My Mystery Addiction Started with Nancy Drew
I have loved mysteries since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. Saturday morning cartoons in the United States in the 1970s were full of mysteries and sleuths. I adored Scooby Doo, Hong Kong Phooey, Speed Buggy, the Funky Phantom, and Josie and the Pussycats. And as a kid with a newly minted library card, I quickly learned that there were lots of books full of mysteries, crimes, and capers.
I was over the moon in 1977 when the “Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys” TV show debuted in the United States. (And it didn’t hurt that Shaun Cassidy played Joe Hardy.) My friends and I raced through all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys collections at the Kempsville Public Library in Virginia Beach. My favorite is still The Crooked Bannister (1971) with its hot pink cover. I loved the plot twists and the double meanings. At the time, I didn’t know what the literary techniques were called, but I was intrigued by foreshadowing, suspense, and all the red herrings. I was hooked on all things mystery – they were my gateway books, and I moved on to Alfred Hitchcock, Agatha Christie, Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Wilkie Collins, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, P.D. James, and Robert B. Parker. But Nancy Drew still holds a special place among my favorites.
As an undergraduate, I had a double major in English and secondary education. My research project in “Adolescent Literature” was a comparative study of the original Nancy Drew mysteries from the 1930s with the updated ones in the 1980s and their influence on generations readers. It is amazing to read about the number of contemporary, professional women and their how Nancy Drew influenced them.
As a young reader, I adored Nancy’s freedom. She had a car. She did things that other girls didn’t, and she solved crimes that adults couldn’t. She influenced generations of women from the 1930s to the present with her spunk and enduring appeal.
The Nancy Drew mysteries were written by several ghost-writers under one pseudonym, Carolyn Keene. The series has undergone several revisions and updates over the years, but Nancy’s spirit still prevails. The famous yellow spines were added to the books in 1962. That was the set that I remember reading. And her stories have been translated into over twenty different languages.
The girl detective appeared in several movies from the 1930s to the 2000s and TV shows through the years. Her face and logo have graced all kinds of merchandising from jewelry, lunch boxes, and clothing to board and video games. She has appeared in novels, coloring books, and graphic novels. Nancy has been a role-model for lots of young girls for over eighty years.
There are some similarities between the iconic Nancy Drew and my private investigator, Delanie Fitzgerald. I didn’t intentionally mean to create the parallels, but subconsciously, I know her character influenced my writing. In the 1930s, Nancy started out as a blonde, but artists later depicted her as a redhead in the 1940s and 1950s. Nancy also drove a sporty roadster. It was upgraded to a Mustang in the mysteries from the 1980s. My redheaded PI drives a sporty black Mustang. Nancy’s friends (Bess and George) were important in her life and to the stories. My sleuth has a computer hacker sidekick, Duncan Reynolds, who helps her get information and solve crimes.
And Nancy Drew was fearless, smart, and feisty. I was so impressed that she was able to solve crimes before the professionals did. I like to think of my private investigator as following in the footprints and traditions of the original girl sleuth.
My love for all things Nancy turned into a mystery and an adventure recently. At a book signing, I bought a 1000-piece puzzle of the early Nancy Drew covers. My plan was to finish it and frame it for my writing cave. My husband and I spent three days putting it together, only to find that there was one missing piece at the top of the picture. I contacted the manufacturer, and they were willing to send me a replacement piece. (They sent another complete puzzle, and I had to sort through to find the missing piece.) When the puzzle arrived, there was a nice letter. It seemed the company had changed their die cut for old Nancy, and the new pieces weren’t the same size as the puzzle I purchased. Instead of putting together the new one, I decided to honor the mystery tradition, and frame the one with the missing piece. So as I look at the famous book covers in my new picture, I’m reminded that there is always a mystery to be solved. And the female sleuths I create stand on the shoulders of the icons who came before them.
Thanks to Heather for providing us this wonderful look into her Nancy Drew appreciation. Heather is one of our amazing MTW authors and we are happy to have her contributing.
Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet (March 2017). She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, Lethal Ladies Write, and James River Writers.
Secret Lives and Private Eyes is her debut novel.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager.
Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com
Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ
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