11-19-2012 09:55 AM
Today we have a guest blog by author NANCY SPRINGER. You can find her website here:
11-19-2012 09:57 AM
About Nancy Springer
As a child, I lived in Eden. I explored every inch of the
fascinating brook that meandered crystalline amid wildflowers and
willows to the swamp along the Passaic river, where I discovered
herons, hawks, muskrats, snapping turtles. Coming home from school
feeling bruised, I turned to the brook, the swamp, the fields of
farmland and the deep forest on Riker's Hill to comfort me. Until I
was thirteen I ran like a freckled fawn where the owls lived,
where the wild phlox grew, where sometimes frogs could be caught.
Then my family moved away. The place we left must have been the last
remaining rural spot in Livingston, New Jersey. A year later we came
back and I saw the trees bulldozed, the wetlands drained and the brook
banished to a culvert, all for the sake of a housing development. I
have grieved for Eden lost ever since.
Writing this, I realize for the first it might seem odd that, bullied
in school, I turned to Mother Nature instead of my mother. I can
say only that Mom and Dad were good people, but theirs was the
old-fashioned farmhouse style of parenting. Dad worked to "bring home
the bacon"; Mom painted pet portraits. They fed me, clothed me, and
let me grow. Daily I did my chores, which included collecting warm
brown eggs. Whenever a broody hen pecked my hand, I told my father,
pointed out the culprit, then held her down while he chopped her head
off. I watched her flap around, helped to pluck her feathers, and
then my mother, gutting her in order to cook her, would show me the
sand in her gizzard and the transparent egg she had not yet laid. We
were matter-of-fact. No one cared about feelings
Education, yes. I read at will from my parents' large library, so
that even when I was not outside I was still running wild -- in the
world of words. But no Disney for me. A television set arrived in
the house when I was six, but I never turned it on; that was for my
father to do when, nightly, we gathered as a family to watch for an
hour. Aside from beautiful horses, nearly everything about cowboys
and Indians traumatized me. I hated TV. Still don't like it much.
But, as I have said, when I was thirteen, we moved -- to Gettysburg,
Pennsylvania, where there was no more time for TV because my parents
had acquired a small motel. The guidance counselor at my new school
informed me, to my astonishment, that I was very bright. And wonder
of wonders, my new classmates did not torment me.
Overnight I transformed from an underachiever into a straight-A
student. I still went outside every day after school, through farm
fields down to a creek, but now I did it to walk Mom's Sheltie dogs--mostly.
Still, I kept to myself. I skipped being a teenager -- all those
messy emotions; my parents wouldn't have liked it. Instead, I cleaned
motel rooms with them, read Steinbeck and Hemingway, drew wistful
pictures of horses, taught myself to play guitar, practiced my violin.
Also, I began to daydream so much, so graphically and so vividly that
I worried about myself.
The daydreams continued right through college, although by then I was
having some fun. Thanks to Twiggy I was no longer a joke, and I
shocked my parents (about time) by becoming a fashionably long-haired,
raccoon-eyed hippie. But beneath my ponchos and beads I had no
beliefs, no causes, no clue as to life goals or emotions or love. So
when a nice-enough boy named Joel Springer asked me to marry him, I
said yes. That was what smart girls went to college for in the
sixties, to be teachers or get married. I didn't want to be a teacher
so I got married
Very shortly I discovered that marriage was not a cure-all. Those
shivery-strong daydreams were still with me, so in an attempt to
offload them I wrote my first fantasy novel. I had no ambition to be
a writer; in fact I felt no authority to write -- in English Lit we
had studied only male novelists -- but I couldn't help it. Meanwhile,
I had my first baby, Jonathan Paul, and upon making his acquaintance I
experienced, to my bone-deep astonishment, an overwhelming emotion:
love. Finally growing up, I admitted I might want to be a writer,
sent out my first novel, and was published. For a little while I
became my own world's wonder. Over the moon. And pregnant again.
This time a girl -- perfect! -- Nora Lynn.
But after the second baby's birth, I had postpartum depression which
escalated -- let me put it this way: all the tantrums I had never
thrown as a child, all the rebellions I had never rebelled as a teen,
all the doors never slammed, angers never shouted, grudges never
spoken, all detonated at once, attacking the only permissible target:
myself. I wanted me dead.
I scared me sleepless.
It's called clinical depression. The less said about the next
several years, the better. Ultimately my writing saved me. Looking
back, I can see myself gaining a little strength in each book.
First, in the Isle fantasies, working out the yang and yin of good and
evil. Then, starting in Wings of Flame, realizing that I was female,
and later claiming power as a woman -- in The Hex Witch of Seldom,
Fair Peril, Larque on the Wing. Less depressed, I grew less
interested the inner world of my psyche; I wanted to turn my vision
outward, to the real world. I bought a horse. A horse! The
childhood dream. And I started writing children's books about horses,
taking a break from fantasy.
Below: Nancy Springer & Lilian Stewart Carl, WorldCon 1985?
11-19-2012 09:59 AM - edited 11-19-2012 10:00 AM
About Nancy - continued:
My wonderful, thriving son and daughter, plus horseback riding, plus
allowing myself to be human, plus the amazing and incomprehensible
fact that people wanted to read what I wrote -- all of this made me
feel a whole lot better.
Avalong Finesse, Morgan, 1990?
I kept growing more and more, not only as a
self branching out socially but as a writer branching out into
different topics and genres, now that I was writing for the love of it
rather than out of desperation. In 1994 I had five different books
released by five different publishers. In 1995 I won my first Edgar.
In 1996 my husband left me.
Stupid old story; I'd always sworn it wasn't going to happen to me.
Once I'd learned love from my firstborn, I worked hard at putting some
into my marriage. For a while it seemed to work. But I had become a
real person, no longer the passive waif my husband wanted, so a few
weeks after my daughter started college I found myself completely
alone in the empty nest. Then (honestly, a horror writer couldn't
have plotted it better) along came menopause.
Which dumped me into depression almost as awful as before.
Again, the less said of the next few years, the better.
Yet, during this ridiculously difficult time I wrote the best work I
had done so far. With the encouragement of my wonderful agent, Jean
Naggar, and the coaching of a brilliant editor, Michael Green, I
completed I Am Mordred: A Tale of Camelot, then went on to write I am
Morgan Le Fay.
I sound terribly professional. It wasn't like that. I still needed
the comfort of my mother (Mother Nature; my real mother had
Alzheimer's), but my beloved Morgan mare had been struck by lightning
and killed (Honestly! I couldn't make this stuff up.) so rather than
trail riding, I walked a lot. When I couldn't be outside, I did
things my ex wouldn't have liked, such as painting flowers on the
walls. I even took a life-sized ceramic woodchuck, put a daisy-decked
straw hat on it, and painted its portrait. My friends told me I
needed to get a life.
In Peru Mills, PA, by Sylvia Stephenson
11-19-2012 10:00 AM
About Nancy - Part 3:
I was trying to do so, working at a no-kill animal shelter while
taking in stray cats on my own. Then one day in late 1999, I met a
man who wanted a Chihuahua.
His name was Jaime Fernando Pinto, and he's been around ever since.
He loves me out loud.
No more obsessive daydreams for me. No need.
It was Jaime who gave me the encouragement and support I needed to
get out of the house where the ghosts of husband and children haunted
me. I fell in love with a chalet-style home by a lake, moved there,
married Jaime, and rediscovered my childhood joy of fishing. Several
years later, so that Jaime could retire into a dream of aviation, we
moved again, to the Florida panhandle, where we spent a year in a
hangar at an airport located in an absolute paradise of a swamp .
Every day I watched the wading birds, the long-winged tropical
butterflies, the lizards basking. Every night I went out to see the
tree frogs, toads, huge silk moths, and snakes. A small (5-foot)
alligator attended my 59th birthday party, and 911 had to be called to
escort him away! The only thing better would have been if someone
had given me a pony.
Jaime and I now live in a real house just down the road from the
airport where I still ride my bike, looking for trouble to get into.
Other than that, I write, I feed feral cats, I do face-painting for
public library fund-raisers, I read, I fly with Jaime over this Edenic
place where two of my favorite things, water and forest, come
together, and I write some more. Every day is a new story.
11-19-2012 10:02 AM
From Nancy's website: WHAT'S WEIRD
Ever since I was a little girl I've had a bad case of horse crazy, with all the usual symptoms: I drew pictures, I read storybooks about horses, I mooned over the ponies for sale in the Sears Roebuck Christmas Catalog (yes, real pinto Shetland ponies, mail order) and I begged Santa to bring me one. I knew every horse visible from my school bus route, once I rode bareback on an old swayback named Doc for five minutes, and a neighbor girl let me ride behind her on a little brown mare named Duchess, and the same girl used to show off on her gorgeous gelding Danny Boy, who was black with four white feet and a white blaze.
That was about it until I was thirty-three and bought a horse. By then I had learned that four white feet and a white blaze were "lots of chrome" but not much else. Over the next decade and a half, I found out all about how horses can be a pain in the pocketbook and the patoot, but this didn't cure me of horse mania; I still adored them. It turned out they were all beautiful , one way or another.
After my sweet Morgan mare died while out in the field during a thunderstorm, I didn't buy a replacement, but I did start volunteering at horse rescues. I saw heartbreaking cases of starvation, neglect and abuse. I helped raise funds by selling horsey crafts at horse shows and community events. I would go to yard sales and junk shops looking for figurines of horses to resell, and also I learned to paint a horse on just about anything you can imagine--wooden easter eggs, paper mache baskets, die-cut Christmas ornaments, you name it.
All that's in the past, but some perverse urge still makes me buy every representation of a horse I see in a thrift shop or yard sale, and the uglier the better. I no longer covet Breyer models. My motto: Ugly Horses need love too.
THE WALL QUILT
One of my chief pleasures in life is reducing the resale value of my houses by painting on the walls.
In this particular house where I live now, the inch-thick knotty pine paneling had provided a fine feast for termites. One wall was just barely there. I applied wood filler lavishly and painted over it but it was still an eyesore.
I therefore decided to make it even more so.
All my life I've been fascinated by quilts as works of folk art. I decided to have a wall quilt. The painted boards themselves provided the vertical lines; I supplied the horizontal ones, mixed favorite colors from craft paint, and did the basic quilt during three weeks when my husband was visiting his family in Chile. Then I started filling in the blocks.
My plan was to make them look like fabric prints or appliques and paint realistic hemstitching, crow's-foot stitch, etcetera to join them together. But I hadn't gotten very far when impulse trumped plan; it always does. All that I found most wonderful about the Florida panhandle wanted to get on that wall quilt, and the first alligator wanted to be stitched into his rectangle with cattails, and things proceeded in disorderly harmony from that point.
The final quilt mixes potato prints, lace painting, Q-tip posies, and sponge tracks with a white heron, an indigo bunting, a Giant Sulfur butterfly, a longleaf pine, beauty berry, passionflower (sort of) and many other depictions of real wildlife I've seen, the ugliest of which is, I think, my attempt at a soft-shelled turtle -- fascinating critter, kind of like a leathery beret with a snorkel, but I failed to do it justice. My attempt at an anole also is pitiful, but at least it has gesture. I am a bit proud of the tall skinny fuchsia flower (Meadow Beauty or Maid Marian), the cotton rat (a nice little wild rat that does not bother people at all), the mole king snake (rare, and I saw one!), and the cliff swallow in the upper left corner.
Rather than paint a border around the wall quilt, I just quit when I was done. It is not a framed artwork; it just is what it is. Unsuspecting persons walking into the room with the wall quilt have showed varying reaction, from enchantment to horror, but that's okay; I make no pretensions to be an artist. All in all, I think I'd better stick to writing, but the intuitive process that evolved the wall quilt is very similar to the one that develops books -- the difference being that words are a lot more forgiving than paint. Once I revise, nobody gets to see any messed-up soft-shelled turtles.
11-19-2012 10:04 AM
Nancy Springer has passed the fifty-book milestone, authoring many novels for adults, young adults and children, in genres including mythic fantasy, contemporary fiction, magical realism, horror, and mystery -- although she did not realize she wrote mystery until she won the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America two years in succession. Dark Lie was her first venture into mass-market psychological suspense.
Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Nancy Springer moved with her family to Gettysburg, of Civil War fame, when she was thirteen. She spent the next forty-six years in Pennsylvania, raising two children (Jonathan and Nora), writing, horseback riding, fishing, and birdwatching. In 2007 she surprised her friends and herself by moving with her second husband to an isolated area of the Florida panhandle, where the birdwatching is spectacular and where, when fishing, she occasionally catches an alligator.
11-19-2012 10:10 AM
11-19-2012 10:11 AM
In this gripping psychological thriller—smart, chilling, and unrelenting—Nancy Springer establishes herself as an exciting new suspense writer with a distinctive voice and some surprises up her sleeve...
To their neighbors, Dorrie and Sam Whiteare a contented couple in America’s heartland, with steady jobs, a suburban home, and plenty of community activities to keep them busy. But they’re not quite what they seem. For plain, hard-working Sam hides a depth of devotion for his wife that no one would suspect. And Dorrie is living a lie—beset by physical ailments, alone within herself...and secretly following the comings and goings of the sixteen-year-old daughter, Juliet, she gave up for adoption when she was hardly more than a child herself.
Then one day at the mall, Dorrie watches horror-stricken as Juliet is abducted, forced into a van that drives away. Instinctively, Dorrie sends her own car speeding after it—an act of reckless courage that puts her on a collision course with a depraved killer...and draws Sam into a dogged, desperate search to save his wife. As mother and daughter unite in a terrifying struggle to survive, to what extremes will Dorrie go in overcoming her own limitations...and in confronting her dark, tormented past?
11-19-2012 10:12 AM
Guest Blog by
How I came to write mystery is a mystery to me. I never intended to do so. In fact, I was sure I couldn’t possibly, because mystery depends on plot – or so I thought – whereas I am a character-driven writer.
Actually, for years I thought I couldn’t write anything except mythic fantasy. That’s how I spent the first decade of my career, writing about heroes on magical quests in imaginary worlds. Only by a fluke did I start writing for children, the fluke being of the equine persuasion. (I saw that I was boring my friends to distraction regarding my first-ever horse.) Writing novels for kids made me aware of my power to influence young lives, and I decided to write a book for teenage boys who did not want to read.
To hook reluctant readers, I put a teen boy on a cross-country motorcycle instead of a horse, sent him on a trail ride, murdered him on the first page, and saddled his slightly younger brother with the task of dealing with his tragic and unfair death. I had just finished and printed the book, Toughing It, when my daughter, then fourteen, entered my office complaining of nothing to do. Like untold multitudes of mothers before me, I distracted her with the nearest object that came to hand. It was the manuscript. I told her, “Here. Read this.”
Two hours later she came back and said, “It’s good, Mom, but you ought to pay more attention to solving the mystery.”
I told her no, that wasn’t the point of the book; it was about the grieving process. I sent the ms to my agent who gave it to an editor. The editor said, “This author needs to have her character solve the mystery.”
Sheesh. I didn’t know whodunit and neither did my surviving character, so I called my brother, who was in law enforcement, and asked him. He told me it was the guys growing marijuana on top of the mountain. I didn’t even know they were there. But I let them into the book, and eventually it won an Edgar. Here I’d been nominated for every fantasy award there was, and what did I win? An award for mystery.
I repeat, sheesh.
Next I had an idea about a girl in search of her own identity. Nobody gets murdered in Looking for Jamie Bridger. The only mystery solved is who Jamie’s parents actually were, with the payoff being a brother she never knew she had.
Looking for Jamie Bridger won an Edgar.
It was the second Edgar that did it. I started writing mysteries on purpose. Or trying to. It wasn’t nearly as easy once I thought I knew what I was doing. And I haven’t won an Edgar since. Some of my short stories were published in mystery magazines, and my children’s series about Enola Holmes, the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, has been great fun, although tremendously difficult to write; each book has three plots.
And now there’s DARK LIE, even more difficult with so many characters jostling for viewpoints. Characters including Dorrie White, an ordinary woman with neither style nor beauty, furthermore challenged by lupus plus toxic parents, who has no idea to what lengths she will go in order to save a child. And the abductor, brilliantly evil, by which I mean he’s super-intelligent plus bad. And the defiant teenage girl he abducts, Dorrie’s biological daughter. And Dorrie’s husband Sam White, a very ordinary guy who devotes extraordinary effort to finding his missing wife. And then there are the hirsute Chief of Police, and the handsome FBI guy, and the handwriting analyst, and -- and it would be counterproductive to tell any more about DARK LIE.
It is my fifty-fifth published novel, and I’m pretty sure it’s a mystery.
Or is it? What if it’s psychological suspense?
Mystery solved: not knowing how was how I came to write mystery.
11-19-2012 10:55 AM
Enjoyed reading Nancy's blog, becke. Thanks for sharing that with us. I was so pleasantly surprised to find that NANCY is the author of those Enola Holmes mysteries--I'd read about them in some mystery magazine, and wanted to try one out, but, well, I got busy, and couldn't remember later who wrote the books.
11-19-2012 11:07 AM
Wonderful blog from Nancy. I guess if you can write, you can be artitstic enough to paint also and the quilt idea sounds like fun as you can let your imagination go and do what you want. And you can paint over a mistake and start over.
11-19-2012 12:00 PM
I love the covers of the Enola Holmes series, they are terrific.
Your story of horses reminds me of my Aunt Jenny, she has been horse crazy since she was a kid. And I agree, even ugly horses need a loving home.
11-19-2012 12:28 PM
Loved your blog! I guess you get you artistic tendencies from your mom. You mentioned about how she loved to paint.
Your books look very interesting. I'm anxious to read some of them. Thanks for blogging with us and stop back soon to keep us updated!
11-19-2012 09:33 PM
Wonderful blog. You seem to have a wide variety of themes in your books. How do you decide what type of book you want to write at any given time (or is that chosen for you by publishers)?
Keep on writing!
- Eleanor Roosevelt
11-21-2012 07:36 AM
Nancy, Hi, hope you have a great time with us. I love the titles of your books. I must check them out. I like finding new authors to read.
Have a Great Thanksgiving.