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  • Writer's pictureCarmine Valentine

Forever a Nancy Drew Fan

I grew up reading the Nancy Drew series written under the collective pseudonym of Carolyn Keene. I left the hardback books behind in my youth along with the saddle-shoes I’d outgrown, my red-headed Midge doll, and the door-size poster of actor Tom Selleck. But these simple, timeless classics remained a wonderful part of my childhood memories. She was a character any young reader might connect with, a teenage girl who could outsmart the criminal, and not only match wits and intelligence with those behind the badge but stay one step ahead of them in solving the crime. She was my hero, remaining with me as I evolved into an adult, and every time I spied the yellow spine book in a second-hand store or a small book store, it would make me smile. Then one day, it hit me. I wanted to write the grown-up version of a Nancy Drew, or a similarly resourceful woman living and working in the 21st century, juggling life, career, and love, age not a factor.

What appealed to me the most about the Nancy Drew character was her resourcefulness and compassion for others. She was no timid thing. She couldn’t be pushed aside. Neither was she pushy or abrasive. She treated others with respect and set about solving mysteries with flashlight, magnifying glass, a map, and friends to back her up, including good old Ned. And it wasn’t just curiosity that drove this character, she was armed with determination to right a wrong and find answers.

My sister gave me a boxed set of the Nancy Drew series for Christmas. One of the best gifts I’ve ever received. As I sit at my laptop working on The Barefoot by Moonlight Mysteries, my Christmas present sits on a nearby shelf giving me continued inspiration. And although the main protagonists are different in each of my books, what these women all have in common are some of these characteristics of the teenage Nancy Drew. It’s hard not to do that when these childhood books made such a big impression on me decades ago. But here we are in the 21st century, and whether my amateur sleuths feel more at home in cocktail dresses and high heels, or jeans and boots, or whether they run their own business or have three jobs to make ends meet, they will be armed with lipstick, flashlight, GPS, and tenacity.

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