Slashed wrists, illicit kisses, seduction and special agents — hardly what one normally associates with Chautauqua Institution. But for author, Special Studies instructor and Chautauquan Nancy Loyan, the Institution served as the perfect backdrop to her tale of murder and romance, A Kiss in the Rain.
“[S]ometimes the least likely scenario is the most interesting,” Loyan said. “So I started writing the novel last summer while I was [at Chautauqua] and completed it over the arctic winter in Cleveland and had it ready to sell this summer.”
Loyan will sign copies of her book at 12 p.m. today in the Author’s Alcove, which is adjacent to the Chautauqua Bookstore.
She started her literary career early, making picture books for her elementary school classmates. After college, she worked for a small paper, then did freelance work, mostly on the topic of architecture and construction. She was invited to write a coffee table book, called Cleveland, Ohio: A Photographic Portrait, and even worked as a writer for Safe and Vault Technology Magazine, the trade publication of legal safecrackers, before returning to fiction.
“I just decided one day that I really wanted to pursue my fiction writing more than anything,” Loyan said. “So I made the transition from a lucrative, nonfiction freelance writing career to starving-artist fiction writing career.”
Loyan is not only a writer, though.
“My background is in marketing and sales,” she said. “Which has actually come in handy, because I would say the writing profession, it is a small business, and I would say it’s 10 percent the writing and 90 percent the selling.”
While at Chautauqua, Loyan teaches Special Studies courses on writing and Middle Eastern dance. She also wanders the grounds looking for old safes to photograph.
“My husband and I have a very unusual hobby,” said Loyan. “Normal people go on dates. We went on safe-hunting and hauling expeditions. We are not safe crackers, we are safe collectors.”
Dance, architecture and safecracking have all worked their way individually into her fiction, so perhaps it was inevitable that Chautauqua would appear, too.
A Kiss in the Rain features an FBI agent searching for a serial killer who crosses paths with an innkeeper at the Institution. Dark pasts mix with darker presents, lightened by the kindling of romance.
For those at Chautauqua who are not inclined to kiss in downpours, it may be the perfect way to spend a few rainy afternoons on the grounds.