Author Profile: Nancy Bush: Romance, Mystery, and Sexy Sea Anemones

Lisa Jackson (L) and Nancy Bush (R).

Life has a way of throwing you the unexpected, and oftentimes where you end up isn’t where you ever thought you’d be. The New York Times bestseller list is certainly the road less traveled, but for author Nancy Bush, it seemed that all roads led to it, and her success—partly measured in Facebook “Likes”—continues to build steam.

As a young mother, the Oregon State graduate heard that others were making money writing romance novels. Ever the adventurous type, Bush decided to give it the old college try. After many hours typing and discussing plot and characters with her sister Lisa Jackson, who joined her on the writing adventure and later as a bestselling author, Bush’s work was published by Harlequin under the company’s Silhouette Special Edition category. While having her books published and gaining notoriety (writing under the name Natalie Bishop at the time) was great for Bush, her heart longed to add more mystery and suspense to her work.

In 2002, Bush’s career took a dramatic change. Selected by ABC as a writer for the hit soap opera All My Children, she moved from Oregon to New York City and embarked on a completely new endeavor. While All My Children is no longer on the air, the experience of having to come up with material on a daily basis and focusing on dialogue has proven invaluable.

“Every writer I worked with was aspiring to write books, and I had that opportunity waiting for me back in Oregon,” she recalls.

Upon moving back to Oregon, she took up writing mystery/romance novels. When asked if she thinks the experience gained from writing for TV shows helped her become a better writer, she just laughs and responds, “Hell, yes!” Above all else, her ability to synthesize dialogue down to the root of its existence has improved tremendously over the years.

Many things have changed, but there is still one constant in Bush’s writing career: she still works with her sister, Lisa Jackson. The two of them write joint and individual books, spending countless hours deliberating over plots and figuring out the perfect twists for their stories, many of which take place in Oregon. They have both moved away from the Silhouette Special Editions and now write thrillers, incorporating all of the things they love to see in a good story: murder, mystery, and romance. Having a sister in the business has been a lifesaver in many ways for each of the two. It is often difficult to fully comprehend the sheer amount of time and effort it takes to finish a book—Bush emphasized the importance of having a sounding board.

“It’s a bizarre way to make a living,” she says, “and it’s great to talk to another author who’s going through the same things you are and always wants the best for you.”

Because they are so close to each other, the two women have the unique ability to critique each other—in a completely loving way of course.

There are many ways life could have turned out differently for Bush, but it’s hard for her to imagine another outcome. Developing a riveting story is truly a gift. If it weren’t for her original hubris about romance novels, saying, “I can do that,” she could have simply gone on with life and never once thought about the inner-workings of a sociopathic serial killer who is beckoned, sexually, by sea anemones.

by Brendan O’Callaghan