Norma Nixon Schofield - The Widow Schofield loves “faraway places with strange-sounding names” and travels every chance she gets. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, she lived ten years in South America. Although she studied in Irvine, California and lived in rural Connecticut until the awful school shooting, in her heart she’s a New Yorker and never far away from the big city from which she can easily hop to London, her late husband’s big city.
Norma writes about murder in exotic places and is currently finishing the novel her husband left her when he died. Yes, it’s taken her that long to let go. “We always planned to write a novel together just never got around to it. This’ll be it,” she says. Her second novel, set in Kumasi, Ghana, the seat of the ancient Ashanti nation, is in progress. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Norma has traveled with the Peripatetic Writing Workshops to Guatemala, Tuscany, Sicily, Northern Italy, Florida, and Woodstock, NY.
You can read her beautiful essay on grief, "No Longer George Schofield's Wife," in Letting Go: An Anthology of Attempts, edited by ME Hughes.
Letting Go is an anthology y of true stories. As a writer of fiction, did you find it harder to write a nonfiction story?
Actually, a natural born analyst, I’m a better writer of nonfiction than fiction. I went from writing scientific and business reports in New York to working as a journalist in Venezuela. I’m much better at exposing characters for what they are than I am at trying to breathe humanity into them.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love being in the company of other writers. At Thrilerlfest a couple of weeks ago in New York, I was amazed at how much energy flows from writer to writer as they share their ideas on the craft of writing. You have only to walk up to a stranger and ask, “What do you write?” and a full-blown conversation follows. I love it. That and the fact that I’m learning and practicing new skills every time I write.
What’s the hardest part about writing for you?
Carving out the time to do it.
Where do your ideas come from?
All over. Where I’ve been. What I’ve seen. Now more and more the headlines. I’m an international person.
How much time each week do you devote to writing?
Since Thrillerfest, I try to write 2-3 hours per day. I'm told that the unconscious gets involved if you do it daily.
What are you working on?
I’m working on a mystery set in 1975 in pre-Chavez Venezuela when the price of oil had just doubled.
What has been the most surprising about learning your craft?
I am always surprised and happy when people talk about my characters as though they were real people. Someone was in tears once because he didn’t think the main character should treat his girlfriend so badly and someone else disagreed.
Do you think workshops have helped you become a better writer?
Yes. Years ago I was told at a Maui Writers Conference led by Sam Horn that you need to see the physical reaction of people to what you’ve written. It’s more important than what they’re saying because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. But you can see in their faces and hear in their voices what they really think about your work.
Tell us any secret rituals you have for getting started each day.
Apparently, I surround myself with episodes of a British comedy (Doc Martin, Death in Paradise, or Last Tango in Halifax at the moment) while I’m setting up. Feeding the cats, no dirty dishes in the sink, making sure I’ve taken care of anything that will distract me for the next couple of hours. Then I switch off Netflix and get to it.
Any writers you like to read to inspire you to write (or if you're blocked?)
Lots. I started writing in earnest when I read Day of the Jackal by Forsythe. Then I picked up again when I read Elizabeth George’s novels set in England. Recently turned on to thrillers and I think that might be my niche. I love Chris Reich who writes about international topics and one of his books is soon to be serialized on TV, and Hank Phillippi Ryan and Meg Gardiner who write thrillers that are based more on the lives and concerns of women.
Who do you trust to read your work while in progress?
I lost my first reader when my husband died. Now I have to trust in my workshop buddies.
Who do you never give your work to to read while in progress?
Do you have any advice for other writers?
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