At what age did you start writing?

I started writing when I was ten. Took a long break during high school and college (homework!) and started up again after college as a songwriter. From there it moved to script writing and eventually novels. I was first published in 1985.

Being an experienced author, what do you generally have to submit to a publisher to get your book published?

My experience now, 48 published novels, and that of the beginning novelist are VERY different. Typically an agent (it’s critical to have an agent) want to see a completed outline and three or four really well-written chapters. The competition out there is fierce. My agencies receives 20,000 unsolicited manuscripts a year–with thousands of solicited manuscripts to read on top of that.

Do you have any writing advice for beginner writers?

If you read, read, read and study the way various authors make characters come to life on the page you will see that working both with the five senses and internal thoughts can really help. My advice is to read the character descriptions in the books you love and to especially pay attention to how they speak and what they say as that is what shapes people’s impressions of us and therefore readers’ impressions of characters.

Most importantly, pick an amount of time each day, 30 mins, 1 hour, and sit down and DO IT.

Have you found certain methods or tricks for writing novels?

I don’t have tricks. It comes down to hours and hours of work. I rewrite every novel no fewer than four times, sometimes as many as nine times. You can’t believe how many hours that consumes. It’s ENDLESS. You have to be patient to be a published writer, and you have to practice humility, because the editor (or teacher) is nearly always right.

What inspires you to write? Where do you get your ideas?

I love telling stories. I’ve been a storyteller much of my life, and I think the novels allow me to express that. My ideas come from experience, newspapers, listening to others, observation. It’s all around us. Everything has a story if you take the time to listen and look for it.

Can Ridley to come to my area or school?


Local bookstores can request for Ridley to come to their store. The bookstore would need to contact to Nancy for more details.


Contact Nancy Zastrow to schedule appearances.


Check the Appearances page to see if I’m coming to your area anytime soon.