Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Thursday's Children: Inspired by Nancy Drew
I'm sure telling you that I was inspired to write by Nancy Drew isn't exactly noteworthy. This series of books, first launched in 1930, has been reprinted and revised numerous times. It still sells briskly, with new books added to the series and the character appearing in movies, television shows and games. Several of the books are among the top selling children's books of all time.
Nancy Drew was one of the first packaged series, pitched to a publisher by Edward Stratemeyer, who created the Hardy Boys. He then hired ghostwriters to write the books (using his outlines) under the name Carolyn Keene. Mildred Wirt Benson was the first and it is said that she fleshed out the Nancy character based on her own personality.
I remember reading my first Nancy Drew. I was seven and had just moved to Maine from Virginia Beach. My father had been in the Air Force and we'd moved around since I was born in California--to Savannah, England, France, New York and so on. We were in Maine to stay--my dad's life long dream was to have his own business in the town where he spent many happy days visiting his favorite uncle. He was a native of Astoria, Queens and hated the city.
Anyway, it was January and I'd never seen snow. Or ice. The library was on the main road, just down our long driveway, in an ancient and listing old Colonial house. Along with siblings from the family we were staying with temporarily, I picked my way down the slippery route to my first library experience. Ah, that indefinable dusty smell of old paper and leather and wood! The creaky floors and the whisper of the librarian as she hand-stamped your book. "You have two weeks."
On the way back, a black cat ran in front of me and I fell down on the ice, still clutching Nancy, and sprained my wrist. I remember thinking that black cats were indeed bad luck. LOL.
One of the best things about small town libraries is that they often keep old books on the shelves. They had some of the original Nancy Drews, written in the 1930s and 1940s. Have you read those? They are odd and quirky, especially when contrasted to later sanitized versions. Thinking back, perhaps those editions sparked my interest in that period as well as in creepy mansions, diaries, and secrets.
Nancy Drew (and the Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden and the Three Investigators) all stimulated my interest in mysteries as a genre. I still love them and most of what I've written is in that category.
How about you? Do you love Nancy Drew?
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