Indie Monday

Today’s guest: Nan Sanders Pokerwinski

Nan Sanders Pokerwinski - photo

With so many cancellations of in-person author events due to World War C, I’m devoting my blog to Indie Monday interviews for the coming months to help my fellow authors with promotion. I’ll be featuring indie and small-press authors who produce quality work outside the boundaries and strictures of the traditional mass-produced, mass-marketed commercial publishing world and traditional bookstore shelves.

Today I’m delighted to host author, freelance writer, and science journalist Nan Sanders Pokerwinski. A transplant from the Detroit area to west-central Michigan, Nan is the author of the award-winning memoir, Mango Rash: Coming of Age in the Land of Frangipani and Fanta (Behler Publications: 2019).
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Recently I posed some questions to Nan. Here’s what she told me.

DL: Could you tell us a little about yourself?

NSP: Writer, reader, photographer, woodsy-woman, yoga enthusiast, maker of peculiar things—that about sums me up.

I spent most of my working life writing about science, medicine, and well-being, first as science writer for the Detroit Free Press, then at the University of Michigan News Service, under the byline Nancy Ross-Flanigan. In my freelance work, which spanned more than two decades, I wrote for a variety of magazines, newspapers, online publications, and medical institutions.

Nowadays, I focus on writing memoir, personal essays, and—most recently—fiction.

My husband Ray and I moved to Newaygo from the Detroit area eight years ago, and we appreciate the creative community and natural beauty we’ve found here.

DL: Tell us about your latest books and works in progress. 

NSP: My memoir, Mango Rash: Coming of Age in the Land of Frangipani and Fanta, was published in 2019 by Behler Publications, after winning first place in the memoir/nonfiction category of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Awards and placing in several other competitions. With a mix of teenage sass and decades-later perspective, Mango Rash chronicles my search for adventure—and identity—in two alien worlds: the tricky terrain of 1960s adolescence and the remote and rapidly-changing U.S. territory of American Samoa, to which my parents and I had moved from Oklahoma in 1965.

I’m currently working on a novel, tentatively titled Belle Jardin, about creativity, outsider art, and madness.

Another work in progress is a series of autobiographical collages to which I eventually hope to add micro-memoirs.

DL: Why do you write? What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

NSP: I write because I don’t know how not to write. From time to time I’ve tried to stop writing, to focus on other things instead, but without writing I feel off-kilter. Beyond that, I write to express my thoughts and feelings about things that matter to me and to try and make sense of the experience of being human in this world.

DL: Please talk about your writing process. Where do your ideas come from? What is your favorite part of the process? Least favorite?

NSP: Ideas come from my life experiences, from things that—for sometimes inexplicable reasons—fascinate me, such as outsider art, and from events and issues I read about. My favorite part of the process is the writing itself. Whether I’m writing memoir or fiction, I love being transported to the place and time I’m writing about and interacting with the characters in the story. That’s especially true now, when actual travel and interaction are limited. And I’m one of those odd writers who enjoys revision, a process that employs a whole other kind of creativity.

My least favorite part of the process is probably publishing and promoting what I write. Certainly there are enjoyable and satisfying aspects to that side of the writing life, but it feels more like work and takes my attention away from the writing itself.

DL: Could you reflect a bit on what writing or being a writer has meant for you and your life?

NSP: It’s hard to imagine my life without writing. For as long as I can remember I’ve written something—whether letters and journals, articles, or longer works. Writing has provided an absorbing and rewarding career, a community of kindred spirits, and most recently, a way to keep myself occupied during a pandemic.

DL: What are links to your books, website, and blog so readers can learn more about you and your work?

NSP: Here are my links.

Mango Rash: Coming of Age in the Land of Frangipani and Fanta

Website: https://www.nanpokerwinski.com/

Blog: HeartWood

Facebook: Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, Author

Twitter: @nansanpo