Home is where the heart lies. Nan O'Berry grew up listening to stories at her grandparents' feet. So it's not surprising that her love of a good story pushed her to begin writing her own tales for enjoyment. As these grew she shared her historical and contemporary perspectives about the heroes of her imagination, cowboys, lumberjacks, and the country they founded to friends who urged her to give it a go.
Armed with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Degree from Old Dominion University, Mrs. O’Berry loves finding those interesting facts that might lead to a good story material. So pull up a chair and grab that glass of sweet tea and enjoy.
An Interview with Nan O'Berry
I grew up along the shore of the Elizabeth River in Virginia Beach, Virginia. All my life I loved horses. We purchased my first pony when I was five. A beautiful dapple grey Welch gelding, he had never been ridden and being a light weight, I spent more time in the air than on his back. My father joked that I should be able to fly for NASA in the space program. My second horse, a mare we bonded like clockwork. She was my pride and joy. However, having a horse in a three quarter acre lot didn’t bode well. We bought five acres in Suffolk, Virginia where I live now with two horses, a cow, chickens, and cats.
I’m not sure how many people know this, but Suffolk, Virginia is home to Mr. Peanut. A high school student back in the late 20’s created the character we know today and won a savings bond. Back in the day, that was big stuff. My city is home to one of Buffalo Bill’s last shows. Because our Tidewater temperatures are mild in the winner, he was thinking of moving the show here for winter quarters. Unfortunately, he passed away before this dream could be realized.
What is your favorite part of writing Sweet Romance?
I love writing stories that draw readers in. Writing sweet romances means that you can put the book down and if your teenage daughter picks it up, you don’t have to worry if she’ll get an eye full of something that is only for adults. I often write as if my mother was reading over my shoulder. If you are reading a Nan O’Berry story, be assured it’s going to be suitable for young adults.
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
Growing up, I read at least two Nancy Drew novels a week. I adored Carolyn Keene. My other favorite author was Walter Farley and the Black Stallion Series. (I know, you see a theme here.) In the early 60’s, my mother hadn’t learned to drive. But, it didn’t stop us from going to the library. Hand in hand, we’d walk about a half a mile to the local library. My grandmother instilled the love of reading to her eleven children. As I grew older, I feel in love with the Mary Steward Merlin stories, such great legends. I think, my mother’s quiet nurturing and the wonderful writing lead to my love of a good story.
If you weren’t an author, what would you be doing?
What!!! Not being an author??? If I wasn’t writing so much, I think I’d still spend my time creating things. I enjoy quilting, knitting, and crocheting items. So, I’d be a crafter or an intern at a museum. That would be awesome!
Do you have any pets? Please tell us about them!
Hmmm, I think I’ve alluded to my pets. But I am the happy mother of an Angus mix heifer named, Esmeralda, a beautiful Tennessee Walker named, Memphis Blue, a quarter horse that no one wanted because of lameness named, Spirit. The cats are Callie and Simba. Yes, Simba thinks he is king of beasts. Our chickens are Buttercup, Henny Penny, and Red. We had two others but unfortunately the fox got into the coop and took out my rooster, Big Boy and a hen, Priscilla.
Did you notice how many have Disney names? We have laughed about this: As our children grew up, we had Ariel and Figaro.
Have you found your own real life happily ever after?
I’m not sure. Happily for now, I think would be better. Few people are lucky enough to find a true happily ever after. My grandparents had it. My husband’s parents had it. But when their partner’s died, their hearts seem to break into. I’m leery of saying happily ever after because my story is still being written.
What is one book that impacted or changed your life that you think everybody should read? Tell us about it.
I know for a romance writer it’s going to sound odd, but one book I recommend to anyone would be FISH. It’s a philosophy book that talks about seeing the bright side of things. I often re read it this when I’m feeling a bit down. One romance series I would recommend would be the Last Chance Series by Hope Ramsey. I so enjoy this series. If you live in the south, you can read these stories and giggle, because you match those living around you. Hope
Ramsey has such a good voice in these tales. If you have ever seen To Kill a Mockingbird, I hear the narrator’s voice when I read these series. Love them.
Whatever you do, please, read. In a book, you are never alone. Open the pages, be drawn in, give your imagination a chance. You never know, you might be the next writer that pens a wonderful story!