41 writers. One cause. We've rallied a platoon of crime, western, thriller, fantasy, noir, horror and transgressive authors to support PROTECT's important work: lobbying for legislation that protects children from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.

Powerful stories from George Pelecanos, Andrew Vachss, Joe R. Lansdale, Charles de Lint, Ken Bruen, Chet Williamson, James Reasoner, Charlie Stella, Michael A. Black, Wayne Dundee, Roxane Gay, Ray Banks, Tony Black, Les Edgerton and 16 more, with 100% of proceeds going to PROTECT.

Monday, October 24, 2011

a little about... Nancy A. Hansen

Welcome Nancy A. Hansen, who wrote the story "It's All About Mindset," for the collection:

Q: What inspired your story?

A: There are a lot of reasons children are lost to us. Physical abuse. Poverty. Neglect. Lack of medical care, proper nutrition, or education. Mental illness and /or emotional trauma. Substance abuse. I think we could all come up with a list, and oftentimes there is more than one factor involved. Children are vulnerable, because they are physically smaller and dependent on others.
Sometimes those with the power over another life don’t wield it well and wisely, or for the right reasons; and children bear the brunt of the consequences. Often, a youngster will fight back against that, even in a passive aggressive manner by simply tuning out. Looking for a way to escape my everyday life is how and why I got into reading, which eventually lead me to writing.
Looking at the picture prompt, I was thinking of all that stuff, and wanted to write something quick, concise, and hard-hitting, because in 700 words, you don’t have time to beat around the bush. First person seemed to work best for the mental detachment state of the child and allows the reader to sort of vicariously experience the situation. I kept it vague, so that even after the fact, you’re really not quite sure what happened. Often, that’s how it is when the mind cannot accept the reality of what we refer to as the ‘civilized world’, which isn’t supposed to be a savage and unforgiving place, but many times is simply just another jungle.
I wrote that piece by dredging up a lot of memories of anger, confusion, and heaps of heartache. But for a better set of circumstances, any of us could have turned out like the unnamed boy in my story.

Q: What makes this cause important to you?

A: Growing up, I was a constant victim of bullying by my peers, as well as the bearing the brunt of some rather severe corporal punishment by frustrated adults around me who were struggling with financial matters and other longstanding issues and took that out on me. It affected me to the point where even as a straight A student who had a passion to learn, I became uninspired and began to skip school and dropped out several times. If not for my deep love of books and literature—my favorite escape route from the things I could not change—who knows where I would have wound up? Eventually it all worked itself out; I finished high school, got a job, got married, settled down, had kids, yada yada…
 And then it all came crashing back. My oldest son has a neurological disorder called Asperger’s Syndrome that makes it very hard for him to understand those non-verbal cues and social mores we all depend on to interact with one another in the everyday world. School was always a trial for him, and what he was going through brought back a lot of ugly memories. He has experienced much of the same sort of taunting and harassment that I did—not only by peers, but also adults who should have known better. I saw many other kids like us out there too, who had no champion to speak out for them. So I learned to talk and write about the bullying, not only on my son’s behalf but for those who had no voice, knowing full well someday, it might make a huge difference in one small life. And I never sugarcoated anything, because life doesn’t do that for the kid that feels she or he has nowhere to turn. This was years before the horror in Columbine Colorado, and some of the other hazing and bullying tragedies we’ve heard about in the media. Back then I felt like a little voice crying in the wilderness.
So while neither my son nor I turned out violent, I remembered how there are days when you felt you would do just about anything to make that hurting stop. There are times when you know you are a fraction of a second from snapping and doing something outrageously wrong, and yet it seems as if the world could care less if you lived or died. We all react to that sort of habitual stress in different ways. They are often not positive or socially acceptable reactions, and the outcome can be grievous for more than just the victim.
In case you’re wondering what my personal stigma was; well, I have always been obese. That is something a certain number of people seem to believe it is perfectly acceptable to ridicule and torment someone about. All possible puns aside, being fat is something with a biological root that quickly becomes very noticeable. A large person’s awkwardness and tough time fitting in, along with the reactions of others, can blossom into a overblown emotional issue. Years of negative comments and daily torment literally shaped my life, to the point where I still can’t eat in public without thinking about my weight and the reactions of others around me. So if I was destined to be something other than a writer; perhaps the singer I always longed to be, a researcher who finds a cure for AIDS or cancer, or a diplomat working for world peace, those opportunities got left by the wayside. I was too scared to be seen and ridiculed once more. How many other kids, I wonder, won’t get to realize their full potential because they never had a fighting chance to concentrate on what positive things they could be doing with their lives? How many will we lose because we don’t see the quiet desperation in a pair of eyes that have known too much pain and suffering and a mouth that cannot speak the truth?
That’s why I wrote the piece, and why the cause is so dear to me. Words matter; they can move you to aspire to greater things, or steamroll down your hopes and dreams.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and where to find more of your writing.
Well having spent the last 29 years of my life primarily as a wife and mother (AKA homemaker), I now devote the majority of my time to writing, when I’m not reading, hunting through thrift shops and flea markets for bargains, or working in the garden. I have a lot of varied interests in arts and crafts as well as music, I love creative crochet, and I am sort of an amateur naturalist. I have a huge fascination with religion, mythology, the occult, and early man up into the medieval era and a bit beyond, which I suppose has a lot to do with the epic/heroic tales I enjoy reading and writing. I’m now a published author working with a small New Pulp fiction company called Pro Se Press out of Batesville Arkansas http://www.prosepulp.com/ whose motto has always been “putting the monthly back into pulp”. These good folks have run several of my short stories in magazines available on the company site above. You will find most of my work in our Fantasy & Fear issues, though I also edited two issues of Peculiar Adventures. Pro Se also published my first book, FORTUNE’S PAWN in August of 2011, which you can find on CreateSpace https://www.createspace.com/3674176, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble online, as well as a few other spots like Alibris, allbookstores.com, and Bol.It. My most recent story is in Pro Se Presents #2, the debut of my Silver Pentacle series, ‘To Kindle A Fire’ which is a mash up of fantasy, horror, superheroes, wars between deities, little bits of steampunk and walk-ons by historical characters reborn, and whatever else strikes my fancy in a post-apocalyptic setting. I have a lot more stories and books coming out down the road, many I can’t divulge right now, but keep an eye on the Pro Se site above or our company blog: http://www.pulpmachine.blogspot.com/. You can always friend me on Facebook or on Google+ and see what I am up to now. Since I write under my own name, and wear a silly hand-crocheted hat in every picture, you’ll know who I am right off. ;)

1 comment:

  1. Nancy, thank you so much for sharing so openly and honestly about your experiences. Very moving and sadly so very true. Thank you so much for being part of this project.