Nancy Swing
Nancy Swing

I like to write. Do you like to read? Me too.
Reading has been my solace and my joy since childhood.

I never really got around to creative-writing until late in life — I’m now past seventy.

As I look back, I realize I maybe should have heeded the advice of folks who encouraged me to be a writer, from Mrs. Eckert and Miss Bailey in high school, through college mentors like Harriet Shetler, up to recent gurus. Oh well, we often take divergent paths, and it’s never too late to get back on the right one.

I always liked writing. In particular, I’ve always been a dedicated letter-writer, getting great pleasure from just putting words down on paper. And I’ve done a lot of professional writing — training materials, articles, papers, reports.

But I didn’t try my hand at writing novels until I found myself a so-called “dependent spouse,” following my husband, Russell Sunshine, to a two-year post in Laos during the early 1990s. There, I experienced first-hand what it feels like to be “the wife of” instead of someone with a professional identity of my own. And I saw what that lack of status did to other women who were talented and bright but relegated to “making do.”

But it took 20 more years of living and working in Africa and Asia, seeing similar patterns in expatriate communities, plus a bunch of writer’s workshops, before I was ready to turn this “wife of” challenge into MALICE ON THE MEKONG.
Malice Cover
ANJALI RAO is a chocoholic Hindu grandmother who likes a gin-and-tonic now and then. The wife of a U.N. diplomat, she’s been trying to keep a low profile in Vientiane, Laos, because of something that happened at her husband’s previous post. And that’s boring. All this changes when the body of a controversial foreign hostess is found floating in the Mekong. The dead woman’s embassy and the Lao Government seem to rush to declare her death an accident, but the expatriate community doesn’t believe it. Unforeseen events pull Anjali into investigating, and soon she’s rushing around in her beloved Deux Chevaux, finding more malice than she thought possible. As Anjali sorts through the facts and lies, she discovered the expatriate community is hiding more than one secret. And one of them is downright dangerous.
Malice on the Mekong: Questions for Discussion, click here.
MALICE ON THE MEKONG is available on Amazon.

CLICK HERE to purchase
Now I’ve returned to my West Virginia roots to write a trilogy of mysteries that take place in the fictitious small town of Lewiston. I grew up in places like that, and it feels good to have them come to life, wanting me to write about them. CHILD’S PLAY is the first in the series.
Child's Play
Everything thirteen-year-old EDEN JONES knows, she learned from watching television. BETHANNE SWANSON learned all her lessons from fifty years in the school of hard knocks. Both feel like losers. Yet a tragedy in small-town West Virginia brings them together and forces them to tap resources they never knew they had. Eden’s best friend and Bethanne’s sister are found dead in a yellow Mercedes at the bottom of Lake Charles. Why would the poverty-stricken teen, Ray-Jean, have been riding with Mary Margaret, the town’s wealthiest woman? Did someone tamper with the car, causing it to plunge into the lake? Eden and Bethanne pool their talents and follow clues that no one seems to want discovered. What secrets are Mary Margaret’s family hiding? Did Ray-Jean’s snooping go too far? What role do the town’s most prominent citizens play? As these two unlikely partners unearth the sordid facts, their bond grows beyond a bumbling collaboration between amateur sleuths. Despite their differences in age and experience, they end up not just friends but true soulmates.

CHILD’S PLAY is available on Amazon.

CLICK HERE to purchase

Previews of Coming Attractions

The three books in the West Virginia trilogy have interlocking characters, so that folks you meet in one book will reappear in others, though they might be supporting cast.
By the time you read the whole series, you’ll have a full view of all kinds of people who live in Lewiston.

Lazarus

I’m currently working on Lazarus, the second book in the trilogy. The plot revolves around a badly injured dog, a boy who quits school to work when his father dies and the woman who took them in. Sarah Simmons buys a centuries-old cabin in a remote setting and hires sixteen-year-old Jimmy Lee Schuman to help her renovate house and grounds. Before long, they discover her neighbors are a pretty nasty lot. Dreadful things happen to the woman and her dog, but Jimmy Lee perseveres in solving the mystery and bringing the culprits to justice. This story literally came to me in a dream some years ago and has haunted me ever since. Now I’m finally getting it down on paper.

If you’d like to read a preview of the first chapter, CLICK HERE.

The Silver Foxes

The final book in the trilogy, The Silver Foxes, arose from a funeral we attended in Italy, where we lived for 15 years before returning to America. A dear friend died suddenly, while we were on vacation. At the funeral, her estranged husband sounded so insincere that my mind started playing with scenarios of what might have really happened. The result was a funeral in West Virginia, attended by the deceased woman’s friends from a retirement community and their suspicions that something’s afoot. Before long, they organize themselves into a sleuthing team and call themselves — you guessed it — The Silver Foxes.

Fans of ANJALI RAO shouldn’t despair. I’ve got more stories for her too.
What if she were present on the southern shore of Sri Lanka, as Russell and I were, when the devastating tsunami of 2004 hit?
What sort of mystery might grow out of that harrowing experience?
I have an idea…

Before I got the writing bug…

I was an independent consultant working in developing countries for clients like the United Nations Development Program, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the World Bank. Sometimes I was hired directly; sometimes I was hired by a consulting firm that had a big contract for which they needed a single professional or a team leader. My field was educational media and training for adults, and I worked all over the world — Afghanistan, Egypt, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia. I’d be in these countries while Russell was working as an independent consultant elsewhere — China, Italy, Japan, Moldova, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Yemen. These were short-term projects (6-8 weeks). For long-term projects (2 years or more), I’d go with him and try to find something meaningful to do. In Tanzania, I wrote and produced a documentary film for the Lutheran Church about their schools and hospitals. In Laos, and later in Kazakhstan, I wrote guidebooks, as well as articles for newspapers and magazines.