Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Nancy Drew Books: Scary Things Kids (& Adults) Do #85

Beware of Cyclops! His glowing eye will paralyze you for days until your 5 o'clock shadow returns! Just hope Ned Nickerson doesn't have to rescue you looking like that Nancy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Friday, December 09, 2016

Series Books: Scary Things Kids (& Adults) Do #3

"These are not the Kay Traceys you're looking for!" Where's the rest of the dust jackets? In the sunken garden perhaps?

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Q' & A' with Devlin Quick Author Linda Fairstein & Book Giveaway

 UPDATE: Winners are Jessie & Eric, congrats!


I'm hosting a giveaway of two of the new Devlin Quick Mysteries book #1 - Into the Lion's Den - read through this Q' & A' with author Linda Fairstein and see below on how you can enter to win a copy!


Why did you write INTO THE LION’S DEN your new middle grade series?

I wrote my first mystery story when I was in elementary school inspired by my devotion to the Nancy Drew books that I devoured as a kid.  I actually credit those books for the two careers I settled on – first, as a prosecutor – because of Nancy’s keen sense of doing justice for others and the fact that her father was a district attorney – and second, as a crime writer, hoping to create characters that would appeal to readers the way Nancy and her friends appealed to me.  Years ago, I told my literary agent that in addition to writing the Alex Cooper series, I hoped to be able to create a lively young sleuth to fill out my cast of characters.  I finally got around to disciplining myself to add a second book to my annual output, and INTO THE LION’S DEN is the result.  I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it was to sit down every day and tell a story involving middle-grade kids who saw an injustice and fought to make things right.

Tell us about your experience growing up reading Nancy Drew books?

I really don’t want to claim that Devlin Quick is in any way a copycat of Nancy Drew.  I have too much respect for Nancy – and Nancy has a legion of fans over so many generations – that my plan was to pay homage to Nancy, a tribute to the kind of character she is because she so engaged me in her world for years and years.  Whenever I picked up the latest book in the series, I wanted to crawl inside the pages and go wherever Nancy and her loyal friends were going – to find the hidden staircase or discover the secret at Shadow Ranch.   My hope is that young readers will enjoy running with Devlin Quick and Booker Dibble, and that their adventures will lure them into a new and exciting world, just as I was drawn in by Nancy as a kid.

Devlin is smart and brave, and determined to do justice when she believes a crime has been committed.  She is terrifically loyal to her friends – like Liza and Booker – and she is very fortunate that her mom is the first woman police commissioner of New York City.  That connection helps Dev find her way around headquarters and gain the assistance of some great NYPD detectives.   Devlin loves to read, too, and is on her school swim team – so I’m hoping that she has lots of traits that her readers can identify with.

Your books do more than just tell a story.  Why?

My books are, of course, meant to entertain.  But just as I use my adult thrillers to gently inform the reader about the issues I grappled with in the criminal justice system, I want these books to have an aspirational side.  Devlin Quick is a strong and spirited young woman – in the mold of both her mother and grandmother – and a kid with a great deal of curiosity, too.  When reading as a kid, I loved to attach myself to the fictional characters I admired and dreamed about growing with some of the traits they developed in their stories.  Dev has no father – very unlike my stable family life – which is a challenge she struggles with, and her mother Blaine has worked hard to surround Dev with a surrogate family and friends.  I hope the kids who enjoy her capers will also respect her loyalty, her love of books and reading, her sportsmanship – developed as a swim team member – and her keen sense of justice.  And I want to give this to readers cloaked in an adventure that is meant to be great fun.

How do you hope to get kids reading more?

I wish I had a great answer to how to engage kids in reading!  For me, it was a pleasure in my life for as far back as I can remember.  First, my mother reading me to sleep at night – I especially think of the sing-song poems of Robert Louis Stevenson that I found so enchanting.  I was always happy to have a good book to keep me company if my friends were busy or it was a rainy day at home.  My older brother, who is extremely smart and grew up in the same household, was far less interested in books.   What caused that difference between us?  I wish I knew.
I think of kids I knew who were not readers until Harry Potter burst onto the scene.  I credit the genius of JK Rowling and the power of her storytelling for converting so many young boys and girls to becoming devotees of literature.

I’m hoping that if kids find it fun to be with Dev and Booker and Liza – if they can dream big about aspects of the stories that appeal to them – it will broaden their horizons about other books as well.
For middle age readers, I love a recommending a mix of classics and new fiction.  There are books I could read over and over again – like THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS and CHARLOTTE’S WEB – and there are new characters like Grisham’s THEO BOONE – KID LAWYER and David Adler’s CAM JANSEN MYSTERIES – which delight me, as they do their young fans.  One of the things I like best about my book tour is getting to spend time in bookshops and libraries that offer such a rich range of attractions to this age group.

What was it like writing a series for a new audience?

I really thought that writing one series a year – my Alexandra Cooper crime novels, of which there are now 18 (!) – was more than enough to keep me on my toes.  And I swore to myself never to delegate my writing to a ghost or a team, though that plan has worked well for others.  But envisioning Devlin Quick coupled with my desire to write something in the vein of the Nancy Drew books that I so loved to read got the better of me.  I just needed to sit down and see if I could channel the voice and vision of a twelve year old – a kid sleuth for all ages, really.  Once I decided that I couldn’t get the idea out of my system, I just hunkered down and got to work.  As usual, it means more discipline, and less time with my husband and my friends.  But writing INTO THE LION’S DEN was as much fun as I’ve ever had sitting in front of my desktop, so I guess that helped the flow of my creative juices.

What are you working on now?

I’m happy to report that just as Devlin Quick is introduced to readers, I’m about to turn in her second story, which will come out in 2017.  The title is DIGGING FOR TROUBLE – and starts in Big Timber, Montana, where Dev and her friend Katie are invited to be volunteers on a fossil dig in the ‘badlands.’  Things happen, as you might guess, and then the action comes back to NYC (Dev’s ‘jurisdiction’, if you will) and to the great American Museum of Natural History, where some of the clues are hidden.

Alex Cooper will also be back in 2017 in a novel called DEADFALL, which picks up right where KILLER LOOK left off, and which explores the deadly world of wildlife crimes abroad – and with some local drama at the Bronx Zoo.


To win a copy of Into the Lion's Den, leave a comment here by Sunday December 10, 2016 and include your name - I will do a drawing on Monday to reveal two winners and update this post at the top. Check back here then to see if you've won a copy of Into the Lion's Den. Shipping to US addresses only.

Linda Fairstein's Devlin Quick Mysteries - A Modern Nancy Drew

It's no surprise that Linda Fairstein is a Nancy Drew fan! After two decades as a successful adult mystery author (Alex Cooper series), she has written the first book in The Devlin Quick Mysteries - a series for the 8-12 set, just as the classic Nancy Drew books were written for.

In fact, very much like the popular Nancy Drew books, these mysteries are very family friendly and "safe and sane" in that they follow a similar mantra that the Stratemeyer Syndicate, who created Nancy Drew, followed for years - no murders, no violence, no vulgarity - safe and entertaining mysteries for kids. Bravo to Linda for continuing that tradition in her mystery series which features a very precocious 12-year-old Devlin Quick.

Linda noted her passion for Nancy Drew when she recently wrote, "I also had a deep affection for and fascination with Nancy Drew. An older cousin put the first one – The Secret of the Old Clock – in my hands, and I devoured each episode as if it was candy.  The teenage detective was my favorite companion on rainy days or whenever I stayed homesick.  The women who wrote under the name Carolyn Keene introduced me to the concept of series fiction, and how your favorite characters—like Nancy and her loyal pals—could entertain you over and over again through their stories.  I fantasized about solving capers with her crew, which probably led me to my job as a prosecutor in Manhattan’s District Attorney’s Office.  Nancy instilled in me the desire to create a protagonist in my book Into the Lion’s Den whose intelligence and devotion to justice would serve her well."

In Into the Lion's Den, Devlin and her pals do quite a bit of sleuthing at the New York Public Library to figure out who stole a map from a rare book. I love visiting the NYPL and have made numerous visits there in recent years in and around Nancy Drew Conventions and appearances on shows like The Today Show to chat about Nancy Drew. My visits helped me gather research that I'm now using to write the biography of Mildred Wirt Benson, the original Carolyn Keene who wrote 23 of the first 30 Nancy Drew books. 

So, it's an understatement to say how much I enjoyed reading this book that begins with the missing map caper at the NYPL and the sleuthing in and around the library. For how Linda came to be inspired to set her mystery in part at the NYPL, she recently wrote in The Strand, "Unlike my adult thrillers, these 8- to 12-year-olds are not the audience for murder and violent crimes. I wanted to be realistic about the kind of event that would trigger a search for justice among a group of adolescents. I recalled an actual case I had worked on decades ago involving a thief who traveled across the country, stealing rare books and atlases from research libraries, including the great New York Public Library, guarded by those iconic granite statues that face Fifth Avenue."

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Nancy Drew Vintage Image Ornaments in The Drewtique

Nancy Drew Ornaments in The Drewtique featuring vintage images from the 1930s from The Secret of the Old Clock, The Secret at Shadow Ranch, and The Haunted Bridge. Officially licensed and they are made with vintage tins and vintage clock faces and other finery. To order, click here


Nancy Drew Books: Scary Things Kids (& Adults) Do #82

"What's that rustling over there in those bushes?!"