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Nan Fischer Interview, plus links to author biography, book summaries, excerpts and reviews

Nan Fischer
Photo: Kelley Dulcich Photography

Nan Fischer

An interview with Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer discusses Some of It Was Real, her first novel for adults about an ill-advised romance between a psychic-medium and the journalist who sets out to reveal her as a fake.

Some of It Was Real has such an unusual premise. What inspired you to write about a psychic who is unsure of her own abilities?

When I'm writing a book, I just take all the things I'm obsessed with and weave them together. I've always been kind of obsessed with psychics. I met a psychic once on a flight from Denver to Aspen. I have a weak stomach--I always look for the barf bag on flights. So I turned to the elegant, gray-haired woman next to me and apologized [for that], and she asked for my palm. It turned out she was a semi-famous psychic on her way to a fancy party in Aspen, and she spent the next hour reading my palm.

Finally, toward the end of the flight, I asked her one last question: "Am I ever going to get married?" She turned to me with this twinkle in her eye and said, "If you want it enough." This famous psychic basically told me I controlled my own destiny. It gave me the invitation to choose my own path. I wasn't sure what I was going to do next, and I kept hearing her voice all winter, telling me anything was possible if I wanted it enough. I moved to San Francisco and got my next writing gig, and I kept what she said in the back of my mind as I moved from experience to experience. Having a psychic as my main character was a nod to this woman and her kindness.

I'm also obsessed with imposter syndrome. I think we all have it at different times in our lives. But what better way to explore that than to have a character that's supposed to be super sure of who she is, but she's really so unsure? Sylvie is super honest with the reader about that. And she's so brave and courageous--she's willing to dig into her past to find out who she is.

I'm also obsessed with origin stories. We all have the backstory of our life that forms our identity. Those stories are created based on conversations, things people have told us, false memories–mostly seen through the eyes of a child. The idea of examining origin stories, seeing how they guide our lives--that was something I really wanted to weave in here.

Sylvie and Thomas believe they are very different from one another, yet they find that their journeys are more similar than they think.

I think if you don't know your real origin story, you're rudderless, a bit. Thomas knows his origin story, but it's seen through the eyes of a child, and through trauma. Both he and Sylvie are forced to examine their origin stories and look at whether they're living authentically.

Thomas is really living someone else's life. He's trying to garner his mother's admiration and love. Sylvie's parents have cut her off almost completely, but she's also searching for a way to find admiration and love and to fit into her own skin. Both of them, underlying everything, want to live an authentic life.

The coolest thing about writing a novel is that you can get to know your characters in a very three-dimensional way, and I felt like I was learning along with them. I was coming to my own conclusions based on how they interacted and what they learned, as I was going along.

Lucas, Sylvie's agent, has been a champion for her success, but also insists she research clients before her shows. What role does he play in the story and in her life?

When she meets him, he's the first person who looks at her and says, "I believe in you." That's such a powerful thing, and it's also an insidious thing, because everyone wants to be accepted, loved and admired. Here's this guy who says, "I'm with you. I'm going to make you a star." And as Sylvie becomes more and more famous, she gives away more and more of her gift, in a way. She's more willing to cut those corners and do the research, while still telling herself she's helping people. Lucas lets her go down the wrong path, and Thomas is the mechanism that forces her to face those choices.

Do you think the topic of memory, knowledge and trusting your own experiences is particularly timely, given we are in a national/global moment with so many unknowns?

I think the past two years have given us a lot of time to think about who we are personally and in the context of the world, and how we want to live. When you think about that, you examine why you do the things you do, and what has informed those choices. This story follows two people who are willing to ask those really difficult questions and be brave enough to face the answers.

I've had a lot of alone time the last two years. It gives you time to look at your own origin story and examine whether those things are actually true. We're all unreliable narrators. We all see the world through our own lens, and taking the time to examine that is pretty powerful. Everyone wants to live an authentic life.

I do hope that beyond the story being a page-turner, readers remember what that psychic told me: anything's possible if you want it enough. We all feel like imposters in our lives, and all of our origin stories have parts that aren't true. And you have a choice. You can go with that age-old narrative. Or you can look at it through the eyes of a discerning adult and see it differently, and make choices based on what you really want and how you want to live.

Do you believe in psychics--or are you a skeptic, like Thomas?

Any time there's a tarot card reader on the street, I'll sit down and get my cards read. I don't know what I believe, honestly, but I do know that I'm open to everything. I'm open to allowing the idea that it could be significant.

What are you working on now?

My next novel, also with Berkley, is a story about a woman who says yes to everything, including a proposal from a boyfriend she hasn't been dating for that long. She discovers that the long-dead man who originally created her engagement ring wrote letters home from World War I that have been collected in a library. She reads them in a special collection and writes a note to the long-dead author on a whim, and goes back to the library to find that the long-deceased author has written her back. We'll see what happens from there!

This interview by Katie Noah Gibson first ran in Shelf Awareness and is reproduced with permission.

Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

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Books by Nan Fischer at BookBrowse
Some of It Was Real jacket
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Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes for Nan Fischer but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Matt Haig

    Matt Haig

    Matt Haig is the number one bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive, Notes on a Nervous Planet and six highly acclaimed novels for adults, including How to Stop Time, The Humans and The Radleys. His latest novel is The ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Some of It Was Real

    Try:
    How to Stop Time
    by Matt Haig

  • Jojo Moyes

    Jojo Moyes

    Jojo Moyes is a novelist and journalist. Her books include the bestsellers Me Before You, After You and Still Me, The Girl You Left Behind, The One Plus One and her short story collection Paris for One and Other Stories. Her ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Some of It Was Real

    Try:
    Me Before You
    by Jojo Moyes

We recommend 3 similar authors

View all 3 Read-Alikes

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