Meet Loretta Nyhan

Loretta Nyhan was a reader before she was a writer, devouring everything she could get her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and the instruction booklet for building the Barbie Dreamhouse. Later, her obsession with reading evolved into an absolute need to write.

After college, she wrote for national trade magazines, taught writing to college freshmen, and eventually found the guts to try fiction. Nyhan has co-written two historical novels with Suzanne Hayes, Empire Girls and the Kirkus-starred I'll be Seeing You. Her solo work includes the teen paranormal thrillers The Witch Collector Part I and The Witch Collector Part II.

When she's not writing, Nyhan is knitting, baking, and doing all kinds of things her high school self would have found hilarious. She currently lives in the Chicago area with her Brady Bunch blended family.

Loretta Nyhan was featured in the November 2016 Adult box for her novel, All the Good Parts. The box hint was "A Dream with a Time Stamp".

A Conversation with Loretta Nyhan

In February 2017, author Loretta Nyhan sat down on an Instagram post with Once Upon a Book Club and their readers to discuss All the Good Parts, her writing process, and more. Please enjoy the following transcription of that conversation as it was written on the Instagram comments on that day. Enjoy!

Hi Loretta! It’s so great to chat with you! What inspired you to write All the Good Parts?
Loretta Nyhan (LN): I felt like a lot of women I knew felt powerless and fearful. A lot of this was brought on by the media. It seemed like every time I went online, someone was telling me that I was putting my eyeliner on wrong, or feeding my kids incorrectly, or making mistakes in my personal relationships. I started to think—how do women fight the fear that everything they do is less than acceptable. Then, I overheard a conversation between my sister, who is in her late thirties, and her friends. Their ticking biological clock was the topic, and they were all expressing worry. I put those two things together and got Leona!

What's your energy time period to write (morning, afternoon, night, etc)?
LN: Definitely morning, though when I'm on deadline, I have to force myself to write into the evening. I fuel myself with green tea in the morning and get to it!

What inspired you to become a writer?
LN: Like most writers, inspiration came from a combination of connecting with a couple of truly great books as a young person (for me it was Judy Blume and Louisa May Alcott!) and having a teacher or trusted adult give guidance and encouragement (shout out to Ms. Bernardin at Resurrection High School!). I would read anything I could get my hands on, and that is the best training for a writer.

Will you be writing a part two? We'd love to see what happens to her with becoming a mom.
LN: I would love to write more about Leona's adventures! But, that is up to my publisher... I do have Leona's future worked out in my head...I'm a romantic at heart, so you can imagine what I have in mind for Paul and the other characters!

Do you have a favorite character?
LN: Jerry. When I was 22, I lived with my mom's cousin and her husband, who was in his sixties at the time. He became my best friend. We'd eat Ritz crackers with peanut butter and watch Magnum PI reruns. He was the inspiration for Jerry.

Leona was really funny...does she take after you?
LN: People in my life roll my eyes when I say I'm not anything like Leona, so...yes? Humor is important to me, especially when you're writing about issues like aging, anxiety, financial pressures, etc.

We so appreciated the moment when Leona wrote "you are beautiful" on the mirror for her niece. Did you include this moment because of a personal belief that every female should know and believe that she's beautiful, or because this is an action specific to Leona's care for her niece?
LN: Both. Again, I was bothered by the fact that women are given such a hard time sometimes, so much so that we are consumed with the need to be perfect, or as close to it, in terms of appearance, careers, behavior. Not only is this unrealistic, but it causes us to overlook the quirky, unique things about our personalities that make us interesting. And yes, it might make me sound a little hippie dippy, but I strongly believe everyone is beautiful, as the song goes, in their own way...

What advice do you give to those aspiring authors who are professional procrastinators and easily distracted?
LN: Start small. Tell yourself "I will work for twenty minutes nonstop" and do it. Or fifteen. Or ten. Whatever it takes to get you started. Don't worry about quality control—that will come later! Once you start, you'll be amazed how fast twenty minutes will fly by. Soon, you'll do thirty, then an hour. When you start racking up the pages, you'll be so invested in what you're doing, procrastination will no longer be such a problem (Hate to say, though, it never completely goes away!) Don't beat yourself up—editing as you go sometimes does save time. It becomes a problem when it stops you from reaching word count goals, or freezes you up entirely. This is something I definitely struggle with! Be patient with yourself.

Featured Books

All The Good Parts

Leona Accorsi is broke, single, back in school, and living in her sister Carly’s basement. She’s perfectly content being a quirky Auntie. That is, until Leona’s doctor tells her that if she wants to have a child, she’d better do it now. A tender, warmhearted, and fast-paced story of a family finding its way through an uncertain time for everyone. Featured in November 2016.

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