr. Martus delivered this child, and the girl herself started running from the government while trying to figure out what her gift means.

Sondra: Are you a Pantser or Plotter?

Nancy: I am a complete, unrepentant Pantser. If I know where the story is going before I start writing it, I have need to write it at all. The fun for me is in solving the mystery, figuring out what happens and why, and then re-solving it when I go back through to revise, adjusting as necessary. The first is like going on a wild adventure, and the second is like putting a puzzle together–making sure everything fits the way it should.

Sondra: What was your favorite scene to write?

Nancy:I always like the scenes that really change things for a character. One of the big mysteries in this book is Dr. Martus’s late wife, Stephanie, who doesn’t seem important at the beginning, because she’s been gone for four years. We never actually see her except in flashbacks. When Martus visits a shop she often frequented, thinking he’s going for a simple translation of an ancient text, he discovers that there’s a lot more to her story than he was aware of, and starts trying to piece together just what she knew about Maia and the Brotherhood.

At the same time, Maia gets a hands-on lesson in just how powerful she is, in ways she also didn’t expect–and didn’t really want. The two scenes together are a major turning point in the novel.

Sondra: What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a Victorian time travel novel. That one’s not YA, and it’s set in London in 1893, so there’s a lot more research involved, but it’s really interesting stuff. (I’ve ended up becoming much more fond of the Victorians than I expected to!) It borders on steampunk without quite crossing that line.
I’ve also started letting some SILVER CHILD sequel/prequel ideas simmer on the back burner. People have asked about a sequel for a while, but I never had the inclination because I’ve felt it was complete on its own. Now I’m not so sure, though I’ve suspected a prequel might be more interesting, since we’d get to know a lot more about Stephanie that way. We’ll see what happens!

Sondra: In Sorcery In The Bookshelves tradition, what Hogwarts houses would you sort your characters into?

Nancy: Oh, that’s a tough question! (I have enough trouble answering it for myself!) If pressed, I’d say that Maia is a Gryffindor, and Martus is a Ravenclaw.

Thank you so much to Nancy for taking the time out of her day to do this interview! If you have any questions about BookItCon keep on reading for all of the answers!

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