Nancy Hand – The Lily on the Wall

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

“The Lily on the Wall”
Mark Calderon has lost his partner and lover and is in danger of losing his cargo ship, because he can’t settle down to business, when he’s offered a high-paying job. Mark has a problem with the cargo, a small group of slaves being delivered to their new owner, but finally accepts the job. The owner’s agents cause some difficulties for the crew during transit. When delivery is complete he discovers one badly injured slave has been left behind. Mark has to decide whether to save the slave or let it die.

Tell us something about yourself.

My father used to tell wonderful stories, things he made up on the fly. So, after learning to read, I became interested in story-telling. I’ve worked in a number of fields – art, bookkeeping, computers – and annoyed a lot of co-workers with my stories (you do know, of course, computers are affected by phases of the moon and regular offerings of chocolate). I finally decided to write some of the stories down, first as true-life tales from the office for a technical e-zine, and now as more extended novels.

(I don’t know if your readers would be interested in the articles but, if you think they might be:

How did you choose the title?

Mark has an “image-film” applied to the walls of his cabin, a colorless film that refracts light to form decorative patterns. As he stares at the wall between the door and his desk, while trying to make some decisions, the image of lily keeps re-appearing.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

This is my third self-published novel. I spent several years shopping the first two to various agents and publishers without any luck. allowed me to publish through their site, at no charge. This has meant I’m not only the writer but editor, formatter, cover artist, and marketing rep as well.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

Though I started out to be an artist, and keep thinking I’ll go back to exhibiting, I grew up playing with words. Story-telling was a family pastime that often started with, “Did you hear about…?,” and ended with groans of laughter.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

Though the setting is sci-fi, I’ve given the characters “ordinary” names to emphasize their everyman nature. The characters aren’t fated to their roles, they’re just ordinary working people trying to pay the bills.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

Telling the story is the easy part. Cleaning up the words so they make sense to someone else can be hard work.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

I’ll read almost anything, but have never picked a favorite author. My bookshelf includes Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland,” Joseph Campbell’s “Masks of God,” Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, and Rudolf Arnheim’s “Art and Visual Perception.” Right now I’m re-reading the autobiography of the Renaissance gold-smith, Benvenuto Cellini.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I’m working on a story placed in an undersea military post. A prisoner is being held in a psychiatric facility on the post as Dr. Violet Jamison tries to extract information from him. Her failure results in another person being brought in to do the job causing some disruptions to the facility.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Learn to read your own work as you might read another author’s. It’s very easy to miss big mistakes because we tend to “read” what we meant to write down. This may mean putting something aside for a while or reading it out loud in an effort to change our perception of what’s on the page.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?