Nancy Richardson Fischer talks The Speed of Falling Objects

The newest book from Nancy Richardson Fischer is a YA adventure novel called The Speed of Falling Objects. It’s about a young woman who has to face her fears about the wild outdoors and her own insecurities when she and her estranged father are in a plane crash in the jungles of the Amazon rainforest and have to fight for their lives. Nancy is an extreme sports devotee who has traveled all over the world cycling and climbing mountains. She also has an extreme phobia of spiders. Which feature prominently in the book and about which she had to do extensive research! The book was just released and Nancy spoke with YEM about what readers can expect.

Young Entertainment Mag: Your newest book is called The Speed of Falling Objects. Tell us a bit about the book.

Nancy Richardson Fischer: The story revolves around Danger Danielle Warren “Danny” a timid 17-year-old who defines herself as defective based on a childhood accident, her mom’s bitterness, her parents’ divorce and her father’s abandonment.

When Danny’s dad, Cougar, is a famous TV survivalist. He calls to invite her to be part of an episode of his show, featuring teen movie star Gus Price. Danny jumps at the chance to prove she’s worthy of her dad’s love.

But when their plane crashes in the Amazon rainforest, leaving some dead and others injured, Danny must face everything that terrifies her, including the truth about the father she idolizes and the guy she’s fallen for. To survive, Danny has to discover her unique strengths and redefine who she is in the hope of saving those she loves and finding a way home.

YEM: What inspired you to write this story? Where do you ideas come from?

Nancy: There were two big inspirations for The Speed of Falling Objects.

The first one is my obsession with survival stories. Whether it’s an arctic expedition, mountaineers struggling to survive horrific accidents, or the crew from a submarine battling for their lives in shark-infested waters. Nothing allows us to see who someone truly is more than a life-or-death situation.  I wanted to write a novel where my characters faced injuries and peril. And then I gave each of them the opportunity to make difficult choices and become the hero of their own life’s story.

The second inspiration was the desire to create a character that has based her entire sense of self on the stories other people have told her, misperceptions and even lies. Danny believes she’s defective and inferior because of a childhood accident that left her with one eye, the teasing she endured as she adjusted to monocular vision, and her certainty that she was responsible for her parents’ divorce and her dad’s disinterest.

I believe all of us create ourselves out of the building blocks of the past, just like Danny. My goal is to have readers question how they see themselves and ask if the stories that formed those perceptions are even true. Regardless, I want readers to know that they can decide who they want to be, and take control of their own narrative.

As for where my ideas come from… I find myself asking “what if” constantly. That question leads me down a ton of rabbit holes. Sometimes they’re dead ends. But other times, as I wiggle through the dark tunnel of creating a story, that question leads me places I never imagined. That’s the joy of creating a novel. I’m never sure where I’m going or when I’ll get there. I’m propelled by my characters’ journeys and constantly surprised along the way!

YEM: The main character must survive on a deserted island! How would you survive on an island?

Nancy: My knee-jerk reaction is to say that I wouldn’t survive long! But that’s not true. That’s just the old me, the insecure me, who believed I wasn’t very hardy. Today I think that as long as I could find a water source, I’d do okay. I did a ton of research for The Speed of Falling Objects and also watch the TV show Naked and Afraid. So I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

I’m not a fan of creepy crawlies and I’m a vegetarian, but I’d eat any bugs I could find and weave fish traps out of vines. Hunger is a powerful motivator!!! I’m a whiz at climbing trees so bananas and coconuts would be a good food source, too.

As for fire making, which is vital to survival… I’ve watched a lot of videos. So my hope is that after a lot of tries, I could create an ember and get fire!  All that said I’d rather not have to survive on an island… unless there was a resort nearbyJ.

YEM: If you had to live on an island and could only bring three things with you, what would you bring and why?

Nancy: Ahhhh, here’s where my Naked and Afraid obsession pays off!!  I’d bring a fire starter, a machete, and a mosquito net. The first would keep me warm and I could boil water to reduce bacteria, plus cook whatever I killed. The machete would mean I could build a shelter off the ground, cut bamboo to make containers for water, and even a raft to float to safety. And the third item would not only save me from getting eaten alive by mosquitos but would also work as a fish net.

YEM: Since this book takes place in the Amazon rainforest, are you an outdoorsy person?

Nancy: I am an outdoorsy person. But this should not be confused with being a person who would want to live in the Amazon!  There are 3600 species of spiders, 2.5 million insects and 17 types of venomous snakes in the rainforest!  I love to cycle, kite-surf, hike, and ski. I’ve winter camped a bunch, too, which is cold but thankfully bug free!

YEM: Did writing this book teach you any survival skills? Any advice for people who want to travel the rainforests?

Nancy: I did a ton of research for The Speed of Falling Objects. It was fascinating to learn how to build a shelter, find water and edible plants and fruit, and construct a raft.

Learning about all the poisonous threats in the rainforest was a different kind of survival skill! A bite from a bullet ant feels like a gunshot and a wandering spider’s venom can kill in 20 minutes. Secretions from a poison dart frog are potentially deadly. And a puncture from a venomous snake can lead to gangrene, amputation and death if not quickly treated. The survival skill I took away from my research about all the creepy crawlies in the Amazon is that it’s best to avoid them!!!

There is so much beauty in the rainforest. From the brightly colored birds to the algae-tinted sloths, to myriad trees and brilliant flowering plants… but my advice to anyone who wants to travel in the rainforest is to visit it with an experienced guide. The Amazon is stunning but can also kill you very quickly if you don’t know what to avoid!