Profiles in Science Fiction Romance: Nancey Cummings Talks Mail Order Brides & More

Veronica Scott for AMAZING STORIES: Welcome to my periodic series of author profiles. Today I’ve chosen Nancey Cummings, a prolific author of science fiction romance, including the terrific Tail and Claw Series.

VS for ASM.: What was the first scifi romance book you ever read and what did you like about it?

NC: Oh, that was so long ago. It was either Johanna Lindsey’s Warrior’s Woman or Anne McCaffrey’s Restoree.  I read them both around the same time way back in high school in the 90s.

ASM.: I still have my original, battered copy of Restoree – I always wished there had been sequels. What was the first scifi romance book you wrote, when, give us the 2-3 sentence logline.

Claimed by the Alien Prince was my first foray into SFR. It’s super short and was meant to test the waters, to see if I enjoyed writing about aliens. I published it in 2016.

Prince Aster believed fated mates were the stuff of legend, until chance delivered the human woman, Evie, to him. Now he’ll risk an interstellar scandal to claim his mate.

ASM.: Obviously the SFR waters were fine for your style of romance! Which of your SFR books is the bestselling?

NC: Snowed in with the Alien Warlord (Warlord Bride Index #1, published 2017).

Caught in the middle of an alien invasion, Penny has to work with a big red alien to survive a blizzard. One problem, she doesn’t trust aliens and this one thinks she’s his mate.

ASM.: How do you go about world building? Do you do elaborate planning, keep a big file, use post its, wing it – what method works for you?

I wish I had an orderly system. Right now it’s a combination of winging it and taking notes so I don’t forget stuff. I use a couple of different tools to help me remember details. The story bible has character info, place names, and world details. I keep a notebook to jot down ideas, things to check during edits, and keep track of my daily word count. When I start a new project in a series, I need to reread the most recent books and make notes. My poor books are filled with highlights and sticky notes.

ASM.: Which character in your books is either most like you or who you’d like to be and why?

This is a tough one to answer. All my characters are reflections of me in some way. Certainly my sarcastic humor comes through in a lot of my books. Carrie, the heroine from Vox, I wrote to have her mind work the way mine does. Carrie gets hyper-focused on things she finds interesting and is forgetful to the point of being flakey about everything else.

What’s interesting is I get a lot of emails from readers about Carrie, more than any other character. All the readers tell me how thankful they were to find a heroine with ADHD like them and the way I portrayed it felt real. At first I was confused, because I didn’t intend Carrie to have ADHD, she was supposed to be like me… and that’s how I learned something about myself.

ASM.: What was your most recent book and what was the story spark or inspiration for that story?

My most recent book was Tail Me No Lies, book 5 of my series Tail and Claw. It plays with the mail order bride trope (one of my favorites) but has a mail order husband on a frontier planet. The initial idea struck me when I was reading V.K. Ludwig’s Sign Here for Horns. I liked the idea of a mail order husband. The trope always goes the other way, so that seemed like a fun flip. Then I mashed it together with the movie The Magnificent Seven, added a mistaken identity, some frontier/old west vibes, and that’s how I got Nox and Ruth’s story.

ASM.: What a great set of influences! Which book was the most fun to write and why? The most challenging and why?

NC: Havik is both my most fun and most challenging book. It features a classic grumpy and sunshine pairing. The heroine, Thalia, was such a delight to write. She’s an Artful Dodger type: charming, chaotic, and not afraid to bend rules. Havik, in contrast, is so straight laced it’s painful. It was an utter delight to have Thalia win Havik over little by little. He even developed a sense of humor!

Havik was also my most challenging because the hero, Havik, was the bad guy from a previous book, Jaxar. He needed a redemption arc and he had to work for it. It was a difficult balance. Havik had to be sympathetic but he also needed to take responsibility for his past mistakes,  realize his flaws and actively decide to be a better person.

I’m very happy with the way Havik turned out. Havik and Thalia made each other better people.

ASM.: Which of your characters do your readers love to hate? Why?

Quil, the brother from Pulled by the Tail. It’s a mail order bride book and Quil pulls a switcheroo on the heroine, Georgia. Lots of readers told me they wanted to punch him. It’s okay! He has a very punchable face. Basically, Quil impulsively signs up with a matcher making service, gets bored waiting, finds another mate, and dumps poor Georgia on his brother. Don’t worry. It works out for the best.

ASM.: Your own favorite tropes? Least favorite tropes?

NC: Can you tell I love mail-order brides and arranged marriage tropes? I also dig enemies-to-lovers, age gap, fake relationships, and grumpy/sunshine. I use those tropes a lot.

My least favorites are age gap when the younger person is barely an adult (not for me), secret baby, miscommunication, bully, and keeping secrets.

Do you have a ‘writing buddy’ pet? Care to share a photo?

NC: I do. Pennypack is my writing buddy. She’s three years old and has finally entered the lazy adult cat phase of her life. I couldn’t keep up with her kitten energy.

ASM.: What’s next for you?

NC: My next book is Blackthorn, a vampire romance coming in October. After that, I’ll be working on the sequel to Splintered Shadow. A lot of people felt I was too hard on the king and he deserved a HEA. I agree. Baris needs his Happily Ever After.

ASM.: What’s on your To Be Read List?

So many books! Recently I started Guarded Treasure by Mae Lovette, which has very strong 1999 The Mummy vibes. Otherwise, autumn will be here soon, which always puts me in a mood for a spooky haunted house or a charming ghost story.

ASM.: Okay Now I’m running off to find the Lovette book! Give us your short author bio and where you can be found on social media.

Nancey is a USA Today bestselling author. She writes fast-paced, low-angst books about kissing aliens, because that’s how she rolls.

She once had an argument with her husband about being married in space. He claimed that marriage was a legal contract and ended when a person left orbit. Nancey said the vows were “till death do us part” not “until the spaceship departs.”

She has written twenty books about being married in space just to prove him wrong.

I hang out in a few places online.

Website: https://nanceycummings.com/

My facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NanceyCummingsReadersGroup

Tiktok: https://www.tiktok.com/@nanceycummingsauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NanceyCumms

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/author.nancey.cummings/

Threads: https://www.threads.net/@author.nancey.cummings

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