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Interview with Nan Fischer

Updated: Sep 5, 2023


Three open books set against an orange-shaded sky, with birds and clouds. A man sits on one book, a woman on another, the third is empty. Cover of The Book of Silver Linings by Nan Fischer

This may sound like a no-brainer, but the reason why romance novels—and coming-of-age novels in general (although one can fall in love at any age)—remain so perennially popular is, I think, because finding out who you are is really difficult. So is figuring out what love is, never mind who might represent a good long-term partner for you. Factor in the reality that what one needs and wants changes over time, as does the kind of support one needs from a partner, and it’s no wonder most of us spend a lifetime coming to terms with our inner demons (aka our family heritage) and figuring out both how to move forward and whom to ask to accompany us along the way. This is exactly the problem that Constance Sparks faces in Nan Fischer’s fascinating new novel, The Book of Silver Linings. You can find a brief description of Constance’s struggle in my Summer 2023 Bookshelf post, but since Nan Fischer herself was kind enough to answer my interview questions, read on to learn more.


What inspired the current story?


There were several inspirations!


First, my husband proposed with an antique engagement ring. All I know is that it was made in the late 1800s, the diamond is mine-cut, and it’s from France. I’ve always wondered about the woman who wore it before me and that was the first seed for my novel.


Second, my road to finding my voice and raison d’être was a winding one, and I dated the flotsam and jetsam of the boyfriend world until I gained confidence and a sense of self. I wanted the chance to write a story about a young woman searching for her passion, someone who might both inspire readers who haven’t discovered theirs yet and remind those who have of that challenging journey.


Third, I’ve always wanted to write a bit of a historical novel with a ghost story! I’m not sure what I believe in, but I’m open to every possibility and love the idea of a world filled with magic and the inexplicable.


And finally, I am an animal lover and advocate. The chance to shine a light on the incredible work shelters do to help abandoned dogs and cats find homes is an honor!


To that end, I’m donating a percent of my own publishing day sales to The Pixie Project. They’re an incredible animal rescue organization that takes the time to find the perfect forever homes. If readers pre-order The Book of Silver Linings, they will be helping animals who deserve all the love in the world get a second chance!


Introduce us to your heroine, Constance Sparks. What is she seeking when the novel opens?

 

When the novel opens, Constance, a people pleaser, is at a speed yoga dating event trying to find a boyfriend. Her criteria are someone who’s kind and stays—her childhood was filled with turmoil and she’s desperate for safety and security. Beyond that, Constance hasn’t asked herself what she truly wants in life or found her passion. It’s only by discovering her voice and raison d’être that she’ll be both personally fulfilled and find love.

 

So much of Constance’s response to life depends on her past, which is revealed only slowly throughout the novel. But do tell us, please, what draws her to the animal shelter and—if it doesn’t give away spoilers—why she’s a paralegal when she’d hoped to become a veterinarian?

 

Constance is drawn to unwanted, discarded animals because she sees herself in them. Neither of her parents were very present in her life, and their careless treatment and unkindness shaped her sense of self. At the start of the novel, though, Constance doesn’t understand that just like the shelter animals she loves, she, too, deserves better.

 

As for why Constance is a paralegal instead of the veterinarian she’d hoped to become, it’s because she has always put everyone else’s needs before her own. Part of Constance’s journey is learning that if she doesn’t feed her own soul, then she’ll never be truly happy or a great life partner for someone else.

 

Her best friend, Mars, is a very different character—although in some ways no less damaged by her past. Why does she distrust Hayden, who to Constance seems like the perfect man?

 

Mars has a basic distrust for everyone (except Constance)—especially in love situations as the result of her past. Her dislike of Hayden is complicated. Foremost, she wants to protect Constance, who has somehow remained unjaded despite her past, and she has a spidey sense that Hayden isn’t what he appears to be. But Mars is also a bit jealous that Constance can open her heart time and again while Mars’s is kept carefully guarded, so that she can never find the love that’s always been missing from her life. Her journey is to realize this and, following Constance’s evolution, ask more from herself and others. 


World War I era motorized ambulance (1916 Model T Ford) with Red Cross symbol on the side

Constance’s life begins to change when she discovers a book of letters written during World War I. Tell us about the book, but also why you, as a writer, chose this way of moving Constance along the path she needs to follow.

 

The book Constance discovers is a compilation of letters written by James Edwards, a volunteer ambulance driver during WWI, that details his life in France to his sister, Olivia, and his love affair with a nurse named Anna.

 

Constance bearing witness to James and Anna’s blossoming love and the way James chose Anna over his family, was willing to risk his life for her love, allows her to expand what she wants in a life partner, to dream of a bigger love and realize, just like Anna, that she has value and deserves more.

 

The letters also give Constance an opportunity to safely share her own thoughts and fears with James’s ghost, something she never would’ve done as she has been afraid to risk her happily ever after. The process of writing down her deepest fears and desires, reading James’s thoughts and gentle advice, ultimately propels Constance to act and gives her the confidence to seek her own version of happily ever after.

 

Why did you call it The Book of Silver Linings? It’s such an interesting title.

 

I am a believer that every situation, no matter how dire, has a silver lining if you look hard enough. Part of Constance’s journey is realizing that despite all the challenges, there have been so many blessings in her life and that finding but also being a silver lining is what makes life fulfilling. 

 

Are you already working on something new?

 

Of course! My next novel, tentatively titled The Journals, is about twins, Lilou and Luc, forced to reunite at age 30 to share their childhood journals based on a promise to their long-passed mother. But when Luc falls ill, Lilou must work with his employee, Cosmo, an enigmatic sculptor, to save Luc’s landscaping business, help old friends she left behind, and rescue a depressed giraffe, all the while trying to hold onto her high-powered job and version of happiness … which it turns out isn’t all it was cracked up to be. The story is about perspective, finding a true home, love and chosen family.

           

Thank you so much for answering my questions!

 

Nan Fischer is the author of The Book of Silver Linings (Berkley, August 2023), Some of It Was Real, and the young adult novels When Elephants Fly and The Speed of Falling Objects. When she’s not conjuring a story or reading, Nan can be found hiking, biking, kitesurfing, skiing or planning her family’s next adventure. Find out more about her at https://www.nanfischerauthor.com.


Photograph of 1916 Ford Model T ambulance © Wyrdlight.com CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.



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